At long last the Bachmann On30 Whitcomb bogie diesel has arrived so I guess its time for a bit of a review.
The first thing you will notice is the weight with it tipping the scales at 700grams. Once you have got it out of the box, which is a new variation of the clam shell packaging that removes the lid section totally allowing you to lift the loco out, you will be struck by what a solid and chunky model this is.
Also in the packaging are additional details of bells and horns but more of these later. The documentation is under a false cover in the base of the box.
I suppose the first thing to do is to place it on the track and try it and this is where you encounter your first bit of fun. The heading photo shows all the details of the trucks rods and so on but the reality is a little different. In anything other than studio lighting the trucks exist in a gloom of blackness and its hard to spot the flycranks and rods let alone the other fine detail. Getting all the wheels on the track can be a challenge unless you have one of those re-railing ramp tools.
Once its on the track and on a DC power supply the loco runs very smoothly but with quite a slow acceleration but it will do it whilst pulling a house down. Like most recent Bachmann models the default appears to be to have both headlights on with DC. On DCC it comes with its ID set at 3 as usual and you can alter the headlights in the settings of the decoder. I have only run mine a little bit but I am impressed with it.
To return inspecting the model turning it over reveals the bogies are powered on each axle so the rods are cosmetic and along for the ride. You can also see that the cosmetic sides were fitted before the rods and cranks as the axles poke through solid holes.
The sideframes also extend well beyond the bogies towards the centre of the loco. Also on the underside are two almost low relief air tanks. These clip off to reveal the four screws that hold the body on.
As you lift the body away it come off with the headlight wires twisted around. Spinning the body untangles them and gives a bit more slack.
One end of the circuit board has the multi pin connector for the sound module on it. This should be a simple press fit but the dedicated Whitcomb sound modules haven’t arrived at the time of writing this.
Speakers are built in to each end of the model placing them just behind the grilles. Without a sound module I can’t really report on how they sound.
I have already gone further with taking mine apart and I will report on what is happening to it later but for now I can say that the chassis is very well engineered with separate brass bearings at each end of the worms, good quality gears and bearings on each axle.
If you want to delve further into the model the cab interior and cab roof can be removed. (I have done that already)
I nearly forgot these but they are a little unusual with this model. Bells and Air Horns are provided to mount on the bonnets but unusually you have to drill holes in the metal body to fit them. The instructions do guide you as how and where to do this but its not the straightforward clip fit.
Four liveries are available. Initial sales suggest that the all yellow model  is the favourite and will be the hardest to find.
Well I guess the first question is “would I buy one?” The answer to that is a resounding yes. You are getting a lot of loco here for your £230 as its very well detailed and a super runner with a well engineered chassis.
Its a bit disappointing that they couldn’t arrange for the sound modules to arrive at the same time as the loco but that is typical of Bachmann. If you want one of these diesels buy it now don’t wait until the sound modules arrive as the chances are the loco’s will have sold out by then.
The simplest things you can do to make a model “your” model is a simple bit of weathering. The very simplest I have done here is with a white weathering powder on a stiff brush which is worked until nearly empty and then just flicked in the edges of the cranks and rods to add a little highlight. I did the springs as well. A bit more time with a range of coloured weathering powders would make all the details stand up a little. If you want a more British approach then get the paint out as red rods and cranks would look smart
I suppose the sky is the limit. My loco is in bits so you’ll have to wait and see what I come up with. Definite is that this loco will be converted to On3. I fancy different shape flycranks and a curved rather than peaked cab roof. I am also thinking of shortening the bogie frames to leave the centre under the loco clear so that I can fit a fuel tank and some larger air receivers.
Action at last?
Don’t get too excited, not a lot has happened. However, I was asked for dimensions so here is a plan view
The only real action with the Whitcomb has been the 3D CAD model of rods and cranks.
I did this as an aside to some other CAD work I was doing for another project which needed bulking out a bit when I got to point of ordering the castings.
Trouble is this casting supplier thinks we all want shiny and insist on a coat of lacquer so this will get abrasive blasted before I use it on the loco