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Bachmann 2-8-0 Conversion

From Jim Scott, Wed 11 Feb 2004

After all these months of fear and procrastination, my conversion of the Bachmann N 2-8-0 to HOn30 is complete. Check out the photo on the group site: Bachmann 2-8-0 Conversion. It is my first attempt at a conversion, and it shows… at least close up. To explain the somewhat sloppy effort, I offer the following story:


On the Dragon’s Lair and Ravenroost Railway

Number 18 did not start out as she now appears, either in form or number. Delivered as a lovely but diminutive 2-8-0 from Baldwin, she was numbered #13. The engineer (driver) assigned to this beauty, O’Flannigan, nearly quit on the spot when he saw that unlucky number on the side of the cab. But, having a large family to support, he gamely took the loco on its first run,

Muttering all the while about impending misfortune and doom, he and his
fireman started down the rails.

Despite his misgivings, the Irishman had to agreee that the loco was the smoothest running he had ever driven, and his fireman noted she was easy to stoke. But as they speeded around a rather sharp curve, O’Flannigan’s predictions came to pass – they ran head on into a tree fallen over the track. The pilot was instantly ruined, and the poor engine proceeded off the rails and turned upside down.
Fortunately the crew escaped with cuts and bruises, despite the cab being nearly crushed. The domes and stack took a beating as well, O’Flannigan, in the true Irish manner, stood looking at the wreck and delivered a round of swearing that could have curdled fresh milk. His fireman, after a few beers, was later known to relate how the air turned red, birds fell dead from the sky, and the locomotive itself cringed and trembled at the onslaught of foul language. At any rate, the locomotive was eventually hauled back to the shops, where the railroad inspector declared her a total wreck..

O’Flannigan and the shop foreman thought othewise. The foreman saw at once that the running gear and the boiler were in fine shape, and said so. O’Flannigan was unwilling to give up such a good runner, and thought of a plan. He and the foreman had a private talk, and then proposed to have the loco running again in a week. A furious argument with the inspector resulted, and the outcome could have been bad news for the engine. But as fate would have it, the president and owner of the railroad happened by. Being a man willing to take a chance, and also being unwilling to scrap a brand-new, if somewhat damaged locomotive, he sided with O’Flannigan and the foreman. So the foreman and his crew worked furiously, day and night, and in five days the locomotive was ready to go. Her original pristine appearance, however, was gone forever. She had a rough-and-ready cab, a beam and steps in place of the original pilot, a used air pump from a standard gauge loco that was too big, and the sand dome had a permanent list to the front. But it all worked. They hooked the fixed loco up to a train, and summoned the inspector and the president. While these two gentlemen were being found, O’Flannigan disappeared
into the repair shed and returned with a can of paint and a brush. With no hesitation, he quickly added some paint to each side of the cab, turning the ’13′ easily into ’18′.

No more unlucky numbers for this Irishman! The president took one look at it, and to the delight of all, fired the inspector and then gave the rest cash bonuses out of his own pocket. Number 18 is now the pride of the railroad, and is kept in supurb condition by its crew and the men in the shop. ‘Flannigan’s only regret is that they would not let him paint her Emerald Green. It is rumored that the inspector is now a salesman for a company making diesel locomotives, and O’Flannigan and the others have vowed to lynch the rascal from the nearest bridge if he ever shows up on their line!

Sam, and others interested -

The boiler is the original boiler, scraped and sanded clean. I added boiler straps and did a homemade smokebox front that was more in scale. The original boiler accounts for the slope of the sand dome – I could have sworn I allowed for this when I was fitting it, but once glued on, it sloped. Hence the story. The cab was thrown together with styrene, took me two tries. I looked at various small locomotives in NG&SLG for inspiration. The tender is original, but with a wrapper to make it wider and slightly higher. The coal is real coal. Domes (C-16 modern), air pump, headlights, bell, and whistle are from Cal-Scale, and the stack is Keystone. I left the mechanism absolutely untouched – I do NOT trust myself to monkey around with one. If I had it to do over, I would obviously set the sand dome vertical, and would use a real pilot; I ran out of money at that point. I am pleased with the result, although it really is diminutive. Could use bigger wheels on the pilot truck. It does run very well.

Another thought about the minimum radius of the 2-8-0. I took a close look at mine, and I am pretty sure it will not go around a 10″ radius because
the cab is longer than the original. If you want the tight radius, be aware of this and adjust accordingly.

A note on the cab construction of my 2-8-0 conversion. As I mentioned in a previous post, it is sheet styrene. I made the roof using a technique from an old Gazette; I made the roof piece, then put it in the oven which was preheated to 150 degrees F. After about 2-3 minutes the plastic is soft. I placed it immediately over a drink can, which was the radius I was after, and taped it down. When it cooled it was permanently curved to the proper radius. I experimented first with scraps before doing the final roof piece; oven thermostats are not dependable.

Jim Scott

A (maybe) last note on the conversion. It is difficult to be too enthusiastic about the mechanism. It runs quiet and smooth, and pulls hard. I ran a train of 9 cars plus caboose around my dual gauge loop, and even at very slow speed it performed beautifully. My cars average about 1-1/4 oz. I recommend this mechanism to one and all.

Jim Scott

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