SS7E Class Co-Co
The SS7E is the fifth and final variant of the SS7 family. The majority of the class were built at Datong Locomotive Works, with some prototypes being built at Zhuzhou and Dalian. 146 units were produced between 2001 and 2006.
The SS7 locomotives were designed based on the imported 6K tri-bo locomotives, however the SS7E was unique in having the more conventional pair of three axle bogies, rather than the tri-bo wheel arrangement of the other versions. This wheel arrangement allowed a higher speed up to 170kph and had a power output of just over 6400 horsepower. The SS7E's continue to live on, although numbers are thinning out as T (TeKuai - very fast) type passenger trains are quickly replaced by CRH high speed services. The bulk of them operated between Lanzhou and Zhengzhou, but can be found working as far as Beijing and Urumqi.
The SS7E was MTC's first electric locomotive. The shell is die-cast which seems to be making a comeback to models as technology improves in the casting process. The frame is also metal. The weight 540 grams and measure 240mm long x 35mm wide x 45mm height (excluding raised pantograph). There are two distinct versions with different ventilation systems and a massive thirty road numbers are made with two distinct versions surrounding the side ventilation. Initially thirteen road numbers were made with the other numbers quietly appearing over the next couple of years. I am still searching for the product numbers for most versions, so if you can fill in any of the missing gaps, I would be very happy to hear from you.
The MTC SS7E's come in a foam lined thin two piece cardboard box. The model is supported in a sleeved clear plastic clam shell with small pieces of foam and comes wrapped in a soft plastic sheet to avoid paint damage. The box includes the instruction sheet.
The MTC SS7E's have a die-cast body shell, which seems to becoming back into vogue. The weight in the shell frees up a lot of space inside for ease of maintenance and modification - chiefly installing DCC with larger speakers. They are typically a little more expensive than a plastic model, but no where near the astronomical prices of brass models. The shell is a one piece cast and has pretty good detail, but probably not as sharp as the latest plastic offerings.
The detail parts are mostly fine brass or wire, but there are some plastic parts also. The roof line is nicely detailed with very nicely reproduced air-conditioner units, brake resistor grids and insulators. Air horns are machined and hollowed out brass and have color coded power chambers/mounts. The pantograph is very nice and has a good spring action, although it is quite difficult to remove from the two lugs on the base so be very careful when removing it.
Other notable details are the electric plugs on the front pilot, separate wire handrails and grab irons, ultra fine windshield wipers, metal side mirrors and metal factory plates. The bogies have a good amount of detail with very nice springs, sanding boxes, traction arms and sanding pipes. The paint work on the model is very sharp, perhaps a little thick in some areas which masks a bit of the detail on the upper ventilation panels. The lettering is extremely well done. It is nice to see MTC have made the effort to paint small details such as the window sills and door handles.
They are all wheel drive via a drive shaft system. The motor is strong and has two large heavy brass wheels mounted either side of the motor. They are powerful and silent operators.
The body will separate from the frame by removing four Philips head screws from the under frame, hidden between the bogies and the frame.
Electrical pickup is via a copper brush system than makes contact with the inside of each wheel. They will accept either an 8 or 21 pin decoder and there is plenty of room for a speaker for those wishing to use sound. The lighting suite is basic with interior cab light and directional main headlight & white/red marker lights. The color intensity is fairly strong with good colors.
All of MTC's locomotives to date are fitted with scale dummy knuckle couplers. If the owner is intending to display them, these will be fine however they should be replaced for operating. I have mine fitted with Kadee #58's (scale head, medium shank). #5's, 158's will also work, or if being operated on layouts with sharper curves, a longer shank type such as 156 should work well. The couplers are a little tricky to install and this is achieved by removing the black pilot with two screws.