Review: Bachmann 25th Anniversary Set

Next up for review, something a little special: The Bachmann 25th Anniversary set (25-2014). No bonus points for deciphering that complicated product code!

I’m always a little behind the times with purchases, usually buying locos that have been out a while. This set however was released just a few months ago, and with internet analysis fairly sparse, this will be my most up-to-date review yet.

Featuring a Jubilee Class and Class 47, let’s take a closer look…

Overview

Class 47

A whopping 512 Class 47‘s were built between 1962 and 1968 in Crewe and Loughborough, making them the largest fleet of any British Diesel class. They were initially fitted with a Sulzer 12 cylinder 2750 hp engine and are capable of speeds of up to 95mph. The Class 47’s were initially built in such large numbers to replace steam locos on express passenger routes.

Image by Jeff P

47 164 depicted in this set was one of two locos (the other being 47 163) reliveried in 1977 for The Queens Silver Jubilee. At the time it was based at Stratford depot in East London working The Great Eastern Mainline to Norwich.

47 164 technically still exists, although it has since been rebuilt as a Class 57 loco in 2003 and is numbered 57 305.

Jubilee Class

191 Jubilee Class locomotives were build by the LMS between 1934 and 1936 in Crewe and Derby. They were built solely for passenger express work and carried the power classification 5XP (later changed to 6P).

Image by Tony Hisgett

45552 depicted in this set was the first of the class to be built and was named ‘Silver Jubilee’ to commemorate King George V 25 years on the throne. Curiously it frequently shared this name and designation with classmate 45642. It was this loco that the Jubilee Class inherit their identity from. Prior to this they shared similarities with the LMS Patriot Class.

4 of the class are in preservation and although 45552 is not one of them, she has often been represented by other re-liveried locos.

Modelling Options

This is a one off set, with a production run of only 1000, so you’re not going to find the same locos in another pack. The set features a Class 47 in BR Blue w/ Union Jack and Jubilee Class 45552 ‘Silver Jubilee’ in BR Emblem/Green Lined. Why these two locos? Well they both depict Silver (25 year) Jubilee celebrations.

Bachmann of course make stand alone 47’s in Railfreight, InterCity Swallow and RES liveries but buying the 25th Anniversary set is the only way you’re going to get your hands on a BR Blue with Union Jack edition. If you’ve got your heart set on the Union Jack loco but don’t mind a little less detail then Lima used to produce a variant which can be found cheaply on eBay. Hornby currently make a high-end version in BR Blue/Full Yellow Ends without the Union Jack, and just to confuse things as always they do a RailRoad version in Northern Belle Pullman. There are also no shortage of passed editions and liveries on eBay that I won’t fully list here.

‘One Railways’ Class 47 in 2004. Image by Phil Scott

These locos were, and to some extent still are, workhorses on British railways. There are no shortage of running formations you can choose from, anything from BR Mrk I’s to Virgin livered Mrk III’s are suitable, along with a whole host of 60’s – present day image freight. You may wish to research which sub classes were dedicated to passenger and/or freight work. As this loco is representing a very specific time in it’s history BR Blue/Grey Mrk 1/2’s in express formations will be most appropriate.

As for the Jubilee Class, you can buy 45606 ‘Falkland Islands’ in exactly the same livery (all be it weathered), or at least you will be able to in January of next year. You’ll also be able to buy Jubilee 45664 ‘Nelson’ in the rather striking LMS Crimson + Stanier tender. These will no doubt sit alongside a few other previous releases from Bachmann in your local model shop. The same LMS livery has been popular with other manufacturers and you’ll be able to find this version from Mainline and Hornby on eBay.

Image from Ben Brooksbank

These locos were primarily designated to passenger work, and as it is being depicted in the 1935 rakes of maroon or crimson and cream Mrk I’s would be most suitable. These locos would have likely been relegated to freight work later in their lives.

Packaging:

Let’s get straight to the point. This is the best ‘packaging’ you’ll come across! Wooden case finished in a smooth mahogany varnish with silver Bachmann 25th Anniversary insignia.

