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Delivered via its current day namesake, my Hornby 21C3 ‘Royal Mail’ arrived this week. It is gratifying to see a project that I have in a small part been involved with for nearly two years come to fruition. I have already posted on this blog a few times about the Merchant Navy classes, in connection with the prototype, my kit built examples, progress of the Hornby versions since their announcement in 2015 and also the variations possible from the first releases. Click here to see a list of such posts.

Hornby 21C3 with the detailing items added and the nameplates replaced with Fox Transfers etched versions

So far the first two have arrived in the guise of R3434 21C1 ‘Channel Packet’ and R3435 21C3 ‘Royal Mail’ with the other two BR liveried versions of the first releases due in the next couple of months. This post is not a full review as such but aims to discuss some of the features of the model, although I hope the pictures (and thanks to Andy York and BRM magazine for some of the images on this post) speak more than my words.  Ultimately tooling will be such that the majority of the number of the variations / modifications of the Merchant Navy class in their original form can be produced, but of course it will be a number of years before all will be seen.

An X-ray style view showing inside the body (picture courtesy and copyright A York /BRM)

Starting with the chassis and drive, a large 5 pole motor and brass flywheel drives the rear axle via a gear tower and provided very smooth and powerful running and impressive haulage  as I have witnessed on the High Wycombe and District MRS layout Hinton Parva. Electrical pick up is via the driving wheels on the loco and those on the tender, the drawbar between the loco and is of the latest permanently fixed style, with two positions via a screw on the loco, to allow close coupling should your layout curves allow.
The wiring between the loco and tender terminates in the usual Hornby plug and socket, but as the they are permanently coupled there should be no need to repeatedly remove the plug from the socket.

A close up of the chassis, coupling rods, and factory fitted brake rodding on 21C3

The coupling rods are some of the best I have seen on a ready-to-run locomotive, even down the to representation of the lubricating oil filler corks. The Bulleid-Fuirth-Brown wheels are well represented although the metal tyres might look better slightly toned down a little.

A close up of the cab and ashpan of 21C3

The fixed rear pony truck has flangeless wheels as is Hornby’s current way for pacific wheel arrangements allowing for a better representation of the ashpan etc. It may be possible if your curves allow to fit a flanged wheelset if you wish.  The pony truck is also a separate component, held on with a single screw which should allow for Hornby to change between the cast and fabricated versions of the different prototypes in the future.
Thankfully Hornby have decided to factory fit the characteristic brake rodding on both the loco and tender (although some owners have reported that they have had to re glue the rodding at some of the mounting points), the former, was on their past Bulleid models difficult to glue in place due to the small contact area and type of plastic they use.
For those wanting to get under the body it is easily removed by first removing the front bogie, held in place with one screw, and then the two chassis to body screws. The DCC socket and space for a speaker is within the tender, the body of which is simply held on with two screws.

The front end view of 21C3, the larger size of the ‘C’ compared to the numerals is correct to the prototype, noting the Fox Transfers etched roundel I have fitted

The body captures the shape and curves of the original well, being as in her very early condition with ‘widows peak’ cowl above the smokebox there are no smoke deflectors and if being a little critical the front edge of the body side, due to the limitations of the tooling for a mass production model ,are perhaps slightly too thick and I may well look to bevel these from the inside edge slightly to deceive the eye in the area (although part of me is still deciding whether to forward date this model by cutting back the front sides, fitting smoke deflectors and the later top cowl). Looking down the chimney you even see a representation of the locomotives blast pipe, (21C1 also has its unique chimney cover plate modelled in the open position).

The impressive cab detailing and printing (picture courtesy and copyright A York /BRM)

The cab is very well represented, complete with nice representations of the two part cab doors, with great attention detail internally with exceptional printing of the various pipework, handles, gauges and dials. The cab roof, complete with lifting eyes etc., has a separately applied ventilator that can be opened or closed. The side windows are neatly glazed and modelled in the open position (rear pane slide behind the front pane and are complete with the windshield.

