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Bachmann Branchline

BR G2a Class "Super D" 0-8-0

Model Ref.: 31-475

Review & DCC installation by Doug Teggin


No. 49428 standing at Rowsley Motive Power Depot, May1950
Credit: J.A. Fleming, Roger Gurney collection, source: Wikipedia

History

The building of the first London & North Western 0-8-0 locomotive commenced in 1892 to Webb’s design and a total of 509 locomotives went on to be built with modifications under the leadership of Whale, Bowen-Cooke and Beames. Further modifications were carried out under Hughes and Stanier. Initially conceived as a three cylinder compound they were followed by four cylinder versions after which Whale set about converting them to two cylinder simple engines. Whilst some locomotives retained the original boiler, others were fitted with the G Class boiler. Beginning in 1912 a superheated boiler was introduced.

The last development of the 0-8-0s was the introduction of the G2 Class in 1921 to the design of Charles J. Bowen-Cooke, though the order was placed under the tenure of Captain H.P.M. Beames, who succeeded Bowen-Cooke as Chief Mechanical Engineer.

The G2s were introduced between November 1921 and October 1922 and were a development of the earlier G1 Class. During their careers the locomotives received a Belpaire firebox to replace the round top design they received initially.


Kenilworth Junction on the Nuneaton to Leamington line. Ex-LNWR 0-8-0 'G2a' No 9130
slows whilst the fireman readies himself to collect the token prior to running to Coventry
tender first. Number 9130 was built at Crewe in June 1910 and survived in service until
November 1962 before it was withdrawn from Edge Hill being scrapped by Crewe works in
February the following year. Circa 1936-1939.
Source: Warwickshire Railways

The locomotives worked all over the former London & North Western sections of the LMS and later British Railways. They were particularly useful pulling heavy freight trains on steeply graded routes including Shap and routes in Central and South Wales. Indeed the Class could be found from Abergavenny to Carlisle and just about everywhere else in between.

The first locomotives were withdrawn in 1947, with 478 locomotives passing into British Railways ownership the following year. With the introduction of diesels after 1955, major withdrawals commenced. The last of the class was withdrawn in 1964. One locomotive number 49395 (pictured below) was preserved and forms part of the National Collection. It has recently undergone a major overhaul at Pete Waterman’s Crewe works.
Source: Bachmann


The preserved G2a class No. 49395, 2 October 2005 at the The West Somerset Railway Autumn Steam Gala
photo: Nathan Williamson, source: Wikipedia

They are known to railway enthusiasts as "Super Ds". This is because a large number of G1 class engines were rebuilt from George Whale class D 0-8-0s. They were Super Ds - super for superheated. The D class existed as such between 1906 and 1937.

G1 Class

  • LMS/BR Power classification, 6F

  • Locomotive weight, 60 tons 15 cwt

  • Boiler pressure, 160 psi

  • Superheater, Yes

  • Cylinders, 20½"x24"

  • Driving wheel diameter, 4' 5½"

  • Tractive effort, 25,640 lb

  • Valve gear, Joy (piston valves)

G2 and G2a Classes

  • LMS/BR Power classification, 7F

  • Locomotive weight, 62 tons 0 cwt

  • Boiler pressure, 175 psi

  • Superheater, Yes

  • Cylinders, 20½"x24"

  • Driving wheel diameter, 4' 5½"

  • Tractive effort, 28,045 lb

  • Valve gear, Joy (piston valves)

Source: Wikipedia


No. 49395, 2 October 2005 at the The West Somerset Railway Autumn Steam Gala

 

The Bachmann Model


Engineering sample of the Branchline G2 steam locomotive (May 2008)

The G2 model was announced at the 2008 British Toy Fair at Excel, London. The news was well received as it is the first Branchline Steam locomotive model to incorporate a 21 pin decoder socket. The DCC socket is located in the tender. We have seen this technology used in Liliput models and I promise you that it makes DCC conversion very easy.

Three editions are being produced by Bachmann:


No. 49395 in BR black with early crest and tender cab (Model Ref.: 31-475; MRRP: £90.25).


