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1:87 Scale


6.5 - 7.5/10*

SY Class 2-8-2

Bachmann China

Prototype Information

The SY 2-8-2's were the smaller of the three major standard class of steam locomotives in modern China. They enjoyed a 40 year production run, with the bulk being turned out by Tangshan Locomotive Factory. They were based on the Japanese built JF6 class Mikados. They were very versatile locomotives and employed in industrial service all over the country. They were well liked amongst crews for their easy operation and maintenance. Many survived well into the 2000's and used in industry and mining and some there is at least two examples still in use as of 2020 in the far north east.


General Information

The SY's were released in late 2003, months after the proposed release date - which seems to have become a continuing trend from Bachmann! There has only been one production run to date with 4 versions, two Chinese and two US, in what appears to have been a bit of an ultimately failed probe into the US market, given that it took a very long time for them to sell out there. I think many of the US versions were retrofitted with decoders to improve sales some time in 2008. The Chinese versions sold a little quicker, but certainly far longer than the QJ's ever took.



(First Series)

The Chinese SY's (#0540 & #1742) came in a thick cardboard box with a thin cardboard sleeve with display window. The inner portion is a plastic clam shell with clear plastic sleeve. The box contains warranty information, and instruction sheet with diagrams and any applicable add-on details.   

The USA lettered and undecorated version were marketed throguh Bachmann Spectrum in an oversized two piece cardboard box with a large foam filler. The model was held in the same plastic sleeved clam shell as used in the Chinese versions. 

(Second Series )

These SY's came with a thick windowless two part box and the same sleeved plastic clam shell to hold the model in place. The box contains warranty information, and instruction sheet with diagrams and any applicable add-on details.   

(Third Series)

These SY's came with the latest and final packaging from Bachmann China. The style was similar to the previous runs, but uses a much thinner cardboard and has a gold paper decorative sleeve. 


The SY's are very highly detailed models with hundreds of seperately applied parts in plastic and brass. The lettering and lining is very nice, although I find the 'red' areas to be very orange (wheels/pilots). The main flaw I can find is that there is no all-weather cab, unlike the real SY's which are completely enclosed with cab doors and flexible cover between the cab and the tender. On the model, there is a corridor section mounted to the tender which leads to nowhere and is probably designed this way owing to the complexity of the drawbar system, however if the QJ's and SY's can do it...

USA versions are fitted with boiler smoke mounted marker lights and a bell.


Add on parts

Bachmann SY's come with a few 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 and brake rigging.  


The SY's are highly responsive machines with a very slow starting speed and a very high top end speed. The motor is most likely geared in such a way in order to compensate for it's very light weight. Unfortunately being such a small engine, it's hard to imagine where any extra weight over the drivers could have gone without making the main body shell metal instead of plastic. On level trackage, the model should capably haul 10 - 15 freight cars, on even a 1% grade, this drops dramatically. On the 3% grade, it will haul perhaps 2 or 3 before the wheels start slipping.



Wheel pick up comes from the tender axles and the driving wheels on the locomotive. Current is fed to the circuit board in the tender, which is fed back to the motor and headlight in the locomotive via wires. The board in the tender has an 8 pin plug for a decoder, however disassembling said tender is a pretty complex procedure. The LED's on the US versions have a very yellow hue, which looks nothing like a real headlight, but is better than the two Chinese models which have a bizarre orange/green color.


The SY's have a plastic shell and a zinc-alloy frame. Detail parts such as steps and smoke deflectors are brass or steel and others like whistles, valves etc are plastic. The tender is semi-permanently attached to the tender with a four pronged drawbar. It can be removed fairly easily with removal of the tender shell, although this should be done with caution as the lugs on the drawbar have a tendency to snap off quite easily.  



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). A number of emails I get concern taking apart the locomotive itself. To lubricate the gearboxes, the plate can be moved from the undercarriage, but note the copper wheel pickups are also mounted to this plate. Upon removal, they will spring outward and it can be a very tricky task putting it back in without twisting them. Exercise extreme caution!!  

Coupler Conversion

The Bachmann SY 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. 

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