The BRC&W Type 3 diesels, known as the ‘Cromptons’ and under TOPS coding the Class 33s are very much synonymous with the Southern Region, it is however often forgotten that the BR Derby built, Type 2 diesels, known as ‘Baby Sulzers’ and under TOPS coding the Class 24s played an early role in the initial modernisation plans for the Region. This post looks at the brand new model of the Class 24 from new manufacture ‘Sutton’s Locomotive Works (SLW).
To cover for a delay in delivery of the Type 3s from Smethwick Works, a batch of the Class 24s were drafted in from the London Midland Region. In the spring of 1959 a number of these ‘pilot scheme’ 1,160hp locos arrived on the South Eastern Division, numbers D5000-D5014, & D5016-8, and were to provide a useful resource until 1962. Their provision solved a number of issues (although they did create others!) including motive power desperately needed prior to the completion of the Kent Coast electrification scheme and the ability to provide steam heat capability in the winter. The new SR Class 33s were, in this respect, ahead of their time in that electric train heat supply was provided but compatible coaching stock was somewhat lagging behind. Working freight, parcels and passenger services, the Type 2s helped out across much of the Southern network, and were not just restricted to the South East Section, as some may think.
The all new model from SLW, a new manufacturer that announced its new product late last year, to the surprise of some, when production stock was available for immediate sale rather than the usual format of announcing plans ahead of not only production but often any design and development working having started.
What is notable is that this model has been designed from the outset around a finescale ethos and to appeal to those with a liking for DCC sound. The models, reflecting their level of detail, cost £160 for the Standard locomotive (12V DC analogue) and £260 for the Sound-equipped (DCC) version (which will operate on DC but with limited functionality; engine sounds and some lights only).
The high specification model includes: a Die-cast metal chassis for superior adhesive weight, Smooth-running five-pole 12V DC ‘Black Cat’ motor, Machined metal gearboxes with brass axle bearings, Softly-sprung ‘Oleo’ pattern buffers with metal heads, Independent directional front marker and rear tail lights and Cab interior and engine compartment illumination. Over 350 parts are used in each model and many of the finer components, like headcode discs and larger grilles, are reproduced using etch metal parts. The tooling incorporates / allows for a significant amount of loco specific detailing,
It is the first Ready-To Run loco to made available factory-fitted with 00, EM or P4 wheels (extra £20 for wheels sets other than 00). Further images can be found on the SLW website here and the comprehensive instruction manual can be downloaded here.
Of the initial two releases, first built D5000 is certainly one of interest to Southern Region modellers of the period, having been transferred (on loan) to Hither Green in January 1959 and was to become a regular sight on SR metals over the next three years. It was unique in being the sole example to carry the plain green livery with thin eggshell blue waist band. It was even overhauled at Eastleigh Works during 1961 and worked the Southampton Boat Train on release.
Ten of the initial batch of 20 locomotives D5010 to D5019 and therefore nine of those those that worked on the Southern Region, were fitted with the distinctive larger but experimental ‘Athermos’ axle boxes, rather than the SKF roller type that became the standard. Philip further advises that, as can be seen in the picture left, the tooling is designed that it can produce this style of axle boxes and as such this is likely to become an available version the future. It goes without saying that good sales of D5000 will provide the impetus needed for more models that would be suitable for operation in a Southern Region setting.