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Bachmann LMS 3F Tender

Paul Johnson.
Bachmann 3F  in BR black early crest no 43762  catalogue no 31-626

Looked at it from all angles, and it looks like a 3F compared to the photos which are all we have now to remember the real thing by. Paint, crest and numbers all neatly applied; I liked the ‘ghost’ of the overpainted  build plate on the centre splasher. The  main dimensions match those shown on the drawing I have, the driving wheels scale just over 5’ diameter instead of 5’3”, the usual compromise with RTR as the flanges are overscale, diameter over flanges is scale enabling the wheel splashers to be made close to scale. Safe to say that it looks good,  because it is.
Well detailed and appears robust, nothing loose. There are a pair of drawhooks with screw link couplers supplied for the user to add to the bufferbeams if not using autocouplers. Neat hinged fall plate on the back of the cab, which is well detailed inside. I suppose the biggest detail lack on the loco is the absence of any of the inside motion represented between the frames in the underboiler gap, so there is something  for the owner to do.


Perhaps because of the large amount of daylight through the tender frames, the brake shoes being moulded as part of these do show up a little more than usual (this is typically the way they are represented on RTR models.) There has been comment about the leaf springs not being detailed, but look close and they are actually very finely represented with a realistic stack of around a dozen plates; in-scale representation rather than overscale. The cast coal is perhaps the least realistic piece but lifts out easily leaving a flat deck underneath; acts as a ballast weight though, so if you replace it with real coal, maybe put more weight inside...
Immediately a  smooth and quiet runner from the box. An hours running saw it improve a little in dead slow crawling, but it was good from the outset. Good choice of gearing (about 30:1) so it runs slowly and smoothly, ideal loco to shunt with. The pick ups were all well positioned to maintain contact with the wheel backs, it has been very reliable (although bear in mind this is on an all live frog point layout). Has plenty of weight for a loco of this capacity, well up to hauling a scale train of 30 or so wagons at the usual slow trundle. (These weren’t very powerful machines, reckon on about 500 tons as a maximum freight load on level track (20 - 25 loaded BR 16 ton mineral types, 30-40 loaded wooden 8T, 10T and 12T wagons, and they would jog along at 15-25mph on level or nearly so track with this load.)

Here’s the interesting bit for me, Bachmann have upgraded the chassis design. The axles have been reduced in diameter fron the previous 3mm and run in brass bearing collars which I think helps account for the very sweet running from the box. The motor is their familiar 3 pole can unit with cut outs in the side. It came with adequate grease on the moving parts, and will get more grease as required. Good neat internal construction too, the motor screw clamped down rather than in a plastic clip in cradle as seen in earlier models.


The fun began with removing the loco and tender bodies. Take the plug out of the tender socket. Just two screws to undo, although the rear one is under the modelled brake pull mechanism which has to be disengaged to get access, and with that screw out, the loco to tender link can come out of the back of body (it will slide along the wires) and the loco body lifts off. The tender has two screws to release at the rear, and hook on lugs at the front. With the screws removed I tried slightly lifting the rear and pulling back the tender body to release the hook on lugs. No go. After some wresting the body came off, and it turns out the drawing is misleading. The front platform with the railings and brake handle on it are not attached to the tender body as drawn but are cemented onto the front of the tender chassis and not attached to the main body of the tender at all. But in lifting the tender body enough to get the hook on lugs disengaged, the front platform was broken off the tender chassis. Cemented back on undamaged once the tender body was replaced


A  Lenz silver 21pin decoder went on the tender socket, and gives very refined performance. (The Bach 36-554 also operated the model very well and is a lot cheaper; however I want the very long acceleration times the Lenz offers to model the less than sparkling performance of the type.) Bachmann include in the box a housing for a speaker in the tender as an add on part, the DCC decoder socket board has two tabs for wiring to the speaker. Clearly they have a sound project in mind.

Excellent model of a very typical steam era small goods 0-6-0. Most steam era layouts of any size should really have a large number of small 0-6-0s, they were close to a third of the UK steam loco stock, and in some places ran near all the traffic. With the Midland Railway being in the middle of the UK, their locos could be seen on the many neighbouring lines, and their numerous small goods locos were frequently seen off system. A very sensible subject choice for a model.

Overall ranking
10. As good as it gets in small freight engines. I only need one as a visitor from LMR, but would buy more without hesitation if it was a common loco on my modelling patch. Fingers crossed that Bachmann carry on after the announced SECR C class and do more small 0-6-0 types, there’s past a dozen very attractive late Victorian/early Edwardian specimens that would make lovely models and which remained in service to within five years of the final withdrawal of steam.

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