CA23 Class Dining Car
Dining cars are a very common sight in China, with all long distance trains usually having one in the consist. The dining car has a large kitchen and twelve four-seat tables. They are usually positioned between the soft sleeper car (RW) and hard seat coaches (YZ). The interior varies greatly between cars and there are a number of color schemes. Sadly all dining cars will soon be retired due to budget cuts and passengers will be served pre-cooked meals picked up en-route and served in carts (2022).
The CA23 is a very welcome addition for Chinese model railroaders. To date there have been two production runs. The first run was released shortly after the YZ hard seat (improved edition) and YW hard sleeper cars, leaving only (at the time) RZ soft seater, RW soft sleepers and the UZ mail vans to complete a full train. A staggering 10 different road numbers were produced in three different (similar) color schemes.
The construction method is a one piece body with a clip in roof and underframe. The couplers are on a swing system, like the old Roco system, which ensures close coupling cars around corners (coupler upgrade is recommended - see below). The interior is a one piece casting.
Six new dining cars were released in April 2013 with 5 different liveries, including 4 new ones.
Bachmann passenger cars come in a foldable plastic clam shell which slides inside a thin cardboard box with display window. There are some aesthetic differences on the outer packaging between the first three and fourth series. The packaging for the twin pack in the third series was the same as the others, save for a cardboard sleeve. The plastic clam shell on all of the second release can accomodate cars with air-conditioners.
These cars have a generous amount of detail, much of it in the roof and undercarriage, with very nice roof vents, piping etc. Paint work is very nicely applied and the lettering and lining is razor sharp (although a little rough at the ends of the stripe). Bogie details are OK. The ladders look a little big and perhaps could of been applied a little better.
Details are much the same as the earlier release. Asides from the obvious new liveries, the only other changes I can find are the addition of Air Conditioners to some variants. Also, while the bogies remain the same design, Bachmann have spiced them up by adding wheel numbers onto the axle boxes and painted up the generator attached to wheel number 3.
The dining cars have a good weight and the unlit versions run very well. The versions with interior lighting have more resistance on the wheels due to the copper electrical pick up system.
Interior lighting is provided by a circuit board installed in the roof with small LED's. The LED color is pretty awful deep yellow/orange color. Pick up is provided by a wheel wiper system.
The lighting system has been improved on these cars! Lights are now a decent white color (looks like fluorescent bulbs). Unfortunately these are super bright little buggers, so owners may want to consider difusing them. (Tip: Try some thick cloudy plastic sheet cut from a milk bottle)
Bachmann EZ-mates are fitted to the models which should be replaced at the earliest opportunity if you don't like huge air gaps between cars. Bachmann have included their usual semi-permanent drawbars which work well enough, yet are a pain to attach and detach. While I usually advocate the use of KD couplers, on my passenger fleet, I use a Kadee coupler at each end of a rake of cars (type 362 NEM) and Fleischmann 6515's throughout the rest of the train. These couplers offer a spot on length and flawless operation between the cars around corners. I find the KD's don't work well with certain types of cars and are a bit too short for my liking.