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A Review: Bachmann Spectrum 2-10-0 Russian Decapod

July 17, 2008


 The Overall View of Bachmann's 2-10-0


“With the advent of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the Baldwin Locomotive Works was forced to stop shipment of more than one hundred 2-10-0 locomotives originally bound for Czarist Russia. These “orphan” locomotives later found homes with American railroad companies and helped relieve a scarcity of motive power following World War I. Faithful to detail, each road name of this Spectrum® model has been customized per prototype.” (From Bachmann’s Own Site)

Closeup of firebox

” In the United States, the 2-10-0 was not popular but was a favorite of a small number of railroads, mostly in mountainous terrain.
The 2-10-0’s main advantage was that five out of six of its axles were powered, meaning almost all the weight was available for traction rather than being distributed over pilot and trailing wheels. The long rigid wheelbase , caused problems on tightly curved track, so blind drivers were the norm, either on the central axle, and/or on the second and/or fourth axles. Oftenlateral motion devices
were attached to the leading driven axles.” (Quoted from Wikipedia, retrieved March 5th 2007)
Bachmann’s Prototype depicted the locomotive which came to be known as the “Russian Decapod,” which derives it’s name from the 200 orphaned 5′ 0″ gauge Czarist Russian locomotives, built in the US by Baldwin and Alco. I believe the Bachmann model depicts the Baldwin prototype, built in 1917. The Russians ordered many more, but 200 were left at the plant in Schenectady, NY, at the time of the Communist Revolution. The order was canceled, and Baldwin had to sell these locally, to US roads. This was still WW1 at the time, so the USRA handed them over (after re-gauging them to Standard 4″ 8 1/2″ Gauge) to roads in need. Of all these roads, the ERIE had the most of them.
My model, Atchinson, Topeka, and Santa Fe’s #2552 depicts these real Russian Decapods bought by the Kansas City, New Mexico, and Orient in 1918. Here’s an excerpt from the Santa Fe all-time steam roster listing the CORRECT numbers of these Locomotives:
25542554-2556Baldwin191831934ex-Kansas City Mexico & Orient25652565-2569Baldwin192551955ex-Kansas City Mexico & Orient
( Retrieved on March 5th, 2007)
I have to hand it to Bachmann, as Maxwell Smart would say “Missed it by THAT much!” Only two road numbers off (from 2554), the number (#2552) belonging to another KCMO locomotive, one of two Alco-Cooke 2-8-0’s. However, Bachmann may offer (or does already) a correctly numbered 2554, I have seen photos of one on display.

Now THIS is a miniature work of art!

The Bachmann 2-10-0 Decapod is one of the more beautiful models of “small” steam out there! It features a nicely detailed boiler back head with Johnson Bar (throttle lever) among other piping and gauges. The Firebox has crisp, accurate riveting, and features a rare treat: the Front of the Firebox is unobstructed, so you have a complete firebox, without the mechanism getting in the way. The lettering is extremely crisp, in all places. The Number boards also feature nicely crisp numbers. ALL the piping on this model is separate, which is a very nice touch. ALL the handrails are scale-sized metal wire, as are the hand railing on the boiler. The bell is an amazingly detailed metal casting, one of the best I’ve ever seen, and the coupler lift bars really lift!

The only disappointments in the looks department, is that the figures (for both the firemen and engineer) are poorly molded, and even painted worse, I’d suggest replacing them with a pair of Woodland Scenic Engineers, or a La belle Crew. Another complaint is the strange manner in which they attach the front of the cylinders. It’s almost a throwback to their Pancake motored 0-6-0, in the way that the reasonably loose metal casting, which fell off after a small bit of running, bit this can be fixed if it happens to yours VERY easily by very carefully applying a small amount of CA adhesive (super glue) to the TOP (smaller) cylinder, and pushing it shut.

Cyliner woes.

A cool feature included with every new Bachmann DCC locomotive with sound, is the little bag of coal, to weather the model, or to place behind the coal bunker to simulate spilled coal. Attach this with a light 50/50 Elmer’s glue/water mix, or a liberal spray of Testor’s Dullcoat over the spilled load.

