Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Review: On Track's 82 class


Finding a great HO scale ready-to-run Australian model railway locomotive isn't hard these days. With so many brilliant models available on the market by high-end quality manufacturers of Aussie trains, it almost becomes a tough question of which ones not to buy. For a small 6' x 1' bookshelf layout like Philden that only has room for a couple of locomotives to come and go as they please, I was determined that I wanted a big, modern and serious-looking double-end cab loco to work the yard and cement plant. Fortunately, a re-run of On Track Models' 82 class locomotive meant that I was soon able to put a Pacific National 82 class locomotive to work the moment that track laying was complete on Philden.

On Track Models 82 class locomotive comes highly detailed, and beautifully packaged! It retailed for $295.00.

I collected my new locomotive from Craig at the On Track Models stand at the Brisbane Model Train Show back in May 2015, before I had even purchased the track for my layout. Fast-forward to Christmas 2015, and my 82 class locomotive has already amassed a few hundred metres of actual run time on my 6' foot long layout, faultlessly cycling cement hoppers from the sidings to the cement plant and back to the platform road all while documenting the construction progress on Philden. Unfortunately for readers of this post, the model has once more completely sold-out.

The model is easily removed from the soft foam liner without the worry of any damage to the model.

The 82 class locomotive was an interesting choice to release. Introduced in 1994 in Freight Rail livery to replace New South Wales State Rail Authority's ageing fleet of diesels, they first operated all over NSW and even interstate into Melbourne and Brisbane before finding a home in coal train operation within the Hunter Valley and Illawarra areas for the next decade or so. During this time they all passed into Pacific National ownership, retaining the Freight Rail blue livery but with Pacific National decals applied beneath the cab windows. The decals didn't quite match the original paintwork however, and On Track Models made sure that their models reflected this too. Recently in 2014-15, some of the 82 class locos have been released back into Pacific National's Bulk and Rural fleet, and single locomotives may once more be found working mineral and grain trains within NSW. They have even been assigned onto Leigh Creek coal trains in South Australia. As of the end of 2015, none of the 82 class locomotives have been repainted into corporate Pacific National colours, making them the last surviving fleet of former government owned liveried locomotives in Australia.

A close up view of the detailed locomotive cab, Clyde EMD builders plate and air intake grills.

The quality of On Track Models 82 class loco extends much further than the box of course. Featuring all wheel drive pick-up, a Mashima 5 pole skew wound motor, AMRA profile wheels, twin brass flywheels, etched metal detail parts and genuine Kadee metal couplers, this thing runs well, really well when taken straight from the box. The diecast chasis gives the model a fair amount of weight, yet still has recesses to mount twin speakers if converting the model to sound equipped DCC. The body is literally easy to remove and has a 21 pin plug making DCC conversion simple. But all the technical gobbledy-goo aside, this thing is one big, modern, serious-looking engine with forward slanted cab windows that looks ready for action, all within a length of just 25.5 cm over the couplers, (something I had to take into account with limited run-around space for a locomotive in my yard). On a large room-sized layout however, 2 or 3 of these babies at the head of a long string of coal hoppers would just be the bees-knees!

The 82's headlight, marker lights, ditch lights and light-up number boards are all gorgeous, and DCC programmable.

If converting the model to DCC is high on your list, then DCCSOUND.COM has decoders available for the On Track Models 82 class loco, and the sound sample on YouTube has me wishing I was in more of a position to do this. In DCC mode, the lights are individually programmable. In DC mode, I'll just have to be content for now with them all operating at once.

A parting glance of the red marker lights as the loco reverses. Now imagine this with sound and a bit of weathering.

So after six months of running up and down on Philden, my On Track Models 82 class loco is still performing faultlessly. Nothing has broken, nothing has come loose and no strange gremlins have crept into the way it operates. It still runs the way I expect an expensive, quality locomotive to run. The wires may be slightly visible through the engine room door on one side, and the distance between the handrails above the steps on one side of the model appear a little skew-if, but it wasn't enough for me to deduct any marks from what is, or was, an impressive model. I'm just glad I got loco 8243 for my 43rd birthday before it sold-out.

 

Review Card: On Track Models NSW 82 class diesel locomotive

My Rating:

 (5/5)

Final Thoughts: It will be interesting to see how On Track's next release compares to the 82 class.

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Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil