Review: PIKO G 37550 Diesel Locomotive V 20, DB III

Published: 7 July 2015
Latest update: 30 April 2016


Product Information:

Manufacturer: PIKO
Article Number: 37550
Product Description: Diesel Locomotive V 20, DB III
Year of introduction: 2015
MSRP (2015): € 270,00 / ~ $ 300,00

Review PIKO G 37550 Diesel Locomotive V 20


Prototype:

In the years following the war the young Deutsche Bahn added a total of 22 class V20 2-axle diesel locomotives to its roster. The Deutsche Wehrmacht used these locomotives, then called WR 200 B14, during WWII. The locomotives required extensive rebuilding. Some of them received new engines. The Deutsche Bundesbahn stabled the V20 in various depots. Most depots received only a single locomotive. They were used as needs arose to haul work trains, as switchers or to switch industrial leads. Some locomotives of the surprisingly successful type were even used as road engines on branch lines. It wasn’t until 1980 that the DB retired the last locomotive of this class. The former war locomotive thus ended up spending most of its service life during peacetime. It did its share rebuilding Germany after the war. Today six of the locomotives are preserved.” – PIKO Catalogue 2015

More info and pictures of the real V 20 are linked at the end of this review.


Review:

The V 20 is the little sister to the tree-axled V 36, which was a 2014 new item from PIKO. Both locomotives show some similarities in real life, and I expect the PIKO versions to do the same.

Here’s the box:

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

This V 20 comes in an Era III ‘Deutsche Bundesbahn’ livery. I expect PIKO will announce a green ‘Deutsche Reichsbahn’ paint scheme next year under article number 37551. You heard it here first! 😉

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Opening the box, we find the manual and spare parts list, and a set of narrow gauge buffers.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Four handrails are included, which you need to fit yourself. No glue needed, you can just push them into place.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The loco is wrapped in plastic, and protected by a sturdy foam box.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Here she is! Let’s take a quick look around…

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The engine looks mighty from the front. My eyes could deceive me, but I think the buffer beam is not exactly the same red colour as the chassis…

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

I’m loving the black and red paint scheme, the V 20 really fits in well with steam locomotives from the same era.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The cab is identical to the V 36 (except for the lettering of course).

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Some close-ups coming up next…

As I wrote above, the buffer beam can be exchanged for a narrow gauge single buffer, therefore there is a clearly visible gap between the buffer beam and the chassis. Not very pretty, in my opinion. There’s not much detail as for example, brake hoses and screw couplers are missing. The characteristic handrails below the buffers are missing as well.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The front and rear lights use LED’s, but they are made to look like old lightbulbs. Very nice.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

I’ve looked at multiple pictures of the real V 20, and I think the third light on top of the front should be placed lower.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

 

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

On the real thing, these sliding doors on the hood grant access to the motor. They look nice, and the cooling vents look good as well. The walkways on each side of the hood have a nice pattern on them.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The exhaust is tiny, and I expect fitting a (pulsed) smoke generator to his loco will be a difficult task.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Near the cab, we find a small horn and a bell.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Let’s take a look at the cab.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Sharp lettering.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Inside the cab we find the well-known PIKO figure, unfortunately he fell from his seat during transport and he is now upside down in the cab… 🙂

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The handrails are separately moulded plastic.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

There are three lights on the rear of the locomotive as well. The LED’s on the rear seem to be a slightly warmer – almost yellow – color compared to those on the front.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Not much to see on the roof. Some rivets, and a nice grey color.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Sharp lettering on the chassis and water tank.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Taking a closer look at the chassis, it seems PIKO used their 0-6-0 motor block (known from the German BR 80 and US tank engines) for the V 20. The jackshaft is placed where usually the center axle would be. Sadly, in the case of the V 20 this means the jackshaft is centered between the axles, which is not the case in real life. On the real thing, the jackshaft is off center, and closer to the rear axle. Also, the wheels should be a tad smaller and they have too many spokes (13 model, 11 real life).

I totally understand PIKO’s decision to use an existing motor block as it means development costs are lower, but somehow I’d rather pay a bit extra for a more prototypical wheel arrangement as it’s a defining character for a locomotive.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Below the cab, we find a brake cylinder…

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

… but there are no brakes to be seen. There should be a brake shoe in front of each wheel, unfortunately there isn’t.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

The loco comes with hook and loop couplers, which can move around a bit to negotiate sharp curves.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Let’s take a look at the chassis from underneath.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Surprisingly, no traction tyres are fitted to any of the wheels.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

Power is picked up from the ball bearing axles. The gears are plastic.

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review

PIKO G 37550 DB V 20 Review


Disassembly & DCC Decoder Install:

I converted the V 20 to digital by installing the PIKO #36122 loco decoder and #36224 sound kit for the V 20 / V 36. Check out the guides below for step-by-step instructions.

Here’s the end result:


Conclusion:

The V 20 was a logical next step after the release of the V 36 last year. There are a lot of similarities between the two locomotives in real life, so it made sense for PIKO to offer the V 20 as well.

PIKO is once again delivering a high quality, good looking, and well proportioned model that runs well. After a first test, power pick-up seems sufficient which allows the loco to run smoothly even at lower speeds. I have yet to check how it performs on dirty track, but I expect no problems whatsoever.

This little diesel engine is not perfect, as PIKO made some design compromises to keep costs down. There’s always the question of how much detail you want, and how much you want to pay for it. At € 270 MSRP (street prices are lower, I’ve seen them for € 225), I think the price is right for what you are getting.


Dimensions & Measurements:

  • Scale: not specified by manufacturer
  • Weight: 1,65 kg

Technical Details:

  • Operation: Analogue
  • Minimum Radius: 600 mm
  • Wheels: Chrome plated
  • Axles: Ball bearing
  • Geared axles: 2
  • Gears: plastic
  • Traction tyres: None
  • Motor: 5-pole, ball bearing, unknown brand
  • Power pick-up: 2 axles, 1 set of pick-up shoes
  • Lights: Front, rear (bi-directional) & cab lighting, white
  • Smoke generator: No

Links & Downloads: