|Heritage Model Trains Article|
Bachmann Model Trains
In June 1968, Bachmann entered the trains market by starting its N scale train products with cars packaged in white jewel cases. However, problems led to a retooling the following year. In 1970 Bachmann entered the HO train market. A second retooling occurred around 1973, when trains started to be packaged in black jewel cases. But wait – there’s more!
By 1978 Bachmann changed its logo and began to package their trains in blue jewel cases. Bachmann Brothers held exclusive licenses to produce models of trains manufactured by Budd Company Passenger trains and United Aircraft’s high-speed train. Several product lines are now produced under the Bachmann name.
In 1988 Bachmann introduced the “spectrum” line of higher quality equipment including updated motors, more realistic paint schemes, and better details. Spectrum was considered a totally different company from the regular Bachmann Company. The initial offering was a GE44 Ton Diesel. Later, the line expanded to include a Pennsylvania Railroad K-4 Pacific, an EMD GP30 and a GE Dash 8-40C.
Then in 1998 Bachmann introduced their spectrum HO scale 2-8-0 Consolidation, which was selected “Model of the Year” by the readers of Model Railroader magazine. By 2000 spectrum was no longer considered a separate product and became one of the Bachmann product lines, and Spectrum was finally included in their regular catalogs.
In 1990 Bachmann started producing large scale train sets – referred to as the Big Haulers. These G scale models included the Emmett Kelly Jr. circus trains, introduced in 1993.
Then in 2007 Bachmann purchased the Williams Electric Trains company which has allowed the company to expand into the O scale market. Williams offered a more ‘traditional’ train layout reminiscent of the 1950s.
Since 2006 Bachmann has been implementing a Digital Command Control system and products, with the help and partnership of the German company, Lenz Elektronik GmbH. They expected to release the Dynamic DCC system in 2007 and in doing so it caught them up with the rest of the other DCC Companies technology wise. Currently their HO Spectrum lines are DCC onboard, while the vast majority of its N Spectrum lines are DCC ready.
Bachmann’s other products, known on the market as Plasticville, are models of animals, people, building kits, and vehicles as accessories to model train layout sets.
In light of dwindling interest in model railroading, the Crowther Brothers decided, in 1981 to sell to their manufacturer, the Kader Group. Kader changed the name to Bachmann Industries and expanded it worldwide. Part of their strategy was to take over other failing companies in Europe and put them under one single name.
The packaging changed once again with this move. The plastic jewel cases changed to white paper boxes with cellophane windows. Starting in 1982 Bachmann began to slowly retool individual product lines one by one. A typical example would be the replacement of metal gears to plastic ones in the Diesel locomotives.
Like so many companies, by 1992 all cars were manufactured in China.
Esther Smith, author