DF11G Class Diesel-electric Co-Co + Co-Co
The DF11G's are the latest (and quite possibly the final) diesel type in the domestically produced Dong Feng series. They are essentially a pair of single ended DF11 locomotives permanently coupled to each other back to front to form a very powerful unit, capable of hauling the maximum sized passenger trains at high speed. The locomotives have had a facelift which gives a very modern more streamlined look to their DF11 counterparts and also have auxiliary motors to power the air-conditioning in the passenger cars, removing the need for a separate generator car.
They were originally used solely on the Beijing - Shanghai route, but as electrification began to be spread across the network, many have been displaced to secondary lines and the entire class is somewhat threatened. Some select units have been split to run push pull passenger trains in Guangdong province (2020).
These were Bachmann's first double unit and were produced at a time when the real DF11G's were the most modern diesel in the Chinese diesel fleet. Only a few versions were made for the first production run, a pair of twin units and a single unit version - odd at the time when these diesels ran strictly as a pair (It wasn't under the late 2010's when they began to run as push pull units for select services). I suspect the single unit version was produced on commission for Qishuyan locomotive factory to be given out as gifts. I have only ever seen a couple of these single unit versions hit the open market ever since they were released.
The DF11G's were released in a partioned cardbox, a larger version of Bachmann China locomotive boxes of the same era. Each partition holds a sleeved plastic clam shell each containing one of the units. The box is a nice thick cardboard with no display window.
The DF11G's ushered in a new level of detailing to Bachmann China's locomotive runs. There are many separately added parts such as e.m.u. plugs, fine scale airhoses, foot steps and grab irons. The paint work is a semi-gloss and is very evenly applied and sharp between colours, apart from a small amount of fuzz on the blue paint behind the cab adjacent to the red stripe. There is a very high amount of lettering which is all perfectly readable, although visual aids may be needed! The bogies look very similar to the standard DF11 releases, asides from the seperately added footsteps, and are a little on the shallow side, but being black in color, this doesn't seem to be as noticable as the lighter colored DF11's. The rubber diaphragms at the ends don't quite touch each other with the supplied drawbar connected between the units, there is a gap of approximately 2mm.
Unfortunately these are lacking in the performance department over other locomotives. The powered unit is quite a bit lighter than many of the full body style locomotives from Bachmann China and the dummy locomotive is quite heavy! The powered unit has been geared for high speed, however I would have much rathered pay the difference to have a dual powered unit as my layout has quite a few gradients on it, and high speed gearing doesn't substitute for this. For shorter trains or on level layouts/trackwork, they run very nicely - smooth and quiet. I've had some issues with the cable which connects both cars together. It is a bit too long, and often catches on the drawbar, leading to derailments or a bit of a jump as it traverses through point work. The deep wheel flanges, an annoying Bachmann China trend also 'hop' through my Peco code 83 point work (Code 100 is no problem).
The main headlight color is a very odd green/orange color. Naturally, these look nothing like the headlights used on the real engines! There is plenty of room inside for a decoder, (or more weight for increased pulling power!) and there are some small holes drilled through the bottom of the fuel tanks, presumably for speakers.
Unlike nearly all Bachmann locomotives, diassembly on the DF11G's is rather unconventional in that it uses lugs rather than screws. To remove the shell, the couplers must be removed. The shell can be then gently pried away from the frame where it lifts off. The locomotive will require an 8 pin decoder for DCC operations and Bachmann have made an effort to include some vents in the bottom for those who wish to include a speaker for sound operations.
Like all of my locomotives, I usually convert the couplers in my entire fleet to maintain a level of standardisation. I prefer Kadee couplers on my locomotive fleet and have used #153 short-shank/scale head/whiskers type to replace the Bachmann EZ mates on the fronts of each unit. To replace the ugly drawbar system, I have use Kadee #17's on each unit for a close coupler. Now all I need to do is modify that ugly cable between the units!