The Bachmann Austerity 2-8-0
Bachmann 2-8-0

By David Halsall
Bachmann Branch-Line 32-250 ‘OO’ WD Austerity (NS Class 4300 ‘Jeep’) 2-8-0 4310. Approximate price £100.
Members may be surprised to find a review of an ’OO’ scale locomotive in Nieuwsbrief. Bachmann’s excellent model of the WD 2-8-0 is indeed produced in mainly British guises: BR black with the choices between two crests and several numerical identities as well as BR (Western Region) and LNER versions, weathered and un-weathered, and Longmoor Military Railway blue and red. The welter of WD variants also includes further locomotives for overseas service with the 21st Army Transport Corps, the Kowloon and Canton Railway (Hong Kong), and of greatest interest here, one of the substantial fleet of ‘Jeeps’ which served Dutch railways from c.1944 until their final replacement in 1958. These were allocated to the number series 4301-5307, and joined other imported British-built locomotives such as the WD 2-10-0s and the J94 Saddle Tanks in war service.

The model is constructed of a mix of metal and plastic parts and is noticeably heavy, giving good adhesion. This, and the well-balanced chassis and motor provide a flexibility and smoothness in use - the loco is capable of slow shunting speeds as well as of maintaining good consistency on longer runs. Thus it is well suited to its prototype’s role in moving heavy freight. The appearance and detailing of the model is excellent. The impression of size is well captured and the wealth of detail and its accuracy is impressive. I have seen nothing but praise for the models in the regular magazines. The WD 2-8-0 sets a very high standard for future models to follow.

Number 4310 further shows the same quality in containing a sachet of additional parts, in addition to vacuum pipes, front steps, cylinder drain cocks, etc, to enhance its own distinctive features. The chimney extension, head and taillights, and ladder to the left side of the boiler, together with brake cylinders on the right of the smokebox most distinguish the engine’s appearance compared with the British versions. Like the UK locomotives, the motion and wheel trims are effectively blackened and a simple draw bar allows the choice of two positions for the tender coupling. Paintwork is very well finished, with clear lining and legible printing. The realistic looking diamond-shaped builder’s plate is just identifiable through a strong lens (x10) as one of the North British Locomotive products.

The locomotive is fitted, appropriately, with standard continental couplings. If it is intended to store the model in the box, note that the polystyrene ‘cradles’ supplied need some trimming to fit the extended chimney.

Two controversial aspects remain for discussion. The price of c£100 may seem high compared with c£75, for which the British versions can be bought in the UK. It might be argued that this is a high price differential to pay for a few extra parts. However, compared with the retail price of European steam locomotives manufactured and sold by other European firms, the NS 4300 2-8-0 appears good value. Hence, a group of Dutch modellers view the model thus: ‘yes, we know that they are 4 mm scale rather than 3.5 mm, but they are nice models, and very reasonably priced!’ (Hans Louvet, 2000, p.423) The second element for query is that of scale - if only they were built to HO! It is a pity they are not, but as a big engine the difference seems to show less with HO stock than I expected and I therefore agree with Hans Louvet. All we need now is a Belgian version with its number in serif on the smokebox!
References, ‘Jeep’ 2-8-0s:
Van Wijck Jurriaanse, N.J., 1972, Stoomlocomotieven van de Nederlandse Spoorwegen, Rotterdam: Uitgevers Wyk, pp. 71-74.
Louvet, H., 2000, Railway of the month. Vinkeveen, A small Dutch country station modelled in HO scale, Continental Modeller 22/10, pp.418-423.

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