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Bachmann BR 5MT
 
Username
Paul Johnson.
 
Version
Bachmann BR Standard 5MT no 73158  in BR lined  black late crest 32-501

 
Appearance
Generally good, represents the originals well. Ran the ruler over the major dimensions, and they are correct. The tender is  the BR1B and a very neat model of the type. Paint finish and lining, numbers and totems all neatly applied. If being picky there are two definite shape inaccuracies: the cab roof profile just above the side windows is too shallow a slope resulting in an oversize vertical section of cabside above the side windows (Bach get this right on the 9F, same BR standard cab design), and there is a strange extra wiggle at the top of the curves of the front tender sides (present on all Bach’s  BR1B and C tender models I believe).

 

A big improvement to the looks can be made by close coupling at prototype separation; easiest way on this model was to cut off the tender ‘peg’ which was inconveniently long resulting in difficulty getting the loco and tender separated, then putting in a small self tapping screw at an appropriate location. To enable close coupling most of the representation of the intermediate buffers on the tender front have to be filed off. This detail cannot be seen with the tender coupled on, so no loss to appearance there, and the model overall looks much more realistic. A weather sheet can be added too from the tender top to go under the cab roof (I mad mine using black bin liner).

 
Detail
All the practical detail is present by my reckoning, it has proved strong enough to stay put over many years of regular operation, and adds a lot to the model. The add on parts have to be tried against layout curves as usual, some will foul on small radius curves so it is ‘suck it and see’ on the layout it will run on. A little black paint can be applied to the flanges of the rear screens glazing to ‘disappear’ them. The completeness of the detail requires extra attention when reassembling the model, see below in maintenance.


Performance
It took a couple of hours operation, alternating forwards and backwards at medium speed to obtain smooth running: the model picks up on all coupled wheels, all the pick up wipers making good contact as supplied. The leading coupled axle is sprung, always an asset for reliable pick up. Speed wise, the fairly high gear ratio limited top speed to a scale 65mph or thereabouts, so not able to gallop along as fast the real thing. The motor has a ‘fat worm’ providing some flywheel action which helps smoothness in DC operation. The chassis is on the light side and has other problems as supplied,  which means it slips a lot on level track if asked to pull a prototypical load, and the slipping then really limits the maximum speed too. With eight Bachmann mk1s in tow it struggled for 50mph average speed, slipping like fury on a 36” radius curve, goodness knows what it would be like on set track curves. I have done quite a lot of work on mine to improve on this, see below.

 

Maintenance
There was adequate grease on the moving parts, and I have continued with grease as required over the nine years that I have had this model, it has been trouble free. Very easy to remove  the body, just three screws (one for the speedo drive) although the rear one requires the brake actuator crank moulding to be removed to get access. The decoder socket is adjacent a space in the boiler with a plastic ‘box’ making DCC decoder fitting a snap, however I did not use this feature.

 

First I wanted to fix the traction issue. Stripped the model completely, and removed the socket and all the mazak chassis casting above the representation of the boiler underside. Filled most of the space in the boiler with a block of lead, and made a block of lead to fix onto the cab floor to better balance the loco. Hardwired in a Lenz Silver, which sits right at the front in the smokebox. Stretched the front driven wheel spring to make its’ action more positive to compensate for the extra weight, cut the bogie spring down to one quarter the length supplied for a really soft action rather than tending to lift the leading coupled wheels off the rails, still plenty enough for bogie track holding. I also removed the rather intrusive front coupler mount while working on the bogie spring. To enable test running as a chassis put a washer over the speedo crank screw so it can retain the rear coupling rod (or borrow a crankpin temporarily from another Bach model). On test running with the extra weight it ran much faster than previously, scaling 75mph, so the lack of weight on the coupled wheels meant it was slipping even when not pulling a load! Performance with the Lenz decoder was good from a very smooth dead slow crawl up to a decent express speed for the type.

 

It is when you come to put the body back on, that things get a bit sweaty. There is a loose metal component to represent the loco drag box rear that has to be located on the inverted body ( fits around the screw locator), and two pipe mouldings in the way of the chassis going in, these have to be gently bent aside to clear. (While you may at first feel that this model requires three hands to reassemble, it does get easier with practice.) Then you wiggle in the tender drawbar and do up the body retaining screws and reconnect the speedo drive to the rear wheel. On test running, it goes like a limping horse, lurching about like mad. Slacken off the speedo retaining screw and make sure the crank pivot point is really accurately centred on the axle end, there are dogs which engage to guide you to roughly the right position but a little tweaking to optimise is still required. May take several attempts to get right...
 
Comments
A model I like a lot, but it took some work to make it perform decently. This was one of the very early ‘Blue Riband’ releases from Bachmann, while they were gaining experience about what their customer base wanted; and the high ratio gearing, while it leads to excellent slow running does limit top speed significantly which I know disappoints some owners. It is possible to fit the faster revving Mashima 1426 motor (like for like on size with the Bach motor fitted) and that will reportedly deliver a scale 90mph.

 
Overall ranking
8 Docked a point for the cab shape and the lightness which limits traction. I have gone out and bought another, all above comments apply.

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