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Bachmann N scale passenger cars

Read this review from the January 2017 Model Railroader
Bachmann Trains N scale passenger cars
The new Bachmann N scale streamlined passenger cars include (from bottom, clockwise): a baggage car, observation car, and coach.
The N scale streamlined observation car features a rounded end.
All the cars feature one-piece detailed interiors (coach shown). The coach and observation car have overhead LED lighting.

If it’s time to streamline the passenger service on your N scale layout, Bachmann has the cars for you. Three new fluted-side cars are available in three liveries, plus painted silver but unlettered.

The prototype. Bachmann offers a coach, observation, and baggage car in its new line. The coach matches drawings for a Budd Co. 48-seat car built for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe in 1953 for service on the El Capitan. In 1971, most of the 45 cars went to Amtrak.

The prototype for the observation car was built by Pullman-Standard for Pullman service on the joint Rock Island-Southern Pacific Golden Rocket. The car, named La Mirada, was delivered in 1948, and sold for dismantling in 1971.

The baggage car is similar to 21 cars Santa Fe ordered from Budd in early 1941 and took delivery of in early 1942. The cars were retired between 1968 and 1970.

The models. The coach measures to within inches of drawings I found in The Passenger Car Library Vol. 5, Santa Fe and Southern Pacific by W. David Randall (RPC Publications, 2002). Window locations match published photos, although they lack the center mullions of the prototype. The molded-on roof grab irons on our sample were on the opposite end of the car from the prototype photo I referenced. The interior, molded in tan plastic, matches the layout in Randall’s book.

Our samples were painted for the Pennsylvania RR. The railroad had Budd cars in its Senator and Congressional trains, but the window layout of those cars was different, and the observation had a blunt end, rather than a round end. The silver paint is evenly applied, and the Tuscan Red paint on the letter boards is opaque. All lettering and logos are sharp and easy to read.

The baggage car’s body measured about 2 scale feet longer than the plan in Randall’s book, but the overall length of the car over the buffers was within scale inches. The longer body resulted in a truck center spacing about 2 scale feet too long. The extra 2 feet also showed up in the distance between the baggage doors.

The observation car measured within inches of drawings in The Official Pullman-Standard Library Vol. 8, Rock Island, by W. David Randall and William G. Anderson (Railway Production Classics, 1990). The window locations matched published photos in the book, but the model’s fluting is different, matching the pattern of Bachmann’s other two cars. Like the Budd cars, the roof is fluted, but Pullman-Standard cars had a smooth roof. Finally, the interior layout differs in some details from the Rock Island car.

I removed the shells by spreading the sides of the cars and pulling on the trucks to remove the floor and interior. When reassembling the car, be careful of the two springs that carry current up to the roof-mounted light-emitting diode (LED) light bars.

The trucks are simplified General Steel Castings type 41-N with rotary-arm snubbers. The 9-foot wheelbase is 6" longer than the prototype. Turned metal wheels are pressed onto plastic axles.

I twisted three wheelsets slightly to pull them into gauge. Plastic knuckle couplers are mounted at the correct height in swinging draft-gear boxes that allow the cars to negotiate tight model railroad curves. Optional Rapido-type couplers are included.

The cars all weigh 1.4 ounces each, matching National Model Railroad Association Recommended Practice RP-20.1 for N scale car weight. These free-rolling cars had no trouble negotiating the 13"radius curves and Peco medium turnout staging ladders of our 2015 N scale Red Oak project layout.

Although there are some detail discrepancies on two of these cars, they all performed well and share features for many railroads. Modelers wishing to add passenger operations to their layouts have three good options here.

Price: $49, baggage car;
$59 coach and observation

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

Era: 1952 to 1971 (as decorated)

Roadnames: Pennsylvania RR; Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; Baltimore & Ohio; painted silver but unlettered

▪▪Body-mounted E-Z Mate Mark II couplers at correct height
▪▪Lighted interior (coach and observation)
▪▪Metal wheels on plastic axles
▪▪Weight: 1.4 ounces

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