My amateur improvements on a Bachmann 0-4-0 dockside

critinchiken Mar 12, 2017

  1. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    I have 2 2nd gen versions and 2 3rd gen versions of this model. It's easily one of my favorite steamers and living in Baltimore makes it a special prototype to me. Lets face it though, this model isn't very good for anything other than removing the motor and using it for a static model. However these things can be found for $10 and I can't seem to pass them up.

    I've always badly wanted to use this model but had no idea what to do with it, until I found an old post by SteamDonkey74. Bingo! This will be my first step in doing anything 'technical' in N-scale

    Taking this thing apart is easy but for me, seeing the parts is another thing all together. Note to self... get your eyes checked. A few years ago I found some tiny motors for cheap and snagged one. A Mashima MHK1015 with a 5:1 reduction gearhead from Gizmoszone.

    They were limited edition then, so not sure it would be easy to find now. Some changes to the model were necessary to make it all work. First up are the contacts for the old motor. These needed to be trimmed down to fit the wider Mashima motor.

    With these trimmed, I could no longer use them to conduct power, so I soldered 30ga. wire to the driver wipers after some extensive cleaning and polishing. These things were quite gunked up. Heres the result.

    With those tasks completed, I reassembled the lower end, quartered the drivers and installed the running gear. Checking that the motor will now go in it's place, I did a test run of the running gear by hand with out the motor. Not good... seems one of the drivers will free-spin out of quarter over and over again, and wobbles loosely. Took it all apart and low and behold, just what I didn't want to see. A split driver gear.

    This is the very reason I didn't want to use the 3rd gen 0-4-0... white plastic gears. However the 1st and 2nd gen models have over sized driver flanges and won't work with code 55 track. Seems there once was a company offering brass replacement gears, but are no longer available. If anyone else have a source for better gears for this thing, I'm all ears!

    Back to the workbench. Looking through my spare parts I find not much better news. Both of my main gears seem fine, however 3 of my 4 driver gears have splits. Test fitting the drivers, I pick the best 2 I can find and go.

    Once reassembled and tested by hand, everything seemed fine. This is where I learned how important quartering is. Anything slightly out and it's obvious immediately! I did have to do a little bending to stop some minor binding, but after a little fine tuning the lower end was moving nicely! At this point I placed the motor on the chassis to see what else was needed to make it all work. This revealed that the boiler weight won't fit over the motor, so I used battery powered mini Craftsman rotary tool with a de-burring bit to shave away some material making sure to remove only small amounts at a time and test fitting. This thing needs all the weight it can get. Here is the end result with an unmodified weight for comparison.

    There was some very minor shaving I had to do to the plastic chassis as well, but I forgot to photo document that part. I'll note however, that I wanted to see better gear mesh by lowering the position of the motor. The gear head has a ton of play on the shaft, and I didn't like the idea of the worm losing contact with the main gear by lifting completely off from play. Also the first test run revealed a VERY tight fit with the shell on, making it VERY loud. Here you can see the mesh. Looks a bit too tight in this picture, but trust me... the slop in the shaft compensates for it just fine.

    Here is a shot of the back end. I used the edge of a Gold Metal Models steam detailing kit to make a strap. Also note the 'shim' in the back. It's actually a tiny lead disc used for balancing RC models.

    With the 4" 30ga. leads twisted together and the shell in place, it was time for yet another test run. All I can say is wow!

    A few more off camera test runs with a stopwatch reveal that this 0-4-0 Dockside starts out at less than a half scale mph, and tops out at around 22 scale mph. Nice switching speeds!! Further testing and I got this little steamer to drag 3 Fox Valley Models wagontop boxcars up a grade somewhere between a 3.5% and a 4% grade! I'm very happy that!

    There's more to come with this model, I've started some detailing with the shell, and like SteamDonkey74, a kitbashed brakemans hack with a decoder is in order, using a Bachmann tender for the extra pickup for getting through turn outs.

    That's all for now, I'll update as I continue. Thanks for reading!
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    badlandnp, JimJ, Hardcoaler and 2 others like this.
  2. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

    Hardly amateur! Looks like a top shelf rebuild job to me!
  3. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Wow! Are you sure you haven't done this before????!!!! :) Looks like there's enough room to put a decoder in it if you want DCC. Maybe a TCS M1.

