Those of you who follow this blog on Facebook may know that it was my birthday a few weeks ago. I was fortunate to have been gifted a new model by Mrs Locoyard, chosen because she knew how I love the Bluebell Railway – the heritage railway where the prototype of this locomotive runs. So here is yet another addition to Locoyard’s 00 scale model reviews section (click here to read). Without further ado, we look at this impressive model.
Use: Light Passenger
Region: Western (particularly Cambrian)
9017 Earl of Berkeley – Bluebell Railway
Model Reviewed: Bachmann 31-086 9017 BR Black
Motor: 3 pole Loco-drive
DCC options: 21 pin DCC ready/fitted (DCC socket in tender, accessed by unscrewing 4 screws in each corner – space for speaker inside)
The detailing of this model is excellent. As with all new Bachmann products, the cab (above) is beautiful, which is important with this locomotive as it has a very open cab. The smokebox door dart, tapered buffer shanks, handrails, fine wheels, lamp irons, whistle shield and outside frames are all excellent. The tender is great and has a removable coal load. It also has some excellent rivet detail although those on the smokebox saddle have had some minor criticism as being a little inaccurate and indistinct. However to my eyes the only noticeable omission is an detail between the frames, unlike the excellent GCR D11 model.
In my opinion, this is the single greatest asset of this model. It captures the look of the real thing perfectly. The overall shape of such an unusual and charismatic prototype can not help but a smile on your face! The dome looks fantastic, which is such a distinguishing feature of the class. The chimney is great too as are the (non sprung) buffers. The (newly tooled) 3500 gallon Churchward tender looks great too.
Bachmann are usually particularly good at finishing their model’s and the simple BR black livery is executed very well. There’s no sign of a moulding seam which is great too. So why not full marks… well some of the red buffer beam paint has found it’s way onto the buffers on this example. The safety valve, although correct for it in 1950’s condition is incorrect for it in it’s “preserved” state, as this model is intended to be. The front numberplate is a little too wide and all numberplates are moulded. Brass numberplates would be nice, but buying and fitting them is a reasonably simple task for a modeller.
Smooth, quiet, reliable, stable – everything you would want from a model in this respect. Pick-ups are great too and it is not prone to stalling. This is a very sweet runner!
This is the model Achilles Heel. It is very light on its feet and not as capable as the prototype. As with many 4-4-0 wheel arrangement models, I suspect this is due to a dislike of tight radius curves. The model pulls best on the flat and preferably on 3rd radius or greater curves.
This is a high-spec model built with exquisite separately fitted details. It is DCC friendly has NEM sockets, sprung buffers, a quiet well mannered motor with tender pick-ups. It has pretty much anything you’ll ever need except sound (although space for a speaker is in the tender) and/or lights.
It is a very good price for such an unusual prototype. I remember seeing (often poorly built) completed kit versions for well over double the price before this was on the scene. Seeing as Bachmann have recently (as of May 2014) announced price increases averaging 20% across their range, I’d advise you to get one now if you can afford to!
It looks incredible, runs sweetly, is good value and well specified. But it just misses out on five locoyard stars mainly because of a lack of power when hauling trains around tight corners or up hill. That said, producing such a charismatic prototype of what is essentially a Victorian design (albeit a rebuild) was never going to be easy and Bachmann have done very well overall.
Detailometer 4.5, Outlineometer 5, Finishometer 4.5, Motorometer 5, Powerometer 2.5, Specometer 5, Valueometer 4.5, Locoyardometer 4.4
To see how this compares to other models, click here for the Loco Model Reviews Page.