NX17BH Class Flat Car
The N17 type flat car dates back to 1970. With the introduction of containers, the NX17 was developed which added loading devices (specifically twist-locks), turning them into a multi-purpose flatcar. A number of different versions of the NX17 exist; the BH is lengthened and has modified bogies. They are also able to be fitted with side panels and have a number of horn cleats and mounts for side beams, making them a very versatile wagon. Despite this, they don't seem to have been produced in great numbers as soon after their introduction the NX70 had taken over mass production.
These NX17BH's are the first of their type on the model market. They are a plastic model with a large metal weight and metal wheels. A total of eleven versions were made available over a range of bureaus (although impossible to tell, unless you know which specific road numbers are rostered to which bureau).
Excited trains have taken a very minimalistic approach to packaging and they come wrapped in a soft plastic sheet which sits inside a thin plastic shell. This slides inside a cardboard box not much bigger than the wagon. The model comes with one spare foot step.
These models are a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to details. Asides from the uncoupling rods and footsteps being metal, everything else is plastic which includes park brake wheel, horn cleats, end ramps (permanently fixed in the up position) and air hoses. The main deck is a separate piece with a wood grain finish in the decking planks, which looks a little unrealistic in my eyes. Weathering or a load on top should be able to conceal much of it. There are holes drilled in the deck for HO scale containers (most of which feature small lugs on the bottom corners), although from experience, most manufacturers differ slightly in the size and placement of these. The car has an undercarriage, but unlike anything I've ever seen in the world of Chinese model railways, everything is simply part of the main body cast. This probably won't bother many people as it is under the wagon and in an area that most people's eyes stay away from, however if you are a rivet counter or enjoy the typical rats nest of air reservoirs with pipes going all over the place, you will definitely be disappointed with these. Asides from this, the car presents well and amazingly, each of those twenty horn cleats come preinstalled! The only spare part included is a spare footstep.
The paint work is quite good with a good flat black finish. The lettering is sharp and all those tiny little characters and data panels are all legible, although some areas are a little thin.
These models are fairly heavy for flat cars with a metal weight spliced between the wagon and top deck. The wheels are chemically darkened metal and roll with nearly no resistance in the bogies. The bogies attach to the frame with a single Phillips head screw and have a good range of pivot and vertical tolerance.
The couplers on these cars are direct copies of Kadee's #5 metal coupler. The manufacturer was able to do this as Kadee’s 50 year patent period has expired. If you prefer running yours with scale heads, #58's (scale heads, medium shank) will fit nicely. #153 (scale heads, short shank, whisker spring), #156 (long) and #158's (medium) will also fit perfectly well. The coupler box is easily accessed with a single screw holding in the coupler box base plate, however care should be taken as the uncoupling rod is also attached into this and should be 'disconnected', for lack of a better term, before coupler replacements are made.