Detailing the Bachmann On30 Gas Mechanical

When it first came out, I bought Bachmann’s On30 0-4-0 Gas Mechanical in the ‘Little River Logging Company’ livery, but I have never been particularly happy with the look of the loco, and felt that it really needed some detailing if I was going to us it on my (eventual) layout. While at the Sparsholt Narrow Gauge Show in April 2006, I discovered the Backwoods Miniatures Dress-up kit for the Gas Mechanical. The kit costs £22, and provides a mixture of cast metal and etched brass parts, which you can use as many or as few as you like to detail the kit.

The Gas-Mechanical, and Backwoods Minatures brass and white metal parts
The Gas-Mechanical, and Backwoods Minatures brass and white metal parts

Getting Started

I started by replacing the side rods. This was quite easy and just required gripping the pins holding them in place with a pair of needle nose pliers and gently twisting to release the pin. I then switched the side rods and replaced the pins.

The next step was to add the fuel tank to the front right of the under frame. I first removed the step that was present with needle nose pliers, then moved on to the more tricky step of removing the sideframe so that I could remove the ‘gusset’ cast on that is in the way of seating the fuel tank. After undoing and replacing various sets of screws, I found that you need to remove the wheelsets before you can remove the sideframe – this is accomplished by removing the two screws closest in on the centre line that hold the keeper plate on. Once the wheelsets are removed, the sideframe can be detached by removing the two outer most screws. Once I removed the gusset with a fine razor saw and then a file, I replaced all the removed parts and glued the casting in place with Loctite’s Easy-Brush Super Glue.

Next I fitted the sideskirts to the sides of the loco, first removing the paint on the edges. I then fitted the access doors to the skirts, initially in the open position, until I managed to knock two of them off again, and decided to have only one installed open with the rest closed. A shame, but eventually I am bound to loose one if I don’t.

The Body

I next added the radiator guard, although before fitting it I added the supplied ‘Whitcomb’ emblem to the guard, hoping that this would be easier adding it to the loco before than after. Installing the guard is done by carefully bending the locating tabs to create an ‘L’ shape at right angles to the guard, then gluing this to the front of the loco. At this point I also added the vertical Davenport emblems to the side of the radiator panel, over the top of the existing ones.

The next area to detail was the hood. I started by fitting the door louvers on, six in all. The instructions recommend adding these with a slow set glue to get the positioning correct, however I found using superglue and a pair of tweezers worked just as well.

I next fitted the muffler, air filter and horn to the upper part of the hood. To fit the muffler it is necessary to remove the current chimney. I gripped it with a pair of pliers and shifted it back and fourth until the glue broke. I then measured and drilled the hole for the support at the other end and fitted it. There is no set position for the air filter, so I mounted it towards the front left of the hood. The air horn was added to the cab wall, just under the roofline.

Most of the remaining casting were added next. I added the toolbox on the left of the loco, the roof hatch to the centre of the roof, the weights at the rear, and the rear light at the back of the roof. I finished off by remaking the hand rails that come with the kit on the front of the loco.

The Doors

The only significant items now left to fit were the doors, which left me with a problem. The doors can be fitted opening inwards or sliding inside the cab, both of which cause problems on the right of the cab – an opening door hits the drivers seat and a sliding one jams on the existing panels. I had decided to leave the doors off, when I was struck by an idea – I could have them sliding, if I mounted them to the outside!

To accomplish this, I got some 1/16 brass channel, and cut a piece to go at the top and bottom of the sides of the cab. With the channel in place I then had to trim about 2mm of the top of the doors to get them to fit. I then fitted a handle and number to each door, as well as fitting glazing to the rear side of the door. After painting the doors I also added small fillets of brass to the end of the channel to stop the doors from falling out.

Painting the loco

I decided to leave the loco painted in the scheme it was, so I mostly painted the parts that I had added black or red, and I painted the front grill silver. Finally I did some drybrush weathering just to dirty the loco up – it is a working girl after all!


The Backwoods Miniatures loco detailing kit is very good, with very clean etched parts and casting and apart from the doors is very easy to assemble – I especially like the idea that you can use as much or as little of the kit as you like to achieve the effect that you want (although I wanted to use pretty much everything), and at £22 you can hardly go wrong. In fact I am now eying up the full body replacement kits for the gas mechanical…

The completed detailed Gas-Mechanical.
The completed detailed Gas-Mechanical.

About the Author – Paul Joel

Paul is the son of one of Alton Model Railway Group’s founding members, being around the Group since it started, and a member for over 30 years.

After starting modelling and operating with Group layout Welles, Paul joined the newly formed American Section and has helped build, operate and exhibit Pine Bluffs ever since.

More recently Paul has branched out into first American On30 with his layout ‘Silver Creek’, and more recently returned to OO Great Western with a home ‘shelf’ layout ‘Shipston-Saint-Marys’.