How To Build a Model Railroad Bachmann Big Hauler birthday train

Bachmann Big Hauler birthday train

By Bud Sanders | November 6, 2022

A large scale tank car model was cut open to display an N scale train

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Bachmann Big Hauler birthday train

An N scale train sits on a trestle inside a large scale tank car.
A friend’s grandson had an upcoming birthday, and a photo my friend shared inspired me to build this model. It began as a Bachmann Big Hauler tank car to which I added an N scale interior and train. Follow along in the gallery to learn more about the project.
A boy stands in front of a steam engine in a park.
This is the picture that inspired the project. My friend’s grandson Anderson is fascinated with trains. Anderson is standing in front of Magma Arizona RR No. 6 at the McCormick Stillman Train Park in Scottsdale, Ariz. The Magma Arizona RR was a short line that served copper mining and ranching customers until 1997.
An Arnold N scale 0-6-0 steam locomotive
I already had the Arnold N scale locomotive and tender. I repainted it to match Magma Arizona No. 6. The decals were made for me by Bedlam Creations. I found the figures at a hobby shop and modified them to represent Anderson and his brother Casey, then placed them in the cab.
A large scale tank car model cut open with white plaster scenery and N scale track on a wooden trestle
The tank car started out as a G scale Bachmann Big Haulers single dome tank car. I disassembled it and laid out the area to be cut out, then used a motor tool to remove the plastic. Finally, I sanded it to the finished shape. I built up the interior with shaped foam covered with plain paper towel pieces and joint compound until I had a shape I liked. I made the bridge from stained strip basswood. When I was satisfied with the interior I used craft paints to layer on washes and highlighted details with dry brush techniques.
LGB track on thin plywood with ballast
The large scale track is from LGB. To get everything to fit into the acrylic display case I used, I attached the track to 1/8″ birch plywood, then mounted it to the display base. I used Woodland Scenics ballast on both the large scale and N scale track segments.
Large scale trucks and couplers weathered with rust and dirt colors
I wanted the model to look like it has been out in the weather for years, so I used Vallejo paint, stain, and washes in various earth and rust tones on the entire model. I placed chocks on the wheels and trucks to keep the tank car from moving after it was mounted to the base.
3/4 view of tank car with N scale train inside
I already had the N scale freight cars, but I repainted the yellow tank car, then added Andersons decals to it and the large scale car. Tichy Train Group supplied the Andersons decals.
Side view of single railroad tie with pieces of rail mounted on top
There are four ties on the display base to attach the clear acrylic case cover. The ties are basswood, with cut-off pieces of LGB track resting in Ozarks Miniatures tie plates.
Back side of tank car showing white decal lettering on black tank
I wasn’t really concerned about accuracy for the markings for this project, so I used some G scale decals I had left over from K4 Decals. A little more weathering and a clear flat coat of paint and the Bachmann Big Hauler birthday train was finished. I hope you’re inspired by this project to try something similar yourself. Like so many I have loved all types of modeling from an early age. My interest in trains probably started around 30 years ago. Now that I am retired, I have the opportunity to devote more time to the hobby.




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