Open letter to Bachmann

skipgear Aug 21, 2009

  1. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    Many of you know that I have been a pretty staunch supporter of Bachmann steam loco's. I love them and have had nothing but good luck. The recent issue with the 2-6-6-2 motors and their mis-labeling was aggravating but not a deal breaker. Unforunately, the reason that the loco's were found to have a different motor than advertised is the deal breaker. This came to light because motor's were failing prematurely, in under 24 hours. At first I thought it was a fluke but others decided to do their own test and they are coming to the same result. The motors fail prematurely. This is more of a problem to me than 3 poles / 5 poles / skew wound or not.

    The following was posted on the Bachmann forum.

    Feel free to make your feelings known over there. We can post till your finger tips are blue, on the various forums but Bachmann has their own forum, let's put it right in front of them so they can't miss it.,10203.0.html

    I'm also placing this here as sort of a backup incase the post gets deleted at the Bachmann forum. I feel that I was not inflamitory and tried to stick to just the facts.
  2. N-Jineer

    N-Jineer TrainBoard Member

    IMHO there's nothing objectionable in your piece at all, it fact it is well balanced.

    If Bachmann delete it from their forum, it won't be for the content.

    Nice work Tony :thumbs_up:
  3. FloridaBoy

    FloridaBoy TrainBoard Member

    I would hope Bachmann looks at this situation much more seriously than just a bad motor. As we are all well aware, Bachmann was notorious for years producing objectionable N scale department store sets, and even had the audacity to make single units available to otherwise unknowing hobby outlets nationally. At the same time, other companies were trying to rescue the hobby from the Bachmanns, LifeLikes, Rivarossi's and Mehanoteknica's as these were driving the hobby down the proverbial toilet. Then along comes some quality merchandise, like Kato, Roco. Trix, and even improved American-inspired Rivarossi to try to restore some N scale identity of quality. At the same time, the forums started to really cook and for the first time, we communicated with each other, comparing notes and taking names. We started to hold those accountable who should.

    They lied to us. That is unacceptable. No coloring it, or sugar coating it, they drop down lied.

    This terrible act started with Model Power and their original Pacific, which violated just about every tenet of decency when first issued, advertised a 5 pole motor and flywheel came out with a 3-pole no flywheel horrible mechanism and we reacted. This is why you can buy one of these for under a hundred bucks now, although they retailed for $159.95.

    And what became of that reaction? Model Power rejuvenated their approach and improved their mechanisms, and even started a warranty program. Atlas and Kato continued to issue quality locos, each one improving, while some of the now-lesser outmoded mechanisms made by Roco and Trix were not as popular. Rivarossi and Mehanoteknika died a sensible death. Intermountain was born making long time researched mechanisms, and Athearn, Walthers, Roundhouse, Lifelike and Bachmann Spectrum began to improve their quality issues.

    In other words, when we speak, we know they listen now. I know Bachmann's Lee Riley is sensitive to us from a conversation we had with him at the 2002 National Convention in Ft. Lauderdale.

    We need to act. It seems to me to be an act of complacency after issuing its terrific Consolidation and OK Mountain that this happen, like we let our guard down.

    We need to print screen the above post, and send it directly to Bachmann to let them know about this on a national scale. At the very least, it will allow them prep time for the onslaught of Prairie Mallets to hit their customer service with burnt motors. They will need time to develop not a viable replacement motor but a program to allow for the increase of maintenance problems. Second, we need to let them know that they are on a sort of quality probation period, and we will inspect new locos and compare them to the ads.

    I am requesting those angry people, me included, not to include abuse in their repetoire when dealing with Bachmann. They screwed up, and the problem could be in China at Kader. Let them know we are aware and they will react.

    Ken "FloridaBoy" Willaman

    I even had a long conversation with Lee Riley, the man at Bachmann whoa
  4. Bob Morris

    Bob Morris TrainBoard Supporter

    Uh oh. Thanks for the heads up, Tony. I've got a 2-6-6-2 and a Heavy Mountain that (so far) have had no motor problems. I've no idea how many hours I have on either one, but they've seen a lot of NTrak action as well as many hours on my home layout. Keeping fingers crossed....

    By the way, I've found Bachmann's service/warranty work to be very commendable, so if problems are encountered hopefully there will be quality replacement motors installed.
  5. AB&CRRone

    AB&CRRone TrainBoard Supporter

    My solution beginning with the first 2-6-6-2: Don't buy Bachmann anymore.

    I haven't missed them one bit.

  6. Rossford Yard

    Rossford Yard TrainBoard Member

    I don't buy steam, and I don't buy Bachman since the Dash 8-40 C, which are now replaced by Atlas versions. That said, the 44 tonners get good reviews and are tempting.

    Are we sure this is a corporate decision to reduce quality, or is Bachman a victim (or sorts, as good QC probably could catch a chinese factory switching out motors or a batch of defective ones) of a bad production batch from the factory?
  7. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    Bachmann's parent company is Kader. Kader is the manufacture of the motor and the mechanism so they have control of the complete assembly process. Kader also recently bought SandaKan (sp?) from bankruptcy so they now own the manufacturing facilities for Atlas, IM, and many other model items along with what they already manufactured.

