Bachmann China's ND5 is a very welcome addition for HO scale modellers, bringing us the first mainline hood unit available (the DF7G is classified as a shunter).
Bachmann China have captured every angle and dimensions absolutely beautifully. The livery is particularly well reproduced and the lettering is nice and crisp. Details on the models are really quite superb. Owners will enjoy the etched metal grilles over the large radiator fans, very fine windscreen wipers, hollowed out air horns, see-through steps and two-tone handrails. There is a pair of air hoses included which are to be installed by the modeller.
The performance is exceptional, even though they lose weight being a hood unit, these are very powerful models. Mine had no problems pulling 22 empty gondolas up a 3% grade @ 35% throttle. The motor is dead silent, although there is an awful lot of noise from the gear boxes, not especially surprising after seeing all the oil in the box. This doesn't go away after running in, and an appropriate gearbox lubricant is highly recommended. Top speed is just about right for a scale 120kph.
The lighting is very nice, very bright LEDs for the main headlight and number boards, as well as marker lights. I would suggest the lights are too blue, but this can be fixed up by painting a tiny (really tiny) amount of "Tamiya Clear Orange (X-26)" on the surface of the LED's. The red reverse lights look fantastic and shine with a very good brightness level. It is a shame that the front and rear number boards can't be turned on at the same time.
Decoder installation is quite easy. The PC board has an 8 pin socket and I would recommend using a smaller decoder for these engines - for example Digitrax DZ125, or any N scale decoder - as the space inside is quite limited. Inside the fuel tank is a template for drilling speaker holes for those who would like to use a sound decoder.
Swapping couplers is a little trickier on these locomotives, but is a pretty straight forward affair. They will accept Kadee replacement #156 (whisker/long shank).
Yes, the wheels still have the deep flanges (when will they learn), but this hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for these terrific models and I highly recommend Chinese fans buy one or two at least! You will not be disappointed!