In amongst the flurry of Hornbys releases over the first quarter Bachmann released their latest Great Western design, Colletts 64xx 0-6-0T Pannier. These were a derivative of the earlier 54xx, very much the same engine but with larger diameter wheels. Collett took the 54xx design and in essence reduced the driving wheel size from 5ft 2” to 4ft 7 ½” and changed a few other bits such as the cylinders and their dimensions. There were a few other dimensional differences, but as we’re not looking at the 54xx, the differences are somewhat moot.
A pair of 64xx’s have arrived, and I’ve been giving them a coat of looking at as Roy Jackson would say. Bachmann has chosen sensibly to do versions of the main batch produced with the detail associated with that group of locomotives. Color finish on them is excellent and I chose a green un so I can do some work on it in a future episode so stay tuned! Included in the box are lamp irons, vacuum pipes and screw couplings. The core dimensions of body and chassis are correct, with one noticeable omission. The main wheel splashers are too large which does draw attention to the wheels looking a bit too small for them. The Bachmann splasher encroaches roughly three quarters of the way into the space between running plate and tank underside, where it should be closer to half way.
Unfortunately with the chassis having the correct size wheels, sticking larger wheels underneath to make a 54xx will result in the body being too high, so there isn’t an easy way to a 54 just yet. Also missing is the lamp iron at the top of the smokebox and the grabrails above the running plate step. The handrails across the rest of the model are commendably thin, much finer than those on the larger Pannier produced from the same stable. Bunker steps and vertical cab rail are fitted on the firemans side, indicating a retrofitted fitted engine in Great Western days. At the smokebox the dart is a separate fitting, one handle is rectangular in cross section, whereas for service days they should both be circular cross section. Also missing is the steam lance fitting at the eight o’clock position as you look at the smokebox door. Tank steps are the later variety so we’ll have no cheeky renumbers before 6409 please, and the cab and bunker are give aways for suitable numbers before 6430. So, so long as you choose a number with a top feed, and the later hidden lubricators, i.e. as per this release you’ll be ok. No other numbers, you’ll get told off. For me disappointingly the buffers are rigid rather than sprung, I anticipate that being an easy fix. Also the top feed pipe routing is incorrect for pre preservation locomotives, and there’s no electrical conduit to the cab on the drivers side. Lamp irons on the bunker are moulded on, and the running plate has slots fo those included in the detail pack. Positions did vary from engine to engine though. Fire iron hook on the bunker are black, these will need painting green for green locomotives.
The body has typical fore and aft screw fittings to hold body and chassis together, and theres no difficulty in separating the two. This gave me an opportunity to look at the cab and its fixing. It will be an easy conversion for Bachmann to release a 74xx with the different cab and bunker shape. What it isn’t easy to do is separate without damage, the cab and bunker from the rest of the body.
The chassis is a typical contemporary Bachmann design driving onto the centre axle via a brass worm gear and nylon gear train. The core chassis block is metal and the axles run in brass bearings. DCC fitting is plug and play with a six pin NEM651 socket for a decoder. The design of the gear train allows quite a bit of play between motor and final drive, neither of these is as good a runner as my large Panniers and are on a par with Bachmann’s Jinty for running quality. The running is ok, and improves slightly on my DC feedback controller, but not as good as other similar models. On Albion Yard and its derivatives the running quality is a high priority for me. The body and chassis design look like there will be sufficient clearance for EM/P4 wheelset changes without significant modifications to any major components.
The fixer ..
The British Rail version seen here, was in fact the worst running ready to run locomotive I’ve ever had, with stopping and starting at random throughout the range of the motor speed. It was however an easy fix which I’ll add as a fifteen minute hero, as that’s all it took to sort.
Well I’d got two identical locomotives one running tolerably well and one, with no end to stopping and starting randomly. That usually indicates an electrical issue rather than mechanical and that’s what I targeted first. Removal of the body was straightforward, and a quick look across the wiring around the motor confirmed no loose or dry joints.
The next quick check is the pick ups and this rapidly indicated the most likely source of the problem. The chassis keeper plate has six phosphor bronze pick ups, each bearing on the rear of the driving wheels. Each axle has side play, checking this and watching the pick ups, showed that on one side there was an occasion when two were not in contact, and the other side had two, and a variety of combinations between.
At no point were all in contact with each wheel face. Taking a set of tweezers I adjusted each pick up so roughly a 30 degree offset from the keeper plate. Not the best image below but note the offset of the pickups. this is immediately before fixing the keeper plate back on.
Once the keeper plate was screwed back on all pickups were in contact with the wheel surface and running was properties were identical to the other chassis. If that adjustment hadn’t fixed it, I would have suspected a faulty motor, and returned the model.
I think the 64xx’s represent good value for money, the model in most instances is accurate and captures the appearance of the prototype well. It depicts the main detail matches for the majority of the class so a renumber is a realistic prospect to get the locomotive you want. If the market stands it the design of the superstructure looks like the 74xx could be a later development of this model. For me these two are going to suffice for Albion Yard stock once I’ve given them makeovers. The 64xx type wasn’t widely seen in the Forest of Dean, but they did operate around Gloucester, and the Wye valley to the west so as occasional visitors they’ll work for me.
bachmann 31-635 GWR 64xx
bachmann 31-636 BR/WR 64xx