The release of the JS was the final model released of the three major classes of modern steam locomotives in China. Most versions sold out very quickly. Bachmann chose to model the 'improved' JS model, known as the JSb, spotting differences which include a more simplified design in the running gear and small differences in the cowling. They are very nice models, capturing the beefy looks that the JS locomotives have.
The cowling around the smoke stack is sheet metal (I presume brass) which not only looks great compared to the thick cowling of Bachmann's QJ, but also provides some of us with an easy option of customizing our locomotives (some locomotives had no cowling around the chimney). There are a stack of tiny little details like fine steps, air horns, side cab lights which are very nicely done indeed. Infact the only details that I have found that are incorrect are a series of small pipes that run on the left hand side of the engine from the cab to the cowling. These pipes are cast under the boiler bands, where they should run over the top of them. A small quibble, but could have been easily rectified. (See bottom right photo)
Model steam locomotives will never equal their diesel counterparts as the weight just isn't there. Nevertheless, I think these are the strongest Chinese steam models available, being a tiny bit more powerful the the 'Zhu De' QJ 2-10-2 model with improved drive. Gratefully received are the low wheel flanges, which is most likely done as the clearances between wheels are so limited. They run very smoothly, although they are not overly quiet due to a very annoying squeal from the motor.
The wheel pickup is taken from the drivers and tender wheels. The tender wheels have a new three-prong wiper pick up system on both axles, the same as used on the 'Zhu De' 2-10-2 QJ locomotive. There is plenty of room in the tender for a standard HO scale decoder, and even a provision for a speaker and sound decoder. Sound holes are pre drilled into the bottom of the tender.
As with all of Bachmann's steam locomotives, couplers on the back require a NEM European fit (clip). I recommend Kadee # 17's for these locomotives. The clips don't quite clip in place, but with a sharp hobby blade, a tiny sliver from the front of the coupler box will see they click in nicely (be careful when doing this and take off only a very small amount and more again if needed). I use a #153 (scale sized head, short-shank, w/whisker) for the front coupler.
An absolutely gorgeous model of one of the most important steam prototypes is here. Serious modellers and steam fans should not miss out on these.