    Too bad about the need for a new motor and cracked gears or I might find one of these things to experiment with.
  4. JimJ

    JimJ Staff Member

    Excellent! Amazingly slow smooth speed.
  5. brokemoto

    brokemoto TrainBoard Member

    Nice work, and, of interest to me as I run Baltimore and Ohio steam, thus am especially interested in anything specific to the B&O.

    It appears that the Original Poster on the topic on nscaledotnet was using the stock B-mann tender that comes on the USRA 0-6-0/"2-6-2" for his brakeman's hack, which has only one truck live. The design of that one live truck is such that it creates a tremendous amount of drag on the locomotive. You might be better off using the chassis from a B-mann SPECTRUM slopeback, as it has all wheels live and needlepoint axle pick-up. As it has been my experience that an all wheels live tender is essential even to larger steam, so much more is it necessary for the smallest steam. I have added all wheels live tenders to B-mann, MP and TRIX steam and have seen nothing but improved performance. Keep in mind Miranda's Maxim as explained by ke: "The poor performance of many N scale steam locomotives is almost always directly attributable to poor electrical contact".

    The creep on your re-work is very good and fits the use of that locomotive. I would expect that it made no more than ten or fifteen miles per hour as it shuttled cars along Pratt St and the Inner Harbour docks.

    I wonder if the thing will go through a Kato UNITRAM turnout. I have not found too much power that will. What does not climb or derail often stalls due to the arrangement of the plastic frogs and diamonds (the UNITRAM is double track, unlike most US freight street trackage, which is single track. I have managed to saw the straight and curved pieces into single track. It took a look at a turnout piece, but saw that it would not be that easy).

    Nice work and a good topic.
  6. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

    Axle gears from the Bachmann Plymouth switcher (and probably others) are the same as the axle gears on the 0-4-0. Last I looked you could buy those from Bachmann parts. They come in 3 axle sets so two sets will do three 0-4-0's. I have three or four of those that I will resurrect some day.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
    critinchiken likes this.
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Wow. Nice. I would love to have mine run so well. Or even have such a chassis available for HOn30 use...
  8. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    Thanks for the comments! I have a few things to add here, first @brokemoto, I completely agree with you on using the better Sprectrum tender, so here is what I plan to work with.

    I also have this decoder,

    and this LED to add lighting.

    As you can see this LED is too big for the front, but looks perfect for the rear. There is a 'light housing' hole top center on the back of the steamer and it looks like a match, but if I find a smaller LED for the front, I may end up buying 2 of them to make them match. Would look funny with a brighter light on the rear.

    @tracktoo Thanks for the heads on the axle gears! I just left Bachmann's parts page with a couple of orders. It's hard to tell if they are a perfect match, but I ordered a set of Plymouth Switcher gears as well as a set of 44 tonner gears. They look like a close match as well, and I'll report back here with my findings.

    With the coming 'blizzard' seems I'll have some more spare time to work on this little steamer, perhaps paint. As noted in the title, I do consider myself an amateur as this is honestly the first model train I've ever tried to work on, let alone modify, but as cheap as these things are, I couldn't possible do much harm. Any tips on painting would be greatly appreciated! I have a B&O decal sheet as well, but honestly have no idea how to apply them properly so help in this department is warranted as well.

    Thanks again, more to come!
  9. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

    I know for sure that the Plymouth gears are good because I've used them this way, no modification. Just take the gears off the Plymouth wheels and put them on the 0-4-0.

    If it ever matters, they are mod .3 gears as are most if not all of the gears Bachmann uses as well as many other manufacturers. So, if the tooth count's good and the rest of the dimensions are what you need or can be modified to what you need, then you're good to go. If anyone cares it's also easy to determine that. A search should do it or if anyone really cares, ask and I'll write it out. The only tools you need are a set of calipers or micrometer to get an honest measurement of the gear's diameter over the teeth and a pocket calculator.
  10. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    Awesome information, thanks tracktoo!!
  11. SPsteam

    SPsteam TrainBoard Member

    Nice job. How quiet is the motor? I'm looking for a better motor for some Concor GS locos and the previous geared motor I was using sounded like a chainsaw.
  12. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    Yeah about that... at the low speed you seed in the video, it makes almost no sound. Topped out at 12v however it's quite noisy. I'm sure the gearhead has more to do with that than the motor itself, as noted there is a ton of play in the shaft off the gearhead. Then again, I love the slow speed creep lol.