Pickup on ALL drivers and tender trucks! Finally.

Here’s it’s main weak point, but it may change after some more run time. Right out of the box, the drivers were not in “quarter,” which was due to a slightly askew (not straight) driving rod. I fixed this quickly. Mine had a strange thumping in the first driver, and I had that fixed with a little tinkering. After being broken in, it managed relatively slow speeds, good for switching, with a medium top speed, just like the prototype.
The Decoder responded well, and the motor seems a little strained for some reason, and has a bit of trouble in reverse. After a few months of running this great locomotive, it’s evened out considerably, and now operates SILKY SMOOTH.
It can pull between 8 and 10 cars on straight and level track, a bit too weak compared to the prototype. It doesn’t slip very freely under load, and had trouble before it was broken in with curves below 24″ with a load, although It may be just my track.  It can now handle an 18″ radius with ease and loks good doing so.

WOW. The Tsunami sound is the Best I’ve ever heard, hands down. It beats the BLI mikado, in clarity, whistle timber, and flexibility. It comes with these, sharp, crisp, and LOUD sounds. The sound is loud w/o causing tender vibration in factory mode. Here’s a list of sounds:

  • F1- Nice, slow, realistic bell clang, suprisingly crisp
  • F2-Fantastic Long whistle sound, also well recorded.
  • F3-Perfect short whistle blast, it was included to make realistic signaling easier.
  • F4- Blowdown Valve, not white noise! I’m impressed at how realistic it sounds, and the variation in tone is nice.
  • F5- Dynamo- I swear, it was so real, I had to do a double take!
  • F6- This is the COOLEST FEATURE EVER! You hear the tender hatch squeak open, then water trickles for a moment, then starts to rush into the tender, then by pressing F6 again, the water slows, stops, the hatch squeaks shut, and you’re off!
  • F7- Coupler Clank- Nice, but only one version, so it could get repetitive.
  • By changing the Direction, you hear the engineer notch the johnson bar forward, or backward, nice touch!
  • By adjusting the throttle, you hear the real 4 chuffs per rotation, while stopped, you hear the air-pump work, and you hear the drivers clank in motion, and as you decrease throttle, you hear a great brake squeal.
  • Once you’re at speed and cut the throttle, the chuff quiets and it glides with only a slight knocking/clanking sound of the siderods as it coasts, which is a very realistic, well thought out touch.  

The sound is unparalleled, compared to brands of less, equal, or greater price, the Tsunami takes you back to the age of steam just by putting the locomotive on the rails.

Tender closeup.

Altogether, a FANTASTIC locomotive, a bit light in the hoof, but, perfect for little locals on flat land, perhaps a mixed freight. It’s an amazing thing to see it plodding along, and I think despite it’s minor (and FIXABLE!) performance setbacks, It’ll find a way onto your roster, into your engine house, and into your heart. I’ve owned, and operated ALOT of DCC Sound equipped steam, and I’m most impressed with this product. Go get one today!

28 Comments leave one →
  1. Ken Pinchak permalink
    August 11, 2008 10:41 pm

    I’ve just acquired one of these in a lot of other locos and cars. It is an AT&SF with the 2554 road number mentioned in the review.

  2. Guillermo Patterson permalink
    September 4, 2008 8:28 pm

    I am looking for buy a DCC steamer. Thanks for your information. It is very helpfull for me. I decided buy one in few hours. In a close future I will write you with my opinion. Thanks a lot . Guillermo

  3. Sean permalink
    February 12, 2009 11:27 pm

    Thanks for the information, my loco seems to strain as well, I hope it clears up after a break in period.
    How do you access the gears to oil it? Do you need to oil it?

    Any help will be appreciated!


  4. Sean permalink
    February 24, 2009 5:33 pm

    Hey Sean here again,
    So Ive done what Ive consider a decent break in and I still cannot pull anything and the motor seems to strain….still. What did you do to correct the “slightly askew (not straight) driving rod.”?
    At this point Im going to send it back to Bachmann for them to fix or replace.


