Small N Scale Steam With Sound

ajkochev Oct 14, 2020

  1. ajkochev

    ajkochev TrainBoard Member

    I'm looking for the best, smallest, Steam Loco with DCC and Sound that is out there. I have a small layout so the loco needs to be as short as possible and be able to move at slow speeds and the best sounding. Roadname isn't an issue. Looking for a quality in a small footprint.
  2. NDave

    NDave TrainBoard Member

    The "smallest" N-scale steamer with FACTORY sound that I can think of is Bachmann's "sound value" Baldwin 2-8-0, which comes with Soundtraxx "Economi" sound decoder.


    Mine ran well out of the box (I think Spookshow rated it an "A," I might say mine was an "A-"), and the sound is OK. I have since re-detailed the loco to resemble U.P. #618, and replaced its tender and upgraded the sound to Soundtraxx Tsunami 2, turning it into this:

    The Tsunami sound is much better than the Economi version.

    Anything smaller will require a custom sound installation... which isn't hard, but don't expect any "drop-in" installations. I have two of Bachmann's ten wheeler's (4-6-0) that come with factory DCC, but no sound. Both are good runners, the first came that way out of the box. The second required a little work, but now runs like a charm. On the first, I "bashed" it into a facsimile of U.P #1585, replacing the tender with a Bachmann short USRA tender with Tsunami 2 sound installed... It now looks like this:


    For the last year, my second ten-wheeler has been using the Economi-equipped tender from the 2-8-0. It will be getting a make-over with a re-detailed loco shell and Vanderbilt tender with Tsunami 2 sound in the next week or so (new loco and tender shells are ready to paint as of this morning), converting it to U.P. #1243

    Installing sound into the stock tender of the 4-6-0 would be easier than into the short or vandy tenders I have used, but don't expect it to be a "drop-in" installation. If you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself, there are a number of shops that offer installation services...

    Bachmann and Model Power/MRC also made Alco 2-6-0s and Bachmann made a 4-4-0 with factory DCC, but no sound... The tenders on these are pretty small (smaller than the short USRA in the pic above), but it MIGHT be possible to squeeze in the smallest sound decoder and speaker.

    Good luck with your quest...
    papahnash, bremner and Kurt Moose like this.
  3. MK

    MK TrainBoard Member

    Before you buy anything, check on Spookshow's website ( to see Mark's ratings. There are a lot of dud steamers our there so you want to stay away from those.
  4. bigGG1fan

    bigGG1fan TrainBoard Member

    I found a Model Power 2-6-0 with DCC and sound on the internet. Coupler height is wrong and the whistle is funky, but it runs nicely enough.

    Sent from my SM-N950U1 using Tapatalk
  5. bremner

    bremner Staff Member

    Is it possible to convert the first run 2-8-0 into a sound/DCC loco by just swapping out the tender?
  6. Massey

    Massey TrainBoard Member

    That is going to depend on how the engine's motor picks up power and if there is power pickups in the tender that feed the motor. If the tender does indeed feed power to the motor then it is a possibility. If the motor gets it power from the driver wheels and not the tender then no, it would take a bit more work. Also even if the tender supplies power to the motor the motor would also need to be isolated form the frame, in case it gets power from both the drivers/frame and the tender wheels.
  7. gatrhumpy

    gatrhumpy TrainBoard Member

    If you're willing to put in a little work yourself, then a Bachmann 4-6-0 and a Soundtraxx 2 or Soundtraxx Econami with sugar cube speaker would work well. I should know because I have one. Sounds and run a fantastic!
  8. NDave

    NDave TrainBoard Member

    Looking at Spookshow's reviews/comments (, it appears that the second run Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 from 2010, which is DCC-equipped (not sound), could be converted to sound relatively easily... but not with a simple "tender swap," unless you happen to have a DCC-sound equipped tender in your parts box. But the board in the tender is set up to have the decoder clipped out and replaced with another, which could be a sound decoder. Or, you can just strip everything from the tender (which makes more space), and install the decoder of your choice. If you do have a sound-equipped tender, it would be a relatively easy tender swap (I actually did this with my second 4-6-0, swapping in the factory Economi sound tender from my 2-8-0 when the 2-8-0 got its Vandy tender with Tsunami sound).

    The first run ("DCC-ready") Spectrum 2-8-0 from 2001 would be a bit more involved... you would have to route the wires for rail pickup, motor control, and the headlight back from the loco to the tender. But it could be done...

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