Bachmann HO US 4-8-4 Replacment Axle Shafts & Gear

My apologies for not posting last Monday, unfortunately a loved one was involved in an accident and we didn’t leave the emergency room untill 9pm. All’s well and they’re on the mend so let’s get back to normal.

Last year, coincidently about this time, I shared with you my designs for replacement axles for the HO Bachmann 4-8-4.  You can find the post here.  This week I’ve updated the 3D printed model to include the main drive gear.

The gear is less likely to split than the axles, but sometimes it does, so a set with everything in makes sense.

All the parts are joined on a 3D printed continuous bar so they’re all one part; this makes them cheaper to print, but the bar doesn’t actually touch the parts so there’s nothing to be cut off or trimmed as with injection molded parts.  This is one of the many things which makes 3D printing great.

The parts are also available separately and they can all be found in my Shapeways Shop or via the links below.

Axles & Gears

Axles Only

Gear Only

This coming weekend, 1st to 3rd March 2019, is the N Trak convention in Bournemouth, England and again it’s at The Trouville Hotel.  You can read a bit more about the 2017 convention here and the 2014 convention here.  I’ll be there over the weekend if you’re in the area and want to come by and say hello.

Bachmann N Scale 4-8-4 Replacement Gears – Part 1

Following on from last week’s post, this week is also about 3D printed replacement gears.  Although this week it’s for an N Scale Bachmann 4-8-4 Northern.

The Bachmann 4-8-4 Northern has been around since 1972 and there have been several versions over the years.  The first two, with the second released in 1975, are in my opinion rather lumpy runners but it’s the third version, released in 1982, that I’m working on and it wasn’t too bad.  However this release suffers from the same problem as the locos in my last two posts; split gears.  The loco in the image below is one of these (image from and you can see the rear driver is at a different rotation to the rest.

It’s possible that the wheel on the other side of the locomotive is in the correct position but it’s more than probable that it too is misaligned.

The chassis, as shown below, is in one piece with the motor above.  The gears sit off-center within the chassis. Each axle is powered by gears so the side rods are cosmetic but if they get out of quarter, as with the loco above, everything jams up.  The most common axles to split are the rear two as these are the first to be driven by the motor and therefore under the most stress but it’s not uncommon for all of them to split.

The original axles are asymmetric, that is to say the gear is not in the center of the axle. You can see below the splits on the axles.  This releases the friction grip on the wheels, which are simply pressed into the axles, and allows them to spin in the axles.

To start with I 3D printed a set of axles in Shapeways Fine Detail Plastic, formally known as FUD.

Compared to the original they are the same, but the inside diameter of the axle was too big, so there was no grip on the wheels at all.

So I 3D printed another set with a smaller inside diameter. I also 3D printed the other gears as it makes sense to supply a full set of replacement gears.  This includes the two idler gears and the twin transfer gear that fits under the motor worm.

All the original gears look like this.

Below are the new gears compared with the old.

Test fitting the second set of gears on the axles I found they did fit with a push and I thought that the friction would be enough to prevent them from spinning on the wheels.

To fit the axles properly the chassis plate needs to be fitted between the axles and the wheels.  The chassis plate positions the wheels and transfers electric from the metal wheel to the motor; there’s one on each side.

This is the tricky part.  When the chassis plate, axles and wheels are fitted to the chassis the wheels must all be at the same position.  The position of the axle on the wheel can also affect this as the teeth on the gear need to mesh with the idler gear teeth; if it’s off it will force the wheel to rotate slightly as the teeth mesh.  I reckon they had a jig for doing this in the factory.

The wheel sets on the other side must also be fixed so all four are at the same rotation but quartered compared to the other side.  To find out what quartering means and why it’s done see the post from two week’s ago here.

On test running, the motor drove all the gears and everything rotated etc but it was lumpy.  On inspection one of the wheels was not as well aligned as it should have been and as I attempted to rotated it the wheel spun in the axle. The new axle has not split but it means the diameter of the hole in the axles is still too big and needs to be smaller giving a tighter grip on the wheels.  I was reluctant to draw the hole too small to start with because if it’s too small and the wheel is forced in it will probably split the new axle.

Next I’ll make the necessary adjustments to reduce the size of the hole in the computer model and test print another set.  Although it fitted okay I’m also going to make a small adjustment to the twin transfer gear as it was also a little too loose.  When they arrive I’ll share the outcome with you.

Replacment Gears For A USA Trains G Scale 0-4-0

In a similar post to last week I have another replacement gear to share with you.  This time it’s much larger and for a G Scale 0-4-0 Pennsylvania 20-Ton Diesel Locomotive; made by USA Trains.

Despite being a small locomotive it’s a big model, G scale has a model ration of 1:22.5, and is heavy.  This also means that the motor has lots of power and the transmission needs to be able to withstand the forces applied.

Both of the axles are powered from a worm gear on each end of the central motor. The worm gears drive plastic gears which also form the axles and isolates the two metal wheels from each other.  As you can see in the image below the plastic axle has split.  This means the motor drives the gear which turns but the gear doesn’t turn the wheels.

As replacement parts for this locomotive were not available I drew one exactly the same size as the original and 3D printed it in Shapeways Fine Detail Plastic, formally known as FUD.  As I’ve said in previous posts this material is ideal for gears as it’s hard-wearing.

The original gear was also a bit mangled as the softer plastic tends to get damaged by the metal worm gear when under heavy loads such as starting and stopping suddenly.  The new gear with the harder plastic can withstand this without being damaged.

The axles have grooved ends to enable them to grip the inside of the plastic axle.  With some evenly applied pressure they can be pushed into the new axle.  In the image below they need to be pushed in a bit further but you can see the grooves in the metal.

The locomotive motor is in the box between the axles and when the lid or base is screwed on the new gears are pressed up to the metal worm gears.  The motor box is not connected to the body but clamps to the axles which sit in sprung axle boxes.  This allows the locomotive to navigate bumpy track and gradient changes without losing traction.

Once the motor base is replaced the locomotive is ready to go back out onto the railroad.

The replacement drive gear can be found here.

They are also available in a pair here.

Next week I’ll have even more 3D printed gears to share with you but this time it will be for  N Scale.