    I am a steam head and without Bachmann, my steam roster would be cut in half. I am grateful to what they have made so far. I just want a better solution found for this new motor. The brush spring assembly and comutator material is the issue. Other than that, the motor runs fine, it just wears out too soon. Planned obsolesence is fine, but not when you back a product with a limited lifetime warranty. It seem like this would catch up with you eventually.

    Posting here won't help though, the thoughts above need to be on Bachmann's forum.
  8. maxairedale

    maxairedale TrainBoard Member


    I don't have a dog in this fight, but my concern with this issue of the wrong motors besides not getting what was advertised and paid for, is that the problem is being discussed on multiple forums including the one Bachmann has. While these forums are great for expressing frustrations voicing your opinions and asking other members on the forum questions, they don't take the problem to source. Don't rely on someone of importance and/or influence from Bachmann, replying to the posting on their forum or this one.

    Don't take me wrong, I'm not saying that this issue should not be discussed on TrianBoard and other forums, I believe that it is appropriate that the problem be brought to the attention of others and without this thread I would not know that there is a problem with the motors.

    Has anyone with this issue gone directly to Bachmann and asked them point blank? It appears that SkipGear (Tony) has. He stated that "In a reply from Bachmann, it is claimed that this new can motor is a smaller/better alternative than previous motors." Who was this person that responded to Tony? Does this person have any authority, importance or influence within Bachmann or was this person someone in PR who was trying to quickly satisfy a customer with a canned (no pun intended) answer who knows nothing about trains or motors?

    The Bachmann web site has a contact page with both snail mail and Email addresses along with phone numbers (800-356-3910 Customer Service Manager: Ext.304, Technical Support: Ext.337). If they were to receive a number of letters and phone calls from owners of the locos in question I believe that they will try to make things right.

    I suggest that every one that has one of the locos that has the wrong motor email or call Bachmann multiple times until they agree that the motor is not correct and agree to replace and install it. Another option is since the motors seem to fail after about 24 hours that you run the locos and when they stop working send them back to Bachmann and again when they stop after the have been repaired as many times that it takes. If they keep seeing the same locos coming back for the same repair maybe someone will get the idea that something is not right. After all “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” As stated before, maybe they do not know that the motors are not what were advertised.

  9. skipgear

    skipgear TrainBoard Member

    I was not the one to make the direct contact but it was a friend of mine who did. The direct contact was to Lee Riley, head of product developement for Bachmann Trains USA. If anybody should know the product, it would be Lee. I paraphrased the quote from the reply, you can see the whole reply on the Atlas forums under the 2-6-6-2 topic.

    Calling Bachmann direct will help but the person who answers the Bachmann forum, is the same person who answers questions at the trade shows, standing right next to Lee Riley. A properly worded response on their forum will get through. A few will be a whisper, many more will be a shout.
  10. DCESharkman

    DCESharkman TrainBoard Member

    A shining example of shoddy Chinese manufacturing. I have warned Atals and Intermountain about this and they never seem to learn to hold the manufacturer accountable for real quality control. If no one is watching, then why bother? This is how they operate over there.

    I took a gamble on the DD40x and it died after only 3 hours of running. Fortunately, I got all of my money back and will not gamble on Bachman ever again.
  11. Tudor

    Tudor TrainBoard Member

    Folks can say what they want about Bachmann, but they got me started years ago in modeling. I love their steam, but do shy away from their diesel. All manufactures have their issues, and Bachmann sure has had theirs. But they are working on it, and have made leaps and bounds over the years and offer some of the best steamers out there, especially for Details. Their customer service is 2nd to none. Almost every time I have emails a request for parts to keep my stuff going, they send it without question, and most the time ask nothing in return. They deserve the benefit of the doubt just as much as any of the manufactures that have put things out with issues.
  12. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter


    As always you proved once again to be fair and and straightforward about reporting the facts I appreciate your approach. You identified the problem and suggested a resolution.

    You're remarks were kind. Mine won't be.

    To no one in particular and everyone in general,

    Sometimes, some things change while on the other hand nothing changes.

    This is not a new problem with Bachmann, but an outright back door slider at a time when they really needed to prove to the public they were stepping up to the plate. What puzzles me is that Bachmann has changed hands a number of times and yet to this day the old management thinking prevails. Once again, it is back to business as usual. And I thought they were on to something good and about to change history. No matter what excuses they pull out of their hat and what lip service they throw at us, despite the carefully orchestrated or choreographed show they put on. It won't be believed by this unsatisfied, to long loyal and extremely unhappy camper / customer.

    I don't know how many times over the last 30 years we heard "New and Improved". My sucker light went on and the dumb side of my brain took over and I bought it. Only to learn that yes, perhaps, some improvements were thrown at it, but the same problems persisted. What, you are asking? Now sit down you might find this difficult to believe. Motors failed early in the life of their locomotives. Ie., 20 hours, 24 hours and lucky if... you were to get 48 hours. I did have a few that outlasted the norm but they were few and far between.

    Oh, those Santa Fe Northern types looked good sitting in the Round House but they couldn't pull a ten car train up a 2% grade. As I once said, A dummy unit does me absolutely no good... if all it is, is pretty, "Oh, so pretty". I need units steam or diesel that will pull the grades and get the trains through.

    I purchased a virtual fleet of F7's, to pull my U.P., S.P. and ATSF trains. I've never seen so many headaches and operational problems in all my life. You can see them in my albums pictures entitled "A railroad that grew". Click on the invite below and you can read the commentaries beneath the picture...if you want to.

    Today, none, NONE, NOT ONE remains on my layout. Ok one or two exceptions. Two gutted out 4-8-4 types the motor died and I removed them. Oh they look pretty but are worthless pieces of $#!+!

    I can only hope this present day problem is a simple error but I doubt it. "Try to remember the days in September," where my anger and hostility toward Bachman comes from. It comes from years of the same old, same ole. They were the only game in town and took advantage of it. They delivered at best glorified toy trains. Heck, Marx, Lionel and American Flyer delivered better running... toy trains. When it comes to Bachmann, the only game in town... as far as I'm concerned that's over. Er... at least, I thought so. UNTIL I heard that Kader who owns Bachmann and is producing the InterMountain's "Back Up". Now me is worried, real worried. Do they have what it takes to do it right? Do they have the right stuff?

    I believe... that in the rest of my life time, I will NOT, ever see Bachmann turn that corner and produce a consistent level of quality products. Old habits are to hard to break.

    You see, I write this not so much to influence you but to inform you that this is the Bachmann, I know and know well. I really wish it wasn't the case. To you newbies in the hobby who will probably blow this off...well... you need to have your own experience. Each of you has a sucker light. Bachmann knows that and is betting on it. So, think through my / these words of experience and wisdom. In the words of a famous Chinese Proverb, "Let the buyer beware".

    Only to sorry, to hear this news. Let's hope they can resolve it.

    Back to, Bachmann... business as usual.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 19, 2010
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The problem I would gave is the one motor being advertised, but another actually installed. If this is true, I would hope someone in their operations would notice it and forewarn the public of such alteration, before units were actually being delivered. That would go over much better than consumers accidently discovering it after the fact.


    Boxcab E50
  14. Tudor

    Tudor TrainBoard Member

    I agree. That is really the only issue I have, is something obviously not being as advertised. that does bother me. However, before I jumped to conclusions, I would be interested in what they would have to say about that issue. Then, make up my mind how I personally would want to deal with it, or them in the future.
  15. dieselfan1

    dieselfan1 Guest

    What good is good customer service if the product is junk?
    You couldn't give me anything with the name Bachmann on it.
  16. 44 Tonner

    I just got a 44tonner. It is an OK model not great. I wish they would put in a Digitrax or TCS decoder. The specturm decoder is very limited. On a scale of 1 to 10 I rate it a 5.
  17. oldrk

    oldrk TrainBoard Supporter

    I have said it before and will say it again :Is buying Bachmann over and over again a mental disorder? I need a ten step program to get me off the stuff. If I throw my hard earned money away time after time I guess its my fault. But I just cant help it!!! If I give Bachmann $60 for a $100 loco would that be like getting a three pole motor instead of a five pole? Im sure they would be ok with that. Maybe we should see if they would give us all rebates.
  18. BarstowRick

    BarstowRick TrainBoard Supporter

    I'm going to need more then a ten step program to get me off my ahh...ddiction of buying Bachmann stuff. I'm going to need the straight twelve step program and possibly take it to the 13 th step. Nope that won't work...that is simply trading addictions. But, not so bad when you think of the prospects. There again maybe not.

    Sheez, it must be some sort of mental weakness. When do we learn?

    Well, I've got a Kato, ATSF Chief to run and a SP Coast Daylight to oogle and drool over. Time to run some trains. Me thinks I will put may addictive behaviour to work buying Kato.

  19. Kevin M

    Kevin M TrainBoard Member

    I think the letter to Bachman is a great idea, what is the worst that could happen, they ignor it? I only have one Bachman item, a doodlebug but it runs good and is nice looking, one day I will paint it in NP.
  20. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

    Bachmann locos seem to be a bit of a gamble, my nephew had his Bachmann J class running practically all day at a show today (wish they could get the ATSF 4-8-4 as good) as was my 44 tonner at the last club running day (after I put working couplers on it though), and my 2-6-6-2 has put in many hours hauling 40-50 car coal trains after treating it with Bullfrog Snot and I'd recommend the Heavy Mountain, but I have had some duds in the past, and the more I look at the DD40AX the more I think they could have done better in this day and age. In other scales I wish the quality of their On30 and Chinese HO steamers could be translated into N scale by Bachmann, they know how to do things if they want to, but in N scale they seem to take a step forward then two backwards. Bachmann is about the last n scale manufacturer I won't buy anything from without a reading a review first.

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