Bachmann has a winner with a reasonably priced, smooth running, nicely detailed generic model of a widely used first generation diesel locomotive. This is an excellent step up from a big-box retailer starter set that can hold its own on an advanced model railroad and serve as a platform for customized super-detailing projects.
Review: Bachmann Union Pacific EMD GP-7 in HO scale
by Gary Quale/photos by George Riley
Bachmann has recently released a model of the omni-present first-generation Electro-Motive GP-7 diesel locomotive with their factory-installed On-Board E-Z Command dual-mode DCC. EMD produced 2610 of these locomotives between October 1949 and May 1954. Almost every Class 1 railroad had new GP-7’s, and almost as many more lines had hand-me-downs. The sample we reviewed, Bachmann item no. 62402, was decorated as Union Pacific #116.
The Union Pacific ordered its first 30 GP-7’s in 1953. Number 116 was built in August of that year as construction number 18575 and was delivered with road number 716. The UP retired this unit in April 1978. It was sold to Precision National Corp. of Mount Vernon, Ill., in May 1978 who refurbished the unit and sold it to Naporano Iron & Metal of Newark, N.J. in November 1978. The unit was subsequently sold to the Santa Fe and rebuilt as yard slug 118.
The model is a good representation of a generic GP-7. It has all of the typical details for these locomotives in their as-delivered state and they are crisply modeled on the locomotive body and the added details, which include scale-sized tough plastic handrails. As a generic model, there are some detail shortcomings to be an exact model of the UP #116. These include the missing GP-9 style inspection openings in the panel below the walkway above the fuel tank, missing MU connector columns either side of the end platform walkways, added Mars light housings, and horns not repositioned on the long hood between the cab and the dynamic brake blister. But for a basic ready-to-run generic model, these minor flaws are forgivable, and provide the basis for a modeler’s own research and customizing.
The painting on the model is evenly applied and has very crisp edges on the stripes between different colors. The black edged lettering is also very well done. The lettering includes very small yet distinct UP heralds and EMD builder’s plates below the cab. Unfortunately, this modern scheme was not used on the GP-7’s while they were on UP rails. The UP began using large 20" lettering in 1975, but an exception was made for the GP-7’s, 9’s and 20’s due to limited space on the side of the long hoods. Another error is the gray painted trucks, as this color did not replace aluminum until 1984.
Bachmann has provided a high quality mechanism for this model. The loco is powered by a skew-wound can motor with two flywheels which drive all 8 wheels on the model, that also all provide electrical pick-up. The RP25 wheel sets conformed to the NMRA standards gauge. E-Z Mate Mark II couplers are factory installed. A pair of constant intensity directional yellow-white LEDs light the headlights at the ends of the short and long hoods. The number boards are not illuminated. The Bachmann GP-7 comes with a factory-installed dual-mode DCC decoder connected by a standard 8-pin plug. In the DCC mode, F-0 turns the headlights on and off, and F-1 will dim them for meets.
The Bachmann GP-7 with its cast metal chassis weighs 14.9 oz., and produced a drawbar pull 1.7 oz. without slipping. Out of the box, our sample began to crawl at a smooth 0.5 smph at 4.5v and 0.04 A in the DC mode. Full speed running light was 65 smph at 12v and 0.12 A, which is dead-on for the rated maximum speed for these locomotives with their 62/15 gear ratio. Just as an experienced engineer could better this maximum under the right combination of grade, curvature, train and weather, so can the modeler, especially when typical DC power packs will deliver 16v or more, especially with low current motors such as provided by Bachmann. Current draw at 12v with the locomotive stalled and wheels slipping was 0.35 A. In the DCC mode with a Digitrax control system, speed step 1 yielded 0.6 smph and speed step 99 produced 88 smph.
All in all, Bachmann has a winner with a reasonably priced, smooth running, nicely detailed generic model of a widely used first generation diesel locomotive. This is an excellent step up from a big-box retailer starter set that can hold its own on an advanced model railroad and serve as a platform for customized super-detailing projects.