Some time back I acquired a Bachmann hand-car. A good reliable runner I spent some hours detailing the two cars applying a wood veneer, painting, and adding a number of props to make the hand-car more interesting.
The figures are stock but I added a toolbox with a number of painted tools from a Bachmann accessory set on the pumper car, along with a shovel, sledge hammer, pick and related tools and black powder barrel on the trailing car. An anvil and some chain from Ozark Miniatures completed the props. See Notes on Detailing with Props in Modeling Category.
One day I put the hand-car set on my track and found that the up and down animation had stopped and the car moved only in the most unsatisfactory jerky stop and go sort of motion. Clearly something had gone wrong.
I posted a query on MyLargeScale.com and learned that the plastic gears that mesh with the brass worm gear will often crack and spin uselessly on the axle as well as the gear that drives the animation of the two gentlemen pumping the handles of the hand-car up and down.
Inspection of the gears showed that one drive axle gear was cracked and the main animation gear also was no longer working since the axle gear that applied force from the other axle was likewise cracked.
Note: the picture above showing the circled gears is from George Schreyer’s excellent site and tips page on the Bachmann hand-car. I figured someone tried to turn the wheels by hand and snapped the gears. Or maybe they just gave up the ghost on their own.
This subassembly consists of the 4 wheels, 2 each of which are joined by a plastic connector (thereby insulating the weeks from shorting out track power) to make up each axle, with both drive gears (one on each axle shown on the left side) and the one slightly smaller animation gear (on the closer axle on the right side). Each axle is mounted on a pair of metal brackets that conduct power from the wheels on each side to a wire from the motor.
The first step is to remove the cover plate from the bottom of the pumper hand-car. There are (4) small Phillips-head screws that you will have to remove. Best to mark which side of the cover plate has the connector for the trailing car, and note which figure (the one in the blue or the brown coat) it goes under for when it comes time to reattach the cover plate.
With the cover plate removed you will find (4) more Phillips-head screws that secure the wheel subassembly to the frame. Note in this picture the broken gears have been removed from the axle.
These go over the mounting posts and under the plastic collars as shown.
Be gentle and you’ll be able to work the subassembly free of the car without breaking the brakes as it were.
Once you have removed the subassembly with the damaged gears you can insert the new subassembly. Take care to insert the subassembly so that the drive gears are over the brass worm gears and the animation gear connects with the proper gear to move the figures. Reattach the electrical wires to the proper posts and screw down the plastic collars.
Apply a bit of grease (only those lubricants approved for use with plastics) and you are ready to test run the pumper hand-car. This test will ensure you have connected the electrical wires properly and that you have lined up the gears correctly. Only after you have tested the car satisfactorily should you reattach the cover plate.
I had quite a time getting the cover plate back on. Note that it was not difficult to reattach. No, the plate went on easily and all the holes lined up nicely. But once screwed down the car simply would not run. Remove the cover and it ran great. Put the cover on, even without screwing it down and the car would not run.
It seems that somehow the cover plate rubbed on the plastic drive gears on the axles with this new subassembly. It took some patience with a file to “adjust” the plate by filing away some to the inside to better accommodate the plastic drive gears.
I do not understand why the cover plate causes so much grief, unless the replacement wheel subassembly is a slightly different size than the one it replaced.
But, once filed down in two spots on inside the cover plate and with some trial and error on how tight I could screw the cover plate back on, the car runs once again. Perhaps not a smoothly as before but it does run so I’ll chalk up my repair as a win and be happy at that.
A word of caution, however. Many of the respected voices on MLS have communicated to me that this may be a futile endeavor since the gears are subject to future (and some say certain) failure. Seems several of the old hands keep a number of these hand cars parked on their layouts sans figures just as background scenery. Non-running with split gears and they don’t bother with fixing them.
Let me know if you run a Bachmann hand-car and how it has held up for you. -TJ
[Originally posted 6/24/2011, revised 8/10/2012]