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Imon (Ajin) JF Mikado 2-8-2

Prototype Information

JF's were the major class of steam locomotive before and during the transitional period into Communist China. The first built for Chinese railways were assembled in the United States and Japan. Production was almost immediate after Mao came to power, and most of the class survived until the 1980's when they were replaced by other modern motive power. Some examples remained in steam into the 2000's, notably those of Tonchuan and Beipiao. My example was one of the locomotives of the former, which apparently still exists today, albeit stored cold for many years now.

Model Production Summary

Release Date Production Number Production Run Scale Road #s Bureau/Owner
Early 2008 n/a 1st HO (1:87) 2113 Tongchuan
" " " " " " " " 2446 Beijing February 7th Locomotive Works
" " " " " " " " 304 "Mao Zedong" Beijing (?), Datong (?)
" " n/a " " " " (SY Class) 0639 Jixi Mining bureau

Model Review

Imon contracted Ajin (Korea) to produce their brass JF's in 2008. There were both Japanese and Chinese variants. Three (Chinese) versions were available, each with significant detail differences. 2113 (Tongchuan) with spoked wheels, 2446 (Beijing 7th Locomotive Works) with boxpok wheels and highly decorated 304 Mao ZeDong with extra cowling and smoke deflectors, ala JS style. An SY was also produced at the same time, so it is fairly safe to assume that this review can cover that model also (asides from the details).

Typical Ajin quality, i.e. perfect! While the cost of brass models is becoming harder to justify with the ever improving plastic models, Ajin have included some very smart details. Some nice touches are the simulated water in the tender under the water hatch, individually painted steam gauges, ultra crisp lettering and lining, etc. The cab includes window glazing, but there is no crew. My 2113 has a second airpump fitted for use with self dump hoppers.

The JF is a very heavy engine with a high quality can motor and, while I have been unable to test the pulling power, it runs very smoothly and quietly through all power ranges. Electrical pickup is typical of brass locomotives with half the current being picked up through one side of the driving wheels and the other half from the tender on the the opposite side. Current is passed from the tender to the motor via the drawbar. This system is supposedly prone to problems over time, however with y intention to add sound DCC I may rewire this with miniature plugs between the tender and loco. I had no issues running the locomotive through points. As with all models, a light lubrication is highly recommended.

One of the downsides is the lack of circuit board in the engine or the tender. DCC operators are going to have to hard wire in a decoder. It may be possible to add an N or Z scale decoder inside the engine, although for practical purposes, it's probably going to be a lot easier to house it inside the tender. There is a bracket inside the tender for a speaker which directs the sound through the coal doors. Headlight is a standard bulb - none of this new fangled LED business here! It gives off a nice color and strength. Unfortunately there is no light in the tender (although it doesn't look overly difficult to modify this).

Coupler Conversion
The JF comes equipped with genuine Kadee knuckle couplers so modification is not neccessary unless you prefer scale heads. The standard 58/158's will be perfect for the job.

Other Notes
Despite the high price, the quality and craftsmanship is unparalleled. It remains the only JF on the market and if you have the means, I highly recommend one. Or more! A beautiful model with excellent performance and details. These are very difficult to source and were built in extremely limited numbers.

Review Summary

The Good News

The Bad News
Highest quality components A headache for DCC installation
Superb details No working tender light
Excellent & powerful performance

Model Photos

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