Converting Bachmann fleet to Battery & RC

maxi-model

maxi-model

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OK, I have pretty much made up my mind to bite the bullet and convert my fleet of Bachmann locos to Battery & RC. In all probability I will keep it to DC for simplicity's sake. I could be persuaded otherwise if there is not too much of a cost/complexity impact and there are sufficient benefits. On the basis of "the devil you know" and that I am happy with their products and service I will probably standardize on Fosworks products.

My initial question is what voltage to settle on for the battery packs ? I can list the locos if there are variations between the models. They are all 1:20.3 scale, varying from K-27 down to Heisler in size terms. I have the factory wiring schematics to assist in working out where to tap in the power and most are configured to allow switching out the track pick ups. Max

There are a couple of "oddballs" a Goose I", an Occre tram running on a USAT block and an Accucraft Porter. I'll deal with them at a later stage
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

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All I know for a fact is that the Connies draw about 10 - 11 volts when running at a reasonable narrow gauge speed.

Going on from there, the C-19 doesn't take the throttle much further up the scale on my Helmsman controller, again at similar, sensible speeds.

As for the Accy goose, they seem to be a bit more thirsty, and I have gone for 18v of AAs for the conversion of mine when I get the rest of the bits. Based on what I've read from other online comments, 18v will be easily ample.
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
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As for the Accy goose, they seem to be a bit more thirsty, and I have gone for 18v of AAs for the conversion of mine when I get the rest of the bits. Based on what I've read from other online comments, 18v will be easily ample.
Thank you. However the Goose is a Bachmann Goose I, its the little 0-4-0 Porter that is an Accy. I am treating those and the tram as separate projects with their own needs from the other mainstream Bachmann Fn3 products. Max
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

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Thank you. However the Goose is a Bachmann Goose ...........
Dunno, but JR in Tawa did a battery conversion of the Bachmann Goose - I think.

From memory of what I've seen, the batteries need to go in some sort of load in the back - there was a company, probably in the USA, that did a wooden kit to convert the rear end into the US Mail version of Goose #1 - which would provide loads of room for batteries and RC kit >:)
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
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Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
Dunno, but JR in Tawa did a battery conversion of the Bachmann Goose - I think.

From memory of what I've seen, the batteries need to go in some sort of load in the back - there was a company, probably in the USA, that did a wooden kit to convert the rear end into the US Mail version of Goose #1 - which would provide loads of room for batteries and RC kit >:)

It's ok Rhino. I'm on that one. The batteries and all the other gubbins will either be packed in dummy crates or I will scratch build the late version of the Goose I that had a shed like structure replacing the stake bed. I don't want to get too hung up on the "oddballs" on the conversion list, just the Bachmann Fn3 Spectrum locomotives. The solutions there should be pretty generic just requiring the packaging of the battery cells to be optimized for each loco. Max

Goose I modified.jpg
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

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I've not had a Bachmann geared loco - they never really took my fancy :rolleyes::rolleyes:

...... and the K27 was always just out of reach ................... and when it was in reach, a couple of geese came along :oops::oops:
 
JimmyB

JimmyB

Semi-Retired; more time for trains.
I am converting a 10 wheeler, and on a lipo 3c 11.1 volts nominal it runs fine.
 
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beavercreek

beavercreek

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Hi Max
The voltage itself is not really the issue (except for the speed and overcoming any inclines that you may have), but the amps are quite important, as the more mAh per battery, the longer you can run the trains.
There is also one other caveat and that is space for the battery. The K27 is no problem as the tender is so big so plenty of room.
If you are going to use NimH then 14.4 (12 cells) or 19.2 (16 cells) would do you fine. Lithum would be something like a 14.8V or 18.5v 4400 mAh (or above).

For the geared locos I would recommend have a trailing car for the battery and the RC/ESC electronics as there ain't a lot of room for batteries large enough to keep them going for a half decent amount of time. One trailing car could be hooked up to different locos if you were running them at different times. Or more than one trailing car if you were running more than one geared loco at a time. That would give plenty of room for any type of battery that you would want to use (14.4 or 16.8V is plenty for them).