The cab roof including the sliding shutter (picture courtesy and copyright A York /BRM)

The nameplates and smokebox door roundel on 21C3 and also the number and tender ‘Southern’ plates on  21c1 (with the roundel correctly being the initial style inverted horseshoe) are separate parts but flat printed rather than having any cast relief such as you would get with etched versions. I have therefore already replaced those on my 21C3 with etched plates from Fox Transfers. For those also wanting etched number plates and Southern plates for 21C1 these are available from C.G.W Nameplates. The nameplates are simply held in place by three spigots one in the middle and one at each end of the ‘Merchant Navy Class’ cross bar lettering and they came away from the model easily using the tip of a modelling scalpel enabling the etched plates to be glued in place directly to the body side. The overall painting, lining, printing of the numbers and ‘Sunshine’ Southern lettering, correctly slightly different between the numbers and the Southern lettering, and the larger ‘C’ as part of the 21C3 number is of Hornby’s  usual high standard.

A view of the other side of 21C3

Included with the loco is an accessory pack that contains a pair of front steps for the loco buffers (which might like the wheel tyres benefit from being toned down from the bright steel) and rear steps for the bufferbeam on the tender, cylinder drain cocks and also steam and vacuum pipes. As with previous Hornby Bulleid pacifics the front steps in particular require glue to affix and is a little tricky, I may well end up replacing these with more robust lost wax castings from RT models, the other items all have positive location holes for fitting. A front tension lock coupling is also included.

Just like when the rebuilt Merchant Navy model was first introduced in 2000 it raised the bar as far as models from Hornby was concerned, I feel that once again the Merchant Navy has been the cause of the bar being set even higher and I am pretty certain that it is no coincidence that it coincides with Paul Isle, whom it has been a pleasure to assist, coming on board at Hornby as head researcher. I look forward to the release of more members of the class and variations in due course, as they are sure to be popular.

 

 

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This week saw the first of the new Hornby ‘Original’ Merchant Navy Pacifics hitting  the retailers, see my Talking Stock #35 post here for more details and also the full size ‘Rebuilt’ Merchant Navy Pacific 35006 Peninsular & Oriental S. N. Co. steaming in public service for the first time in 2017 on the  Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway (GWSR) for the week of services allied with the Cheltenham Races Festival. With this in mind I thought it was time that firstly I finished my model of 35006 in her as preserved guise (being a shareholder), and also that I mentioned the Rebuilt Merchant Navy Pacifics on this blog, although they are of course out of my usual 1946-49 modelling period.

Rebuilding the Merchant Navy’s

21C6 in original condition on Fisherton Sarum

Although in general the Merchant Navy class as introduced were a success, proving to be powerful and very free steaming, one of the outcomes of the less than scientifically carried out Locomotive Exchange trails in 1948 and further performance and efficiency tests carried out at the Rugby Stationary Test Plant between March 1952 and January 1952, showed them to be costing a lot in: coal, water, oil and secondly maintenance when compared to other classes. These costs along with issues of leakage of oil from the enclosed motion oil baths and the reliability and accuracy of the steam reverser / cut off setting led to the Southern Region looking at options to improve the engines.  The option chosen as opposed to trying to overcome the individual issues was to rebuild the engines with more ‘standard parts’.

Rebuilt 35006 in the sunshine at the Gloucester and Warwickshire Railway.

The task was given, in 1954, to R.G. Jarvis of the Chief Mechanical and Electrical Engineer’s Department at Brighton, his new design replaced the encased oil bath and chain driven valve gear with three sets of  more traditional Walschaerts valve gear, new style piston heads and rods, regulator and a screw-link type reverser. The ashpan and grate were also replaced and included hopper bottom doors and front and rear dampers. A new fabricated smokebox, superheater header and steam pipes were also fitted.
The frames, outside cylinders, boilers were retained along with the: Bullied-Firth-Brown wheels (although now needing balance weights to be fitted), axleboxes, the efficient ‘clasp’ locomotive brakes and the ‘Stones’ steam generator for electric lighting both for the engine headsignals and in cab lighting. The same tenders were utilised, albeit with the side raves cut down to ease water filling access and reverse running view. The drawbar between the loco and tender however was replaced.

