KCR WD Austerity Class 2-8-0
A dozen of these ex-War Department Austerity's 2-8-0's were sent to Hong Kong between 1946 & 1947 and served with the Kowloon Canton Railway (KCR) in Hong Kong for over a decade.
The last fire was dropped in September 1962 which brought a close to steam operations in Hong Kong. A handful of these locomotives were converted to oil burners. Bachmann's model represents the class (which had no official class name) leader, #21.
This beautiful model was a commemorative model by Bachmann China in year 2000. It used the same tooling as the Bachmann Branchline UK outline Austerity's with some unique details and livery to represent the KCR examples. 1000 units were produced and many seemed to linger in shops for about 5 years, but now only occasionally present themselves on eBay.
The scale of this model is 1:76 OO scale, and while it will of course run on HO scale track, it does appear somewhat oversized when next to much of my other rolling stock 1:87 HO scale. Nevertheless, there is a plethora of Hong Kong buses in 1:76 scale which could be an interesting project for someone.
The models came with a superb timber box, with plenty of foam packaging with certificate and other paper work containing the locomotive history. Despite the quality of the packaging, great care should be taken when removing the locomotive out of the foam insert as there are some stiff plastic pieces glued onto the foam to hold the locomotive in place (and possibly protect the headlight), but if you lift it straight out, you will snap the headlight off on said plastic piece! The easiest way is to gently coax it out cab first. There is a similar method for the tender.
Details are typical of Bachmann Branchline models of the late 1990's, i.e. rather good with some slight application issues. Much of the piping is free floating and I've noticed pops out of it's housing when handled in the incorrect way.
Some of the unique features to the KCR models are the Westinghouse breaking gear, window shutters, headlights and the pilot. The color scheme is very smart in KCR green, however I have heard that the smokebox door was painted white, while Bachmann has painted theirs gray. The coal load in the tender is removable. Braking gear is included in the box for installation by the user.
The 2-8-0 is a very strong puller, smooth quiet and responsive. The tender free floats off a drawbar which is pretty easy to connect (less so to disconnect).
Electrical pickup is provided through a series of brass pick ups on the locomotive and tender. Tender pickup is solely for the tender light. I have not yet pulled the locomotive apart for DCC conversion (and probably won't unless I get a real urge to run it!).
The locomotive is fitted with Bachmann EZ-mate plastic knuckle couplers. These will be a very easy process to replace with KD couplers - either standard #5's, or for 58/158's for more prototypical scale heads.