JS Class 2-8-2
The JS's were the middleweights of China's three standard steam locomotives. They were scattered all over the country and deployed in heavy industry and secondary mainline work. Many lasted well into the mid 2000's and a handful still survive today, working the coal trains at Sandaoling in Xinjiang province (slated to finish in 2021). Almost 2,000 of these engines were built at various locomotive factories. Bachmann have based their model JS on the later Datong Locomotive Factory's JSb variant which had many improvements, notably with the running gear featuring a single slide bar.
The arrival of the JS filled the final gap in the three standard modern Chinese steam locomotives. Six road numbers were offered, including an example shipped to the USA direct from the factory. The locomotives generally speaking are very well built and good performing models.
The JS's have a plastic shell and a zinc-alloy frame providing a fairly decent amount of weight. Detail parts such as steps are brassand the front part of the cowling are brass, while most other bits such as whistles, valves etc are plastic. The tender is semi-permanently attached to the locomotive by drawbar. All driving wheels and tender wheels provide electric pickup and cables ferry power from the wheels and headlight to the circuit board housed in the tender (can be unplugged if separating).
Two new JS's were surprisingly released in late 2015, including a much welcomed smoke deflector version. The other version was another twin headlight version.
The models come with the newer Bachmann China 2 piece cardboard box. with a two piece inner plastic clam shell. There was a small separate piece of inner material designed to position the chimney in place.
The second series of JS were given a packaging overhaul in the latest (and final) corporate style. The box looks nicer with its gold paper sleeve, but unfortunately a thinner cardboard is used. The internal packaging was largely the same.
The cowling around the smoke stack is sheet metal which looks great compared to the thick cowling of Bachmann's QJ and also provides some of us with an easy option of customizing our locomotives (some locomotives had the cowling around the chimney removed). There are a stack of tiny little details like fine steps, air horns, side cab lights which are very nicely done indeed. In fact the only details that I have found that are incorrect are a series of small steam pipes on the left hand side of the boiler which run underneath the boiler bands! (See photo below)
Bachmann JS's come with a number of spare add-on parts for the owner to apply if so wished. Included are a bag of real crushed coal to add onto the plastic coal load for the tender for added realism, brake rigging, re-railers and staff receivers.
Plastic model steam locomotives will always struggle to match their diesel counterparts as their is far less provision for weight just isn't there. However, I think these are the most powerful Chinese steam models made (at time of review), being a fraction bit more than the 'Zhu De' QJ 2-10-2 model (and later) which had an improved drive system. Gratefully received are the low wheel flanges, which is most likely done as the clearances between wheels are so limited. They run very smoothly, although some have particularly noisy motors.
The circuit board is housed inside the tender. The tender shell is clipped on to the chassis and can be separated by inserting some toothpicks or similar next to each of the lugs (small indents).
The wheel pickup is taken from the drivers and tender wheels. The tender wheels have a three-prong wiper pick up system on both axles, the same as used on the later runs of Bachmann's QJ locomotives. There is plenty of room in the tender for a standard HO scale decoder, and even a provision for a speaker and sound decoder.
The Bachmann JS comes fitted with Bachmann EZ-mate knuckle couplers. They look OK, but I much prefer swapping these out for Kadee couplers for years of fault free operation. The rear coupler will require an NEM fitting while the front coupler is a more standard coupler box with screw and plate.
My JS's are fitted with #17's on the rear (although #18, 19, 20's will also work if you require longer shanks). A sharp hobby knife may be required to shave a tiny amount of plastic from the front of the coupler box to allow the KD coupler to clip in place. The front couplers are much easier and I equip mine with #153's - an easy drop in replacement. The 153's have scale coupler heads for better aesthetics and have self-centering whiskers fitted to the coupler so no spring plate is required. Other types such as #5, 58, 158, 156 will also work amongst others.