ND5

1:87 Scale

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Rating
8/10

ND5 Class Diesel-electric Co-Co

Bachmann China

Production Summary

Prototype Information

The ND5 locomotives were built by General Electric as the C36-7, and exported from the United States between 1984 and 1986. A total of 599 were built, with 422 of them sold to China. The Chinese received two batches of these locomotives. The first batch (as in this review) were standard C36-7's, the second saw improvements to increased visibility with the large front cab windows, extra side windows, repositioning of the fuel tank and arrangement of the air reservoir tanks and the addition of white marker lights. The bulk of the fleet operated out of Nanjing and Shenyang and most units enjoyed nearly 35 years of operations. A small handful are still in operation in the Nanjing area, although numbers have greatly reduced since the arrival of HXN5's cascaded down from other parts of the country upon electrification.

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General Information

Bachmann has released both the phase 1 and phase 2 ND5 body styles with six road numbers for each version, plus a factory weathered version of the phase 1 locomotives). Some of the differences between the two are placement of the fuel tank, arrangement of air reservoir tanks, angled pilots to deflect debris (phase 2), exhaust stack and a significantly redesigned cab (phase 2) for improved visibility. Bachmann have done an excellent job to capture all of this.

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Packaging

The ND2's were sold in a high quality two-piece cardboard outer box with the model protected with a form fitting sleeved plastic clam shell.  

Details

The physical details on these models are very impressive. Some of the nicer features include see-through foot steps, etched metal grilles over the large radiator fans, very fine windscreen wipers, hollowed out brass airhorns and very fine handrails. A small bag is included with air hoses to be installed by the owner. 

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The paint work and is first class, with ultra sharp lining and almost microscopic lettering. The all share a degree of individuality as well with placement of danger notices, depot codes, component labels and some have the General Electric logo. 

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The handrails are extremely very fine and made from plastic. I prefer plastic handrails over metal as even a slight knock has the potential to dent and be nigh on impossible to repair, whereas the plastic type have a good degree of elasticity. They are much nicer than Bachmann's previous and only other hood unit, the DF7G.  

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The handrails are extremely very fine and made from plastic. I prefer plastic handrails over metal as even a slight knock has the potential to dent and be nigh on impossible to repair, whereas the plastic type have a good degree of elasticity. They are much nicer than Bachmann's previous and only other hood unit, the DF7G.  

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The two pairs of Leslie airhorns are made from brass and left in a bare metal state, which is a slight oversight. The real ND5's Leslie horns were cast aluminium and were always painted in the same color as the main body (although swaps did occur from time to time! The airhorns in the photo below were painted by me prior to writing the interview. If you like the look of this, I used Tamiya acrylic XF-70. 

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Performance

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The performance is exceptional, even though they lose weight being a hood unit, these are very powerful models. Mine had no problems pulling 22 empty gondolas up a 3% grade @ 35% throttle. The motor is dead silent, although there is an awful lot of noise from the gear boxes, not especially surprising after seeing all the oil in the box. This doesn't go away after running in, and an appropriate gearbox lubricant is highly recommended. Top speed is just about right for a scale 120kph.

Electronics

The lighting is very nice, very bright LEDs for the main headlight and number boards, as well as marker lights. I would suggest the lights are too blue, but this can be fixed up by painting a tiny (really tiny) amount of "Tamiya Clear Orange (X-26)" on the surface of the LED's. The red reverse lights look fantastic and shine with a very good brightness level. It is a shame that the front and rear number boards can't be turned on at the same time.

Decoder installation is quite easy. The PC board has an 8 pin socket and I would recommend using a smaller decoder for these engines - for example Digitrax DZ125, or any N scale decoder - as the space inside is quite limited. Inside the fuel tank is a template for drilling speaker holes for those who would like to use a sound decoder.

Disassembly

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Coupler Conversion

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The ND5's are fitted with plastic Bachmann mk2 EZ mate knuckle couplers. Swapping them out for Kadee couplers is a little tricky on these locomotives, but with a pair of fine needle nose tweezers and a lot of patience is relatively straight forward. The phase one locomotives (light green) will accept standard shank Kadee's (#5/58/158's), the phase two locomotives (dark green) will require a longer shank to clear the snow plough and will accept #156's.