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Opening the case is akin to opening up a couple of grands worth of Neumann microphone (although that might be the sound engineer in me talking).

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From within, the locos are protected by fitted foam lining.

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Lifting the lining in the lid reveals your instructions, etched name plates for 45552 and limited edition certificate. Mine is no. 956/1000.

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Both locos sit in specially formed vacuum packed plastic holders, which in turn sit snuggly into the foam. A small pocket reveals accessory bags for both locos.

My only gripe, and it really is clutching at straws, is that it would have been nice if the box was hinged in such a way that meant you could display the case upright and open.

This really blows some of Hornby’s limited edition runs out of the water! I’ll get onto the price you pay for all this lavish wooden excess later.

Pack Score: 10/10

Features

Class 47
  • NEM Pockets for your choice of coupler. Slim Tension locks supplied and fitted.
  • All wheel pickups with all axle drive.
  • Sprung plastic buffers.
  • Directional Lighting: 2 domino headcode headlights and 2 rear tail lights.
    A switch on the underside of the loco enables you to manually turn off the tail lights under DC operation.
  • Cab Lighting (both cabs).
    Also can be manually turned off under DC operation.
  • Special 1977 Union Jack Livery.
  • DCC Ready (but not fitted).
  • Bag of Accessories: Various vacuum pipes and linkages.
Jubilee Class
  • NEM Pockets for your choice of coupler. Slim Tension locks supplied and fitted.
  • 6 wheel pickup from main driving wheels.
  • Sprung plastic buffers
  • DCC Ready (but not fitted).
    DCC chip, typical to Bachmann models, can be fitted within the tender. A connecting plug to the loco is fitted.
  • Cab super detailing.
  • Openable roof vent.
  • Removable coal load.
  • Etched name plates and running numbers, to be fitted by the user.
  • Bag of Accessories: The usual brake rods and vacuum pipes alongside extended cab sides*
    *Will only work if your layout has large radii.

IMG_3756All the features you’d expect from Bachmann. The openable roof vent on 45552 is a nice touch rarely seen elsewhere. I like the addition of etched name plates too, although I’d much rather them come pre fitted. Having to fit them myself only leads to the possibility of a cock up. My Hornby Class 67 came with unfitted etched plates, and I’m starting to wonder why they do not come pre fitted? Do people like fitted them themselves as a final personal touch to the model? Answers on a postcard or in the comments box bellow! Whilst I always run locos I buy – I’m not a keep in the box kind of person regardless of availability – so I don’t know whether to keep the name plates unfitted, to preserve as much of the factory state of the anniversary set as possible, or to fit them to improve the detail.

If you’re wondering why the Class 47 doesn’t come with etched nameplates it’s because it didn’t have a running name in 1977. Although the Hornby 67 has the option for day and night lighting modes, I’ve not seen a loco with selectable tail lights before. For those, like me, who operate under DC this is a welcome addition that adds realism.

Maybe metallic buffers would have been nice on both locos, but I know some people find their pristine state too unrealistic and prefer matt finished plastic. Finally, I really like that Bachmann diesel locos of late come pre fitted with a driver. Maybe they should do this with steam too?…

Class 47 Score: 9/10
Jubilee Score: 9/10

Details & Finish

Class 47

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Starting at the front, you’re instantly drawn to the prominent red buffer beam.  This was part of the special 1977 livery and was not typical to the rest of the Class 47 BR Blue fleet. Notice the holes for the optional detailing – none of this comes factory fitted and as with a lot of locos the vacuum pipes and cables will interfere with the tension lock coupler should you choose to fit them. I expect I will add them only at one end. There’s nice riveting round the recessed windows and the wipers are fitted on. The hand rails are separately painted and sit nice and proud of the cab face. There’s a lamp hook in the centre true to life as well as warning stickers under each window pane. The slightly dull yellow I feel is a particular accurate representation of the real thing.

