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Bachmann BR 4MT Tender

Paul Johnson.
Bachmann BR std 4MT 2-6-0 no 76069 cat no 32-951
Excellent representation of the one narrow firebox Riddles tender loco design that was an unequivocal success. The model is a matching success, it really gets the subject appearance from all angles. Key dimensions are correct, and since it looks right that’s probably all we need about general accuracy. The full ration of daylight is visible between boiler underside and frame tops, the only slightly questionable decision is the modelling of the firebox sides below the footplate at scale width, which means arches are required either end to clear the wheels. Those arches are not present on the prototype, and it would have been better to make the usual compromise of modelling the lower firebox sides narrow enough to fit behind the driving wheels. I feel the model ‘gets away with it’, in that you are so busy appreciating all the other good stuff that this doesn’t call attention to itself, but...
This version comes with the ‘big’ tender, a BR1B, as it is one of the batch built for service on BR(SR). The tender being about two thirds the size of the very compact loco makes it look more of a heavy main line loco, rather than a medium power secondary type. This tender has Bachmann’s trademark error: an ‘extra wiggle’ at the top front of the side sheets as it curves in to meet the cab roof. A small skilfully shaped application of filler easily fixes that if it bothers you. (Obviously doesn’t bother most reviewers...)
Right up to scratch here, all the practical external detail for 4mm is present. You’d be sweating blood on a DIY model to fit all this detail so very neatly. The slide bars, crosshead, rods and valve gear strike me as very successful. I have tackled the heavy flange around the dome base, this is now faired in smoothly to match the way the chimney is faired into the smokebox top – this is supplied as it should be. The glazing, paint and numbers all very neatly applied; a pretty plain cab interior though, just a few gauge faces picked out white. That’s more than I need, but I know some like ‘everything’ painted up.
Usual selection of user selectable parts to add, dependent on how tight the layout curvature is, and therefore what clearance is required for the pony truck to swing out and for the tender to move relative to the loco. Two holes in the drawbar to set the loco to tender distance on two settings: true scale and well spaced off for set track. Except that only the longer spacing will work as supplied! Loco and tender cannot connect on the closer hole, the intermediate buffers moulded on the front of the tender drag box are too long to permit this. If you have a file, a few strokes will reduce the length of the protruding buffers so it can couple on at scale distance; cut them back to about 1.5mm and loco and tender coupled at scale distance will go through R2 curves. Two short vehicles you see, and the whole model looks so good properly coupled like this.
Straight out of the box operation was just what I look for. The pick-up wipers well set for full contact, and it ran smoothly from dead slow in both directions immediately. Decently quiet too, slight whine when at maximum speed, which would scale faster than any of the class ever ran. Pulling power is more than adequate for the type, it will take a normal full freight load or eight or nine coaches which is appropriate to the power class with no trouble at all. So, a true ‘ready to run’ model. I bought this model away from home (offered at an irresistible price) and it got its first running on a family layout, all set track and none too well laid. It stayed on the rails where other larger locos sometimes came off and ran reliably through standard R2 set track dead frog points. Pretty good I thought.
Once home, this model was fitted with an 8 pin Lenz standard decoder (full size HO type) in the loco, which pretty much means any likely decoder choice will fit, impressive for a relatively small loco with a lot of weight in it. As usual this decoder took a decent mechanism and made it perform like something way more sophisticated, very pleasing.
Two screws release the loco body for servicing the mechanism, and the well designed mechanism layout should be noted. Bachmann have achieved a neater construction this time than on the closely related LMS Ivatt 4MT 2-6-0 design, for which they also make a model. That’s progress! It was greased reasonably tidily where it needed to be, the gear train side had a leaking blob outside which needed to be restored to where it could do useful work. A little regular oiling on all the exterior rod pins will be all the maintenance this model needs for many years in my opinion.
Can you tell I like it, despite one or two small reservations? Like the real thing it ‘does the business’; crews who knew the type rated it well above the BR std 4MT 4-6-0 and near equal the BR std 5MT. It’s model of a versatile type that many layouts should have: equally suited to passenger or freight, can run on secondary routes equally as well as main lines, would be seen with both small and large loads.
Overall ranking
8.5 Don’t misunderstand, it only misses a ten due to a couple of small errors and inconveniences, most of which are readily corrected if the owner cares to do so.

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