Review of Bachmann USA Tank No. 30064 [MR-104]

Background and Prototype History

The Bachmann USA Tank No. 30064 is a model of a class of 382 locomotives which was constructed by the United States Army Transportation Corps as S100 class for use in the invasion of Europe at the end of the second World War as it was expected that no motive power would be available.
Most were exported overseas but some remained in store at Newbury Racecourse after the war having hardly been used.

The Southern Railway (SR) purchased a number of locos and adapted them to replace ageing B4, D1 and E1 class tank locos being used in Southampton Docks.

The Bachmann model represents the class in its SR modified form.

A number of locos have been preserved, probably the most well known being 30064 on the Bluebell Railway (the subject of the Bachmann model), 'Maunsell' and 'Wainwright' on the Kent and East Sussex Railway and 30072 which appeared in a distinctive 'Worth Valley' 'umber' livery on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, also a subject of the Bachmann model.

No. 30064 approaching Freshfield Halt on the Bluebell Railway

No. 30065 'Maunsell' and No. 30070 'Wainwright' at Tonbridge where they were dumped on the site of the closed engine shed for six months following being dragged from Ashford and declaired unfit for further travel due to hot bearings. They were en route to Barry Island for scrapping. They remained at Tonbridge until being moved to Rolvenden, on the Kent & East Sussex Railway, in September 1968. They had been re-sold to the preserved line in the previous month.

The Model

Back in the late 1970's, I recall visiting an exhibition at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, Sussex when I saw a 'finescale' layout with hand-built copper-clad track and running on it what appeared to be a Finecast, or similar kit of this loco. I really don't know what its origins were. My familiarity with the prototype at the time was on the Bluebell Railway where all through the 1970's and early 1980's, 30064, along with the Adams Radial, seemed to the only locos running every weekend we visited! I recall thinking at the time that the chances of seeing a ready-to-run version of this loco were highly unlikely! But here we are, 35 years on and Kernow Model Railway Centre have engaged Bachmann to produce a model of this iconic loco.

The Bachmann model of No. 30064, as delivered.

Initial observations are that this is quite a small loco but it is packed with detail, making it fairly fragile to handle. It is beautifully painted and lined out and the characteristic walschaerts valve gear running from the rear axle is immediately obvious and well portrayed.

When run out-of-the-box on DC power, it runs extremely smoothly, not unlike the performance of the 08 shunter from the same manufacturer. This loco is fitted with an NEM 651 6-pin DCC decoder socket and when fitted with a suitable decoder, it gains the benefit of constant full track power, which ensures perfect running at the slowest of speeds.

A comparison with the original drawing above reveals that the model measures up exactly on all the major dimensions such as wheelbase, height, width, length, distance from axles to end buffer beams etc.

Dismantling to fit a Decoder

This model is very easy to dismantle. To remove the body, first, the couplings must be removed to reveal the body attachment screws. When these are removed, the body lifts off very easily. There is no detail to be 'unwound' - the body simply comes off, nice and easily, no pulling, twisting or levering.

The underside of the model, showing the location of the front body attachment screw.

The underside of the model, showing the location of the rear body attachment screw.

Once inside, we find a standard Bachmann mechanism layout with a cast chassis. The body is also cast, which means that this loco is actually quite heavy, considering its small size. This isn't a fast loco, but the pay-off is that it runs extremely smoothly at low speeds - which is what one would normally want from a shunting loco.
As will be noted from the picture below, the loco is fitted with a 6-pin NEM 651 decoder socket, into which, we have fitted a DCC Concepts ZN6D decoder.

Bachmann USA Tank No. 30064 with body removed.

A close-up view of the mechanism.

Like many locos these days, this one has a solid metal body/footplate arrangement for increased weight which works well. The buffer beams are solid metal, in this instance, attached to the chassis. It is at this point that we must highlight our only disappointment with this model as it continues the trend of locating body attachment screws right behind the buffer beams, exactly where a coupling hook threads through for those who fit chain couplings. Not only is this annoying, but on this model, there is solid metal behind both buffer beams, making the fitting of chain couplings virtually impossible or requiring a significant amount of drilling. The odd thing is, as supplied, the model is fitted with plastic 'hooks' which fit into holes in each buffer beam. These could be made a little bit bigger to make them actually usable. Heljan are actually fitting exquisite chain/screws couplings to a number of their locos as standard and the couplings are actually usable, not requiring replacement. Not everyone uses NEM pocket couplings!

Location of front body attachment screw preventing fitting chain couplings

Location of rear body attachment screw preventing fitting chain couplings


This is a beautiful model, very neatly finished, runs extremely smoothly and on the review sample, exhibits no wobbling when running. It would be a very useful and appropriate addition to any early BR(S), SR or preservation layout. Highly recommended.

No. 30064 at Ashprington Road

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Locomotive supplied by: Kernow   Zen ZN6D 6-pin Decoder supplied by: DCC Concepts

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