The SS8's are Bo-Bo dual-cab electric locomotives, used solely for passenger service. The prototype reached 240kph on a test train, making it the fastest locomotive on the rails at the time. They are found mainly in the Guangzhou and Wuhan areas of China. Approximately 250 of these locomotives were built, from the late 1990's until very recently, by Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive works. Recently a few of them have been involved in major accidents.
The SS8's were one of the first productions by Bachmann China, and represented the first Chinese electric locomotive. Seemingly an odd choice, given the amount of major electric classes, but these were made when the real SS8's were very green and the most advanced electric locomotive on Chinese rails. The livery and lettering are very nicely done, with sharp lines and crisp lettering. There seems to be a minor fault however, seen in the bottom photo - of the 6 examples that have come through my hands, they are all missing a small amount of paint just below the main headlight. I'm not sure if I've just been really unlucky or if this was a result of the painting process. It's not particularly noticeable as the body shell is cast in a fairly similiar material. The roof details are nice and firm, with reliable operating pantographs. The handrails are unfortunately plastic, making them easily damaged - or worse yet, they simply fall off. The second run corrected this, using metal ones instead.
Even though these are small locomotives, they are fairly weighty and geared for high speed. They should be able to handle a rather lengthy train on level layouts, less so on hilly layouts. The SS8's are very quiet, smooth and really rather nice to operate.
The main headlights are 12v filament bulbs, a short lived design with Bachmann China locomotives until LED's became all the rage. The lamps do give off quite a bit of heat, but they give a much nicer color and are brighter compared to the LED's Bachmann equip their new models with. The circuit board has an 8 pin socket for a decoder, as well as a selector switch which controls whether the engine picks up electricity from the rails only (default setting) or the pantographs and rails.
The SS8's can take Kadee #5/#58/#158's for nice close coupling, although for those with layouts with very tight curves, I would recommend using #56/#156 long shank couplers to prevent jack-knifing.
A very attractive locomotive with excellent operational qualities. Would fit right at home on any modern Chinese layout.