- Despite the fact that its an older production model, details and graphics are very nice
- I liked the white/orange/black paint scheme
- I love the curved cab window styling on these French electrics!
The Arnold Model:
Spurweite-N. Given the time frame, this is obviously an analog model and will require conversion to operate on a DCC layout like mine! Spurweite-N also lists a another version of this model (#82471) that allegedly was sold with a digital decoder installed. I find this fairly surprising (the available data for this supposedly digital version are the sames as my analog version. While I don't dispute there was something like DCC around during the early 1990's I am a bit skeptical that Arnold would have sold an already digitized version. It might be that the catalog dates for the digital version are incorrect and they reflect the early 2000's and not the '90's, which would be more believable).
The below photo shows the fairly impressive detail (in my opinion) for a model produced in the early '90's!
The BB 25200 class was, and is, a bi-current locomotive able to operate on France's two main standards for electrical locomotives (1.5kv DC and 24kv AC - which is a legacy of France's pre-nationlization private railway standards before 1938).
These locomotives were produced for the SNCF between 1965 and 1975 and, from what I can tell, would pull both passenger and freight trains as necessary.
This electric locomotive, which I tend to think of as a 'box cab' given my American orientation, has some of the distinctive styling that I love about the SNCF - mainly those super-cool, styling curved window elements. It reminds me of the sort of decorative flourishes' that were applied to cars, buildings, and all sorts of other engineered elements back in the 'old days'.
According to Wikipedia, many of these locomotives operated (and still do?) in the Rhone-Alpes region of France, which borders Switzerland and Italy, where the largest city is Lyon.
Perhaps not surprisingly, these locomotives have put in their time and many of them are being replaced by newer EMU's, Prima's and so forth. Amazingly to me is that the last production of these was in 1975 and here, 35 years later, even a few are still in operation!
Converting to DCC:
As I mentioned above, despite the good quality of the casting and printing, this locomotive was produced before the idea of digital really took hold, so converting to DCC is somthing you'll have to do yourself (or pay someone, or find a friend!).
I was able to accomplish this using a tutorial on the French N Scale Forum, but as the original instructions are in French, I decide I would pass on the good knowledge I learned from this site and member "Oliv CTR" (Merci!) and contribute my own photos of the process.
One of the first things I learned from the French forum, is that there is not a lot of room for the decoder, so the thinnest decoder you can find is advised. I used an Ulenbrock 73400 which is only 2.4mm thick and will fit nicely within the enclosure.
"Oliv CTR" on the N Forum, I chose the same relatively 'blank' area as he did. I don't really know if there are other options, but this location works well. In the below photo, you can see some pencil lines where I planned my cuts.
Putting the loco on the track, I'm always a little relieved that anything works that I have put a soldering iron to! She runs nicely, if a bit noisely, which I attribute to a 20+ year old mechanism!
On the down side, the bulbs are extremely dim and the connections could probably use some cleaning as the light doesn't stay on consistently when in DCC mode. The lights only work in one direction as well...hmmm....something to consider.