JF

1:87 Scale

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Rating
9/10

JF Class 2-8-2

Imon

Prototype Information

JF's were the major class of steam locomotive before and during the transitional period into Communist China. The first built for Chinese railways were assembled in the United States and Japan. Production was almost immediate after Mao came to power, and most of the class survived until the 1980's when they were replaced by other modern motive power. Some examples remained in steam into the 2000's, notably those of Tonchuan and Beipiao. My example was one of the locomotives of the former, which apparently still exists today, albeit stored cold for many years now.

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General Information

Imon commisioned Ajin (Korea) to produce their brass JF's in 2008. There were both Japanese and Chinese variants. Three (Chinese) versions were available, each with significant detail differences. 2113 (Tongchuan) with spoked wheels, 2446 (Beijing 7th Locomotive Works) with boxpok wheels and highly decorated 304 Mao ZeDong with extra cowling and smoke deflectors, ala JS style. 

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Packaging

The Imon JF's come in a large two piece thick cardboard box with generous amounts of foam to protect the model. The tender and locomotive are individually wrapped in sheet plastic to protect the detail parts. 

Details

Typical Ajin quality, i.e. perfect! While the cost of brass models is becoming harder to justify with the ever improving plastic models, Ajin have included some very smart details. Some nice touches are the simulated water in the tender under the water hatch, individually painted steam gauges, ultra crisp lettering and lining, etc. The cab includes window glazing, but there is no crew. My 2113 has a second airpump fitted for use with self dump hoppers.

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Performance

The JF is a very heavy engine with a high quality can motor and, while I have been unable to test the pulling power, it runs very smoothly and quietly through all power ranges. Electrical pickup is typical of brass locomotives with half the current being picked up through one side of the driving wheels and the other half from the tender on the the opposite side. Current is passed from the tender to the motor via the drawbar. This system is supposedly prone to problems over time, however with my intention to add sound & DCC I may rewire this with miniature plugs between the tender and loco. I had no issues running the locomotive through points..

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Disassembly

I have not disassembled the locomotive to date, and if it behaves itself, I hope I never have to! The tender shell can be lifted by removing four small screws from the under side. There is no speaker mount inside, but plenty of space inside to house a decent sized decoder and sound system. 

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Electronics

One of the downsides is the lack of circuit board in the engine or the tender. DCC operators are going to have to hard wire in a decoder. It may be possible to add an N or Z scale decoder inside the engine, although for practical purposes, it's probably going to be a lot easier to house it inside the tender. There is a bracket inside the tender for a speaker which directs the sound through the coal doors. Headlight is a standard bulb - none of this new fangled LED business here! It gives off a nice color and strength. Unfortunately there is no light in the tender (although it doesn't look overly difficult to modify this).

Coupler Conversion

The JF comes equipped with a genuine Kadee knuckle coupler on the rear so conversion won't be neccessary unless you prefer scale heads. The standard 58/158's will be perfect for the job. The front coupler is more of a display item, but appears to be a very straight forward job for those who would like a functioning coupler.