Model Encyclopedia - Bachmann China 1:87 SS8 Class Bo-Bo

Prototype Information

The SS8's are Bo-Bo dual-cab electric locomotives, used solely for passenger service. The prototype reached 240kph on a test train, making it the fastest locomotive on the rails at the time. They are found mainly in the Guangzhou and Wuhan areas of China. Approximately 250 of these locomotives were built, from the late 1990's until very recently, by Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive works. Recently a few of them have been involved in major accidents.

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Production Summary

Model Review - First Series

General

The SS8's are Bo-Bo dual-cab electric locomotives, used solely for passenger service. The prototype reached 240kph on a test train, making it the fastest locomotive on the rails at the time. They are found mainly in the Guangzhou and Wuhan areas of China. Approximately 250 of these locomotives were built, from the late 1990's until very recently, by Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive works. Recently a few of them have been involved in major accidents.

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Details

The SS8's were one of the first productions by Bachmann China, and represented the first Chinese electric locomotive. Seemingly an odd choice, given the amount of major electric classes, but these were made when the real SS8's were very green and the most advanced electric locomotive on Chinese rails. The livery and lettering are very nicely done, with sharp lines and crisp lettering. There seems to be a minor fault however, seen in the bottom photo - of the 6 examples that have come through my hands, they are all missing a small amount of paint just below the main headlight. I'm not sure if I've just been really unlucky or if this was a result of the painting process. It's not particularly noticeable as the body shell is cast in a fairly similar material. The roof details are nice and firm, with reliable operating pantographs. The handrails are unfortunately plastic, making them easily damaged - or worse yet, they simply fall off. The second run corrected this, using metal ones instead.

Performance

Even though these are small locomotives, they are fairly weighty and geared for high speed. They should be able to handle a rather lengthy train on level layouts, less so on hilly layouts. The SS8's are very quiet, smooth and really rather nice to operate.

Electronics

The main headlights are 12v filament bulbs, a short lived design with Bachmann China locomotives until LED's became all the rage. The lamps do give off quite a bit of heat, but they give a much nicer colour and are brighter compared to the LED's Bachmann equip their new models with. The circuit board has an 8 pin socket for a decoder, as well as a selector switch which controls whether the engine picks up electricity from the rails only (default setting) or the pantographs and rails.

Couplers

The SS8's can take Kadee #5/#58/#158's for nice close coupling, although for those with layouts with very tight curves, I would recommend using #56/#156 long shank couplers to prevent jack-knifing.

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Model Review - Second Series

General

SS8 0039 was the second version of the SS8 by Bachmann. If featured some slight improvements, but was generally the same locomotive. This one was adorned with gold plaques all over it, apparently affixed by an airconditioner manufacturer (whether or not this was railway related or merely an advertisement, I'm not sure). These sold out rather quickly, and as I missed them whey were released, I would be very interested in acquiring one should any of you have one you no longer require!

Details

Asides from the brass logos on the locomotive, the livery is pretty much identical to the previous model #0038. Bachmann wisely moved away from the plastic handrails for a one piece metal design.

Model Review - Third Series

General

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Details

The new SS8's have seen some improvements in the details with some individualism (see the photo below comparing the new style cabs of each respectiv emodel in this run). Bachmann have moved away from the earlier dark blue paint to a metallic lighter variant, as depicted on the more modern livery. The horns are now the hollowed out metal type, windshield wipers are seperately applied parts, as opposed to the one piece window/windshield of the earlier versions, and the bogie detail is much finer with very nicely reproduced footsteps.

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Performance

Tooling for the frame appears to be identical to the earlier releases, however the motor has been upgraded to a higher quality and much stronger unit. Amazingly, these new locomotives have managed to escape the atrocity of the deep wheel flanges!

Electronics

LED headlights are now used.

Couplers

The SS8's can take Kadee #5/#58/#158's for nice close coupling, although for those with layouts with very tight curves, I would recommend using #56/#156 long shank couplers to prevent jack-knifing.

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