Bachmann model trains are one of the largest sellers of model trains in the world. Their products are high quality, inexpensive, entry-level train sets, although their “Spectrum” line is a more expensive one. The company was founded in the 1800’s by Henry Carlisle, in Philadelphia, PA, and is currently owned by a Chinese company with headquarters in Hong Kong. Their products are now made in China.
In 1899 the firm founded by Carlisle merged with a competing firm operated by Henry G. Bachmann, and the new firm was called Bachmann Bros. This firm became the first American manufacturer of sunglasses, which eventually were used by the US Army and Air Force during WWII.
After WWII, Bachmann created a product called “Plasticville USA” which was a kit of homes, stores and other buildings that you could make yourself, all for model train layouts. The original kit was in O scale, manufactured in Philadelphia. Collecting Plasticville has become a hobby unto itself, and the Plasticville Collectors Association came into being in 1999. The Plasticville line was expanded to include HO and N scale kits.
Throughout the 60’s and 70’s Bachmann produced a variety of plastic models and toys, including animal models, slot cars, robots and others. However, Bachmann was concentrating solely on model trains and their accessories by 1987.
Bachmann Scale Model Trains
Bachmann began producing N scale trains in 1968. In 1970 they began producing HO scale trains. They held exclusive licenses to manufacture models of trains designed and built by Budd Company, and United Aircraft’s high-speed train.
In 1981 the owners sold the manufacturing portion, which changed it’s name from the Kader Group to Bachmann Industries (BI). BI went worldwide, focusing on the European market. Their products were re-designed, usually to cut costs, and by around 1992 all of their rolling stock was manufactured in China.
The “Big Haulers” were introduced in 1990. These are G scale sets, the most famous is the Emmett Kelly Jr. circus trains, which came out in 1993.
In 1988 Bachmann began production of the “Spectrum” line of equipment. This is a higher quality line, which includes updated motors, realistic paint schemes and better detail. In 1998 their Spectrum HO scale 2-8-0 Consolidation was selected “Model of the Year” by readers of Model Railroader magazine.
Bachman now also produces On30 scale trains.
Bachmann has DCC systems and products. The E-Z Command digital command control system was developed with Lenz Elektronik, and will control DCC equipped locomotives from other manufacturers. They have control modules along with sound modules.
Bachmann model train products and accessories now come in HO scale, N scale (both 1:160 and 1:480), On30, OO gauge HOn30 (HO scale on N scale tracks), and G scale, worldwide.
Bachmann also makes scenery materials, including grasses, landscaping and figures in HO an O scale.
In North America, their products are sold under the Bachmann Industries and Williams names.
In the United Kingdom, you will find Bachmann Europe Plc, which sells OO gauge trains and equipment in the Branchline name, along with N scale at 1:480 under the Graham Farish name.
In Europe, Bachmann sells the Liliput line, offering HOn30 and HO scale trains.
In China, HO scale trains are sold as Bachmann China.
Aristo-Craft (another Bachmann line) sells G scale model trains.