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These were the first diesel locomotives introduced into Victoria, the beginning of the end of the steam era. These are little shunters, seen around the Dynon rail terminal and elsewhere. F Class diesels were black when first delivered, then painted red before appearing in the traditional VR Blue and Gold. There is one at the Newport railway museum in V/Line Orange and Grey.

F212 is ex-SEC (like me), commencing service in April 1953 (way before me). Unlike me, it didn't reach long-service with the SEC, purchased by VR in 1959. It was decommissioned in 1986 and now works for the Victorian Goldfields Railway, running between Castlemaine and Maldon.

Model construction notes:


Body and Mechanism Graham Farish (now part of the Bachmann company) CL08 diesel. Cost in order of $120.
Couplers The Graham Farish model has Rapido style couplers. I strongly recommend leaving them that way. It will fit nicely with the RTR GY and B vans. I think it's worth having one or more wagons with a Rapido at one end and a Microtrains at the other so you can mix couplers in one train. Switching to Microtrains is challenging, but if you must, Microtrains 1128 can be used to replace the Rapido.

Degree of Difficulty

Body easy, just a simple paint job.
Decals Straight forward if you are happy to accept the commonly available VR chevrons. If you want better, you’re on your own.
Couplers Bugger of a job to replace the Rapidos that these come with. Think seriously about leaving the Rapidos on this.
Finer detail A bit fiddly to add sideboards and sun visors, leave it for another day.

Assembly guide

Take a photo of what you started with – you won’t see it that way much longer.

Undo the two screws at the end to remove the shell. The coupler and spring at the other end will jump out so be ready to catch them.

Remove the bumpers, they unscrew. Plug the holes with putty.

Strip the paint (use ELO as previously mentioned). Give it a yellow coat, mask over the bits you want to keep yellow and then give it a coat of blue. Getting the VR decal is a bit trickier. Your choices are to run it without the VR logo, trim a standard hood decal (for a T class) to fit, though the VR will still be a bit oversize, or make your own decal.

Changing the couplers.

This is your third warning. Don't say you weren't warned. It gets a bit scary from here on. You have to dig a bit deeper to remove the other coupler. The two black screws come out easily. Have a look at the silver screw and the corresponding nut on top of the mechanism before removing it. You will need to take care thereafter because all the bits will then be free to fall out and, no doubt, will. With the loco upside down, remove the two black screws and lift off the cover piece, thereby freeing the coupler and spring. When springs are freed, they often don't land nearby.

Trim the lugs on the coupler box so that you can fit the little box with the 1128 coupler. Trim the coupler – it’s a whisker too wide to fit in the box.

An alternative is to cut deeper and use Microtrains 2004 coupler (similar to 1015s but with a higher profile). This is more challenging but will give a better result. I took the easy option for now and maybe one day I’ll attempt the better solution. My F hasn't had a great deal of running time but so far the couplers have held on surprisingly well.

Take care putting humpty together again. Take particular care with the electrical pickup components. I left mine slightly lower set than they should be and these fouled on track structure between the rails e.g. crossings.