Reflecting on  superb standard of external finish on 35006.

Externally the ‘Air Smoothed’ casing was removed giving the look common to the recently introduced BR standard classes, although the characteristic oval shaped smokebox door was kept. Sanding, from replacement sandboxes, was also added to the leading driving axle, whilst rearward application was incorporated to the middle driving axle and new mechanical lubricators were accessibly mounted on the running plate alongside the boiler.
In 1955 the British Railways Board gave authority for fifteen of the class to be modified and authority for rebuilding the remainder swiftly followed. In February 1956 Eastleigh works released 35018 British India Line in its newly modified form (35018 as the prototype rebuild remained unique to the rest of the class as the front sandbox filler position and injector pipework differed), by October 1959 all the class had been rebuilt.
Performance of the rebuilt engines was indeed successful, solving most of the maintenance issues, although one drawback was that they put greater loads on the track, than the largely self balanced originals, as a result of increased hammerblow, caused by the balance weights required for the Walschaerts valve gear.

My model of rebuilt 35006 as preserved

The release by Hornby in the year 2000 of the rebuilt Merchant Navy locomotive heralded a new generation of model steam locomotives by Hornby and was a step change of standard of models reactive to competition in the market place and gave us a new super detail standard featuring blackened finish handrails and wheels with etched brass valve gear, detailed cab interior, and a five pole motor housed and driving within the locomotive itself. Over the years a number of the class have been released with a few modifications to the tooling along the way, although as yet none of the first series engines as rebuilt have been released as the 5000 gallon style tenders they were paired with have not been tooled.

My model of 35006 in as preserved condition

As 35006 in preservation has been paired to a brand new built larger 5100 style tender I have used a Hornby R1038 35012 United States Lines (split from a train pack) locomotive as the basis for my model.
Firstly I removed the cabside number numbers via my usual method of soaking the Hornby printing in enamel thinners and rubbing off with a cotton bud and replacing with HMRS Pressfix decals.

A front 3/4 view of 35006 based on the Hornby Rebuilt Merchant Navy with detailing parts and etched plates from RT Models and Fox Transfers

New nameplates and smokebox door number plates were fitted along with an extched 72B Salisbury shedcode plate on the smokebox in the slightly higher position than usual, level with the lower smokebox  hinge, on 35006 which was a charactoristic of her when in service. All the plates were obtained from Fox Transfers.
I replaced the front steps as supplied by Hornby by the more robust lost wax cast versions, along with a set of the cylinder drain pipes to complete the front end look, obtained through RT Models, from his excellent Albert Goodall range.
As I am modelling 35006 in her preserved condition I want to to also represent her superb external paintwork finish with a reflective and classic oily rag polished hue and have therefore given the model a coat of Kleer floor polish to give a such a finish to the paintwork (and also seal in the decals).

More details of 35006 and the locomotive Society can be found on my dedicated page here.  Also it is worth mentioning the 35011 The General Steam Navigation Locomotive Restoration Society that was formed last year with the intention of not only restoring 35011 back to working order but doing so back in original air smoothed condition condition complete with Bulleid’s oil bath encased valve gear incorporating chain drive elements to fill the gap in preserved examples left by the entire class having been rebuilt.

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As per my post last week I attended the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition Last weekend assisting Hornby Magazine editor Mike Wild operate his Topley Dale layout at its first and last public outing.  This post is a brief round up of some of the updates and news items from the show with a Southern / BR(s) theme.

Often Warley is a good place to show off the latest products under development and their status with either Engineering Prototype (EP) samples or livery sample models.

Bachmann / Farish

The first EP of the Farish 3rd Series Merchant Navy (picture courtesy of A York)

The first EP of the Farish 3rd Series Merchant Navy (picture courtesy of A York)

Bachmann had nothing new from a Southern perspective in 4mm scale but Graham Farish in N Gauge had the first Engineering Prototype of the 3rd Series Merchant Navy in original air smoothed form. They are initially releasing 3 livery of variants of the this 3rd series original style Merchant Navy with 6000 gallon tender, this is the first EP available and has not previously been seen.
Also in the Bachmann / Farish display cabinets were liveried samples of the N Gauge Bulleid Coaches in BR(s) Green and very nice they looked too.

