DF7G Class Diesel-electric Co-Co
The DF7G is a successful diesel electric shunter/industrial locomotive spread out over most of China. Four factories have manufactured DF7G locomotives since 2003; Sifang, Qishuyan, Qingdao and Beijing 27. Beijing has produced around 250 locomotives out of approximately 350 units and this is the version that Bachmann have based their model on. The Beijing locomotives are for the most part adourned in a striking gold and red livery and have a number of external differences to their Sifang, Qishuyan and Qingdao counterparts. The Beijing DF7G's are some 10% less powerful than the others at around 2000hp, apart from a powerful 3000hp version which is used on the Tibet railway.
The DF7G's ushered in the first dedicated shunting locomotive for Chinese model railways. Bachmann released 10 road numbers for this model, the same deal applied for the SS9G's released in 2007. While the choice of road numbers is welcome, it is an interesting point to note that both of these models took a very long time to sell out, and can still be readily found on the market. Only one livery was produced - the common sand/red scheme. One would think over ten variants, they could have found the time to paint the other one!
The DF7G's came in a thick cardboard box with a thin cardboard sleeve with display window. The inner portion is a plastic clam shell with clear plastic sleeve. The box contains warranty information and instruction sheet with diagrams.
The cab details are really very nice, as are the roof details. The airhorn design is getting a little dated. The bogie details are really nice on this model, using separate colored pieces for the various components. The sand pipes bend inward towards the wheels which is a nice improvement over previous BC models, where I found said pipes will catch on certain points on the layout. The handrails are made of a pretty awful plastic that will bend out of shape very easily and not spring back into place and they are very bland - no rivet or joint details. I also found that the engine rides a nearly 2mm's higher than it should. The gold/red color scheme is very nicely done (if a little glossy, which seems to be the trend at the moment). The paint is even, with no fuzz between the lines and the lettering is superb.
These are not the heaviest locomotives as a lot of weight is lost from the hood design. It is possible to squeeze in a few grams of lead, but may not be worth doing, and given the duties these locomotives perform prototypically, isn't really the kind of engine one would flog up hill with a long rake of loaded wagons behind it. My unit performed quite poorly at first, but I put this down to quality control rather above anything else. After some modifications, it runs very nicely. Wheel pick up is excellent and it is very quiet.
The lighting is directional, and Bachmann have employed these very poor blue LEDs which are seriously underpowered and just the wrong color all together. As per standard Bachmann practice, the DF7G's have an 8 pin socket to accept any NMRA 8 pin decoder.
Installing a decoder isn't too much of a hassle, but be very gentle when disassembling the model; There is a clip at both ends of the shell to hold it to the chassis - if you break one of these off, your DF7 just isn't going to look right again!
The DF7G's will accept Kadee #58 (scale) or #158 (scale w/whisker), or #56/156 for long shanks. My unit shows the the #158's already installed.