The Haidar DF4C's were technically the second brass locomotive Haidar produced after the DF4B, although they are almost externally identical to them. As the mechanics and 99% of the externals are identical, this review can be considered the same for those locomotives. Haidar produced only 200 of these models - 100 of each number. Each was released with a limited edition certificate.
The detailing on these locomotives are quite superb! There is an incredible amount of separately applied parts - of particular note, the bogies , builders plates, full interiors (right down to the ceiling fans and teapots!) are brilliantly done. I'm hoping the photos below can show off more parts than I can cover in the review. They can be handled quite easily without worrying about bits flying off like Haidar's previous release of the super detailed plastic DF3's. Included are wind deflectors to be installed by the owner - although, I've not attached mine yet as I don't have any tools capable of installing microscopic parts like these. Some of the parts on my sample appear to be slightly uneven, however, once you have one of these puppies in your hands, these will appear insignificant and you will appreciate their qualities. Doors open and are spring loaded to appear in the shut position.
The paint work has a much more matt finish than other models made by Haidar or Bachmann. Personally I think this looks fantastic. The color schemes on the two DF4C's produced by Haidar differ slightly between the two by the China Rail logos on the cab ends being white on #4001 and red on #4002. The lettering is very nice, as is the lining - although some of the lining over the louvre vents show the main blue color over some of the finer detail. The general painting/lettering is overall excellent however, and should not be confused by some of the factory photos of some of the prototypes which appear quite poorly done.
These models are exceptionally well built and run very smoothly and quietly, straight out of the box. I've not been able to put mine into service as of yet to test pulling abilities, however given the weight and engineering I anticipate they will have excellent pulling qualities.
I have not yet separated the body to convert to DCC so I'm unsure what type of DCC plug (if any) the locomotive is equipped with.
No couplers are included with the model, and I have discovered why. No coupler fits!! There is a hole in the pilot which can accomodate the drawbar of a coupler, but no HO scale coupler that I'm aware of exists with a mount that will pass through the hole. I have included below the traumatic process I went through to install a set of plastic knuckle couplers. I will experiment some more and may have to take some drastic measures in order to get a set of metal scale head couplers, but at least in the meantime I am able to use the locomotive. N scale MicroTrains couplers 'may' be able to be installed, but we shouldn't have to resort to these sort of measures. I also refuse to modify the body work on my locomotive because of something so trivial. Appologies also for the lack of photos in the below process. By the time I remembered, the couplers were already installed and I have absolutely no intention on going through it all again. Good luck!
My temporarily installed knuckle type couplers are a plastic copy of a #5 with a long shank (no genuine KD coupler exists of this type that I'm aware of). The only way these were going to fit though the microscopic hole that Haidar provided, was by filing away the mount to reduce its girth. I achieved this with a dremel tool/cutting disc reducing the thickness of the mount around the hole to approximately 0.03mms (from its original 1.2mm). Then after much wrangling and cursing, I was able to push them through the pilot, trying to avoid more detail that Haidar saw fit to obstruct the hole with. Being that the pilot hole is so small, the chassis mount would have to be set at an extremely accurate level to make the coupler level. Well, it's not! So I've had to disassemble the chassis from the body and bend the end of the frame VERY gently approximately 0.5mm's to 'raise' the mount. This seems to have worked OK. As these are standard mounts (i.e, not the 'whisker' type with the self centering device) a separate spring is required to center the coupler. Again, Haidar in there wisdom have left no room in the coupler mounts to accomodate this, so I would recommend using a Kadee coupler box (if you can find one that will actually fit without the pilot getting in the way) and just mounting that on instead of the supplied one.
Another disappointment with these models is the packaging. I view this as being important as I know many owners of brass models store these. The box is nice, however the internal shell is a two piece polystyrene shell and the model inside tends to float around inside it. This can be countered by putting pieces of foam around it to keep it still. Personally I prefer foam for brass models as I've noted on some of my older N scale models that the polystyrene can degrade and stain the models. I have mine wrapped in paper, and I hope to install a proper foam support system to keep them nice.
There is no detailed instruction sheet/manual/booklet. The paperwork provided is in Chinese (I will have this translated shortly and will include in this review).
Overall, these are stunningly beautiful models at a very reasonable price. It's every man for himself when it comes to couplers however, although those that want one as a display model probably won't share my dismay. As far as I'm aware they've all sold out now (along with most of the brass DF4B's).