  5. James Miller permalink
    May 5, 2010 8:38 pm

    I bought one and did some intensive modifications to it. I lowered the boiler, added an Alco tank wrapper, firebox and cab with various cal-scale fittings, to convert it to an Alco Mineret 2-10-2 tank logging engine. Modified the entire motor and geartrain assembly (dual flywheels with lowered gears to run at 52 scale mph). I modified the sound board to fit into the enlarged boiler cavity. I added shot weight where space allowed. It now easily pulls 40+ 4.3oz loaded log cars up a 2.2% grade on my layout (Harrison and Tokul Creek Lumber Company).

  6. Brian permalink
    June 25, 2010 12:05 am

    I just purchased a Bachmann 2-10-0 decapod like the one you mentioned. It was unlettered, and with a little modifications, it turned into a model of the Strasburg Railroad’s #90. One thing that bothers me, though, is the headlight on the top of the boiler, which has the ‘eyelid’ on it. Do you know where I could find one that doesn’t have the ‘eyelid’, that’s compatible with this model? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • June 25, 2010 12:21 am


      Cal-Scale is the best company to go for for any brass steam detail parts. They have all types of common steamer headlamps you could use on Strasburg #90. I would also suggest perhaps taking an exacto knife to the leadlamp visor to remove it, but it’s not an ideal solution.

    • dmolavi permalink
      October 25, 2010 7:58 pm

      What Bachmann item number did you purchase? I’m looking to model the Strasburg as well…what modifications did you have to make…?

      • Brian permalink
        April 4, 2011 11:55 pm

        My comment is below (I’m wasn’t very well-acquainted with the site when I commented). Also, if you have a Facebook account, you can search the page “Strasburg Model Railroad” where you can see pictures of my model 90 and other engines I have made into “Strasburg” engines. I hope that helps!

    • December 25, 2010 5:07 am

      That 2-10-0 #90 was originally a Great Western locomotive in Colorado. It might be currently “owned” by the Strasburg, and hauling tourists today, but to many it will always be a Great Western freight engine.

      Thinking of that engine as a “Strasburg” engine is the same kind of non-historical thinking that calls ex-Gulf Mobile and Northern 4-6-2 # 425 a “Reading” locomotive because its present owners want it to be something it never was, and try to make it that by painting it blue and destroying historical details.

      • Brian permalink
        April 4, 2011 11:51 pm

        Well, pf, 90 has been working for the Strasburg longer than it worked for the Great Western. Railroads can do whatever they want with the locomotives because it’s their property, and they’re not historical landmarks. I applaud the Strasburg for an excellent job with the liveries on their engines. They are, in fact, STRASBURG engines, and they have done a fine job making it so, but also adopting the engine’s original liveries.

  7. Brian permalink
    November 6, 2010 2:56 am

    I recieved a Susquehanna 2-10-0 for my birthday. It wasn’t working right, so Bachmann sent an unlettered 2-10-0. I went to Cal-Scale, and bought customization parts, printed the lettering from pictures of the engine itself and pasted them on the locomotive. Good luck! I’d like to see photos, so send some to me when you are done at

    • Brian permalink
      April 4, 2011 11:58 pm

      I bought a PRR headlight (with no visor) and I printed up the lettering on my computer with pictures of 90 I had taken when I was down in Strasburg. I also bought a new cowcatcher for the front look of Strasburg 90. I am, however, looking for dry-transfer decals for the tender and cab of 90.

  8. January 14, 2011 7:07 pm

    To quote you: “Right out of the box, the drivers were not in “quarter,” which was due to a slightly askew (not straight) driving rod. I fixed this quickly. Mine had a strange thumping in the first driver, and I had that fixed with a little tinkering.”

