I have posted before about the S15 class firstly in my Talking Stock #16, blog post titled, The S15 Goods Arthurs and covered the announcement made by Hornby in December last year that they were to produce the S15 in ready to run form during 2015. The first of the variants being produced have now arrived in the shops in the shape of R3328. For this post I have taken a look at this version of the model before I backdate her to suit my own 1946-49 modelling period.R3328 has been released in BR early emblem livery as 30843 paired with a Maunsell flat sided bogie tender. 30843 was one of the third batch of Maunsell S15s built in September 1936. 30384 ran in this livery as an Exmouth Junction allocated locomotive, with a 72A shedplate, between December 1954 and July 1959 when she gained the late crest (She ran with no emblem on the tender at all between a repaint in August 1949 and November 1954). She has blanking plates on the smokebox where the snifting valves were removed from the S15s during 1947 and 1948. Hornby’s model is being produced from completely new tooling for all components, including the Urie style tender rather than introduce any manufacturing logistical complexities by trying to share any of the tender tooling from the previously released N15 class. The model has a wealth of separately applied details such as handrails, pipework (the pipework running down either side of the firebox has multiple fixing brackets which whilst correct for 30843, I am not sure why they have been picked out in copper paint, these brackets appear to vary from locomotive to locomotive, depending on time frame), injectors, reversing rod, lamp irons, vacuum pipes, sprung buffers on both locomotive and tender and whistle and safety valves. The smoke deflectors are of course separate items and correctly affixed at the top to the boiler handrails. The chassis block also has representation of the detail and riveting around the firebox etc.
An accessory bag is included that include the front foot steps, cylinder drain pipes, dummy screw link couplings, steam heating pipes, loco and tender brake rigging for the owner to fit, and supplied with the late crest version is an AWS protector plate to mount under the front buffer beam. Also included is a front tension lock coupling to be fitted if required (although mine arrived missing the rear tender tension lock coupling).The overall paint finish in a pleasant semi satin black and the number and emblem decal application is up to the usual high standard we would expect for Hornby, although personally I would like the smokebox to be more of a matt black. For some reason the the water pipework to the boiler clack valves have not been picked out in copper but the same brass colour as the boiler fittings. Being an open cab the detail included and painted is impressive and crying out for crew to be added. Although once again the copper pipework has, albeit neatly, been picked out in a brass rather than copper paint. The S15 is powered by a large 5 pole motor with twin brass flywheels driving the rear axle through a tower worm gearbox and runs very quietly and smoothly through the speed range. I have not yet managed to exceed the haulage capacity which I now is excess of 25 to 30 wagons and at least 7 – 8 coaches. The correct pattern wheels and balance wights, motion and its bracketing is also very nicely modelled. Electrical pick up is via all driving wheels and those on the tender. The loco is permanently coupled and wired to the tender with a bar that allows for a closer coupled position for those modellers with more generous curves, she will happily pass through medium radius points in the closer coupled position (but will not locate back in the the packaging). The fall plate between locomotive and tender is also hinged (I think a first for Hornby) rather than being in one fixed position. The tender coal load is removable, although the fire iron stands are part of this moulding, to reveal a fully detailed coal load space underneath, ideal for those that want to add their own real coal loads.
Although I am not in the DCC camp there is space in the tender for both an 8 pin decoder and and also a cut out in the weight ready for a 28mm round sound speaker located over cut outs in the chassis for the sound to escape. It is however a bit of a shame that design is such that to access the two screws holding the tender body to the chassis require the bogies to be removed first (although these are not totally removable as the wired pickup connections are soldered).
The other two releases on the way this year are as follows:
R3327 in SR Maunsell lined olive green as number 824 paired with a Urie Bogie tender and smoke deflectors representing the condition she was in from September 1932 when renumbered without the ‘E’ prefix. Number 824 was one of the first batch of the Maunsell S15s built in March 1927 and an Exmouth Junction allocated locomotive during all her Southern Railway days. 824 remained in this livery until April 1940 when under wartime conditions she was repainted in unlined olive green with Bullied style lettering. She also has the additonal detail of the crosshead driven vacuum pump fitted correctly on the left hand side only and snifting valves on the smokebox.
R3329 in BR late emblem livery as 30830, with AWS fitted, paired to a Urie Bogie tender c/w auxiliary vacuum reservoirs. 30830 was a from the second batch of Maunsell S15s built in August 1927. 30830 ran in this livery, with a 72B Salisbury shed plate between May 1960, when AWS equipment was fitted, and December 1963 when she was transferred to Feltham.
It is good to see that Hornby have very much returned to form over the last 12 to 18 months or so with releases such as the Drummond 700 class and meeting the intended delivery schedule for the S15 as being a 2015 release. Long may it continue, mine will now go in the queue for backdating and renumbering, (thankfully the smokebox door is quite easily removed to assist with the removal of the BR number plate) and suitable weathering, so keep an eye on my Workbench Witterings pages for further details.