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Bachmann China QJ 2-10-2

Prototype Information

The QJ's were the largest type of standard steam locomotive in the People's Republic of China. They were typically used on heavy freight trains, often double heading, but were also very capable machines in passenger service, although their top speed of 80kph limited them to local work. The first prototypes were built in the 1950's, and at the end of the production in 1988, nearly 5,000 had been built. In the early 1980s, many of the original 8 wheel tenders were replaced with larger 12 wheel versions which gave the locomotives a much larger range.

You may find photos of the real QJ locomotives by clicking here.

Model Production Summary

Release Date Production Number Production Run Scale Road #s Bureau
September 2001 CT00306 1st HO (1:87) 6266 Shanghai
" " CT00304 " " " " 7141 Ji-Tong
" " ? (Commissioned) " " " " #? "Young Pioneers" ?
2004 CT00302 2nd " " 6800 "Iron Bull" Harbin
" " CT00303 " " " " 6732 "Youth" Shenyang
" " CS00103 " " " " 7207 Datong
2007 CS00104 3rd " " 7143 Ji-Tong
" " CS00105 " " " " 6978 Ji-Tong
2008 CS00106 4th " " 2470 "Zhu De" Harbin
March 2014 CS00109 5th " " 6301 "Youth Civilization" Ji-Tong
" " CS00110 " " " " 7127 Shandong

Model Review - 1st Production Run

Model image above shows some custom changes to the stock model;

- Pilot wheel custom painted

- Bachmann EZ-Mate couplers have been replaced with Kadee couplers

- Whistle & valves painted black

General
The QJ's were Bachmann China's first steam locomotives, the first production run released in September 2001. A fault was present in approximately 100 of these models in relation to the alloy used in the chassis which would overheat and cause the whole engine to sieze up after a very short time. In 2009 a recall was issued and lasted approximately one month where owners were able to send their locomotive back for a complete replacement. I'm unaware if these replacement models featured the same original performance fault, as described below, or were the improved type from the fourth series.

Details
Apart from the lettering, they were both identical in details. The locomotive body is plastic with many of the finer details made from brass and seperately applied; namely smoke deflectors, steps, window visors, ladders, etc. Bachmann have truly made a beautiful looking locomotive.

Performance
The engines are quite heavy, but unfortunately much of the tractive effort is lost from the center driving wheel. This happens to be the geared wheel that makes contact with the worm, and as it's diamater is a fraction smaller than the others, it gives a pretty bad lurching effect, more noticeable in forward, that no amount of running in will cure. Since 2007, a replacement set of driving wheels has been available with the center driver having the correct diameter, but is unfortunately flanged (as featured on the 3rd series QJ release). They are nevertheless very responsive, have fantastic slow starting speeds and close to prototypical mainline speeds.

Electronics

Electrical pick-up comes from the driving wheels and the tender wheels, which is ferried to the circuit board housed in the tender via wires and then back to the engine to the motor and headlights. Headlights are directional and are 12 volt bulbs. These give off a very nice color, but being bulbs tend to heat up very quickly, something to keep an eye on. Swapping these out for LED's (3mm sunny bright recommended) is a very painful task. For those of you who've attempted disassembling one of these, you will know what I'm talking about.

There is plenty of room inside the tender to accept most HO scale sized decoders. As per standard Bachmann practice, they have an 8 pin socket to accept any NMRA 8 pin decoder. The tender shell is easily removed by putting a few toothpicks between the chassis and the frame, and again on the other side.

Coupler Conversion
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 short-shank w/whisker) for the front coupler.

Review Summary


The Good News

The Bad News
Bachmann China's first steam locomotive Jerky performance, poor traction on grades
Responsive and quiet 12v bulbs are a bit of a worry
Optional coal load
Beautifully detailed

Model Review - 2nd Production Run

Model image above shows some custom changes to the stock model;

- Pilot wheel custom painted on all models

- Kadee couplers have been retrofitted to the front of all models, Bachmann EZ-Mate couplers remain on the rear

- Tender plaque on #6732 was replaced with larger one from DF4B diesel #1033

- Whistle & valves painted black on #7207 and 6732

Details
There were three new road numbers with the second series of QJ's which included a fully decorated version #6800 Iron Bull, a slightly decorated version # 6732 and a standard version #7207 which was the very last QJ built. The two decorated locomotives included small detail parts to be installed. In the case of #6800 "Iron Bull", once the smoke box plaque was installed, it wasn't possible to return it to the box with modifying it first. The tender plaque on #6732 is installed in the wrong place and is also smaller than the prototype. It should be positioned above the center wheel of the front bogie. I replaced mine with a spare set from DF4B Diesel which are larger but otherwise identical.

Performance
These locomotives performed exactly the same as the first series with no improvements to the running qualities attempted. When running in reverse, the tender had a tendancy to snag on the rubber corridor de-railing it or the locomotive. A quick remedy is to cut about 1mm off the corridor (use the fold in the rubber as a guide). This didn't apply to the first series and I believe this is due to the fact that the drawbar system was replaced for a more stable 4-pin design to keep the tender connected to the locomotive. The previous 2-pin type on the first series had prevented the tender from getting too close to the engine.

Electronics

As per first production run review.

Coupler Conversion
As per first production run review.