I can't use trailing cars behind my locos as my inclines would cause problems for the locos pulling the trailing car plus the freight or wood cars etc.

Ansmann are pretty good for LI-ion batteries... ebay link
 
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dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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Hi Max I have been using at most packs of ten AA on my DCC conversions, some have managed on 8 all AA NiMh. All are giving me in excess of 8 hours but I do not have any Bachman locs. As for your TX, have you noticed that FOSWORKS is now doing a Selacta one? This can really reduce the costs for you. Oh another thing, life will be easier if you put all your locomotives back to 3 as the CV1 number, the Fosworks DCC TX does not care but if you have a different CV for the Loco each Rx will need to be set up as required and he does not do very high numbered CV’s. If in doubt speak to Steve at FW. This is really only relevant if you wish to keep your locs so that they can run track power on DCC as well as Battery. Good luck with your conversions and welcome to the reality of no track cleaning. This is a game changer.
 
beavercreek

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There is also the Tam Valley 'dead rail' system for DCC decoders with batteries (can also be used on track power DCC if needed.

 
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Greg Elmassian

Greg Elmassian

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I've been holding my tongue for a bit on this thread.

I'm somewhat surprised that your first concern was the battery voltage, as opposed to the control system chosen. Batteries are probably the most flexible part of your installations, you can build up packs, put some cells in different locations, different package sizes, shapes, chemistries.

I'd be most concerned with the remote system, and of course the first big question is are you going to use sound? If so what quality level? That will help you decide on the control system used... If you want top of the line sound and control, then that eliminates many choices of model airplane-like controllers for example.

greg
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
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For some reason I cannot reply to individual posts, so here goes. Don't worry Greg, I appreciate that this might seem an odd place to start my search but I just want to get an idea if these locos have similar voltage requirements to each other to kick along at a reasonable lick. The LED power lights on my old faithful TE and the 1:20'3 scale calibrated speedo' wagon (25 mph with the rodded, 15 mph for the geared when loaded) give me the impression they might do. I suppose I should have tested what voltage I was putting through the track to power them. Then again the voltage you put through a whole track and what you need with a fairly clean feed over a couple of short wires might be a bit different. I just need the confirmation of a baseline to work from. If not I need to have the ability, as you suggest, to have some handy leads built in to allow the fine tuning with extra cells.

Agreed, when you are looking at converting 12 locos you are going to need to try and standardize your control system to one that meets your needs and the demands of the operation perimeters chosen,. Mine hopefully will remain fairly simple. By virtue of my perceived primary need for good support and simplicity in set up and operation (viz any of my previous crie du coeurs here and elsewhere) then my options are probably going to be limited to established UK suppliers at this scale.

Unless there are some convincing arguments to the contrary I will probably go for one of the "plug and play" solutions from Fosworks. They can offer both DC & DCC and they all operate from a small handheld TX's. Yes, that 2 stick, or worse still model car wheel and trigger is a weird default, probably from the 16 mm world, which I also inhabit. Foswork's Omni TX's can handle single or multiple assigned locos, even synchronizing locos' speed when double heading from one TX (apparently its to do with the ESC). I'm going to have a chat with them to see if they can persuade me of the benefits of their DCC options. But ultimately I am looking for a pre-wired pretty well standardized "plug and play package". Yes, there are always the exceptions, I've noted 3 already here, that may require a different approach, but that will more be dictated by packaging constraints.

Trailing "battery cars" are not something I want to get into if possible. Economical but they would cause some operational issues and strange consists. However, I can see one instance where that approach would be a benefit - the little Porter. A string of mountain ore/coal cars are on order for that one now, thanks for the idea Mike. There is also the matter that on 3 of the locos I would like to use the 3 Sierra sound cards I acquired about a year ago (thanks again Mike), Those need a means of converting PWM to DC and a voltage regulator added if they are going to live in this brave new battery powered world.

The need for sound is a given in this project. Whether I want to go beyond one of the generic sound cards to one of the flashy DCC loco specific ones, and all the additional cost that may entail is an area I'm undecided on.

