Customer Reviews: Bachmann Empire Builder Ready To Run Electric Train Set - Ho Scale
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on May 14, 2012
I am not a serious HO model train hobbyist but do look for good quality operation and appearance. I have several used HO scale GN locomotives for display purposes and wanted to buy sufficient track to make an oval to test and occasionally run them. When I checked prices, I found that the cost of buying the track alone was not insignificant. This complete Empire Builder train set at about half of the MSRP is a great deal. Buying this set got me all of the track I needed plus two powered locomotives, two passenger cars, and the power pack and controller. The 22 inch radius curved sections are needed to run the long passenger cars.
The quality of the items provided in this Empire Builder set was much higher than I expected after looking at other sets in hobby shops. The locomotives in this set are excellent runners and nicely finished with a lot of detail, as are the two passenger cars. I was surprised by the good quality of the controller. I had expected some cheap controller like the ones that used to be supplied with slot car sets but instead found this to be solid and provides precise analog control of the train from low speeds to full throttle. The track supplied is the black-base steel-railed EZ Track which is Bachmann's lower priced track compared to their gray-base nickel silver rail track. That might be an issue for a long term frequent user although I've heard of people using it in their layouts for many years without problems.
Care is needed when assembling the track to insure that the rails properly mate with the rail joiners. The manual emphasizes this (if you read the manual) and Bachmann has excellent how-to videos on You Tube that show this in detail. If the joints are not made properly, derailing is usually the result. Like all trains of this size, properly getting the locomotives and cars on the track with all wheels properly railed can be a little tricky (at least for me) but the rerailer-terminal track section (and a good flashlight) can help. Once my track was properly joined and the train properly on the rails, it ran great, very smooth and no derailings all the way up to full throttle completly around the oval.
I can't address long term reliability since the set is new but I recommend the set to anyone in the market for a starter HO train set. Serious hobbyists would probably not be interested in an analog train and would pay many times the cost of this set just for a digital control locomotive, but for a starter set, this is great.
Five stars for completeness of the set, great fit and finish, and quality of operation at a great price.
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on December 31, 2012
Being older now I have enjoyed model trains ever since I was very young. This train is by far one of the most great looking and running trains I have owned. The color and detail is excellent and both the F7-A locomotive and the F7-B locomotive are powered. Its like getting two engines for the price of one. The passengers cars are both long and very detailed one having a domed roof that is tinted. The track is a larger oval (63") in order to accommodate and compensate for the longer passenger cars which are exquisite in color and have "Great Northern "Empire Builder" on them. From opening the box to running this train take about 15-20 minutes. Smooth and quite and a pleasure to stare at. Dream come true for a man who never lost the excitement of a model train. Great price for a lot of train and track and fun. Free shipping at Amazon also. Can't loose.
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on August 20, 2013
Great train . Plenty of power to get it up the slopes . One drawback , the coaches are way too long to fit in cuvres and tunnels . If you have a big oval it will work fine . I have the coaches on a wall display .and use the two engines to pull my 10 cars . The price I paid for all the track and engines is well worth it .
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on November 14, 2012
This is great for a first time buyer or someone who just wants to expand their existing set. Good quality and complete.
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on October 23, 2013
This set is a good starter set for kids or maybe even old timers who want to set something up on a table in the family room. However, I was ordering this to integrate it into my much larger layout. I was disappointed in several items. The locomotives are very lightweight compared to my others from Athern and Likelike, and therefore had much less pulling power because they start slipping under a large load. For visual realism, the A and B units should be pretty closely coupled, but when these units are coupled together, they are about an inch apart (which you can see in the photos). That just doesn't look very realistic at all. The regular coach car was OK, but it has the wrong trucks on it for a 1960's vintage car. I think Bachmann (to save money, no doubt) just used the trucks that they also put on their 2010 era commuter rail cars, which look nothing like the ones that were on the real Great Northern coaches from the 50's and 60's. The Budd extended dome car is pretty cool looking, but when it ran, at least one of the wheels was a bit unbalanced so that the coach would rock back and forth. That was very noticeable at higher speeds. I think this was also the reason that it kept uncoupling from the coach directly behind it. So, to recap, this would be a perfect set for a adolescent or young teen who is into trains. It is a very nice starter set and doesn't look at all like the cheap Tyco sets that we all had as kids. But for the serious enthusiasts, I would recommend buying all the items separately.
