No. 91: Inspiration for an M&StL 2-6-0

Back in February I took two of my kids to Metz, France for a day of indoor skiing.  I thought it would be a low-cost activity (it wasn’t) and a good way to keep our “ski-legs” into the spring (it was).  It was like skiing in a giant refrigerator, and it was actually a whole lot of fun.  The runs weren’t too long but there were all kinds of jumps and moguls and things to keep you interested.

Anyway there is a single tow-bar that takes you back to the top of the hill.  Any disciplined skier knows you’re supposed to ski in a straight line on the t-bar, but lots of troublemakers like me tend to zig-zag around to keep ourselves entertained.  At this place, zig-zagging on the t-bar is strictly prohibited; there are signs all over the place telling you not to do it. 

I had a good laugh when I first saw the signs.  Here’s a photo of one of them, below on the left.  It says, Do Not Slalom…you risk Derailment! 


From Ski Moguls…to 2-6-0 Moguls… 

I finally bought one of the little Bachmann 2-6-0  “Sound Value” Moguls in March and boy am I glad I did.  This is a neat little engine that looks good, sounds good and runs great.  The photo of the stock model below is provided courtesy of Bachmann Industries.




My buddy Clark Propst has always provided a lot of inspiration for me and my modeling.  Clark bought and repainted a Bachmann Mogul last year–pictured below, repainted as M&StL 316–and he raved online about the engine’s simplicity and excellent sound and performance. 


When my engine showed up at the house I ran upstairs, set it on the track, fired up the NCE.  Right out of the box the engine moved along smoothly at Speed Step 1.  It sounded great. 

Yup, Clark was right again.  This engine was worth every penny. 

I had a great time running it around my little layout.  In fact I had such a great time with it that the next day I sold my stupid, overpriced Broadway PRR 2-8-2 on EeBay.  It looked great but the sound and motor control was ridiculous.  I’m keeping my BLI PRR 2-8-0 that I also paid too much money for; it’ll need $200 in work to bring the operation and sound up to par but I’m willing to do that for one of those dogs.

After seeing everything Bachmann provides at low cost I’m never buying another BLI engine again.  Ever. 

Yes, I’m bitter.


I want to rework my engine to appear something like M&StL 332, pictured above.  I model 1950 and the 332 was long gone by then–probably retired around 1948.  But I can plausibly backdate 24 months or just run it anyway like Clark does on his early 1950s layout.  I don’t think any modelers here in Germany would notice.

The Bachmann engine is pretty close to the 332 but there are some obvious differences.  Here is a short list of things I noticed about the 332 that are different from the Bachmann engines. 

  • Stack and domes are all the same height
  • Wood cab with two large windows
  • Different cylinders
  • Front-mounted headlight
  • Large, solid pilot wheel
  • Footboard pilot
  • Coal bunker height is different
  • Large headlight center-mounted on the coal bunker

The first night I had the model I took the tender apart to see how easy it would be to modify it into something that looked like the 332’s tender.  Within an hour I had already cut down the tender sides and filled in the coal bunker with a styrene cap.  The next night I added footboards, markers, couplers, air lines, a headlight visor, and trucks from Precision Scale.  I want to add a push-pole, rivet detail on the bottom side sill, maybe some chains on the engineer’s side, and–at some point later–a larger headlight centered on the tender deck.  For the meantime the changes look reasonable.


The engine looks good but it could use a few more details to get it closer to the 332.  I started modifications by adding a pilot deck, an air line and markers to the front end.  I removed the tiny factory-installed headlight and replaced it with a spare headlight and mount from a Bachmann 2-10-0.  The front-mounted headlight really changes the engine’s appearance.  I also removed the plastic bell casting and installed a Cal Scale bell.



After about two hours of work the engine now looked like this (below).  Just moving the headlight really altered the engine’s appearance.   


Next I turned my attention to the cab.  I cut the windows out of one side and attempted to install a second window on each side like in the prototype photo.  I cut new window holes out of the side…and it looked terrible.  See below.


