Sunday 27 December 2009

Bachmann BR Std. Class 3MT - a layman's review.....

I like many have really been looking forward to this release of what is a very useful and attractive workmanlike engine.

In ready to run form, the nearest prototype we’ve had to this is probably the Bachmann Ivatt Class 2 tank which despite being a good model in its day is now getting a little long in the tooth.

Enter the Bachmann BR Std. 3MT 2-6-2; the first thing I noticed was the new style of smart packaging which allows one to see the actual model without having to open the box. The way this has been done is very innovative, though I must admit that it took me a couple of minutes to work out how to get in - the clear sleeve confusing me!

First impression is the super fine paint job, the green having a wonderful freshly polished look about it with very finely executed lining in finest Swindon style. Examining the locomotive in greater detail I thought that maybe I had some grease from my dinner on my hands, but no, the chassis is very heavily lubricated with some kind of light machine oil with appears to get everywhere. I guess this is to ensure the fine valve gear and other moving parts have minimal friction – maybe a tad overdone with this particular example.

The locomotive is very finely detailed, and if you’re comparing it to the old Ivatt Class 2 tank, this is a totally different beast – it looks absolutely stunning with the level of delicate detail and finish possibly setting it above what could be achieved with even the finest crafted kit.

As for strict millimetre accuracy I won’t comment because I’m not a ‘loco-ist’, but to me it captures the feel of the real thing perfectly, with the ¾ rear view being particularly attractive.

After adding the detail pack (which I have to say was a doddle even after a couple of pints of ale) it was time to run the loco in. Most will test the running before adding the detail pack just in case it's duff and needs to be returned, I rarely use common sense when it comes to model railways!

Last night my circle of track was laid (3rd radius set-track is about as tight as one can go with the front steps added) and the pretty little locomotive was given a good running-in to get everything to bed in nicely. After about an hour of silky smooth gliding around the circle of track in both directions, it suddenly ground to a halt. I thought at first the cat had swiped the locomotive, but no, the eccentric crank on one side had somehow or other come adrift and could be seen swinging from the expansion link even though the retaining screw was still in situ.After bit of muttering and the use of a small screwdriver, I managed a successful reassembly (with a dash of cyano for good measure which will no doubt void the guarantee) and all is now well. In time it will be interesting to read whether anyone else suffers this problem.

Eccentric crank aside, which is down to poor assembly; you may have read recently in the modelling press about that maybe RTR is becoming too delicate? Until now I dismissed those letters as being penned by ham-fisted people that maybe should take up another hobby like boxing or caber tossing. Whilst the new 3MT is incredible on the fidelity front, it is almost impossible not to distort or dislodge some of the detail when handling it even with utmost care.

My kit built locos are far more tolerant in this respect, because brass or nickel silver is used for the fine detail rather than flimsy low cost ABS plastic. I wonder if the manufacturers need to look at using such materials rather than plastic - many I'm sure would pay the extra few quid to have something that doesn't fall apart every time it's handled. We cannot expect or want the manufacturers to reduce the level of detail we have come to expect in recent years, but maybe the materials used need to be addressed – what do you think?


  • Pros – stunning finish and feel with amazing level of delicate detail. The model captures the look of the real thing very well. An excellent and very useful prototype which could be seen over many parts of the railway network and is equally happy on the mainline or branch whether on goods or passenger service.

  • Cons – the delicate detail comes at a price, it’s tricky to handle the model without knocking or distorting some of the fine detail. The excessive amount of lubricating oil gets everywhere and helps to attract hair and dust. Finally, the disintegrating valve gear should not really happen after just 1 hour of careful running in. As is so often the case, build quality is the weak link.

1 comment:

  1. As a fully fledged cynic I don't think that people would pay more for stronger detail made of the correct materials. Every time the price of RTR goes up there is an online holler of "It's too much money !!!". Look at the City of Truro, some GWR fans are having problems understanding that they do not have a right to this model at a price they like - in a world where people are short of food and water I find this particaully calling.

    Personally I'd be inclined to wind the detail back a bit. If you really want it, add it yourself in the correct material. If you can't, live without it, you probably won't notice anyway. This would have the handy side effect of making the same standards achievable when kitbuilding by humans.


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