Custom Painted P-2000 units

Monday, November 30, 2015

Upgrading a Bachmann 89' Tri-Level Auto Transporter

Greetings All,

This past week the N.Y.C.T.L. Purchasing Department successfully procured a used good condition Bachmann Penn Central 89' Tri-Level Auto Transporter (Auto Rack) with 14 of the original 15 cars included in the box. The purchase order stemmed from my October entries regarding Automobile Industry Traffic on the New York Central see here:

Of particular interest during this research were New York Central Trains ML-12 and ML-9. Thanks to the fine work of Emery Gulash I was able to view these trains on the New York Central Odyssey and Penn Central Green Frog DVDs. Spurred on by the DVDs the N.Y.C.T.L. mechanical and paint  shops went on an improvement program of the Bachmann 89' Tri-Level Auto Racks that I had owned for 15 years and ran maybe a handful of times. See here for that blog entry 

That brings us to our current project, the upgrading of this newest auto rack to join the fleet. Follow along for the step by step process used to get this car mechanically layout ready.

The project car as purchased

The Bachmann car shown above was made in Hong Kong and sported a long X2f coupler which was different from the other Bachmann Auto Racks I have. Those had a long tongue on the truck that used a standard sized coupler which was held in place by a small screw. Some ingenuity was going to be required here. I considered body mounting the couplers but the 89' length and 24" radius curves made me apprehensive to do this. I wanted to talgo mount the couplers similar to the other 89' auto racks in my fleet.
Kadee's longest couplers were too short. Enter the McHenry #MCH53. These long couplers were just a bit longer that the horn hook couplers currently on tje model. It looked like I had enough room to screw the coupler further back on the talgo mount.

A horn hook coupler and truck assembly to the left. A McHenty 53 knuckle coupler mounted on the truck on the right. 

A view from the bottom of the trucks

The coupler box lids were removed. The center pins and coupler box was carefully cut off and the mounting area was sanded smooth. The McHenry couplers have two ridges on the bottom and these were sanded smooth as well.  

The newly installed coupler and truck have been attached with a screw eliminating the press pins

The proof is in the pudding or in this case the Kadee Height Gauge. 

Testing the new auto rack with the original Bachmann PC auto rack.
Note the Hong King car's version of jade green is a shade different.
The GP30 shoved the two auto racks around a 22" radius curve without

Now off to the paint shop to paint over the yellow railings and ramps.


  1. Out of curiosity, have you experimented with body-mounting Kadees on cars like these? I have some 24 inch curves and have run either brass passenger cars or wood-floor freight cars with plain vanilla coupler body mounts, and these seem to do OK.

  2. Hi John, Yes, I did consider the body mount option. I do have some 85' cars like flexi van Mark II spine cars and passenger cars that handle the 24" radius curves with no problems. My 87' flexi van mark IV cars however are not as reliable with a true body mounted coupler when coupled together. The longer length and set back of the trucks on the mark IV cars are similar to the 89' length of these cars. That coupled with the excessive height of these cars led me to go with the talgo mounting. So far the talgo mounting is working fine on both the 24" and 22" radius curves that make up the layout which is an added bonus..

  3. Nice work with the conversion to get another Auto Rack on the rails on the N.Y.C.T.L.! You really are on your way to recreating a train lie ML-9 of ML-12! Thanks for the step by step how-to.

  4. Thanks Ralph! It was nice to see this modification work out quite easily. After testing the cars are performing well. As you know the ML-9 / ML-12 is one of my newest modeling obsessions!

  5. Hi: I'd like to know if the screw the truck is mounted on gets in the way of loading a car in that spot? Thanks, Dan

    1. Hi Daniel, the screw holding the truck into the bolster does not go thru the bottom of the car. The bolster is about level with the bottom of the truck and only a short screw is needed.

  6. Hi: I'd like to know if the screw the truck is mounted on gets in the way of loading a car in that spot? Thanks, Dan