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Review of the Bachmann Branchline Blue Riband Lord Nelson class

LN Class

Class leader - Nº850 Lord Nelson.

image courtesy of Bachmann

 

Introduction:

First introduced by Bachmann in 1992 their model of Maunsell's top passenger express locomotive was a regular in their catalogue up until 2002 after which it has only appeared again in 2008 and 2009/10. Despite the gap in production and the progress of other models in the interim the model has not been retooled in anyway, only the coupling has been changed for the newer slim line type (but not in NEM pockets). The latest 2009/10 release has a better finish to the Brunswick Green and finer lining.

Although one of the more detailed models when first introduced, it is now showing its age to a certain extent as the bar has continually risen over the last few years with ready to run models such as the Bachmann N and Hornby's Q1, M7, T9, Schools and N15.

Due to the chimney being a separately applied component, effectively two basic body styles have been issued to date, firstly with original Maunsell style chimney and secondly with a representation of a Bullied Lemaitre Chimney. Both versions have the flat fronted middle cylinders due to slightly longer smokebox as modified by Bulleid commencing in June 1939.
Only one tender version has been produced which is the high sided extended coal space version. This means that the version 31-404 Nº855 Robert Blake in post 1931 Maunsell Green with original style chimney is only correct for the period between August to November 1938 (although technically she should not have the Bulleid style cylinders yet). While the locomotive itself is pretty much to scale, when compared to scale drawings the tender is nearly 4mm too short between the rear bogie pivot centre and the rear buffer beam.<.p>

The chassis is of the original Bachmann die cast split chassis design which although fitted with a large 3 pole can motor provides smooth and powerful running. Pick ups are via the main driving axles only, neither the font pony truck (also fitted with split axles, which can be prone to coming apart) or tender wheels are fitted with pick ups. The wheels on the front pony truck also have quite thick and obvious side rims and the lack of cylinder drain pipework also accentuates this fact. The rim sides benefit from the addition of a little paint (although on the latest release these rims and those of the main driving wheels have been chemically blackened).

The detailing on the model when compared to today's expected standards is average with moulded smokebox lamp irons and on the tender rear. The locomotive front steps are missing from the model, however tender steps are provided for the purchaser to fit although due to the tender length issue the rear tender steps can impede the minimum radius that the model will transverse as they will foul the rear bogie movement.

It should also be noted that for on some of versions of 31-407 Nº856 in Bulleid Malachite the lettering and number decals are in gold rather than yellow although the lining is correctly yellow.

 
LN Class

LN Class

photographs by Graham Muspratt

N.B. Please note that Graham's models have had replacement chimneys, weathering and in the case of Nº862 has been repainted into wartime black.
 
A number of simple improvements can be made to the model to improve its look and update it a little:
  1. As already mentioned above painting the rim sides of the front bogie wheels and maybe even the main driving wheel rim sides too.
  2. The missing lamp irons can be added on the front and those moulded on the tender rear replaced from either thin brass or even cut down 'Bambi' staples.
  3. Bachman's representation of the Bulleid wide diameter Lemaitre Chimney has not really captured the shape, let alone the fact that it is solid, very well.
    The Chimney is a separately applied item and drilling down though the middle of the chimney and the lug that holds it on to the boiler with simply allow the removal and easy replacement by a brass one (available from Markits Model Railway Products) which improves the look no end. If nothing else drilling out the middle and reaffixing with glue the original Bachman chimney is an improvement on its own.
  4. The loco to tender coupling is a simple plastic peg protruding from the front of the tender then hook under the back of the locomotive rear framing. This does leave quite a large gap and can sometimes allow the tender to uncouple from the loco over areas or slightly uneven track. One simple cure for both issues is to slip over the peg a short (3mm or so) length of tube cut from the top end of a biro pen insert as this increases the diameter and length of the peg therefore bring the tender closer to the locomotive and also prevents the uncoupling tendency.
  5. Fabricate and fit front steps and also possibly the fitting of drain pipework from fine copper wire
  6. The simple addition of real coal in to the tender to cover the moulded coal load.
  7. The addition of other detailing items such as Southern engine headsignal discs, crew and fireirons etc.
LN Class

photograph by Graham Muspratt

Text from Graham Muspratt.

Bachmann Lord Nelson Class variations

Overview of the prototype

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This page was created 24 September 2011

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