Customer Review

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good Starter Set, But...., May 8, 2011
= Durability:2.0 out of 5 stars  = Fun:4.0 out of 5 stars  = Educational:3.0 out of 5 stars 
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This review is from: Bachmann Trains Empire Builder Ready - To - Run N Scale Train Set (Toy)
Bachmann has been making model trains since 1952 (The company was founded in 1833 but didn't make trains back then). I've owned this particular train set for about 4 months now and by now I can draw a conclusion.

The Bachmann "Empire Builder" train set comes in a windowed cardboard box with a white Styrofoam slotted insert that firmly holds the locomotive, cars, track and power pack. It's just like the ones I got in the late 60's or early 70's when I was a kid. Oh the memories!

However, there are some differences. First, the power pack is now 2 pieces...a small gray plastic box with the throttle knob connected to a "wall wart" (Those humongous black transformers that take up all the other outlets on your powerstrip) which I find really annoying. Second is the "E-Z Track" which has the track and roadbed integrated in one piece. The sections interlock with each other, avoiding the tracks from pulling apart during operation. I was skeptical of the new style track at first, but it really works great! There are a lot less derailments and a lot more fun.

The centerpiece of the set, the Santa Fe 4-8-4 Northern locomotive, has a couple of issues. The detailing is not up today's "model grade" standards...it looks like a 70's train set loco, with all of the piping and valves are just part of the shell, no separately applied detail parts. The electrical pickup is not that good either. If the track and wheels are not kept perfectly clean, it will run erratically. I have Kato, Life-Like and Model Power locos that still run silky smooth on slightly dirty track. There is also a small copper metal contact between the pilot truck (the 4 front small wheels) and the body. If this metal contact comes loose and/or dirty the loco will run very herky-jerky. I actually had to bend the tab on the contact slightly downward to restore performance.

I recently found out that this is not the latest generation Bachmann Northern 4-8-4. The newer ones have added electric pickup via the tender and a few other refinements to make it run smoother. The new Santa Fe's can be identified with the road number "3783" on the tender, while mine is "3780". Unfortunately, it still looks like it was made in the 70's. Will Bachmann start supplying the newer model Northern in this set? Your guess is as good as mine. My recommendation would be to purchase a spare locomotive in case something goes wrong.

The cars are very good quality. Couplers are the knuckle style, which mate well with Atlas, Micro-Train and Kato couplers.

If you want to buy a nice train set for you and/or your child on Christmas and run it once a year around the tree, then this is a very good set for the money. Add another star to my review if Bachmann starts shipping the Empire Builder with the newer locos!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 29, 2012 7:29:14 PM PDT
Wayne says:
just had a new santa fe front wheels fall off during break in! can you tell me how the brass contact and bolt go back on?
thank you, [I'm new to railroading]
Wayne
wperkins111@comcast.net
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Location: Schenectady, NY

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