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Bachmann Trains HO scale Climax locomotive

Read this review from Model Railroader
Bachmann HO scale Climax steam locomotive
Bachmann HO scale Climax locomotive
Angled connecting rods whir away and the chuffing sounds of the exhaust become louder and more rapid as the Climax slowly but steadily climbs the hill. Is this a scene from the Appalachian backwoods? No, it’s the Bachmann Spectrum three-truck Climax on our HO scale Milwaukee, Racine & Troy layout. Equipped with a SoundTraxx Tsunami Digital Command Control (DCC) sound decoder, this Bachmann Spectrum series locomotive is an accurate model of gear-driven steam locomotive in motion.

The prototype. The Climax Manufacturing Co. of Corry, Pa., began building geared locomotives in the late 19th century. Like Heisler and Shay locomotives, Climax geared locomotives could handle sharp curves, steep grades, and unballasted, often temporary track. The geared locomotives proved ideal for logging, mining, and industrial applications.
The prototype for the Bachmann model is a class C 70-ton Climax (shop no. 1551) that was delivered in 1919 to the Moore-Keppel Co. of Ellamore, W.Va. The locomotive served as Moore-Keppel no. 6 until the lumber mill closed in 1946. The coal-hauling Middle Fork RR, also located in West Virginia, then purchased no. 6 for standby power. The locomotive was retired in 1960.

Acquired by Cass Scenic RR in 1970 and surviving a shop fire in 1972, the Climax (now Cass no. 9) sat on the railroad’s dead line for 30 years. In 2002, the Mountain State Railroad Logging & Historical Association began work to restore the Climax to operating condition. For more information on this ongoing restoration, visit
Bachmann HO scale Climax steam locomotive-separate parts
The die-cast metal model has many separate parts, including an operating backup light.
The model. The Bachmann model is made primarily of die-cast metal. The quality of molded details, such as boiler bands and rivet seams, is excellent. Separate detail parts include all piping and handrails, both domes, and the bell, whistle, and air pump. The placement of all the parts matches the prototype.

Bachmann HO scale Climax steam locomotive-diamond smokestack and oil bunker
A diamond smokestack and an oil bunker are included.
The straight smokestack and coal load are removable for modelers who want to change the appearance of the model. A user-installed diamond smokestack and an oil bunker are included.

The cab interior has an accurately detailed boiler backhead and clear glazing in all the windows. There aren’t any engineer or fireman figures, but modelers may easily add their own.

Bachmann HO scale Climax steam locomotive-LED headlight and knuckle couplers
The model features an operating LED headlight and knuckle couplers.
The model’s satin black finish is smooth and even. The firebox and smokebox are painted dark graphite, while the cab roof is flat black.

There are round builder’s plates printed on each side of the smokebox. Both climax mfg. and corry, pa. are legible under magnification.

Mechanism. The can motor and flywheel are inside the boiler. The motor is attached to a gearbox that moves the flywheels, metal connecting rods, and the valve gear. Like a prototype Climax, driveshafts connect the model’s main gearbox to gearboxes in all the trucks.

I removed the water tank shell and coal bunker following isometric drawings included with the model. The DCC decoder and downward-facing speaker are inside the water tank. A two-wire and four-wire harness run from the decoder to sockets on a printed-circuit (PC) board under the coal bunker. This PC board is also connected to the motor.

HO scale three-truck Climax
Performance. Operating on direct current (DC), the Climax started moving at 8.5 volts, but ran jerkily. The motion smoothed out at 9 volts. You can adjust the decoder’s analog starting voltage, which will help the model run more smoothly at slow speed in DC. However, you need a DCC system or an MRC Tech 6 DC sound controller to program the analog starting voltage configuration variable (CV63).

In DCC the model also ran jerkily at slow speed. To fix this I programmed the model’s DCC starting voltage (CV2) to a value of 60. The locomotive then ran smoothly from 4 scale mph to a prototypical top speed of 13 scale mph.

The locomotive should be able to handle the short trains of a logging, mining, or industrial railroad. On our layout the Climax pulled 15 HO freight cars on a level main line. The Climax also hauled six HO scale 50-foot freight cars up a
3 percent grade.

Sound. In DC, sound effects, including the air pump and blower started at 6 volts. Exhaust sounds began when the model started moving, but these effects weren’t synchronized to the motion of the drive rods.
Bringing the locomotive to a stop or flipping the direction switch triggers whistle signals (one toot for stop, two for forward, and three for reverse). You can turn off this feature or program other sound effects to be triggered in DC, but to do so requires a DCC system.

There is more control over the sound effects when running the Climax with a DCC system. User triggered sound effects include the bell, long whistle blast, and short whistle blast. Function 6 triggers a water stop sequence.

The SoundTraxx Tsunami’s Dynamic Digital Exhaust (DDE) sounds like recordings of prototype Climax locomotives that I’ve heard. There are four chuffs per flywheel revolution. The intensity of the chuffing sounds varies according to the load placed on the locomotive, providing a realistic effect.
I improved the synchronization of the exhaust sound to the motion of the valve gear by setting CV116 to a value of 100. There are many other programmable CVs available with the Tsunami decoder, including an equalizer. The model comes with a user manual on CD-ROM.

Especially when run on a DCC layout, the Bachmann Climax brought the sights and sounds of its prototype to life.
Price: $495.00 (DCC sound), $350.00 (DCC, no sound)

Bachmann Trains, Inc.
1400 E. Erie Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19124

Road names: Cass Scenic RR, Clear Lake Lumber Co., Climax Mfg. Co. demonstrator, Moore-Keppel & Co. no. 6. Painted unlettered versions available with or without white stripes and red cab window sash.

Era: 1919 to 1960

  • All-wheel drive and electrical pickup
  • Blackened metal wheels in gauge
  • Can motor with brass flywheel
  • Die-cast metal construction
  • E-Z Mate Mark II operating knuckle couplers mounted at correct height
  • Eight-pin Digital Command Control socket
  • Light-emitting diode (LED) headlight and backup light
  • Metal Walschaerts valve gear
  • Minimum radius: 15"
  • Prototype-specific air pumps
  • SoundTraxx Tsunami Digital Command Control sound decoder (DCC sound version)
  • Weight: 10.5 ounces

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