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Bachmann Spectrum’s Modern 4-4-0

July 1, 2008


This locomotive is certianly a welcome addition to the excellent roundhouse of steam locomotives Bachmann’s SPECTRUM line has created since the 1998 Debut of their 2-8-0. It’s based on a post-1900 design for a 4-4-0, which by that time that wheel arrangement was approaching obscelence in the erecting halls and design departments of every major locomotive works. As trains got longer and heavier, it necessitated the need for larget and larger steam locomotives, pushing the 4-4-0 from the Mainline to the Branchlines by 1930 all across the U.S. as the “Americans” didn’t have enough tractive effort to haul an entire train of steel heavyweight coaches. Most evetually trickled down from the large railroads and became a staple locomotive of most average shortlines and regional railroads, handling way freights, short branchline passenger trains (2-3 cars),  and Maintenece of Way (MOW) assignments. The 4-4-0’s began to lose favor after the 1917 law to mandate steel frames and bodies for passenger cars, which drastically increased the average weight of a passenger train considerably. Those high drivered locomotives which were usually built for fast passenger service couldn’t perform the task they were designed for and over the next 40 years, they were gradually sold, preserved in museums, or scrapped.

The Prototype for this locmotive is Ma&Pa (Maryland and Pennslyvania) #5. It was built in 1901 by the richmond locomotive works and had 62″ drivers that could deliver 16,640lbs of tractive effort at 180psi.

This locomotive is exquisitely detailed, all seperate piping, astounding small details like a completely accurate builder’s plate for the Richmond Locomotive work is what really makes for a realistic model.


This locomotive comes absolutely LOADED with extra goodies. I purchased the Undecorated Steel Cab version, but this locomotive comes in SO MANY variations and so many extra details to satisfy most steam era modelers! Here’s a selection of the most distictive versions of this model.

Southern Railway Rebuild, centered hooded headlight, dual airpumps, steel cab.


“Russian Iron” Version, very detailed gold/brass striping. Wood Cab, single airpump.

Ma&Pa #5, the exact prototype for this locomotive.  

(These three images above are from

SEE THE ENTIRE LINE OF LOCOMOTIVES HERE:–steam-4-4-0-american–modern—-dcc–powered.html 


 Here are the parts that come with your Undecorated locomotive. (from left to right) Mulitple inserts for the front of the tender depending on the type of fuel carried. (wood and welded steel are represented there) a Coal load, a switcher footboard pilot, a fuel oil bunker, a Passenger “tube” pilot, and an unusual solid (sheet metal) pilot. All of these details are VERY easy to change out depending on what you wish to model.

Do make note that this model comes with two types of cylinders, the modern cylinders on my model, and the older “steam chest” square cylinders, which are on the stock photos of Ma& PA #5 above.

Here is the installed corded wood load for the tender, an EXCELLENt painted resin casting. It even comes with the accessory woodpile on the front of the tender too! The “hungry boards” metal railing that encircles the woodload snaps easily into place and it’s made from stamped metal, a prototypically nice touch. Also note the chains dangling down on the trucks, which were used for safety reasons in the case of a derailment, they wouldn’t go anywhere.  


 Let me say right off the bat that this is NOT IN ANY WAY A STRONG PULLER. I managed about 6 cars on somewhat level track, the cars were mostly free-rolling. I don’t want to think of its performance on grades, yikes.

Despite it being gutless, the DCC decoder installed inside was remarkably responsive, and the motor was a little noisy, but not annoying or offensively loud, just a soft purr. It programmed easily with my digitrax zephyr, I changed its number in lesss than 30 seconds.

It runs very smoothly, and seems to take my less than perfect trackwork just like the prototype, with suprising ease! It stayed on the tracks like glue, and handled well through a variety of switches, from #4 up.

Thanks to their decoders, I’d imagine that double or even triple heading these spunky little locomotives would be easy and a lot of fun!

On Your Layout

I would assign this locomotive to a short (2-4 car) passenger train.

This would be an ideal locomotive to haul a “milk train” or a pre-1930 “fast mail.”

On my layout, it will be holding down a variety of light switching applications and something akin to the “mixed train daily” when it’s not running reefers of ice between ice plants and ice houses, handling a private car excursion or perhaps even helping out with the MOW train.

I’m sure you can find a home for at least two of these great locomotives, I would probably doublehead them often if only because then they would be able to pull something, and look mighty fine doing so.




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