Model Encyclopedia - Bachmann China 1:87 DF11 Class Co-Co Diesel
The DF11's are the most recent single unit passenger locomotives in the Dong Feng (East Wind) series. Production started in the early 1990's and ended around 2005, with around 450 units built. They were principally designed to haul express passenger trains between China's major cities and have proven themselves very well. Despite this, double units (DF11G), electric traction and the latest trend of high-speed fixed unit trains have put many of the DF11's on secondary passenger trains. Large concentrations of these locomotives are used in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing areas.
Model Review - First Series
The DF11's started the Chinese model railway movement way back in 1999. They were not particularly quick sellers in Western model markets at first, however many versions have since been produced. DF11 0018 was a limited edition of 5000 and DF11 0001 was released as a "special release", what ever that means (I think the amount of models made was exactly the same!)
These were very nice models at the time, featuring metal handrails, see-through roof anchor points and very crisp color schemes. The bogie side frames are push fit style and details look a little on the shallow side. DF11 0018 was in dark blue/cream livery and DF11 0001 in the prototype colors of red/cream (same style). Lettering is very crisp and the paint work is very nicely applied. Staff exchangers (those little bits in the seperate plastic baggy) are to be installed (optionally) by the owner. Also to be installed are the couplers - a rather odd oversight, as the models won't fit back in their boxes after these have been installed!
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 help with this. They have low wheel flanges - something most of us deeply miss.
Electricity is moved around the engine via a PC board and wires. The lighting is directional, with the main headlight powered by a 12 volt incandescent bulb which looks very bright and has a good color. Unfortunately, these can get very hot after a period of time which is no good for the plastic body shells in the long run. They do have some heat insulation around the bulbs, but I'm not sure I would trust this (don't forget to turn them off when not in use!). The marker lights are nice, particularly the inner red ones.
The PC board has an 8-pin plug for decoder fitting and there is ample room inside the shell for most standard HO scale decoders (DXDC also offer a sound decoder replacement board, item #5301). DO NOT attempt to run these on any DCC layout without first removing the large capacitor inside. For some reason BC used a one-way type capacitor. After running for more than a few seconds, it will explode with a sonic boom loud enough to wake Chairman Mao, followed by a cloud of burnt mushroom smelling foulness that will fill your house/shed for hours. See image below...
All versions will accept (#5/58/158) Kadee couplers.
Model Review - Second Series
The second release of DF11 was of decorated locomotive 0128 "Pioneer". This was limited to 2,500 pieces.
The details were equally good as the first series. This version came with 16 airhorns!! Given the fragility of these, and considering how many of them there are, I think it would have been nice to have included a spare one or two for when the inevitable happens. The China Rail emblem on the side of the body is gold plated and on each cab end, there is a brass/red "Pioneer". There were also additional airhoses (which look a little chunky) and extra lettering below the marker lights.
Model Review - Third Series
There were two new road numbers introduced with the third series, which were both released with very little fanfare and mostly limited to the domestic market and are thus very hard to find. (0160 was available for a short time through one of the Hong Kong retailers). As I've been unable to find any of these for sale, unfortunately no photos or further information is available.
Model Review - Fourth Series
The fourth series was a single highly decorated DF11. This version required the use of a totally new tooling set for the body shell. The headlights were placed lower than other DF11's and a depression in the cab ends was required to accomodate the large plaque of Zhou Enlai. Extra handrails were installed around the roof. These were made in very limited quantities and most sold prior to being made available to the public.
Model Review - Fifth Series
The fifth series was the last to use the old DF11 tooling and mechanism.
This was the first verison to come with side mirrors. It was an unlettered version. Included in the box was a sheet of decals with a considerably large amount of road numbers and beureau codes to be added by the owner.
Somewhere between the third series and this one, the chassis lost about a quarter of its weight. While this must have made postage marginally cheaper, it also sacrificed some of the tractive effort.
Model Review - Sixth Series
The sixth run of the DF11 was a totally redesigned model from the ground up. Eight road numbers were available and are readily available in the market at the time of writing (2013).
Differences over previous versions include cut-out sections in the pilot to assist with cooling of the braking system. The wheelspacing is shorter and the bogie side frames have considerably more detail. Louvre vent details are sharper, with the small ones over the cab now painted on rather than part of the shell. Air hoses are nicer, and the windscreen wipers are now separately applied parts, rather than cast into the window 'glass' - although these look a lot thicker than the previous version.
The model appears to use an identical frame to the retooled DF4B. In a nutshell the same great performance, but more fragile.
LED headlights are now used - these are relatively weak in strength.
The supplied EZ mate can be substituted for KD couplers. #156 (long shank, scale head, with whiskers) is a drop in conversion. #158's (medium shank, scale head, with whiskers) can be used with modification to the coupler head. This can be achieved with a dremel tool/cutting disc. A small piece at the rear bottom of the head should be removed to clear the uncoupling rod.
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