I'm well aware I need to keep the amps drawn firmly in sight. However my experiences so far with my Accuraft K-27 and GRS steam outline Manning Wardle seem to indicate that tried and tested NiMH packs offer sufficient energy density for the power draw and duration of operation I want, with sound, lights and bells going. However, and thanks for this Jimmy, Lipo could be an option to consider as it seems to offer more compact/efficient packaging of the energy to shift these beasties and their not inconsiderable consists on my fairly level and not too tightly wound curves.

I really need an editor for these posts :D Max
 
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Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

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For some reason I cannot reply to individual posts, so here goes. Don't worry Greg, I appreciate that this might seem an odd place to start my search but I just want to get an idea if these locos have similar voltage requirements to each other to kick along at a reasonable lick. The LED power lights on my old faithful TE and the 1:20'3 scale calibrated speedo' wagon (25 mph with the rodded, 15 mph for the geared when loaded) give me the impression they might do. I suppose I should have tested what voltage I was putting through the track to power them. Then again the voltage you put through a whole track and what you need with a fairly clean feed over a couple of short wires might be a bit different. I just need the confirmation of a baseline to work from. If not I need to have the ability, as you suggest, to have some handy leads built in to allow the fine tuning with extra cells.

Agreed, when you are looking at converting 12 locos you are going to need to try and standardize your control system to one that meets your needs and the demands of the operation perimeters chosen,. Mine hopefully will remain fairly simple. By virtue of my perceived primary need for good support and simplicity in set up and operation (viz any of my previous crie du coeurs here and elsewhere) then my options are probably going to be limited to established UK suppliers at this scale.

Unless there are some convincing arguments to the contrary I will probably go for one of the "plug and play" solutions from Fosworks. They can offer both DC & DCC and they all operate from a small handheld TX's. Yes, that 2 stick, or worse still model car wheel and trigger is a weird default, probably from the 16 mm world, which I also inhabit. Foswork's Omni TX's can handle single or multiple assigned locos, even synchronizing locos' speed when double heading from one TX (apparently its to do with the ESC). I'm going to have a chat with them to see if they can persuade me of the benefits of their DCC options. But ultimately I am looking for a pre-wired pretty well standardized "plug and play package". Yes, there are always the exceptions, I've noted 3 already here, that may require a different approach, but that will more be dictated by packaging constraints.

Trailing "battery cars" are not something I want to get into if possible. Economical but they would cause some operational issues and strange consists. However, I can see one instance where that approach would be a benefit - the little Porter. A string of mountain ore/coal cars are on order for that one now, thanks for the idea Mike. There is also the matter that on 3 of the locos I would like to use the 3 Sierra sound cards I acquired about a year ago (thanks again Mike), Those need a means of converting PWM to DC and a voltage regulator added if they are going to live in this brave new battery powered world.

The need for sound is a given in this project. Whether I want to go beyond one of the generic sound cards to one of the flashy DCC loco specific ones, and all the additional cost that may entail is an area I'm undecided on.

I'm well aware I need to keep the amps drawn firmly in sight. However my experiences so far with my Accuraft K-27 and GRS steam outline Manning Wardle seem to indicate that tried and tested NiMH packs offer sufficient energy density for the power draw and duration of operation I want, with sound, lights and bells going. However, and thanks for this Jimmy, Lipo could be an option to consider as it seems to offer more compact/efficient packaging of the energy to shift these beasties and their not inconsiderable consists on my fairly level and not too tightly wound curves.

I really need an editor for these posts :D Max
Probably one of the other issues, that Mike (Beavercreak) has alluded to is space - the inclusion of a sound card and associated wiring will reduce the battery space available. I have a battery loco with a K27 tender, and I filled the tender with 19.2 volts of NiMh sub-C batteries (because the motor is a 7-pole Buhler which draws a lot using a 50:1 gearbox) and there certainly would not enough space for a sound card of any description.
 
beavercreek

beavercreek

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I think that you are on the right route with NimH for the locos that have enough room for batteries on them or in their tenders but the geared locos have a problem of not enough room for a decent battery plus the electronics etc. That is why I suggested the trailing car for them.
If I was to do it I would bung the battery and electronics (except for specific sound card) into a work car or something that would not look out of place behind a Climax, a Shay or a Heisler (or even a little Porter.
I would use one of these work cars, that are always behind my logging/coaling locos, for my battery exploits.
P1010111.jpg
 
M

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If you are going for NiMh batteries, you might want to look at Panasonic Eneloop batteries. Whereas AA and AAA batteries rechargeable batteries are normally 1.2v, the Eneloops will deliver 1.5v when charged. It is not until you get down to about 1/3 charge that the voltage drops back to 1.2v. Most of my large locos have eight AA Eneloops in the boiler giving 12 volts which suits me because I very rarely run a loco for more than an hour at a time. In small shunters I use just six AAA Eneloops because the 9 volts is fine for the lower speeds.

