Comments about quality of N scale Bachmann Acela?

I broke down and picked one up.
While I haven't actually run it on a layout yet (I have to wait til the next train show where we'll be setting up our N-Trak layout), But I did
do some tests on my test track. I'm not impressed.
I thought that Bachmann was getting better in quality (like Model Power and Life-Like had done). I also have Bachmann Spectrum 2-8-0 loco and it is not too bad. But this offering falls a bit short.
Here are my findings:
1. Overall appearance: Model looks very nice and the finish is quite nice. Flush mounted windows are a nice touch. Truck (bogie) detail is average. Full interior looks quite good through the windows. I would give it a B grade overall.
2. Lighting: Poor. While interior is lit, they are using yellow LEDS which do not show up at all on the dark blue interior. I'm planning on repainting the interior in cream/beige/light gray. Headlights and ditch lights are very poor. While they use white LED, the light pipes cause drastic light loss. Ditch lights are a joke. They are pretty much invisible. Red marker lights OTOH, are quite bright. I would give this a D grade.
3. Mechanical design (non powered units): While they tried to emulate the current N scale trend of having needle point bearings on the axles, they fall short in quality. It is a very sloppy design with very large tolerances. I'm planning on rebuilding the trucks to make them a bit tighter. It is doable (I've done one already). Wheelsets are well done and not wobbly. Overall grade D.
3. Mechanical design, power unit: Again very sloppy tolerances on all the gearing. Very strange truck and electric pickup design. The wheelsets are suspended in the old fashioned way (inside of the wheels). Why didn't they stick to the standard low-friction design they used on the non-powered trucks?! It seems that the tolerances are so bad that the gears sometimes don't mesh correctly and they lock up! E Grade
4. DCC. This set comes with 3 decoders built-in. They appear to be made by Bachmann, Power unit has one, and each dummy loco has one (just to control the lights). those are function-only decoders. I haven't really had a chance to play with DCC yet. But I can't find any decoder specs anywhere. Digitrax gives a nice decoder manual describing all the CV registers and other functions. Bachmann? Nothing! I checked their website - no manuals... I can't really even grade this one.
So, until I experiment with this, I have no clue if it supports 4-digit address or other functions. I am planning on installing alternating ditch lights but I think that I'll have to chuck the built-in decoders and replace them with Digitrax ones.
Overall, I'm not sorry that I bought it - it is a unique piece or rolling stock. But It needs quite of bit of work to get it to the level of quality I would like to see in it.
Has anybody else had a chance to evaluate their Acela set yet? Any comments?
Peteski
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Peter W. wrote:

[...]
Did you test this in a darkened room? In lighted room, I don't expect to see much in the way of interior lighting, and loco lighting only from in front or back of the loco.
[...]

Bachmann's decoders are reportedly made by Lenz. But AFAIK they don't support four digit addresses, etc.

IMO, yes, that will be the way to go, if you want more than basic functions.
[...]
HTH
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Wolf Kirchmeir wrote:

<snip>
Yes I have.
The problem is that Yellow LEDs emmit a narrow color band of yellow light which promptly gets absorbed by the dark blue interior. So - bad design. I'll be replacing them with white LEDs which will have color similar to the fluorescent light on the real train. And lighter interior color will also make a big difference. Its been a while since I was on Acela (I had a tour before it was in service), so I don't recall if dark blue interior is even realistic.
As I mentioned the red marker lights are quite acceptable. But the headlights are very dim especially compared to any current N diesel loco using a white LED as a light source. How quickly we get spoiled by inovation... And the ditch lights light pipes basically don't really face out. They face towards the edge of the ditch light opening. And they are also very dim. So combination of both facts makes them a joke.

Hmm... they don't look anything like they woudl be made by Lenz. The PC board quality is not quite the same. They look like they are designed and stuffed in China.
Maybe they were designed by Lenz and manufactured in China? But if that was true, why woudln't theh feature all sorts of advanced features Lens puts in their (even basic) decoders?
2-digit addressing only? Thats lame! But then again, Bachmann DCC is a really basic system. So I'm sure these decoders are based on that same system.
I'll try to get some more info from Bachmann but I have a feeling that their support staff will be clueless when it comes to any DCC manuals.

That's too bad as I did pay for those 2 decoders ...

Peteski
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