ND4

1:87 Scale

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Rating
8.5/10

ND4 Class Diesel-electric Co-Co

CMR Line

Production Summary

Prototype Information

The ND4's were China's fourth imported diesel locomotives, with 50 units built by Alstom, France, between 1973 & 1974. They were very powerful locomotives for the time with the V16 pumping out a maximum output of 3650hp. They employed an AC-DC electric drive and were rated at 100kph. All locomotives were initially based at Fengtai depot, Beijing. 

Despite their power and success, they were difficult and costly to maintain and withdrawal of the class began in 1989 with the final units removed and scrapped by year 2000. One unit was eventually saved and is preserved in the Beijing Railroad Museum. 

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General Information

The ND4 was quite an odd choice for Chinese models, but very welcome at that. To date it is the only manufacturer to offer the ND4 in model form. It is a large 6 axle diesel electric model unlike any other Chinese diesel. I am still trying to compile production summary, but at least 16 versions were offered with three main liveries, the original and very attractive dark blue & cream and two refurbished liveries of blue & yellow, as per my sample. The locomotive is 252mm long excluding couplers, 37mms wide and 59mms in height from the rail. If you own one of these and have the product number and livery, please contact me to update. 

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Packaging

The packaging comes in a quality thick cardboard box. This is the good news. The bad news is the rest of the packaging is insanely  complicated and which requires a Philips head screw driver AND an Allenkey to remove. From a number of reports, and my own experience, the packaging can easily damage the parts, so be very careful. It comes in a hard plastic two piece cradlewhich require a screw driver to separate, a larger screw on each end which run through a plastic tube and then two plastic plates on each side which are screwed to both pieces of the cradle with a total of eight screws. The locomotive is then held to the floor of the cradle with more screws with a hexagonal head requiring an Allenkey to remove. The cradle sits in the box with sheets of card and foam. Confused? Me too. The same sort of packaging was used on the CMR Line SS4 locomotives (a model I never managed to acquire) and there was a huge amount of complaints. To repeat the mistake a second time on these models is very poor form.   

Details

Fortunately that's pretty much the end of the bad news. The models themselves sport incredibly fine details, and lots of them. CMR state there models are made up of 297 parts, not including the 32 pieces of packaging. 

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The main body shell is plastic. Many of the separate detail parts are brass or very fine plastic. Brass details include windshield wipers, air horns, number plates, roof walkways, cab surround walkways, grab irons, step ladders (to be added by owner), grilles and grates. The handrails are separate wire parts and look very nice with colorcoded handrail stantions. Some of the finer plastic parts include smoke deflector panels and bracing, airhorn manifolds, pilots, airhoses. The locomotive has a full interior - not only in the cabs, but the engine room as well. There are no train crew in the cab.

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The paint work is very nicely applied with very sharp lines and ultra sharp lettering. Airhoses and uncoupling rods are two tone paint. The windows and main headlighthave fine black lining to represent rubber gaskets. The marker light surrounds are silver on a white background. 

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The body shell is very nicely done with full glazing and on engine room and cab windows, very fine louvre panels. The builders plates are part of the main body shell, being slightly raised and look superb. The foot steps below the cab doors are hollowed out. The doors are non-functional, but the outline of the doors and details such as handles are very nice. 

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There aren't too many add on parts. These consist of a couple of blue plastic covers (which I haven't determined the purpose of yet, but possibly cover the base of the couplers), speedometer cables, foot steps and most impressively - metallic China Rail emblems to go over the top of the painted ones on the cab fronts (not installed in the photos). 

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Performance

The locomotive is very heavy at 607 grams in weight. Electrical pick up is very effective. The motor is also powerful and has two large brass flywheels. I found my example to be fairly buzzy, a bit more than I like to hear. This seems to be a common theme with many of the CMR locomotives that I have, but this usually requires only a light oiling of the worm/gears.  

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Electronics

The ND4 is DCC ready and will accept any NMRA compatible 21 pin DCC decoder. For those who wish to use sound decoders, try and find sound files for the French CC 72000 class diesel. The lights are very impressive and features very bright main headlights, directional red and white marker lights, interior cab light and bogie lights (8 LEDs). 

Disassembly

To access the circuit board, there are four main screws holding the shell to the frame adjacent to the fuel tank. The couplers must also be removed by removing the screw and sliding out before the shell will be free. 

Coupler Conversion

I have replaced the supplied metal knuckle couplers with genuine Kadee #58's and removed the magnetic pin (as seen in the photos). I use the provided coupler spring box. Replacing CMR Line couplers is a very easy process.