I recently purchased a Bachman Spectrum 2-8-0.  As a member of the Sundance Central Modular Group, I needed something to run with the rest of the gang. 1:20.3 Steam is the standard, and I am now finally able to run on the layout with trains that fit the period and size.   The "Connie" is an extremely nice locomotive with a large amount of added detail that is uncommon in a mass produced large scale locomotive.  It is a model of a narrow gauge outside frame locomotive built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the 1920's.  The outside frame design was utilized to help spread a heavier weight over a wider loading gauge.  This allowed for a lower center of gravity and more stability on narrow gauge track.
    The features of this locomotive are impressive.  It has fully operational Baker valve gear with Johnson bar and linkage, die cast gear box, DCC ready, metal frame, wheel counterweights, precision can motor, smoke generator with on-off switch, NMRA polarity switch, brass bell with metal clapper, brass whistle, machined brass pop valves, separate sanding lines, metal handrails and piping, wood grain detail on planking end beams with nut, bolt and washer detail, chemically blackened, machined metal wheels, fully detailed tender trucks with brake beams, hangers and shoes, LED headlights, load synchronized LED's in firebox and ashpan, complete backhead detail including steam gauge with piping, throttle, sight glass fittings, an operating firebox door, sliding cab windows. 
    The locomotive runs very smoothly.  I broke it in on rollers for one hour in forward and one hour in reverse after complete lubrication based on the extensive instruction manual.  Once broken in, the locomotive crawls very nicely down the track, and the top sped is almost too fast to be prototypical.  This is a heavy locomotive which needs to be handled with two hands.  The tender is nicely detailed and includes tool boxes with opening lids, and a backup headlight.   The tender is equipped for sound  installation, in which a three inch speaker will be required. 
    While the locomotive is well detailed, I was determined to add even more to make it look like pictures I have in a book by Mallory Hope Ferrell.  It will be lettered for my railroad the Live Oak & Northern, and will follow the practices of the Southern Pacific narrow gauge that once existed.  I ordered a bunch of detail parts on the internet, and got things done as they came in.  The first thing I did was change the couplers to Accucraft.  I wanted to be able to couple with other members' rolling stock, and I also did not care for the Bachman couplers, especially the one that stuck out from the pilot. 
I used an Accucraft caboose fro my 1:20.3 coupler height, and cut both the loco pilot and the tender so that the coupler would fit properly and at the correct height.  This took some work with the Dremel, but I was very satisfied with the result.  My next step was to make the coupler lift bars functional, since the Accucraft couplers work by pulling up on a tab located at the top.  This is drilled out by the factory and readily accepts a ring and chain.  The pilot was easy, since Bachman already provided a coupler lift bar that had a u-shaped bend in it to fasten the chain to.   The tender coupler required this piece to be fabricated and soldered to the existing lift bar.  Once the end of the chain was glued to the lift bar with ACC cement, the couplers opened easily by by moving the levers just like the prototype.
    I needed an engineer and fireman for my locomotive.  I found two figures manufactured by Railroad Avenue which fit the part and were the correct scale.  Putting figures into the cab of this loco requires that you remove the roof which is easily done by taking out two screws that are found under the rear of the cab roof.  It is a tight fit to get these figures in place without major surgery to their limbs, but it can be done.  Once the figures are in place, the sliding windows will not work, so I removed and discarded them. The painted the remaining fixed cab window red as per SP practice.  The cab roof was then replaced and screwed in place.
    The headlight on this locomotive is a directional LED.  It is yellow in color and not to my liking.  I bought some Warm White LED's from Miniatronics and replaced both the main headlight and the tender light with these new LED's.  These headlights pop off their mounting brackets quite easily and if you insert a small screw driver into the slot on the bottom and push, the lens and reflector come out.  Of course the existing LED had to be destroyed to get it out of the reflector, and the reflector had to be drilled out because the new LED was longer than the old one.  While I was at it, I added class lights to my locomotive using castings from Trackside Hobbies and clear lenses made by sanding off the backing on a clear jewel so that light can shine through it.  I relocated the headlight to the top of the boiler from its original location in the middle of the boiler front.  It looks more realistic in this location, and changes the character of the locomotive.  I filled the slot where the original mounting bracket was, and added a circular number plate.  The front of the boiler was then painted Floquil Old Silver. 
    The check valves and the steam lifters were painted red per SP practice, and the locomotive got it's number using decals made by Stan Cedarleaf in Arizona. I also added the locomotive number to both sides of the headlight using the same decal source. I also added boiler wash out plugs to both sides of the boiler per prototype practice.  Neither Bachman nor Aristocraft, on their original steam locomotives, have this detail.  They are available from Ozark Miniatures, and are easily installed with a small drill bit and hand drill.
    The tender was easy to open since it only has two screws and two tabs to hold it in place.  I put a Sierra Soundtraxx sound system in.  It is the one they list for the Bachman 2-8-0. I really like the whistle sound, so it was a no-brainer when it came to making my selection  I re-did the LED in the tender headlight as per the above.  I added marker lights to the rear of the tender for use when the loco is running light.  These are controlled by a switch which is under the tender body and is hooked up to the Sierra system.  This tender has provision for a 3 inch speaker, and I added a Phoenix 3.0 from my supply box.  The speaker was sealed to the grid in the tender floor with clear silicone. I may or may not make an enclosure for the speaker depending upon how well I like the sound without an enclosure.
    The charging jack for the sound system is was located on the end of the tender hidden behind the boards that slide out for the coal pile. The off-on switch is located on the bottom of the tender.  I hung some re-rail frogs on each side of the tender per prototype practice, and added a more prototypical sized coal load using black aquarium gravel.  The molded on load has coal pieces which are way too small for this scale locomotive.  The tender was lettered Live Oak & Northern and numbered using custom decals from Stan Cedarleaf.
    In all this conversion and detailing project went well.  I have weathered both loco and tender using the information I provided in an earlier "Tips" article, and it is now ready to hit the main line.
Out of the Box
Ready to hit the high iron