SS1

1:87 Scale

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Rating
5/10

SS1 Class Co-Co

Haidar

Prototype Information

The SS1's were China's first mass produced electric locomotive and the first in the Shaoshan series (named after Chairman Mao's birthplace). They enjoyed a long production run of 20 years starting in the late 1960's, and over 800 were built during this time. The late built SS1's (on which the model is based) had a dark green/pale green livery with white lining, a long louvre vent section & porthole windows down the sides of the body and squared roof mounted air-conditioner boxes.

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General Information

The SS1's were Haidar's first release. No (visible) production numbers were given to them. They were announced well ahead of their release and customers were given an option to pre-purchase at a very good price. Unfortunately, this was limited to the local market, so many western collectors missed out, not only on the good pricing, but on the model itself. They were made in very limited numbers with the first series seeing only fifty pieces of each number. The first series can be identified by the box label which displays all 10 road numbers, with a number (from 1-50) stamped next to the applicable version. The second run was released shortly after and was not a limited edition, although still quite scarce. Three new road numbers over three bureaus were produced. The third and final version was a decorated locomotive, which apart from the brass plaques and number/bureau plates, had some very nice etched metal walkways on the roof. This was again a limited edition version. 

Haidar's SS1 is to date, one of three that have been made available from different manufacturers. When these models were released in 2005, they were highly sought after and despite being the most inaccurate version and inferior in probably every respect, they are still highly desirable and collectible, fetching very high prices when one surfaces for sale. 

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Packaging

Haidar's packaging consists of a thin outer cardboard box which surrounds a two piece polystyrene box, which just happens to be a fraction too big. Taking out the model can be a bit of an adventure. To save ripping the box ends off, I've found it is easier to open both ends of the box and push the polystyrene box, rather than pulling it out. Inside the shell, the model is wrapped in a plastic sheet and small strips of tissue paper.

Details

First things first, these locomtives are delicate; a trait common for all Haidar products I've come across, but still have many areas to handle the model without having small parts breaking off. Places to avoid touching are the bogies, side ladders and roof areas. As you can see in the photos above, some of the step ladders are barely hanging on and one is even missing. I recommend all owners to gently test each one to see if they come free, and if so glue them in place.

The paint work is evenly applied and lettering is nice and sharp. The pantograph system looks good and is functional, but I highly recommend that you keep those pantographs on the roof while running around a layout with overhead! If they are in the up position and the locomotive is moved at any form of moderate speed or above, or in opposite direction of travel, they will catastrophically fail and some componentry will be propelled outwards at such a force to guarantee you will never find them again.

The only other criticism I have relate to the wheels where the holes are simply painted on!

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Performance

The SS1's feature all wheel pick up and all wheel drive. It is relatively smooth and responsive in both directions throughout the speed range, however at very low speeds less so as it moves in minimum increments according to the size of the teeth in the gears. The design of the mechanism is frustrating owing to the exposed gears sticking out of the bogies undercarriage. With ongoing use, you can probably expect a fairly frequent cleaning regime as dirt, dust and microscopic fibres head up inside and cause carnage inside the gearbox. 

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Electronics

Power is ferried from the rails (or pantograph and rail if you wish) via a circuit board to the motor and the lighting system. At the time of writing, I have not converted my example to run on DCC, nor have I opened it up. I am presuming like other Chinese models the board will accept an 8-pin decoder. The selector switch to convert electrical pickup between the pantograph or wheels is under the brake resistors (centre most large box on the roof). The lighting system is decent. Lights are directional with a whiteish blue main headlight and yellow marker lights in forward direction and red in reverse. 

Disassembly

Disassembly of the model to access the frame for decoder installation or to look if any parts of a failed pantograph have been lodged inside, is an easy process requiring the removal of the couplers and four screws surrounding the center air reservoir tanks.

Coupler Conversion

The stock couplers are dummy knuckle couplers, that no words (profanity is an exception) can describe if you are wanting to operate them. They will need replacing with any coupler of your choice. I use Kadee's on all of my locomotives and freight stock and long shanks (#56/156) should be used to provide adequate clearance. These aren't a simple drop in conversion, and some filing of the shank may be needed to give the coupler a more smooth action. (Good luck!)