DF8B

1:87 Scale

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Rating
6 - 8/10*

DF8B Class Diesel-electric Co-Co

Bachmann China

Production Summary

Prototype Information

The DF8B's are fairly wide spread in China and are used chiefly as heavy freight locomotives. Production started in the late 1990's and they are still being produced today. The first DF8B's were quite dumpy looking machines with headlights flush with the squared roof angles. After a couple of years, this was replaced with a more aerodynamic design with exposed headlight, rounder roof design and the solid pilots were replaced with a hollowed out version to assist in the cooling of the braking system - this being the subject of Bachmann's model. The most common color scheme for these locomotives is dark blue with thick cream bands and red line through the bottom cream band. There have however been quite a few variations.

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General Information

Bachmann's original DF8B was one of Bachmann China's earliest HO scale models. Rather than go to the trouble to make a new model, they simply applied a DF8B livery to their DF11 body shell and voila! Despite the very obvious external differences, they sold very quickly and within a year these became a very rare and collectible item. The only example I have been able to acquire was already weathered by its previous owner, so apologies for not being able to provide a stock example.   

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Packaging

These DF8B'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.   

Details

Bachmann's DF8B has a pretty standard DF8B dark blue, cream and red livery with a Sunfull logo on the side. It is very nicely applied. The Sunfull refers to the Ziyang Sunfull Xitie Machinery Co, a locomotive parts and equipment supplier. The road number 5150 places the locomotive itself as a Ziyang Locomotive Works machine. Details were very good for the time, featuring three airhorns on each end, cab interior with crew, separately applied metal handrails for the doors and uncoupling rods, plastic grab irons on the front and lifting points on the roof. The bogies, while also fit for a DF11, have fairly good detail and depth.  

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Performance

These engines are extremely heavy - which is a good thing for pulling heavy trains. Electrical pickup is perfect, and they are very quiet, responsive and smooth. There are two very large brass flywheels to assist with brief power loss. They have low wheel flanges.

Electronics

These engines are extremely heavy - which is a good thing for pulling heavy trains. Electrical pickup is perfect, and they are very quiet, responsive and smooth. There are two very large brass flywheels to assist with brief power loss. They have low wheel flanges.

General Information - Second Series

The release of the improved DF8B is a very welcome addition for Chinese modelers. This was a completely retooled design to depict and accurate model of this common type of freight locomotive. Bachmann have chosen to represent the Qishuyan built DF8B's, which have a slightly more aerodynamic front than the common Ziyang built locomotives. 

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Packaging

Most of these DF8B's came with a thick windowless two part box and the same sleeved plastic clam shell to hold the model in place. The box contains warranty information, and instruction sheet with diagrams and any applicable add-on details.

 

The exception are the Tibet version DF8B's which came in a very ornate hinged box. While this all sounds lovely, they are extremely problematic. The surface was some sort of vynil welded to the cardboard which is allergic to any form of moisture. It is highly recommended not to stack these boxes on another of the same type as they will stick together almost instantly and the box will be ruined upon separation. The same is also true for simply closing the box where they surfaces make contact and will seal over time! It's best to store these in tissue paper or a cardboard box. The inner packaging comprises of a foam surround with hollowed out sections for the locomotive, display track and add-on parts. The same typ eof packagins was used on Bachmann's entire range of Tibetan models - including one of the DF4B's and the NJ2 triple diesel/twin passenger car train sets. 

Details

The paint liveries and lettering are very nice indeed, with no fuzz - that is when they don't stuff it up! The lettering is applied via pad printing and my Tianjin example has been applied somewhat smeared, as seen in the photo below. The bogies are very nice with a good amount of depth and detail. Side mirrors and roof mounted air-conditioning boxes are very nice also. The Tibet version has a few differences, notably with the extra rood equipment, different air reservoir arrangement and a few extra vents on the side panels.

The DF8B's are aesthetically rather basic, but Bachmann have added some nice touches. The black ring around the main headlights is very nice, as are the chrome rings around the marker lights. I applaud the use of two tone paint on the uncoupling rods and air hoses. and I hope it's used on any future models. 

I feel the windshield wipers are too thick, however they are separately applied parts. I was disappointed with the painted on dynamic brake louvres on the roof, given that the rest of the louvres are cast into the body shell. Another small detail that could have been greatly improved are the air horns which are not hollowed out type we are starting to see on many other models. There is a very clear casting line running right through the middle and give a convex impression rather than a concave one. It should also be noted these airhorns are extremely fragile so exercise care when handling. One of my DF8B's arrived from the factory with the glue smear on the wiper as seen below, which is not especially noticable when running or out of the bright lights. 

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Performance

The performance is exceptional. These are heavy locomotives (a little less than a DF4B, but quite hefty nonetheless). The deep wheel flanges, part of an annoying trend are ever present, which creates problems on Peco code 83 turn outs. Some electrical components are soldered on the motor case, and these have a tendency to break off - particularly during shipping. Wheel pick-up is very good as usual and the motor and gearboxes are also whisper quiet.

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Electronics

The lighting is OK, but the headlights are not bright enough and are the awful blue color from the LED's. I usually replace my headlights by de-soldering them off the board and replacing with a standard "sunny bright" 3mm LED. The metal leads can be trimmed down and folded into place, giving a brighter and more prototypical look.

There is plenty of room inside the engine to add a decoder, and even more weight if needed. As per typical Bachmann practice, there is an 8-pin plug for the decoder.

Disassembly

The DF8B's, like most Bachmann diesel locomotives, are very easy to separate by simply removing the four screws on the fram surrounding the fuel tank/air reservoirs and removing the couplers.

Coupler Conversion

The DF8B's are equipped with plastic Bachmann EZ-Mates. Swapping couplers is very easy on these models. They will accept Kadee #58 (scale) or #158 (scale w/whisker) for very close coupling, however I would recommend using long shanks (#156) if you have tight radius curves, particularly if double heading as there is a risk of derailments! Note all of the DF8B's shown in the photos above have already had the couplers replaced and the trip pins removed.