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Bachmann LNER J39

Paul Johnson 
Bachmann J39  in BR black early crest no 64838  catalogue no 31-861

Looks every inch the heavy 0-6-0 goods class, the box illustration of another member of the class also equipped with the same stepped out raves on the tender enables an easy comparison. Paint, totems and numbers all fine, it’s all over black, there is not a lot to go wrong!  Dimensionally a good match for what is shown on reliable drawings. The split chassis construction makes the bottom of the chassis a little deeper than it should be, there’s little light through the wheel spokes as a result, however a clever constructional scheme means there is daylight under the boiler. Couplers are screw attached, no NEM pockets for easy exchange to another coupler type.


The moulded coal fixed in the tender is about the least realistic aspect of the whole model. Has to be cut out if you want rid of it. Closer coupling the tender is possible if the loco body securing screw is left out (the body fits on so tightly it is unnecessary) and that as always improves appearance. The tender front intermediate buffer mouldings need to be filed down to allow the tender to swing enough to suit the layout’s curves.
The detail on this fairly plain design is all present and well attached, pretty good all round. The cab glazing is much better than on most of the split chassis models, properly flush and flat, also has sprung buffers.  The valve chest fronts with spindle covers and lubricator drive are nice touches. User attachable parts supplied for brake rigging, rear sandpipes and bufferbeam vac pipes. If being critical of the  plastic moulded on detail, the boiler bands are too pronounced  (look at the photo to see how inconspicuous these really were) but these can be gently scraped down.
One of the better Bachmann split chassis locos, only needed a little running to become a quiet and smooth performer down to a slow crawl. It is full of metal so the  weight is good which means it has decent traction. No trouble at all with a forty to fifty wagon train pretty typical of the heaviest goods service it was used for  (rated a 5F under BR’s scheme) or anything up to a dozen coaches. It will easily reach a scale 75mph, which the prototype was quite capable of achieving. These locos were much used for weekend excursions, and would often be drafted in for scheduled passenger services in summer when locos were in short supply.

This example was just full of grease between the chassis halves; cleaned this all out and retained it for re-lubrications. Regular cleaning out of the main axle bearings to remove the black mess, and replacement with a smear of fresh grease is the secret to keeping any Bachmann or Mainline split chassis type’s electrical pick up working efficiently. The moment the running deteriorates in any way, that’s where to look. They are pretty maintenance heavy as a result; with constant use they need this work every six months. There is no DCC socket and the chassis has to be part dismantled to isolate the motor before a decoder can be fitted. A  Lenz silver was hard wired in, but located in the tender with flying lead connections which permanently coupled loco and tender. This delivered the usual excellent control. A high peak current decoder is a necessity, this motor type used on the split chassis models can momentarily draw very high current, five to ten times the normal 150mA. Not sure why this is, just something to be aware of, it needs a 1.5  to 2A peak current decoder specification to avoid an unexpected decoder failure.


Good model of the subject when introduced, now rather dated by the inconvenient split chassis construction; hopefully Bachmann have it on the ‘to do’ list for a conventional wiper pick up chassis. But it is the only LNER design 0-6-0 that has ever been available RTR in OO.

Overall ranking
8. Decent model, docked a couple of points for the inconveniences that go with the split chassis mechanism.

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