No. 9449 in LMS black without tender back cab (Model Ref.: 31-476; MRRP: £90.25).


No. 49361 in BR black with late crest (Model Ref.: 31-477DC; DCC ON BOARD; MRRP: £102.85)

 

My Model: No. 49395, Model Ref.: 31-476

I write this review on the day that the model arrived. In anticipation, I had prepared the historical part above. I've had a good day testing and running this model. Lets hope that these observations give you the information you desire about the model.

What you see here is a fine model. Simple, mostly correct in proportion and detail and a model that runs and pulls well. I'm sure that many will find it a great model to add to their layout. Just look how splendid it looks.

But, it wasn't like this to begin with. There was a glaring problem: the front coupler and the horrid NEM box suspended under the front of the loco. Back to my study: This its the one immediate thing you will notice about the model if you compare it to the prototype (see photo below).

The model is on the rolling road on DC power. about an hour in each direction ironed out the distinctive waddle that the model had at the start.

So, I set about removing the front coupler and the NEM box. You have to undo the chassis and then go a step further to remove the running plate assemble from the boiler. A couple of screws to remove the chassis and another two for the boiler. The boiler does not come apart from the running plate as there are handrails that are glued to the cab floor, but pass through rings on the cab, connected to the boiler (below left). So you have to do this job holding the body in your hand. Remove two more screws above the NEM box (below right) and remove the box and it's spring. Replace screws.

Here (below) we see the chassis with the motor, gearbox and driving wheels. You don't necessarily want to get to this level of disassembly, but I fear you may have to if you are into DCC and you want some smooth running. More on that later. You see too in the photo the NEM box and spring removed.

Whilst we have the body off, we notice the drawbar that links the tender to the locomotive (below left). The drawbar is a fixed length, but the pin on the tender is mounted on a sliding attachment, fixed with a screw that allow you to move the tender closer to the loco.

We open the tender and we see the DCC decoder socket and the blanking plug (below right).

So you see the finished result of the first exercise (below left). I've glued on the guard irons with super glue. The front vacuum pipe is in place and I've found a nice scale metal coupling hook and link that I had lying around that I swapped out for the existing hook. I think it came from a Hornby A4.

You see (below right) that the smoke box door opens. A nice touch, but there is nothing in there. It looks fine from the angle that the photo is taken, but there is just a nice neat cavity behind the door. A little too clean and smooth.

I've removed the rear coupler too and replaced it with a #18 Kadee NEM coupler. This allows me to run the loco on my layout together with most of my existing rolling stock. No problems there. The height is fine.

So here we have the model in all it's splendour. Sprung buffers, metal hand rail, close coupled tender, good exterior detail, nice cab detail, good and quiet running.

Note: The reach-rod has not been put back correctly after taking the body off. It should be straight.
 Funny that the photo of the engineering production sample shows the the same problem.
  Watch out for it when re-assembling the model if you ever decide to do some work inside.

Here above and below are some shots of the cab detail. The firewall is made of metal and is painted to bring out the copper pipe work and valve handles. The regulator of painted in red and two bench seats are found on either side of the cab.

There was however a finger print perhaps left from a reaction of super glue gas on the inside of the cab (behind the 7F number in the photo above). You can't see this without looking closely, but it is there and it doesn't come off with a rag. I have just left it.

On this model, the tender has a cab too with a little detail moulded into the plastic. On the prototype, there was some sort of canvas linking the loco and tender. I'd like to see some sort of solution to model this. Perhaps some black paper cut in an appropriate way.

The model has the motor in the loco, the DCC decoder socket in the tender. Pickups are found on the loco only; there are no lights so you need 4 wires between the loco and tender (below). These are permanent, unlike the recent Liliput models that have plugs enabling you to detach the loco and tender. The wires are painted black and are attached to the underside of the drawbar so they are not really noticeable when running the loco. No problems there, but you have to pick up the loco and tender in one go every time you want to do some work. A third hand would be good, but you soon learn to get your fingers around the job.

You see too the electrical pickups. There are pickups on only 6 of the 8 driving wheels. The flangeless wheels and tender wheels don't have pickups. On Liliput models - made in the same factory I presume, they install pickups on the tender too.

