Bachmann Baldwin Outside Frame 4-4-0 in On30
Reviewed by Chris Lane
The latest On30 locomotive from Bachmann is a long, lean and smooth running Baldwin prototype. With its outside frame and counterweights, modern Baldwin 1912 details and slightly exotic “Ferro Latinia” appearance, this locomotive contrasts nicely with the older inside frame 4-4-0 Bachmann released last year. I think this lokie will appeal to many On30 modelers and should find itself gainfully employed in passenger and freight service on their layouts.
The model comes in the same sort of heavy cardboard window box we’ve seen in the last several Bachmann releases. The locomotive and tender are nestled in separate plastic clamshells that themselves are in clear plastic sleeves. This excellent packaging assures that your model is going to arrive safely and with its beautiful paint and finish in pristine condition.
Like previous Bachmann releases, they claim no specific prototype but rather label these as “catalog 30” gauge Baldwins.” For those of us who simply must find a prototype, we can look to the 30” gauge Sao Joao del Rei – Tiradentes railway in central Brazil. Part of this line has been preserved as an operating railway museum, and they roster two 4-4-0s and six 4-6-0s all built by Baldwin in 1912. I mention the ten-wheelers because save for the extra drivers, they are almost identical in appearance to the 4-4-0s and those are dead ringers for the Bachmann model.
The locomotives come in six different paint configurations and two cab styles; steel or wood. The steel cab is the “export” type meaning there is no rear wall facing the tender. The locomotive and tender are right at 12 actual inches coupler to coupler and if indeed Bachmann used the Baldwin drawings that the Brazilian locomotives were built from, the model matches published drawings in all major dimensions. The driver diameter is 37”, the boiler diameter is 40” and the lead truck wheels are 20”. The drivers may look a little strange as they are a solid design (no spokes or counterweights), but that is prototypically correct and is of little concern as the large counterweights and outside frame hide most of the driver anyway. The lead truck features either spoked or solid wheels installed, depending on the paint style, but Bachmann includes a complete truck with the spare parts, so the modeler can swap wheels types if they choose.
Speaking of extra parts, Bachmann has included the usual assortment of extra stacks, fuel loads, the afore-mentioned lead trucks and interchangeable road pilot, or switcher step assemblies. This choice, seen on the last few Bachmann releases, is especially nice because the road pilot includes a working E-Z-Mate knuckle coupler. The fuel loads include an oil bunker, a coal load and a wood load with an etched metal fence. The fence can also be used with the coal load by trimming the plastic coal pile slightly. The stacks are a modern straight stack, an ornate capped stack and a Rushton (brand name) or what is more commonly called an “onion” stack. Between the cab, paint and extra parts choices, the modeler can really personalize the look of their locomotive.
Rounding out the locomotive details are a modern Pyle or Sunbeam style headlight on both locomotive and tender, slide valve cylinders, Walschaert valve gear, a turbo generator mounted on the smokebox, a 9 ½” (nine and one half inch) air pump, boiler mounted bell, brass-colored single chime whistle and pop valves, sliding cab windows and a pretty complete set of cab fittings, pipes and appliances. Bachmann seems to retool their detail castings with every locomotive offering and that has lead to mixed results in the past. On this locomotive, I can find no fault with any of the details with the possible exception of the slide valves. The Brazilian engines have an extended outside-admission style of slide valves that is often seen on Walschaert-equipped locos. Bachmann choose to use an older style slide valve style, which would be fine, except I don’t find the proportions very appealing. The flanges seem very exaggerated and I can’t find any Baldwin pictures that match this style. A minor point to be sure, but previous Bachmann offerings have all had nice proportions and fidelity, so this stood out a bit.
Moving to the tender, it is a nice rendition of the stock Baldwin straight side (no flare) design and it scales out at 17’ end beam to end beam with a 7’ tank width. The tender trucks have a wheelbase of just under 4’ 6” and ride on 21 ½” (twenty one and one half inch) wheels. The factory-installed DCC decoder is located inside the tender and plugs into a standard 8-pin connector. The tender is also sound ready with a speaker ring and grille installed in the tender floor. Two sets of wires run from under the tender deck and plug into connectors hidden in the locomotive’s ashpan. These are locking connectors, and someone on one of the On30 lists suggested that you shave off the little tab on both the tender wire plugs. This has proven to be an excellent tip as the connectors are quite tight in normal use, and you don’t have to resort to pliers when you want to disassemble the locomotive and tender.
The paint and finish on the locomotive are excellent with my sample featuring red cab windows and doors, a red and brass front number plate, brass colored accents and builder’s plates, and opaque whiting striping and trim. I especially appreciate Bachmann’s rendition of the oil and graphite mix on the smokebox. My sample also featured a “Russian Iron” boiler jacket. Researchers continue to debate what color these planished metal jackets were, but the predominate school of thought is they were a light-to-medium polished metal that reflected the colors of the surroundings like the sky. I found the metallic grayish blue tint on the model pleasing. I plan on experimenting with coating it with a gloss finish. I think the added sheen may improve the look even a bit more.
The locomotive is factory-equipped with a dual-mode DCC decoder, meaning it will operate out of the box on either regular dc or DCC track power. Out of the box, this is the smoothest, quietest, and best-running On30 locomotive from Bachmann I’ve tested, and that is true by a considerable margin. The motor is equipped with a flywheel and transmits power through a gear tower to the first set of drivers. The lead truck demonstrates some interesting design features. Normally, a truck with a wheelbase as long as this would tend to raise the minimum radius quite a bit and is often mounted loosely under the cylinder saddle to get the radius as low as possible. This can lead to a truck that is prone to derailments. Bachmann’s design has the truck mounted to a long bar that pivots both back towards the front drivers and at the center of the truck assembly. The bar exerts positive downward pressure on the truck assembly while allowing it to pivot as much as possible. The wheels also have a good amount of lateral play in the truck assembly. All this leads to a locomotive that can run through tight curves without sacrificing scale appearance. I ran the locomotive through a variety of turnouts, vertical curves and radiuses down to 22” and the lead truck showed no signs of derailing or lifting. On smooth trackwork, I suspect the locomotive can go around an even smaller radius, but did not test that theory.
1600 E. Erie Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19124
Baldwin Outside Frame 4-4-0
Final layout testing was done on the Cheyenne Mountain Southern. This layout was built by the On30 Annual’s Editor-at-Large, Don Strait. The locomotive showed good pulling power handling eight Bachmann passenger cars on the level and five up the 3% grade out of Cheyenne Springs without slipping or stalling. In fact, the locomotive performed so well that Don insisted on keeping it for “further testing.” Last time I was over, I noticed the locomotive was wearing No. 27 and had Cheyenne Mountain Southern lettering emblazed on the tender. I don’t think I am getting this loco back! Once again Bachmann has found an interesting prototype and given the On30 modeler an excellent performing locomotive with a unique appearance and the ability to alter that appearance by swapping around some of the details. It is fun to look at, fun to operate, and ultimately, fun to own.