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Bachmann NRM Butler Henderson - Review

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Bachmann 321-145NRM D11 "Butler Henderson"

(Exclusive to the NRM)

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This is the first time I have produced a review so please bear with me - I'll try to be objective, but what you will not get is "compare the model with the drawings" type review.

Starting with the box - a decent box & packing that should protect the model which comes out easily when unpacked. In the box are some clear & concise instructions, a parts list on one side & some user guidelines on the other with advice on maintenance & running in. Also included are some additional parts including brake rigging, fireman's tools & a mounting plate for a loudspeaker.

The first thing you notice when you remove the locomotive & tender from the packing is that they are quite heavy @ 361g combined, 318g for the locomotive itself, of which most is on the non traction tyred driving wheels, both axles are driven via spur gears from the firebox mounted motor. The 3-pole motor does not have a flywheel & there are a number of suppression caps fitted to it. Pick-up is through 4 tender wheels & 4 driving wheels.

Fine detail such as wheel flanges, spokes, sandpipes, lamp irons, handrails & so on are excellent as is the finish which has a nice sheen giving the appearance of a well kept locomotive.

There is some of the inside motion modelled, but not all. It would not be seen from many angles anyway & is therefore not really noticeable in its absence.

Couplings are standard Bachmann, mounted in NEM pockets & without close coupling mechanism. The mounting height appeared to be in line with an early Bachmann Bulleid & a Hornby Maunsell coach that I borrowed.

The cab is fully glazed & well detailed, but would certainly benefit from the addition of a crew. The locomotive & tender are coupled by a simple drawbar with a micro plug/socket for the electrical connections. The loco/tender gap could be a little smaller if the user has wide radius curves. Should this be the case then it looks like a spot of careful drilling to the drawbar would close the gap up nicely. Minimum recommended quoted radius is R2/18"/450mm.

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The tender comes with a "full" load of coal - this simply rests in place for easy removal should the user wish to model a "part-empty" bunker.

To fit a decoder, it's no more than a five minute job - four easily accessible tiny screws under the tender, lift off the body & the 21pin decoder socket is accessible (see photo), remove blanking plug, fit decoder & refit the body - that's the way all tender locomotives should be. If you want to fit a sound decoder then it's about another five minutes work to fit the speaker after removing the square plate as seen in the picture, but you will need a soldering iron for the speaker connections.

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To gain access to the motor only require the removal of two screws. The locomotive body then lifts off together with the metal running plate & the pony wheels. (see picture above).

How does the model perform? Straight out of the box smoothly & quietly using a standard variable transformer controller. The locomotive was run in as per recommendations. Being a Euromodeller I tried the locomotive with 4, 6 then 8 European coaches. Although these coaches are fairly heavy the locomotive handled them with ease with no trace of wheelslip or strain. 10 produced a little wheelslip pulling away, but once "sticktion" was overcome no problem. 12 was, however a bit too much. Overall, I was very impressed with the locomotive especially as my current test track uses R2 curves. The track is a mixture of code100 & code83 including a Tillig point, all traversed smoothly.

All in all a very nice locomotive that performs very well indeed - one that Bachmann & the NRM should be justifiably proud of & I have to say I'm getting rather attached to it (surprising really as it's not black & red & neither is it covered with plumbing & other equipment !). The model will make a nice addition to any collection & I'm sure will find many a home simply because it really is an attractive, well proportioned locomotive.

That just leaves me to thank the people at Bachmann, the NRM & Barrow Hill Roundhouse for the days hospitality & for making the model possible.

Brian Considine - October 2012

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