WX25T Class Overhead Inspection Car
The WX cars are a series of unique and very rare passenger cars used to inspect certain infrastructure, usually the rails or overhead wires. The WX25T is the fastest and most modern variant to date. There are many different types of WX25T, many looking like any other type of passenger car, while others have a large section of the body able to be folded back. The version HaoMiZhiZao have built features a pantograph and a huge array of cameras and lasers mounted to the roof of the car. Other differences that can be seen are observation windows on the end, sides or roof. They can be found running on dedicated maintenance trains and occasionally on a regular passenger train. (Note due to having not seen the specific model in question, the photo is a different version of the WX25T)
HaoMiZhiaZao (translates as "made in millimeters", or similar) is a new company who have made possibly the best passenger car in the history of Chinese model railways. It is of course not a common passenger car type and one of these would be plenty for most layouts. It will suit any modern railway - the white versions from around 2008 and the green version from 2015 onwards. They are a plastic model, packed with features and details with great performance. Overall there isn't a lot to dislike about these cars. They are expensive at around 230-250US each, but possibly the best on the market and certainly a unique piece of rolling stock.
The models are extremely well packaged and come in a thick two piece cardboard box, which slides inside another brown cardboard box. They model is wrapped in a soft plastic sheet and sits inside a sleeved clear plastic clamshell surrounded by foam. The instruction sheet/schematic diagram sheet is included inside the box.
I don't really know where to start with these cars, there are simply hundreds of parts from top to bottom. Actually, let's begin there. The undercarriage has half a dozen large boxes on the under frame including water tanks, diesel tank, battery boxes, brake modules, fuse boxes, storage and auxiliary equipment. These cars brake with discs rather than the typical shoes found on earlier rolling stock and therefore there is a reduced amount of pneumatic lines and levers, but there are three air reservoirs (main, brake and auxiliary) for the brake systems. The bogies are nice one piece castings and feature shock absorbers, air bags and disc brakes on the axles. Wheels are chemically darkened. There are also a set of lasers used to detect cracks in the rail. These are non-functional of course!
The car ends have plastic corridors and the doors leading into the car have color coded door handles and heat elements in the windows. There are a great amount of very fine metal handrails, grab irons and steps. The electrical plugs are all colored individually in grey or red.
The car sides look fantastic with protruding observer windows towards the end of the car on each side. The manufacturer has made two types with the other version having said bubble window more towards the center of the car (indicated by the product number). The windows sit dead flush with the sides of the car. Door windows have very fine grates over the windows. The paint is exceptional with correct shade and size of red and blue striping and has a nice matt finish.
The big party is on the roof! Starting at one end, the air-conditioner is very nicely molded plastic with a photo-etched metal cover and good compressor fan detail. There are some very fine air ventilators, aerials, heat vents, grab irons and fine walkways with handrails. A large observation dome window sits in the middle of the car, even with windshield wipers (again, separate parts). The bank of lasers is the obvious party piece - thirty in all! All are separate parts and correctly painted. There's a pair of CCTV cameras in the center pointing up towards the overhead.
The pantograph is extremely nice - with strong spring action and fairly robust. It pops out manually and clips back into place without distorting itself, unlike many other pantographs on a number of Chinese electric locomotive models. The insulators and electric cables are very nicely made.
The interior is also superb. The cars are designed to accommodate up to eight staff in soft sleeper style accommodation (two lockable berths of four bunks) and washroom/toilet. The inner wall of the bunks is cleverly done with printed paper and looks very realistic. The interior walls are cream and doors are painted in the typical walnut color of most of the 25T soft sleepers. The main open area of the car is filled with tables, office chairs, computers and filing cabinets. Underneath the observation window is a scissor lift platform and ladder.
The cars roll spectacularly well, despite having electrical pickups for the interior lighting. The weight 203 grams each and roll on chemically darkened metal wheels.
The lighting inside is possibly the nicest I've seen to date and HaoMiZhiZao have done an amazing job with the correct color lighting and diffused perfectly throughout the car. It illuminates the highly detailed interior extremely well. The car uses a copper plate system hidden away on the inside the bogies to pick up electricity in the rails for the lighting. It is also fitted with a large capacitor to eliminate light flickering over imperfect or dirty track.
Couplers are black plastic knuckle couplers (possibly Bachmann EZmates) with NEM 762 coupler boxes which pivot as the car negotiates curves in the track. I will replace mine with Fleischmann 6515 profi couplers. They will also accept Kadee type 18,19 or 20's.