I ordered a new cab and after getting a tender shell by mistake, I finally got the replacement cab a month later.  I decided to just leave the windows like they are for now and modify a new cab later at my leisure…or never.

More to follow as I get this baby built up.  If you’re on the fence about getting one of these engines, just jump.  It’s worth every penny.

I hope you all enjoyed a day off from work on Memorial Day, and took a moment to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.  – John G




8 thoughts on “No. 91: Inspiration for an M&StL 2-6-0

  1. John,

    Yes the Bachmann models are great low cost steamers that with some additional detail and weathering look almost as good as brass – and always run better.
    Do yourself a favor though, especially if you’re going to redetail one of these engines. Get another duplicate engine now and keep it under the layout as a spare. Bachmann does rerun their steam models, but it’s not unheard of for them to change things like mounting posts and screw holes from one run to another. And if the mech on the detail model dies you want to be able to swap it out with a duplicate mech with minimal fuss.
    I had a very early (first run) 2-8-0 that Iain Rice extensively detailed into a CV N-5-a. A couple of years ago the mechanism simply up and quite – so I took one of my other 2-8-0s and found the detailed shell didn’t fit on the newer mechanism without some extensive work.


    • You’re kind to suggest that, Marty. It’s a great idea. In rebuilding this engine I robbed a bunch of parts off a spare Bachmann 2-10-0 I had on hand, and I’m glad I kept it.

      You’re engine is spectacular. I think I saw it on the cover of MRP, right?

      – John G


  2. Hi Marty:

    I have a few of the Bachmann engines and you are right on having spares and spare parts to keep them running because they do tend to change things like pugs from engine to tender from run to run. The good news is that Bachmann recently announced a new run of their 2-8-0s this time not only DCC but also Sound Value later to be relased later this year. For a guy who models IC these close to “prototype Illinois Central” locomotives.
    On another note, good to see you back planning/building another, simple railroad. Outside of staging, I only have 22 turnouts on my current, small railroad and it’s turned out to be very satisfying. Like you recently, mentioned being a simple, easily, accessible railroad makes it easy to take my time on any of several projects without feeling over whelmed.



  3. John great job on the 2-6-0.
    You mentioned the tender back up lite and centering it. I did this on one of my 2-6-0s and it was easy.
    First take off the tender shell and put it in the freezer for 24 hours to make it easier to remove the mounted light fixture. While waiting for the cement to releaes the lamp on the tender in the freezer, un-screw the backup lite LED and move it (there’s plenty of slack in the wires to allow this) to the center of the bottom of the tender. Using a couple of small strips of double side tape remount the LED to the tender bottom. After removing the tender shell from the freezer use a pair of needle nose pliers to gently, pull the lamp fixture out then drill a 1/8″ size hole in the center, rear of the tender. Push the lamp down into the tender and you’re done.

    BTW, I really like the tender footboards. Did you scratch build those, are they from Bachmann or somewhere else? I need to add these to mine. If I could figure out how to move the engine headlight down and centered on the smokebox this would make a good representaion of IC, 2-6-0, #317.



    • Hi Barry, I robbed them off of a Bachmann 2-10-0. Bachmann has an excellent parts store and I’m sure you can find them at the website. I just ordered a second cab and tender body for this model and the parts got here quick. Some of the spare parts make the rebuilding work really easy.


  4. John,
    I’m looking forward to see how you handle changing the cylinders and valve gear. I have a similar project in mind, and that part has me stymied. Wish Bachmann made this engine with Stephenson-type cylinders and valve gear.

    Mike H.


  5. Hey John,

    Excellent work detailing the Bachmann 2-6-0. I recently super detailed a Bachmann 2-8-0 into a Central Vermont M-2-a. While challenging, it was well worth it in the end. BTW, do you plan on lighting the classification lights with leds? I look forward to see the finished result.



  6. Hi Roger, thanks for the kind words. Clark Propst always tell me that I over-do everything…so no, I wasn’t planning on lighting the markers. Although that would be really cool…

    I’d like to see a photo of your engine if you’ve got one handy!


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