Bachman is in the process of shipping their long awaited Spectrum K-27 2-8-2 steam locomotive in 1:20.3 scale.  Our fellow club member Bob "Choo-Choo" Green had one of the first models at his home, and I had the chance recently to see it and run it. His model is the undecorated version with the green boiler.

A Little Background
In 1903, the Denver & Rio Grande took delivery of fifteen class 125 2-8-2 narrow gauge locomotives built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works. Eventually re-classified as K-27s and nicknamed ‘Mudhens’ by their operating crews, the new locomotives boasted a tractive effort of over 27,000 lbs. and ushered in a new era of narrow gauge pulling power for the ever expanding railroad. All fifteen K-27s (numbers 450 to 464) were originally equipped with Vauclain compound cylinders but due to high maintenance costs, were soon rebuilt with single expansion cylinders and slide valves. Later, eleven of these engines were upgraded again, this time with modern piston valve cylinders. Today, there are still two surviving and operating K-27s. In their time, they pulled both freight and passenger trains through the mountains.

    It takes two hands to handle this "whopper", with the weight of the locomotive hitting the scale at 36 pounds.  The box itself measures 11x22x33  inches, and the locomotive and tender come packaged separately in styrofoam packaging.  The locomotive measures 38 inches including the tender.  The attention to detail is once again shown in Bachmann's production of this model.  The cab has operating windows, doors, awnings, and wind deflectors, and the interior is very well done including valves, gauges, and an operating Johnson bar.  Once again Bachmann has provided bronze pop valves, bell, and whistle, along with numerous die-cast parts including valve gear, side rods, and counter weights. Complete brake rigging is also a detail feature of this locomotive. Additional details, too numerous to mention, are evident on both the locomotive and tender when you examine them. A bag is included which contains a screened stack cap, an engineer, fireman, a longer drawbar, various couplers including Hook and Loop, and about 15 tools that can be added to the tender and locomotive. 
    The locomotive is powered by a custom built Pittman motor with a double shafted brass machined flywheel. Prototypical equalization is provided with individually sprung drives, trailing truck, and a floating gear box.  The locomotive actually has a slight "waddle" while going down the track like the prototype did, which was where the term "mudhen" came from.  This of course is due to the sprung suspension, which will be a definite benefit for those who have less than perfect track.  For those who run track power, there is all-wheel driver and tender power pickup to keep the loco running smoothly.
    The electronics for this locomotive are equally impressive.  All wiring and plugs are heavy duty and the tender can be easily opened for access.
Constant lighting of the LED headlight, marker lights, and cab light are standard on this locomotive. The headlight is a yellow LED.  The marker lights are orange but a skillful modeler should be able to make them white.  There is no backup light on the tender, but I am told this was the case in real life.   Optical sensors are provided in the cylinders for sound synchronization, and the firebox has load-compensated flickering which is an excellent effect.  The locomotive is wired to accommodate DC, NMRA DCC, and remote control battery operation.  There is a three position switch with "center off" for DCC or DC operation of smoke unit, cab light, and firebox/ marker lights.  There are three switches in the tender to choose track or battery power pickup operation according to NMRA or Large Scale model railroading practices, and motor power on/off with or without lights.  There is plenty of room in the tender for batteries, remote throttle, and a sound system installation. In fact the tender is set up so that if you remove the 2 supplied weights, you can easily replace each weight with a six cell Sub-C inline pack.  Each one will install along the side, and of course be wired in series to make 14.4 nominal, 17v peak. This is the perfect voltage and tests have shown the loco performs very well with this set up.
    The couplers that come with this locomotive are die-cast knuckle couplers which are body mounted. Offset shank couplers are included for use with other brands of couplers (1:22.5). Accucraft knuckle couples can be adapted to this locomotive for a more realistic appearance.
    Bachmann has done some excellent research on these locomotives. The following D&RGW models are offered: #453 with the dog house on the tender, #464, #463, #455 with the Sunrise herald or the Original Horseshoe herald, an undecorated model, and an undecorated model with a green boiler.
    The smoke system is basic Bachmann, which means that it is not very impressive compared to other manufacturer's systems. Other modelers have replaced the Bachmann smoke generator with MTH or Aristo, but this is a topic for a future article.

    This is one smooth running locomotive. Once broken in, it crawls down the track, and it hits a realistic scale speed at full throttle.  Eight foot diameter curves are a must, but you will need larger if you want to double head.  As with all the Bachmann Spectrum 1:20.3 equipment, the quality is excellent and the detail is outstanding for a locomotive in this price range (less than $800).  In addition, a set of diagrams and an instruction book are included along with a well made video.