Regards
Peter Lucas
MyLocoSound
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

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If you are going for NiMh batteries, you might want to look at Panasonic Eneloop batteries. Whereas AA and AAA batteries rechargeable batteries are normally 1.2v, the Eneloops will deliver 1.5v when charged. It is not until you get down to about 1/3 charge that the voltage drops back to 1.2v. Most of my large locos have eight AA Eneloops in the boiler giving 12 volts which suits me because I very rarely run a loco for more than an hour at a time. In small shunters I use just six AAA Eneloops because the 9 volts is fine for the lower speeds.

Regards
Peter Lucas
MyLocoSound
Enloop a new one on me, do you use a Smart Charger to charge them up? Other than giving more Volts for 2/3 of the time are there any other disadvantages? Sorry to raise more questions on your thread Max. But they may be some use to you in certain situations.
 
Tony Walsham

Tony Walsham

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I use AA and AAA ENELOOP batteries all the time for locos that draw less than 2 amps.
They are a hybrid of Alkaline and NiMh designed by Sanyo (now owned by Panasonic) some years ago to solve the problem of NiMh batteries self discharging in digital devices such as cameras.
They are guaranteed to hold 85 % of charge for one year.
Not cheap, but well worth the cost because they are reliable.
A regular NiMh charger is all that is needed.
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
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It is certainly ok to raise more questions Jon. Thanks for the tip Peter. I'll Google away on Eneloops, I found a handy Lipo explainer that way . For me the endurance of a particular loco with its power sapping accessories above, say,1.5 hours is not envisaged. It strikes me too Peter that in one or 2 cases even an AAA pack (or Lipo equivalent) may be sufficient.

While it comes down to the needs created by individual locos at its core I would like to get a standard TX/RX/ESC/sound/wiring loom card set up across the roster. Notwithstanding the 4 x Sierras and 3 x MyLocoSound cards I own or have installed already . While I have one eye firmly on the budget I am not going to spoil the ship for a half penny worth of tar. So things like sound card standard, level of TX functionality supplied, battery pack costs and the possible need to acquire a different item like different more expensive charger won't cause things to be discounted. My estimate to complete this project across the roster, if I manage the installations, is around £2,500 and £3,000. That's a couple of very decent live steamers worth. Doing this is a big commitment. And we all know what happens with budgets and cost where railways are concerned :D:D:D

Right or wrong I am very keen, as a primary objective, to get as compact and easily mounted installation as possible. If I can standardize it across most of the roster then all the better. But look what happened when the avowed intention was to standardize the British std gauge locos post 1948 ;) But as I have already noted I accept there will be exceptions.

As Greg has mooted it is probably most important to settle on a control system first. That I am in the process of but I don't expect any vendor to offer a total one size fits all solution. Max

P.S. Numpty question alert - Why is it always a recommendation/requirement to sever any connection to a loco's track pick ups ? Even those on Bachmann locos which are switchable between battery power and track power, on these type of conversions.
 
PhilP

PhilP

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P.S. Numpty question alert - Why is it always a recommendation/requirement to sever any connection to a loco's track pick ups ? Even those on Bachmann locos which are switchable between battery power and track power, on these type of conversions.
To cover ourselves..
'WE' (the Suppliers) can never know the level of incompetence ( ;) ) of the Customer..

There are way'a and mean's to do these things, but it requires a greater level of understanding, and attention to detail. If I say 'yes, go ahead' and you muck it up, you blame me and possibly expect replacement parts?
If I say 'nay', but on your-head, then I have a little protection.

PhilP.