    On a side note, I tested Little Joe again today, this time with 7 wagontops on flat and straight track and it show no signs of struggle or loss of traction while pushing nor pulling.
  13. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    For smaller LEDs, you might want to consider SMD LEDs. Much smaller but it depends on how good your soldering skills are. I find them to be no problems at all. But that's me and I know they can give some people fits. :)

    And yes, that snow storm in the Northeast will certainly give us more MRR time. I just installed JMRI on a new laptop... :)
  14. Hansel

    Hansel TrainBoard Member

    Man, that is slow, great work! Has anyone ever re-motored an Atlas diesel?
  15. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    Thank you friend! As far as a re-motored Atlas diesel goes, I'm convinced anything at all can be done. Little Joe measure only 2" inside front to back with the motor measuring 1 1/4" and that's with a cheap gearhead attached to the motor, and still I was able to get the job done without any prior experience in this department what so ever. All it took was a little digging through the interwebs to get me pointed in the right direction, and I was off to the races.

    I can also say that in my research I found all kinds of replacement motor upgrades for various locomotives, so what ever you have, chances are someone has tinkered with it and possibly documented it. I'm happy to help out but I am limited in experience.
  16. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    I was looking at SMDs, my problem isn't soldering... it's seeing lol. Still looking, I'm sure someone has them ready made for 12v power saving me some frustration.
  17. tracktoo

    tracktoo TrainBoard Member

  18. critinchiken

    critinchiken TrainBoard Member

    I had some more free time today so I got back to my project by working on my fantasy hack. Here is the tender in pieces, and then again somewhat put back together once I cut the leads at the PC board.

    My original intention was to follow SteamDonkey by using the Tichy Train Group boom car for the hack, but once I remover the shell from the tender I realized that wasn't goint to work out well.

    As you can see the base is quite tall and even though there's a lip to build off of, by time I built up a deck to cover the base and the wires from Little Joe, The deck and bottom of the door would be 8-9 scale feet above the top of the rails!

    So I went digging through a box of junk cars from the 70's that someone was generous enough to donate to me years ago, and I found wood reefer. Perfect for a hack job! In my haste I forgot to take a picture of it once I pulled it out of it's comfortable sandwich bag, I started cutting it up right away. Cut, file, sand, check fit, cut, file, sand... you get the picture... here's what I ended up with.

    Once I was satisfied with the pieces, I glued the ends of the reefer back on.

    Still to come, I have a model shed I don't plan to use so I'm going to steal the entry doors from it. I'll cut out the ugly undetailed reefer doors and glue the entry doors in it's place, this should give it a real 'hack-job' feel. After that I'll go over it one more time and clean up what needs be, and it's off to the paint booth... or do you think I should give my crew some windows? Let me know what you think!

    Thanks again all!
  19. mmagliaro

    mmagliaro TrainBoard Member

    Good work, sir!

    I wanted to chime in here to let everyone know that Gizmoszone does still list that Mashima + 5.25:1 gearhead combo on their website with a part number and price, and it does not say "out of stock" like some of their other products.

    Look through their gearmotor pages to find the MGH1015. That's the the one.

    You can also get these from Eldon Shirey at (it is best to go to the website, get his email address, and contact him directly, as he never updates that web page).

    I can also assure you that all the noise comes from the gearhead. It's all the plastic gears and fairly sloppy tolerances in it. It's not a steel Faulhaber gearhead, after all. But regardless, those are inexpensive gearheads and they really do the job if you don't mind the noise.

    Have fun! An 0-4-0 rides again!
  20. Detroit

    Detroit TrainBoard Member


    Last year I started getting back into model railroading after a very long hiatus, and have just signed up to TrainBoard after finding your topic.

    Just over Christmas I put a DZ126 DCC decoder and front/rear 0402 LEDs into one of these, as I wanted to experiment with a cheap locomotive I picked up before tearing into any of my old ones with sentimental value.
    I placed it in the gap between the motor and the roof of the cab, with the LED dropping resistors siliconed to the top-back of the motor. It fits perfectly, though obviously without any keep-alive caps.

    It's great to see someone else experimenting with what this loco can do, and I like the finer details.
    May I ask where did you get the fine detail Steam Whistle and Bell?

    Although the DCC in mine works (and works well... I think), yes the slow speed of the standard motor is underwhelming.
    At least now I know that it can be re-motored and what I should be looking for.
    Did you use the original worm gear with the new motor? Or is it a new one sourced for that motor?


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