C80B Class Gondola
The C80B gondola began production in 1995 with Qiqihaer Rolling Stock works. They are typically found on dedicated railway lines from coal mines to power stations or transshipment facilities. The C80's are an all-welded bathtub design and are used with rotary dumpers. As the name suggests, they have a weigh capacity of 80 tons. Their empty weight is 20 tons thanks to their aluminium alloy body shell and they have an internal volume capacity of almost 85 cubic meters. The C80B's are run as permanently coupled three car sets via drawbars.
N27's C80B class gondolas are highly detailed plastic shell bodies with metal wheels. They have made a total of fourteen three-packs, divided over two regions. Each three pack was limited to 100 units. They are very good quality and many versions are still available (as of 2023).
The wagons are all stored in a two piece clear plastic tray which slides into a one piece thin cardboard box. Each wagon is wrapped in a soft plastic sheet to prevent paint rubbing damage. Included in the box is a small bag of optional couplers/drawbars and an instruction pamphlet. Those who run these cars via their one-piece drawbars may find some frustration when storing these wagons in their originial packaging, however there is at least room to accomodate the drawbar to be left in place on one end of each wagon.
Main shell detail is extremely crisp. The body proportions are correct and straight. The top edges are about as fine as we can get with today's current injection molding technology, but is almost spot on. The few rivets these cars have, being an all-welded construction, are all present and correct and are part of the base detail, as are the side hatches, waybill holders, side bracing and undercarriage bracing.
The added detail parts are made up of either plastic or metal and are beautifully recreated. Plastic parts include air hoses, brake wheel and linkages, bogies, full under carriage and footsteps. Metal parts include car end platforms, handrails, uncoupling rods and tarpaulin hooks. Bogie detail is extremely good for a one piece plastic casting. I love they've taken the time to include the casting dates and serial numbers on the side bogie frames!
The C80's have a good amount of interior detail for such a simple design. There are three cross members which sit inside some recesses in the car walls and are kept in place by pressure only. These are also the first Chinese plastic freight cars to date that feature hatch detail on the interior walls, a practice often avoided by model manufacturers due to the complexity in the tooling. The floors are unpainted metal. The cars come with a plastic coal load with adequate detail, but will look better with finely crushed coal glued on top.
The paint work is very high quality with very sharp lines between the yellow and black. Characters are extremely sharp and even the smallest print is perfectly legible. (It seems the quality of my camera wasn't able to demonstrate this! Note - the blur seen in the characters in the image below is due the camera limitations - or perhaps my ability to use it!)
One particular note, take extra care to inspect the models inside the boxes to ensure the tarpaulin hooks are attached. Many of mine were detached on arrival and if you find some of yours missing, it is possible they are hiding somewhere in the packaging just waiting to find a new home buried in the carpet underneath your workbench! They can be fixed back in place with some fine needle nose tweezers (and a little pressure to reduce the gap to prevent them coming off again).
The cars have chemically darkened metal wheels which spin very freely inside the bogies. They have a good weight for their size which helps them roll with very little resistance. Top marks.
Owners have the choice to use couplers or the more prototypical drawbars to the middle car. N27 have provided two types of drawbar - a one piece design which fit inside the coupler boxes with a screw on each end and a split drawbar which fits in the coupler boxes the same way, but allows the models to be stored in the box. The downside to the latter system is there is a microscopic pin that has to be inserted into the top of the drawbars when mated together. The couplers are of course much easier if you are planning to frequently re-marshal them or pack in their original boxes. I have gone the way of the one-piece draw bar with a Kadee #153 coupler (short shank/scale head/whisker spring) on one end of the #1 and #3 cars.