Bachmann (China) GE B23-7

Introduced: 2006

This model (along with their simultaneously released H16-44 model) appears to be Bachmann's effort to introduce a new strata of quality and pricing to N scale. The detailing and performance are clearly head and shoulders above the "cheapie trainset crap" locos for which Bachmann has been famous (at least in their non-Spectrum line). And although not quite up to the level of quality that we see from the high end manufacturers like Atlas and Kato, the pricing on these models is quite reasonable, no doubt making them attractive to modelers who aren't quite as fussy as their rivet-counting brethren.

The chassis is all metal, split-frame and decently hefty. The fuel tank is simply painted onto the chassis. The motor is closed-sided 3-poler. There are no flywheels. All wheels provide pickup (no traction tires), with current transferred to the chassis by way of bronze wipers on the trucks. All wheels are geared and all gearing is plastic. A DCC-Friendly PC board on top of the chassis controls LED directional lighting. Couplers are shell-mounted non-operating knuckles. Wheels are blackened and low-profile.

Despite their similarities, this model's chassis is not exactly the same as the one used in the H16-44 (this one being a bit longer).

Mine runs very nicely - smooth, quiet, and responsive at all throttle levels. Slow speed creep is outstanding, as is the pickup. Pulling power is decent. In fact, apart from the very high top end speed (which has never been a big concern for me anyway), I can't really find any flaws with the way this model runs. The looks are quite respectable as well, with sharp paint and nice, skinny handrails. Sure, if you do a side-by-side comparison with an Atlas B23-7, you're going to see plenty of minor differences in the detailing and proportions. But again, if you're not a big time rivet-counter, it's probably not going to worry you too much.

Out of the box, these locos come with one-piece knuckle couplers (Rapidos are also included should you want to switch). Installing Micro-Trains couplers looks to be a relatively simple operation. Like other Bachmann diesels of similar vintage, these models are at least "DCC Friendly", if not out and out "DCC Ready". There is no simple drop-in decoder option, but they do have a removeable weight where you could place a decoder, as well as having contacts on the lightboard for DCC wiring.

Overall, a very respectable model. And given the relatively low price, one that should be able to find some sort of niche in the N scale locomotive pantheon.

Note - Bachmann generally refers to these models using the dual designation "B23-7/B30-7". However, this isn't really correct. Yes, GE's B23-7 and B30-7 are virtually identical in most respects, however they do differ insofar as the B30-7 has more engine cylindars than the B23-7 (and thus, have two more engine compartment doors than the B23-7). The upshot of which is that all of the Bachmann models are actually B23-7's.

To remove the shell, use a couple of toothpicks (or small screwdrivers or whatever) to pry the shell away from the chassis. It should lift up and off at that point (with maybe just a little finagling).

Grade: A

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