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Moving onto the side and check out that wonderful full height Union Jack. The hand rails are etched and recessed and the side cab window is open – interesting feature…

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The matt finish of the BR Rail/Monastral Blue is crisp and feels correctly duller in tone than other manufacturers offerings (Heljan’s 17). The under frame, fuel tanks and roof are painted silver and have been criticised for being on the glossy side. It’s unlikely the loco would ever have looked like that in real life as both roof and undercarriage would have become quickly dirtied. At first seeing a silver under frame is quite garish, but it is growing on me. The BR logo, warning signs and engine bay windows finish off an accurate profile of the Class 47.

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The axel boxes are yellow and the wheels are finished with a white trim, all of which were specially added for the Jubilee livery. The loco has the running number 47 164.

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Finally the roof has plenty of detailing including exhaust vents and see-through extractor fans. This picture really highlights the glossier finish of silver paint. All in all though, a very nicely detailed model.

Jubilee Class

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45552 with typical Bachmann steam detailing. Lots of riveting on the buffer beam, and this time it comes pre fitted with a vacuum pipe, faux coupling hook and lamp irons. There’s not actually many accessories to fit to this end of the loco.

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This loco is finished in exquisite BR Brunswick Green with red lining. Be careful with the boiler hand rails. Nicely fitted detail – but looks on the fragile side. Underneath this runs a pipe, true to it’s real life counterpart. It’s hard to spot in this picture but the loco has the name plate ‘Silver Jubilee’ (of which you can add the etched name plate mentioned earlier).

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A look at the roof with etched whistle and valves. Also note the openable cab roof!

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The tender is nicely detailed too, lots of lovely rivets and a nice transfer of the BR crest. The coal load is removable should you want to add your own.

IMG_3745

A quick look in the cab shows off it’s extra detailing. valves, control wheels, levers and the break handle are all individually painted – very nice indeed!

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A quick look at the linkages and now a word to the wise: Notice the break rods? (I think they’re break rods) – make sure your track is clear of any obstructions as these ride without much clearance to the rails and sleepers at all.

For a loco Bachmann have been making a while, this still is an excellently detailed model and stands up well against competition.

Class 47 Score: 8/10
Jubilee Class Score: 8/10

Running

Class 47

You may have heard YouTube Reviewers talking about ‘running a loco in.’ You have to assume that your box fresh train has never seen so much as a centimetre of track. You need to make sure the factory added lubrication is spread to all the moving parts within the motor workings. So to achieve this it is recommended to run your loco anywhere between 15-60 minutes in each direction without hauling stock. If ever there was a loco that needed this running in session – it’s this set’s Class 47.

Running in times vary, and I usually feel that 20-30 minutes in each direction is more than sufficient. Not every loco is the same though, and boy did this 47 need some extra time! At first it was slightly jerky, and slowed down noticeably on curves. Not to panic though, after an extended time running in, it is now as smooth as any other Bachmann Diesel. Up at speed it glides smoothly and effortlessly across the track with nothing more than a slight hum from the motor. It seems to do all this on a very low input voltage. Despite this, the directional lights remain bright and flicker free. The cab lights look great too, especially with the house lights down low.

Class 47 Run

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The loco has a good weight about it, contributing to it’s seemingly effortless ride. It’s certainly not the heaviest in my collection, but still very capable of hauling a heavily load all the same. It does slow down slightly on gradients and I think this is because the weight is over the centre of the loco rather than the bogies. This is a common trait of locos on my layout, and even with the speed decrease the 47 doesn’t loose traction nor does it detract from the overall performance.

Whilst we are talking about gradients it has suffered a few derailments on that ‘dodgy’ part of track I have – The bit where the line drops sharply away after a curve. This is a particularly bad patch of track for locos, like the 47, that have long bogie arrangements. I never punish locos too harshly for this, as it’s down to my (bad) design, but it does limit their uses to other loops. The 47, seemed destined to be one of those locos that just doesn’t work through the gradient, it constantly derailing on the same section. After a while though, I eventually found a combination and speed that seemingly prevented any derailments.

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I also noticed that the tension lock coupler gets awfully close to the buffers whilst traversing 2nd radius curves. This seems to be a bit of a common theme with locomotives at the moment, as my Hornby Class 50 suffers terrible coupling problems because of the same issue. Are manufacturers assuming we’ve all got massive lofts with gliding 4th radius curves?! I’ve found a useful trick is to force the tension lock couplers to link the ‘wrong way’ (as bellow).

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This forces the coupler into a more central position on curves, often preventing derailments. I think it may have been contributing to the gradient conundrum as well.

Class 47 Slow Speed Test

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Finally an example above of slow-speed performance under DC. This is about as slow as I can get the loco to go on a level grade. A commendable effort although probably behind the likes of my class 17 and 67. It’s worth mentioning that real life passenger variants of the Class 47 (i.e. not subclasses dedicated solely to freight) were not fitted with slow speed control at the time. So in some respects it’s performance is accurate!

Jubilee Class

Compared to the 47, 45552 was up and running in no time.

Jubilee Class 45552

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Boy Bachmann steam locos are noisey! I’ve got a 4MT, and it makes a similar racket. (The squeaking noise you hear is actually the Pullman coaches). This doesn’t bother me at all, but if you’re thinking of fitting a sound chip you’d probably prefer a blank canvas to work with! Don’t be deceived though, through all this hubub this Jubilee Class is smooth and elegant – just look at those linkage, stunning! It’s powerful too. I’ve had it pull a rake of 3 Pullmans and 3 Maunsells (i.e. not lightweight RailRoad offerings) on a level grade as if they weren’t even there.

Notice I say level grade… This loco really struggles to put it’s power down on the gradients!

45552 Slip Test

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This particular part of layout presents such a challenge that the wheels begin to slip and 45552 battles to pull even itself up. I’m not really sure why, as it’s pretty heavy. I’d go as far as saying heavier than the Class 47, but I bet the curvature of the track doesn’t help. Also remember that there are only 6 driving wheels, all closely spaced together where diesels typically will have 8 or 12 over 2 bogies. Having said that, none of my other steam locos suffer this badly.

You could of course give it the beans over the gradients, but I then feel that the speed becomes unrealistic.

For this loco slow-speed on gradients is a bit out of the question, so how about DC slow-speeds on level grades?

45552 Slow Speed Test

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Well it’s OK, this is about as slow as I can get it with coaches in tow whilst the speed remains constant. As a general rule steam models don’t perform as well as diesels when it comes to slow speed. This makes sense – there’s many more moving parts putting up a resistance to the tractive effort. Don’t be fooled though, there are great slow-speed steamers out there, and in this instance Bachmann’s Jubilee Class falls way behind the likes of Hornby’s Tornado.

No coupling issues on the Jubilee Class, but like many locos, I’ve found it needs my point-check-rail-modifications to prevent aid smooth running. No issues with derailments on gradients unlike other steamers though which is really good.

Class 47 Score: 7.5/10
Jubilee Class Score: 6/10

Price

I bought this set from Invicta Model Rail in Sidcup for £212. That seems pretty steep but think about what you get… Even though both of the model’s toolings are now getting on a bit… Stand alone Class 47’s are still retailing for around £90-£110. Older Jubilee Classes can cost a little less, around £75 maybe, but newer releases can still go for around the £100-£120 mark. If you were to say that each model would cost you £100 to buy on it’s own, that’s only £12 for the privileged of a limited edition run with a fancy wooden box. Comparing the Bachmann 25th anniversary set to some of Hornby’s limited edition runs – say the Olympic sets, or the Imperial Airways pack – I don’t feel like I’m paying through the nose just to have one off loco(s).

Pack Score: 8/10

Conclusion

So would I recommend the locos? The 47 – definitely. Get one. Even if it’s not in this set. The Jubilee Class? – Hmmm, don’t get me wrong, I like it and I’m sure others will love it too… But I do think there are better locos out there for the price. It’s less detailed but Hornby’s Tornado is as smooth, elegant and powerful whilst being much quieter and much more capable at slow speed running than 45552.

Would I recommend the set? Absolutely! When you break it down it’s great value, with two cracking looking locos (and let’s be fair who doesn’t want a 47 sporting a Union Jack) in a presentation box that blows the competition out of the water. Well done Bachmann, you’ve got this absolutely spot on.

Overall Pack Score: 8.35/10

25-2014 Pass

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