Locomotive Roster: SBB Class 450; Fleischmann 775301
This locomotive, and its matching cars, quickly became a favorite of mine. I had the good fortune to spend several days in the beautiful city of Zurich in 2007, and during my time at there this was one of the striking trains that I had the pleasure to see in person. I was very pleased to see that Fleischmann has produced not only the locomotive, but the matching double deck cars.
The locomotive feels very solid, and if this (along with the V100) are any indication of the type of quality that Fleischmann produces, then I am very impressed. It runs like a charm. It is a powerful and smooth runner, I am really not sure what else can be asked of these N scale locomotives.
This engine was also a textbook example of how easy it should be to install a decoder. Of course it comes with the wonderful NEM 651 socket, and a straight-out-of-the-box Lenz Gold Mini D fit perfectly and was easily programmed. No problems fitting, or having to go with a version with a wire harness, etc...
I did learn something about this locomotive. While the Class 450 was not my first Electric Loco (that was the Thalys), it was the first locomotive I had that power capable pantographs. When I first put it on the track, I could not get it to work. Before I panicked, I sent a quick mail off to the hobby ship where I purchased it and was pleased to get a quick reply to check the screw at the bottom of the locomotive that selects between track or catenary power. I checked and it was set to the pantograph and was no problem to fix! It does seem that the pantographs reach much higher than the Thalys (which has decorative, non-working pantographs) as this is the principal locomotive that I have to lower the pantographs when going under the Kato Elevated Station (see this post for more details on that).
Another observation. The double-deck matching passenger cars are on the long side, about 164mm long, which was a problem with the Kato Unitrack single track viaduct walls (see the same post). Interesting that the same set was the source of two 'incompatibilities' with some of my track and structures. However, these are completely minor inconveniences at best.
My sole complaint, and you can be the judge of this by looking at the photos, is the very weak LED lights in both the locomotive and the control cab passenger car. Not sure why Fleischmann selected to go with an arrangement that has such dim lighting, but it is sort of distracting and is my one disappointment. If I ever have the time and motivation, this is a prime candidate for an LED upgrade project!
Other than that, an excellent job by Fleischmann!