Review Summary


The Good News

The Bad News
Three new road numbers to enjoy! No improvement to drive system
Excellent electrical pick-up Reverse running can lead to derailments

Model Review - 3rd Production Run

Model image above shows some custom changes to the stock model;

- Bachmann EZ-Mate couplers have been replaced with Kadee #158 scale whisker coupler (rear coupler removed, should be Kadee NEM #17)

Details
The 3rd series was released in 2007 and were both models of Ji-Tong based engines, perhaps to celebrate the end of steam on the Ji-Tong line, the last major concentration of the QJ's. Two of the most famous locomotives along the line were modelled. #7143 was held in high esteem by her crews and was given a special blue headboard in her final years, which Bachmann has decided to replicate with their model. #6978 was usually used on passenger service and has a large red smoke box plaque with gold characters which has been poorly executed in my eyes - the paint looks very thick and toyish and could have been much better achieved by using the same techinque on the earlier #6800 Iron Bull.

Performance
Finally Bachmann decided to something about the drive system on their QJ's and made the center driving wheel diameter the same as the others. This has greatly improved the tractive effort and eliminated the jerky performance of the prior releases. Unfortunately however, they have added a flange onto this wheel! So close, and yet so far. This shouldn't effect the running of the engine, even on fairly sharp curves and is more of an aesthetic and common sense complaint.

Electronics

LED's replaced the 12v bulbs from the first & second series. Unfortunately the color is a little too orange.

Coupler Conversion
As per first production run review.

Review Summary


The Good News

The Bad News
Improved drive system Center driving wheel is flanged
Very nicely detailed, with unique features for each Smokebox plaque on #6978 is poorly reproduced

Model Review - 4th Production Run

Model image above shows some custom changes to the stock model;

- Custom coal load added to tender

- Bachmann EZ-mate couplers have been replaced with Kadee's (#153 on the front, #17 on the rear)

Details
The forth and most recent addition to the QJ series was a single version and very famous Harbin based locomotive, named after Chinese general Zhu De. This was Bachmann's first (and hopefully not last) 8 wheel tender version. It was sold with the early brass decorations and name plates attached which could be replaced with an optional later period plates including a red & gold smoke box plaque. A ladder was also included to be attached to one side of the tender. It was the first QJ to be sold in Bachmann's new slimline boxes.

Performance
The engine ran every bit as good as the previous series, but this time they've finally got the center driving wheel figured out with the correct size and flangeless.

Electronics

The tender has been designed to house a sound decoder with speaker holes cast into the bottom. It happily accepts the DXDC 5302 (QJ) sound decoder and should be able to fit many others.

Coupler Conversion
As per first production run review.

Review Summary


The Good News

The Bad News
The first QJ with 8 wheel tender! LED color still awful
Best drive system yet, correct sized/flangeless center driver Coal load is permanently fixed to tender
Optional set of details for early or late appearance

Model Review - 5th Production Run

General
Two new QJ's were released in march 2014 with no notice of their impending arrival, which appears to be Bachmann practice now, indeed there are no upcoming Bachmann products in the pipeline known to me at the time of writing. QJ6301 is a highly decorated model limited to a production run of 500 units which comes with a booklet (Chinese language only) of the locomotive's history. The other is a high deflector version, #7127, being one of the final QJ's in service. The models are in the new fancy-pants packaging with a gold paper sleeve over the two piece box.

Details
QJ6301 - This locomotive was the pride of the Ji-Tong based QJ's, employed in both freight and passenger service. Typically, the engine was adorned with lots of red and brass embellishments. It appears that there were some changes made over the course of her life and the model depicts that of her later years. The paint work of 6301 is high quality and very sharp. I am a little disappointed in some of the painted details around the cab and tender however. The tender depot code characters and CNR logos on this locomotive should be separate brass castings, but are painted on instead and unfortunately is just not convincing. The same goes with the number plates on the cab/tender as well as the small communist party flag logo on the cab side. 6301 already costs a premium over co-released 7127, so I'm a bit puzzled on why they cheaped out on this one. We've seen what Bachmann are capable of with previous releases such as 6800 'Iron Bull' and 2470 'Zhu De' with beautiful brass details. The front headboards look quite good (a bit nicer than the photos show) and the red star on the front cowling is very nicely done, however the plastic boards on the smoke deflectors look a bit thick, a brass plate with embossed characters would have been a much more convincing touch. The hand rails and lining look nice painted white, perhaps a little thick on the walkway 'fences'. Details to add are the usual brake rigging and re-railers.

QJ7127 - Gorgeous! I hold a soft spot for the high deflectors, being the last QJ's I saw in action around Yanzhou/Zouxian back in 2006, although 7127 was not one of them. Details appear to be much like the standard QJ's already produced by Bachmann, with only the dual tender lights, extra front handrails and, of course, the high mounted smoke deflectors (aka 'elephant ears'). The only thing I can really fault regarding the details would eb the application of the deflectors to the body. They are held in by four microscopic plastic plugs. They're reasonably strong, however many of these models appear to have the deflectors bent inwards on an unacceptable angle. Both of mine also had loose right hand side deflectors and I'm a bit nervous fiddling around with them. This could have been a bit of carelessness at the factory, however it seems the majority of photos from online sellers share the share the same problem.

Performance
No problems here - 6301 and 7127 both use the latest QJ drive system - smooth & quiet with a decent amount of traction, but still not as good as the JS's.

Electronics

The frame of the 6 wheel tenders have not been upgraded with speaker holes, for those who run sound, so some drilling may be in order. DCC is the standard 8 pin plug type which is housed in the tender. The LED's have also remained the same appalling citrus color.

Review Summary


The Good News

The Bad News
Finally a high deflector version! 6301's detail parts could have been much better
Smooth & quiet performance Smoke deflectors (QJ7127) are poorly fitted

Model Photos


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