Reply To: Bachmann 64xx conversion

Members Forum RTR Conversions Locos Bachmann 64xx conversion Reply To: Bachmann 64xx conversion

John Cutler

    Well, I empathise with Gerald as I nearly returned to OO myself. What stopped me?

    1.       OO track still looks too narrow for me, even though appearances have improved unbelievably from the old Peco Streamline days. In EM we now have Ready-To-Lay B6 turnouts and a growing variety of Finetrax kits which reduce a lot of the effort required to build an EM layout to a fine standard. A practical disadvantage of EM is that the minimum curve for mainline stock is probably about 30” (76cms) but much less in OO; such tight curves look too toy-train for me (but OK for a dockside/industrial layout). Hide such tight corners by putting them in a cutting or behind a scenic break.

    2.       The appearance of most OO RTR locos has improved unbelievably in recent years. However chassis and pick-up designs have been left behind. Very few locos are fully sprung and I am unaware of any that are compensated. The result can be motion that is far from smooth. The accepted wisdom seems to be to add a DCC chip and Stay-Alive to overcome pick-up problems; I am unconvinced. Some RTR locos such as Bachmann’s 57xx and 8750 panniers are sprung on the centre axle which improves pick-up greatly. Others have extra pick-ups on tenders which can transform performance. For many RTR small tank engines I am inclined to build a new chassis. If you are into electronics, a new chassis gives one flexibility in planning the internal layout; most RTR tank locos are fitted with inflexible lumps of chassis to maximise weight on the wheels. For me, not into chips at all (yet), the space gives flexibility to fit in a radio control receiver and battery. To summarise, you do not need a new chassis to convert to EM but for some locos it may be a good idea, depending on your aims.

    I agree with Gerald that loco conversions from RTR are far from simple (although they may be for diesels and EMUs). I cannot say I enjoy the process but I have learned a lot. Would I be content to forget everything and tolerate poorer standards in RTR OO? I suspect I would end up adopting the fine OO/SF standard (using Finetrax kits!) so I may as well stay with EM!

    3.       Tolerances are much looser in OO. One unfortunate effect is that rolling stock can have more lateral movement. This can look odd and might lead to derailments but also can make coupling difficult; one suspects couplings based on centring like AJs will not work well. Buffer locking on curves is likely to be an issue. As for reversing a 12-coach main-line corridor train through a reverse curve crossover……………

    4.       Rolling stock conversions from RTR tend to be fairly straightforward.; replace with new wheels or even just pull out the RP25 RTR wheels to EM gauge.

    Personally I prefer to aim at running a small number of EM locos on a small finescale layout to running a big shedload of RTR locos (although I have been tempted to collect far too many!). If I wanted to run a mainline at home then OO certainly has attractions in being able to achieve something quickly; the time saved can be spent building a large layout to run the stock on. I would not recommend building a mainline in EM (or P4) at home; it is unlikely to get finished. Instead run your EM trains on a club layout or collaborate with friends to achieve the same ends. Having said all this, EM comes at an extra cost which is considerable when totalled. Hopefully one of the RTR brands will break ranks and manufacture EM locos but do not hold your breath!

    Apologies to Andrew that this has drifted a bit Off Topic. I just wanted to balance Gerald’s comments a little so you are not unduly dissuaded from giving up on EM!