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on December 13, 2013
Train ran slow or stalled after initial runs. Track sections broke when checking connections as possible source of the problem. At that time the track was set up on an uncarpeted floor. Track was set up on carpet with replacement track. Again it worked for about five to ten minutes - then slowed and stopped. The last was with engine only - no additional cars to cause drag. We expected a lot more from this train. This train has been operated by an adult only.
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on January 11, 2013
Arrived in two days of ordering and arrived undamaged. Set up was fairly easy, but as I read with other reviewers the track took some work to get the rails even so that the train did not jump the track. Once that was resolved the train ran very nicely. However I would have liked a little bit more power as i thought even at it's highest it was a bit slow.Basically a bigger transformer would be recommeded. I purchased this for my grandson who is 7 1/2 yrs old. I read where other reviewers mentioned that the HO scale would be too hard for children under 10 to handle but he handed all aspects of the setup(he did alot of it himself) with no problems and understood what needed to be done with the track once he got it home.

I would reconmend this set as a starter set for yound/old train lovers or someone who just wants a train around the Christmas tree.
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on December 13, 2013
Finally, after a very hectic two weeks, got the train set up on the layout. I was born and raised around the Great Northern RR, and rode the Empire Builder twice, perhaps 3 times, as a child and pre-teen. I have been to both Seattle, its Western terminal point, and to the Twin Cities, its home station. It was a beautiful train and this train set does it some justice.
So why the poor rating (which I will update/upgrade if the problems are ever resolved):
1. The coach and dome cars, though very nice, are out-of-scale and too big. The dome car was Not longer then the engines combined. This oversize is probably the cause of
2. Dome car will NOT stay on the track. every time it rolls over the re-railer the rear truck (wheels) jumps off the track (??!!). I have two re-railers in this layout, and an extended oval, and the second re-railer does not put it back on the track. It fell off the track often.
I have gone over the track very carefully, and found a few junctions where a rail did not properly mate with the brass connection portion of the opposite track. Fixed these and still have the problem of derailing. It often, for no apparent reason, derails while in motion.
3. ANY little bump in the track can cause the coach or dome car to uncouple. The coupling simply moves up/down/sideways and the car is left behind.
In the same regard, I have 3 other freight cars with very similar couplers, and they do not match up in height to the engines' couplers.
4. ?Bad design of the dome car? The coach has 4-wheel trucks, the dome car 6-wheel trucks(authentic configuration). In addition the couplers on the dome car pivot with the truck when turning. That would be o.k., I guess, but at the end point of the couplers' pivoting they come up against part of the car and cannot pivot any further. This flaw might be part of the reason for derailing.

Ready to Run? NO. This evening I spent from 7:05p.m. until 7:43p.m. just trying to get it to make more then one lap around my layout; having to put the dome or coach back on the track every lap. I did, as mentioned above, get the track problems fixed, but the Dome car would still derail. From ~ 7:45 until I gave up, around 8:30, I had it running with the two engines and the coach. This is crazy. My two Life-Like trains were and are easy to set up and ran fine from the start.
They are out in garage now, ready to run. The Empire Builder is in the 'round-house' until I decide what to do with it or get the dome car to roll/run properly.
UPDATE 12/17/13. Well, a visit to the local model r.r. shop has fixed most if not all of the problems. Turns out the Dome car shipped with defective and/or broken couplers; these were causing it to un-couple and derail. The couplers were replaced. The derailing was also affected because of the very light weight of the cars.
Ran the train much of Saturday afternoon and a bit on Sunday without problems. Very nice now that it is running. They still seem a bit light and working on that is a project for tomorrow or the next day. Only three stars at this time, may add more later.
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on December 30, 2013
Although probably not for the experienced train enthusiast, it serves well for the younger kids learning how to "play" with ho scale trains. My 3 year old grandson learned how to slow, stop, and reverse direction in no time at all! Nice quiet running engines.
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on January 28, 2014
Santa did a great job with this train set. It looks great, runs great, and the kids absolutely love it.
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