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Graham Farish Class 90 DCC Installation


Released in late 2022, the all-new Graham Farish Class 90 ac electric locomotive model is a major development for ‘N’ gauge modelling. It fills an important gap in the rosters of West Coast, East Coast and Anglia mainline modellers from 1987 to present day, both freight and passenger operations.

New model impressions

Bachmann (Kader Industries) gained an ‘N’ gauge Class 90 model when it acquired the Graham Farish business in 2001. The model received a degree of upgrading, continuing to be released for a few years. It slowly fell behind newer model development because of its basic body shell fitted with a one-size-fits-all pantograph and front fairings attached to the bogies. There was no DCC interface or running lights of any kind fitted to the model.

The new Class 90, whilst a long time in the works, is a dramatic improvement over the old model in terms of electronics and the drive alone. It captures the shape and personality of the Class 90 well, with excellent detail definition. Livery application, on first inspection, is sharp and well applied, although the first sessions in the studio has revealed a couple of ragged paint edges and some unevenness of number application, not immediately visible at normal layout viewing distances.

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Brand new Class 90s in ‘N’ gauge from Graham Farish. From original Railfreight Distribution livery to Freightliner G&W. Both models are fitted with NEXT18 DCC decoder sockets.

The new Class 90 is lined up for a comprehensive review in the April issue of Rail Express Magazine (REM228) which gives time to test the models and examine them the usual Rail Express Modeller way.

Both of the tested models represent opposite ends of the locomotive’s history with No. 90037 (371-781) in Railfreight Distribution livery and Freightliner G&W No. 90047 (371-785). They are priced at £194.95 each. Bachman also released the model in InterCity, Virgin Trains and Rail Express Systems liveries at the same time. www.bachmann.co.uk.

Decoder fitting

To test the models as part of the review process, a NEXT18 decoder was fitted: a Lenz Silver NEXT18 decoder being chosen, although Bachmann offers a suitable decoder too. To complete the project, tweezers and a small cross-head screwdriver are required. The model should be placed on a soft foam mat to protect the livery and small fittings. Note the four screws that should be released to remove the body. They are inboard of the four similar screws that hold the front fairings and close coupling cams in place.

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‘N’ gauge modellers will be delighted with the new Graham Farish Class 90 which is an important addition to the range of overhead ac locomotives for those of us modelling electrified mainlines. The masts and gantries on the editor’s ‘N’ gauge layout were built using brass kits and parts from N Brass Locos (www.nbrasslocos.co.uk).
The bogies pull out of the locomotives chassis to clear the way to releasing the four bodyshell screws.
Note that the four tiny crosshead screws that secure the body to the chassis are the innermost ones. The outer ones hold the fairings in place.
The body slides off easily and can be placed to one side whilst the decoder is fitted. Note the use of sprung contacts to supply power from the main circuit board to the body shell lighting circuits. The built-in speaker is also fitted to the body and has sprung contacts too. There are no linking wires to get in the way.
The large orange analogue board is unplugged from the NEXT18 socket in the top of the circuit board. It is stored in the model’s box in case a change back to conventional analogue control is needed.
The new NEXT18 decoder is orientated and gently pressed into the socket until it clicks into place. A sound decoder can be fitted in exactly the same way with no speaker wire soldering required. Pop the bogies back in the chassis and test the decoder installation on a DCC programming track. If all is well, remove the bogies to allow the body to be refitted and secured with the retaining screws. The bogies are clipped back in place once again ready for testing.
A unique address is chosen for the model. In this case, 9037 is probably the most logical one or if a two-digit address is suitable, consider 0037, the last four digits of No. 90037. Initial testing found the model to be a smooth running locomotive, although some remapping of the Lenz Silver NEXT18 decoder functions is required to ensure all the lighting works as intended.

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