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Bachmann BR A1
 

Username
Paul Johnson.
 
Version
Several versions of the Bachmann A1 32-550/551/552/553/555/556

 
Appearance
Looks and measures right.

 
Detail
Well detailed and finished.

 
Performance
Runs smoothly, no pick up trouble.

 

Could any of these locos pull a prototypical load? No, not remotely. Four problems: it is too light, the carrying wheel springs are too strong, the drawbar rests on the bottom of the slot in the tender front, and the cab fall plate rests on the tender step when the tender is coupled on the closer setting. So a loco that starts out too light then has too much of that weight supported on the carrying wheels, and also the back end of the loco is held up by the tender. The driving wheels are skidding rather than gripping...

 

There is bags of room to add weight in the large boiler; mine now weigh well over a pound. Both the carrying wheel springs can be cut down to a third of their original size and the track holding is still fine. The drawbar can be bent slightly to go cleanly through the tender front slot, or the bottom of the slot can be cut away (makes coupling on the tender easier). The fall plate is best removed (it is simply captive between two body parts) and a substitute made and added.

 

With a lot of weight centred over the coupled wheels the model will now do what it should on the layout, pulling full size trains realistically, from a smooth start to full express speed. The motors get a little warm dragging heavy trains up my relatively gentle gradients, but no casualties after many years regular operation.
 
Maintenance
I have used grease lubricant, all the locos have been mechanically completely trouble free.  This may only apply to my heavyweight locos: it is very noticeable that the moment the lubrication begins to dry out on the coupling rod pins, there is some jerkiness at low speed. I keep on top of this having learned the interval at which this effect  appears is about every three months, re-lubricating before this effect is seen in an effort to keep motion wear in bounds.

 

Body is fairly easily removed: one screw forward above the bogie, two either side under cab rear. The wire to the RHS motion bracket must be unclipped, and the loco to tender drawbar has to be removed before the body will come off. Gently levering the drawbar up and down after the screws are removed will help start the chassis out of the body. All of mine have been lightly stuck together ‘somewhere’ with tacky paint, the first time something goes ‘crack’ as it breaks out. Thereafter removal is much easier. Plenty of space for a decoder even with weight added,  I have fitted Lenz silver in mine, excellent performance.
 
Comments
It has already had a review which adequately covers the looks, thought I could write usefully about overcoming the significant performance problems.
 
Overall ranking
8 Looks good, needs work to release the potential.

 
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Username

Tom Davidson

 

Version

60114 WP Allen British Railways Apple Green 32-554

 

Appearance

Excellent painted finish and lining, although it’s perhaps a bit too ‘matt’ compared to the greasy finish of a working locomotive. I much prefer the look of the number plate in the raised position as on this model, giving the loco a convincing face to add to the imposing appearance of this large and powerful engine.

 

Detail

The additional detail (from the optional detail pack) such as the copper drain pipes on the front and cab doors seemed to limit the ability of the loco to traverse 2nd radius curves, leading to some derailing. Fortunately, with this removed, there were no problems, and other detailed parts such as the piping and smoke deflectors were robust.

 

Performance

It was more than powerful enough to haul 5-6 coaches on the flat, but others have complained about a lack of power for inclines and longer trains. The loco ran smoothly but there was always a slight rubbing noise when it moved, not enough to disrupt the movement but enough to make me want to fix it. With pickups on all 6 driving wheels, there were no problems with stalling, and large driving wheels make for a reasonably quick top speed.

 

Maintenance

No maintenance needed, although I couldn’t get the body off to lubricate the mechanism or fit a decoder, even by undoing every screw I could find.

 

Comments

An excellent and well packed loco that, despite some difficulties with lubrication and detail parts, provides a great option for any steam-era Eastern-region layouts. 

 

Overall ranking

8/10

 

Review Hornby Bachmann 
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