 

DCC Decoder installation

Here I am installing a Bachmann 21-Pin DCC decoder with back EMF and 3-function outputs (36-554).

The Bachmann 36-554 decoder is designed for use with the 21-pin connectors fitted to many of the most recent models this three function decoder offers several advanced features including configurable back EMF high-frequency pulse width motor speed control. A shunting speed function control is provided, allowing finer control for slow speed operations.

Decoder measures 24mm long, 15mm wide with socket at one end. The decoder is reasonably priced at around £10 in most shops.

The tender is opened by removing two screws underneath at the rear. I found these screws a little long and the heads were not that well made. My nice cross-head screwdriver that I use for most of my models managed the job, but I felt that it was slipping a bit.

The DCC socket has a blanking plug (below) that needs to be removed before installing the decoder.

The Bachmann 36-554 3-function decoder went in fine, but when tested, the loco ran like a dog. It jerked, stuttered and then shot off at high speed... all this on speed step 1. Not good.

Perhaps the decoder was bad so I installed another Bachmann 36-554 3-function decoder that I had in another model. I know it worked fine as I ran it only the other day. Well this one was just as bad. Erratic running and spurts of speed that was definitely not what was intended.

I then tried out a new Lenz Gold-JST Silent-Back EMF DCC Decoder (Article Nr. 10433) with a 8-pin to 21-pin adaptor (below right). The results were just the same.

So I deducted that the decoder was not at fault. It must be the loco. There was no short as it had worked fine with DC, so what else could it be?

I show the image of the motor again (below). It is here to indicate what I removed. I de-soldered the three capacitors and two resistors and connected the brown and orange motor wires directly to the motor terminals.

I reinstalled the original 21-pin Bachmann decoder into the DCC socket (below), checked the programming and programmed the loco address.

Fantastic! The running was perfect. Slow and steady running on speed step I. Positive acceleration and good high speed running. So one for the books. We have debated the argument to remove or not to remove capacitors. I often do, but recently have left some in (on some Bachmann models too) using some of the more recent decoders. In this case it had to be done. perhaps the caps were defective, but I can't test them so I can't argue that case.

Here below is a video of the 'Super D' model being tested with the Bachmann 3 function decoder, then a Lenz decoder, then having it's caps removed. See me nearly burn my fingers, but then see it run quite well afterwards. Well worth the effort.

 

Conclusion

Here are my points for and against.

For:

  • Great looking model

  • Well designed and well made; scale looks good

  • Good box and packaging

  • Good motor and gears

  • Nice details: fitted brake rods, cab firewall tender cab

  • Sturdy - quite a few metal bits and good ballast

  • Good pulling power

  • DCC decoder socket in the tender

  • Lots of space in the tender for a sound decoder and speaker

Against:

  • Front coupler and front NEM box

  • lack of supplied front scale link coupler

  • Capacitors needed to be removed for smooth DCC running

  • Some residue where metal parts glued to plastic parts (CA I assume)

  • Finger print inside the cab

  • Guard irons had to be attached with superglue - leaves slight residue

  • No lights

  • No pickups on the tender

With decoder socket in the tender, would it be possible to have removable capacitors and resistors/chokes, soldered into to the blanking plug? This way they could go if a decoder was used. DCC decoder have suppression built into them so the extra ones are not needed.

A great model. Perhaps my last one of the year and I'm happy with it now after a few tweaks. I'll be keeping it out of it's box and on my track getting a little dirty with regular use.

What do you think of this model? Please let us know on the forums. If you have one, did you have the same problem as me? If not please give a resume of what you did.

- September 2008

Many thanks to OnTracks for giving us a good deal on this loco.

Parting shot:


Barrow Hill Engine Shed. Various steam engines around the turntable: (left-right) LNWR G2 "super D" No. 49395 driving on to the turntable bridge, MR 1377 Class No. 41708, Black Five No. 45231, BR standard class 7 No. 70000 Britannia and GER Class Y14 No. 65466 (No. 65462 in disguise) on 7 October 2005. Click here to see a supersize version of this image. Source: Wikipedia

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