XL22 Class Mail Car
China Rail's XL cars were a very common car with one usually attached to nearly all passenger trains to handle cargo and oversized luggage. Gradually many of these cars have been replaced with newer variants such as the 25G, 25K, & 25T, however they can still be found occasionally throughout the country. A number of these cars have found a second lease of life in works/maintenance trains.
The XL cars were released in September 2006. As usual, these are very good high quality models, similar to most of the range. The body shell is a one piece casting, with clip on roof and underframe. They are quite complicated to take apart, should one feel the need to do so, or if the coupler system gets snagged (don't try and force them back!).
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 and second series.
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. Bogie details are good, although missing the extra painted details of the 2nd run. WC room windows are cloudy.
Apart from the color schemes and some very minor painted on details, the second series are identical to the first run. The second run featured painted on details such as numbered wheel boxes and generator wheel. The new paint liveries include the very good looking red/light grey livery. Two versions have private company markings of "CRE" (China Railway Express) and "CRPE" (China Railway Parcel Express Co., Ltd).
The lighted version is more roll-resistant to the unlit version due to the wheel brush electrical pickup system, however the effect is minimal. Those who operate more than 10 cars may see a noticeable difference. They do sport the typical deep flanges on the wheels, however they will go through code 83 trackwork (and possibly 75) with no problems.
The lit versions XL22's are fitted with a circuit board with a series of small LED's.
The coupler mounts (NEM type) are on a swing system, like the old Roco system, which ensures close coupling cars around corners although I still recommend a coupler upgrade - see below). The interior is a one piece casting. 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.