    Q: Mine also has that strange thumping in the main drivers and it will freeze on the track. How did you fix that? Thanks,

  9. January 14, 2011 7:09 pm

    I was referring to the Bachmann Decapod in the last email. Thanks,

  10. Brian permalink
    April 5, 2011 12:31 am

    For anyone that can answer this, I have a question: Other than the obvious “What country it was made for”, what are the differences between a “Standard” Baldwin decapod and a “Russian” decapod? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • April 5, 2011 12:49 am

      The Differences are so numerous that there should be a different model made for these entirely.

      The Russian Decapod drawings are available in the Model Railroad Cyclopedia – Volume 1: Steam Locomotives, 1960, page 60

      The Baldwin 2-10-0 (ex-Great Western Ry, now the aforementioned #90) drawings and plans are in the March 1969 Model Railroader (The Ubiquitous Berkshire Issue, Page 43)

      • Brian permalink
        April 5, 2011 7:10 pm

        Thank-you so much for your help!

  11. Pat Wade permalink
    June 5, 2011 5:53 pm

    Just opened my locomotive. After reading the above was concerned about its running ability. Put it on the club layout and it did not move; the sound was great though. Turned it over and observed an apparent bind in the rodding. Fxed it with a small screw driver, bent one link slightly to bette clear the connecting rivet. It then ran only at a high throttle setting.

    Put it out on the main line and let it run for an hour. The starting speed came down dramatically. I then started adding freight cars. By the end of 2 hours it was running steadily at a very low speed. It also tracks very well through diamonds and turnouts.

    I don’t think that will be a great hauler, however it does run very well and looks great. Another club member tweeked the volume on the whistle and bell.

    I still need to change the crew figures and give it some time in reverse to lower that speed.

    Over all I’m very happy with the locomotive.

  12. June 23, 2011 7:39 pm

    Is it possible to install the Tsunami Sound in a locomotive the doesn’t have DCC? I bought one without the DCC or sound, but after hearing ones with sound, i’d like sound. Any help is appreciated. Thanks!

    • June 24, 2011 2:56 pm

      Or is there any sound system with Tsunami quality that doesn’t require DCC?

  13. January 29, 2012 9:33 pm

    As this is written (in January 2012), I have been sifting through my MR archive and do not see this model offered in any of the ads the magazine consistently runs in recent editions; the most recent I can find is 2009. Does Bachman still make this model and how can I purchase one? Nearest hobby shop is far away and I’d like to know I am not chasing a goose.

  14. Bob permalink
    April 27, 2013 4:05 pm

    I’ve had three pre-DCC versions of these. The first smoked its motor with less than 1 hour on it. The second was DOA. The third quit running – just quit – after about 20 minutes. I will never buy another Bachmann loco, thank you.

  15. David permalink
    February 9, 2014 1:42 pm

    @ Brian
    Yes Sir, You can install Tsunami sound in a non-DCC Loco. These decoders are dual-mode, meaning, they work on dc or dcc. If you know a little about electronics or can follow simple instructions you can install a sound decoder.
    Do a little research on the prototype locomotive your working on. Look up the website for Tsunami decoders…they have sample sounds for their decoders. Its awesome! I model some brass locomotives and installed several of these decoders. A little trick I learned to save money and ease of operation is to find an aux. tender. Bachmann makes some nice ones…..Install the decoder in the aux. tender and then you can run it behind any/all of your locomotives. I suggest the Spectrum aux tenders because they are pre wired with pick-ups and this makes the install super-easy. Sometimes the sound decoder is more trouble than its worth when installed in an individual locomotive…there can be up to 8 wires connecting the loco/tender…this can present problems. It can also get expensive when you accidentally let the magic smoke out of the decoder….you’ll find out about that if you do this long enough.

  16. April 7, 2014 9:33 pm

    Mine was a year old. Stripped the main gear. (Plastic). Been in the hobby shop for over a year now still waiting for repairs. Instead of replacing main gear—they sent complete running gear, wheels, rods and all! Motor is now fried. I had customized it into a CPR engine. My hobby shop does not know what is going on with Bachmann. Neither do I—frustrating! Do they ever read these comments?

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