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Bachmann HO flashing rear-end device

Read this review from the April 2018 Model Railroader
Truck shown with coupler removed

Flashing rear-end devices, or FREDs, started taking the place of cabooses on trains starting in the 1970s. The small rectangular boxes are now a ubiquitous part of modern-era railroading. Bachmann Trains is offering a light-emitting-diode (LED) illuminated HO scale FRED that works on direct-current (DC) or Digital Command Control (DCC) track power.

Also called an End-Of-Train Device (ETD or EOT device), modern FREDs not only mark the end of a train with a flashing light, but also monitor brake pressure and feed other information to a Head-Of-Train Device (HTD or HOT device), colloquially called a “Wilma.”

Bachmann’s FRED is available installed on a ready-to-run HO scale American Car & Foundry 50-foot exterior-­post boxcar, or in a user-installed version that includes a Barber 100-ton S-2 freight truck.

Either version comes attached to the knuckle of a non-operating plastic Bachmann E-Z Mate coupler. The FRED measures HO scale 9.5" x 9.5" x 34", which is close to the dimensions of a typical prototype device.

The FRED is controlled by an unobtrusive circuit board attached to the top of the truck. Current is picked up by the blackened metal wheels on both sides of the truck and conducted by metal plates behind the truck’s sideframes. The truck is exceptionally free-rolling, and on the version installed on the boxcar, the short, flexible wires connecting the circuit board to the FRED didn’t interfere with the pivoting of the truck. The boxcar had no problems negotiating the 18" curves and no. 5 turnouts on our Beer Line project layout.

I tested the FRED-equipped truck on DC and DCC layouts. The red LED started flashing at 6V DC, and blinked continuously on a DCC-powered track. The FRED doesn’t contain a decoder, so it can’t be controlled by a DCC throttle.

The 50-foot American Car & Foundry exterior-post boxcar is the same Silver Series model that’s been sold by Bachmann for many years. Our Railbox review sample matched dimensions on a prototype diagram in the 1980 Car Builder’s Cyclopedia (Simmons-Boardman). The body shell was molded in yellow plastic, rather than being painted Railbox Yellow. The car’s lettering was crisp and opaque, the wheels were in gauge, and the couplers were mounted at the correct height.

Bachmann’s FRED makes it easier for HO scale railroaders to model an important aspect of modern prototype practice.

Price: User-installed, $24; installed on 50-foot exterior-post boxcar, $52

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

Era: 1970s to present

Road names: Railbox, Burlington Northern, Canadian National, CSX, and Greenville & Northern (FRED also available separately with truck)

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