L18 Cylindrical Hopper Car
The L18's are very common cars in China's north east. They provide grain/wheat and corn transport from the farming collectives along the line as far as Hegang near the Russian border to Mudanjiang. The grain is then transported to various docks in Dalian for export. They are frequently seen in service during harvest season, but often spend months in storage in the low season. Despite the introduction of the slightly higher capacity L70 class, none of the class appear to have been removed from service and can be found running with these newer wagons and the earlier L17 class.
There were ten versions of the L18's produced, each with individual variations in the lettering/owner. The main four are China Rail, Dalian North Liang Company Limited livery, Dalian Kuang Consolidated and Yingkou grain Company Limited. Some of these types have minor differences such as color in the lettering, with or without CNR logos, etc. These wagons don't seem to have been as popular as others, which is a shame as they are generally very good especially, especially at the price point, however this may be due to the fairly limited area in which the real ones operate.
The L18's come in a plastic foldable clam shell which slides inside a thin cardboard box with display window. Particular note should be exercised when placing the model back in the clamshell, as damage will result to the brake wheel if it is the wrong way around. I mark an asterix on the plastic clam shell above the brake wheel to ensure correct placement.
Physical details such as step ladders, brake wheels, handrails and ladders are really very nice. The under body hatches, although non-functional, are nicely reproduced. The roof walks are the only thing I really don't like about these cars. They are far too thick, and are unfortunately cast on as part of the main body shell, making removing them to replace with etched metal walkways near impossible. A few of my cars lost brake wheels and ladders soon after purchase. I checked some of my other cars and sure enough it appears that there is no glue holding the parts in place! All the lettering is beautifully applied and the metallic paint work is particularly nice with minimal 'grain'.
The cars have a nice weight and roll very freely. The bogies pivot freely without obstruction and can negotiate very sharp curves. As usual, Bachmann have given these wagons wheels with extremely deep flanges and don't like Peco code 83 turnouts. (Note, the black car in this review has had its wheel flanges machined down. Unlike most Bachmann China freight car models, the bogies are screwed into the frame. I much prefer this method as the plastic clips they are prone to damage after a couple of time after the removal of removal of the bogies.
Bachmann EZ mates can be replaced with Kadee #58 or #158 medium shanks. (Note, the wagon in the photos of this review shows the Kadee #156's installed with magnetic pins removed)