Large Scale Central

A Tale of Two 4-4-0s

For the past few weeks, Tim and I have been restoring a couple of Bachmann Spectrum 4-4-0s. One came from a museum and seems to have been dropped and trampled on, not to mention having really dull brass and no coupling rods:

The other came in a barn sale from Ohio, and was the plain blue painted-but-unlettered version. However, it came in pieces:

Tim is helping out the museum, which is why we bought the Ohio stash - to give him parts to fix the museum 4-4-0. However, it turned out his museum loco was the valuable “Eureka” version, one of which sold on eBay for $699 recently [that was a ‘new’ one - ours clearly isn’t.]

We also found the 'Eureka" tender had a Phoenix sound system in it. This is the programming jack:

Interestingly, both had good gears - maybe they had been fixed. But the museum’s Eureka chassis (engine and tender) was a mess:

So we made the obvious decision to use the good chassis from the Ohio pile of bits along with the so-so body of the Eureka to make one good loco.

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first I am glad you are salvaging the museums loco and repairing it for them. But I have to wonder. . .What in the heck are they doing with it. Do they let kids pick it up and throw it at the wall. That thing is really abused. I am curious as to what the use is that it is in such bad shape.

i have no doubt you will get it restored to it former beauty. I have always had a fondness for that 4-4-0 spectrum. I have no use for one as the line I model used the 2-6-0s but there is nothing that screams early American west like a 4-4-0.

i do have to say though that the pictures of the museum loco at a distance (sans bent/broken/or missing parts) does have a nice weathered look to it. I am probably sure this isn’t what they want but it does have a nice patina to it.

Cool project, @PeterT … following with interest.

The ohio tender also had some interesting bits in it, but no sound card.

This will become the tender for the museum loco. Tim got some trucks from Bachmann and the Eureka tender is almost in good shape.

The ‘almost’ is because someone broke off the drawbar pin and removed the pcb with the cable connectors. Both locos are missing cabling and a drawbar between them, though Tim found one.

So, Tim is now an expert at dismantling these locos as he had all the parts, and he had no trouble putting the good chassis under the Eureka. He then passed it to me with the tender, with a request to fix the wiring and the sound.

These locos have a little pcb on the body (just visible in this pic,) and a similar one on the chassis that has springy metal tabs - the idea being to pass wheel pickup power to the motor. I’d never seen one before, but when I found it on the B’mann wiring diagram and asked Tim, he found 2 of them!


Then there’s another connector back to the motor. I had to replace them with a pair of connectors, though I could have reused the chassis plate which turned out to be in the stash of bits from Ohio.

This chassis has no springs under the hornblocks (wheel bearing blocks.) Except for one:

Not quite in the right place! So I removed it and inserted 4 soft springs under the blocks/axles. Not as strong as the originals but they will help.

There’s a cable from the wheel pickups that goes under the cab to meet the tender pickups, and another cable from the chuff trigger feelers on the back axle. I plugged in my 12V to the track pickups and mounted the loco on rollers, and it worked. I then put an LED in the headlight and it worked too! There’s a firebox flicker circuit which may work, but I haven’t seen it yet.
As far as we can see, the Eureka boiler is complete with wiring, weights, and switches behind the smokebox door. There’s a couple of snipped wires there, which look like the smoke unit supply, but we’re not fixing that.

The Eureka tender now has a speaker, wiring and a tested Phoenix board. The next step is to put connectors on the chuff wires from the engine and test all the electrics.

Tim has all the parts ready to fit. I got the domes out to see how they looked:

Apart from the tarnished brass, they are fine. We’ve been weighing how to polish the boiler bands without hurting the bodywork paint. Tim volunteered to apply Brasso with a Q-tip. That bell will need the same treatment.

The other loco is slowly starting to look like it will come together. Tim had all kinds of small fixes to make - the piston rod supports were broken, etc.

He’s a great guy with bits of Lego. This chassis is now working, but missing a coupling rod. He made one from some bits from a Big Hauler:

B’mann has the 2-6-0 rods in stock, which we got, but the pivot is the wrong side of the center driver so we’re waiting to see how the plastic rod holds up before we cut it.

As the blue body was scratched, and Tim was targetting a model of a Charlotte Harbour & Northern 4-4-0, he painted it black. It came out quite nicely, especially when he added gold mylar boiler bands:

This museum boiler had no domes when it arrived, so Tim got some parts (dome base, top, and a stack,) from Trackside Details. They are set up so you can add any length of tube in between base and top, so he dug around the local construction trash and found a good size tube:

He now has a good looking boiler, especially with the gold mylar around the domes and the brass stack. The brass whistle and pop valves also came from TD, but he hasn’t fitted them yet:

I’m not a fan of the coupling rods he made, but we’ll see how they work out when it runs on the ceiling layout at the museum.

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He says ceiling layout… explains the destruction, my guess is it took a dive, maybe hit something softer than the floor first and didn’t shatter into a million pieces

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I have a soft spot for these trash-to-treasure projects! What a save!


thats coming along beautifully

I was watching the movie “Wild Wild West” and it has a 4-4-0 and a couple passenger cars and I thought of this build.

That loco is “William Mason” at the B&O RR Museum, and that’s the 3rd restoration to use it in a movie. At the time it was the oldest working loco in the country - from 1860 something. While it still had a boiler certificate we used it on ‘steam days’ and I’ve ridden in the cab.

It’s standard gauge hence the big driving wheels so these little NG engines are a poor substitute. Put a Monogram/Ertl “General” in 1/25th next to it and you’ll see the difference.


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I asked Tim and he said it was donated. Some guy brought it in after he couldn’t give it away at a sale. We don’t know how it got damaged.

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I did forget that the front of the museum 4-4-0 was actually swapped for a 4-6-0 pilot, as the original was damaged and there was no pilot truck…


And I finally finished installing the sound card. The foamcore had to be trimmed to clear the front of the tender body, but it all seems to work.

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Nice work as always, Pete!

Great work, Pete, always nice to see the master at work!

Moving back to our Eureka, I finished installing and testing the sound card. The volume control works - the cables weren’t properly in the terminals, and someone made a space in the toolbox for the switch. The other cable is the programming plug.

Some of the foamcore at the front had to be cut before it would clear the tender body. Once I had the body on, I placed it with the loco chassis to measure the drawbar. Adding the dome parts loosely gave me another photo-op:

We’re also working on the rear footboard. I found an old Davenport one that had broken off (why does Bachmann attach footboards with scale-size bits of plastic? They break instantly.) It should work now that I put a knuckle coupler on the tender.

And finally, the drawbar had to be re-engineered, as someone had broken off the pin on the tender pcb and also the screwed-on drawbar. As Tim had to buy new trucks with couplers, the front had the coupler tongue, so I drilled a hole in it. Then I constructed a short drawbar from brass, and drilled and tapped an M2.5 hole in the chassis. Here it is all bolted together with a spring to keep the drawbar where it is supposed to be.

The cable in front is from the chuff trigger. I had read several comments saying the fitted wipers on the back axle aren’t very good - dropped chuffs being the first problem. That’s what I experienced while testing. Despite cleaning the chuff drum and fingers, it hasn’t improved.


Tim has just about finished the locomotive, so it will be for sale next week. I have one prospect and otherwise it goes on eBay.

Here’s a couple of photos of the finished article:


Wow, Pete! What a transformation!

Looks dang GOOD! Well done.