Hornby

Hornby did not have anything new on display for us Southern fans, although their LNER P2 (which Bulleid did have an input with) looks a stunning model! The will be making their announcement for the 2014 range on December 16th at 10am and I will post then to advise of any Southern content…

Dapol

The first off EP of the 0 gauge 25t ‘Pill Box’ brake van (even planked right hand ducket version) was on show along with the first EPs for the Maunsell Coaches and Van C in N gauge, all announced back in July 2012 . I have been asked by Dapol to review and offer advice on their Southern models under development so watch this space for further updates.

Heljan

The week before the show Heljan announced a couple of new items including a Metropolitan Bo-Bo electric locomotive, familiar to many as Sarah Siddons, this does has a slight relevance to this blog as it has run on Southern metals for a couple of railtours, once to Portsmouth and once to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway in Kent ( I was on both tours) along with plans to announce a further new item at the show itself. This further item is a retooled Class 33/0 locomotive and they had EP’s on the stand. The announcement of this model in their own range follows a legal issue with Rail Express magazine that had originally commissioned it via Heljan.

RT Models 

Robert had on his RT Models stand brand new white metal castings for SR Style stepped locomotive buffers. Those on the market currently are a slight compromise as they are generally sold as being LNER/SR stepped buffers, so Robert has produced a very fine casting totally accurate for the Southern version and very fine it is indeed.

Model Rail Magazine

And finally; no this is not another plug for the December issue that features Fisherton Sarum but they have advise that they are in discussion with both Bachmann and Heljan regarding some further model livery commissions in the form of a Bachmann Desiro unit as 450 class in South West Trains Livery and also an exclusive livery version of the new tooled Heljan Class 33/0 model, further details will I am sure be announced in due course.

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Well the annual event that is the Warley National Model Railway show at the NEC has now been and gone and by all accounts it appears that it was a good year for the show. I certainly thought that this year there was a good selection of layouts, attendance was apparently up by 8% and most of the traders appeared to be doing good business. I certainly had a good weekend on the Hornby Magazine stand operating Mike Wild’s Hettle layout despite it being N gauge, Midland Region and DCC meaning my comfort zone was somewhere outside of Hall 5, but I think I pulled it off!

As is becoming more usual now a number of suppliers and manufacturers time announcements, product development updates and availability of new product around the time of / during the show and this year was no exception. This post attempts to round up some of those items of interest from a Southern perspective.

Kernow Model Centre

As per my post on Saturday, Kernow Model Centre have announced they are to commission via Dapol a Beattie Well Tank in 7mm along with suitable china clay wagons. Pre ordering and making a deposit payment of £100 will give you a saving of £100 off the £299 usual price. A ready to run 0 Gauge loco for £199 is a bargain I am sure many will not be able to resist. Full details can be found on my previous post here.  I predict a number of new Cornish china clay shelf type inglenook shunting layouts popping up due to these models, which could also be easily changed to be a decade or so later by switching the Well Tank for  a Dapol Class 08!
They also had some of the livery samples of their Class 205 ‘Thumper’ DEMU on display, commissioned via Bachmann this certainly looks an excellent model.

Peco

At the show an entire area was dedicated to the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway with the full size replica L&B locomotive Lyd being a centre piece surrounded by more L & B layouts than you could shake a stick at.

Peco’s R-T-R L&B Wagons

Peco took the opportunity to announce a new range of ready to run wagons and coaches in 009. Initial releases will be a box van and an open wagon in both L & B grey and SR brown available early in the new year with suitable coaches to follow later. More details and pictures can be found here  Whilst I am sure these will be popular with existing 009 modellers the current lack of any suitable R-T-R locomotives in 009 might still deter new entrants to the genre (although fingers crossed that perhaps locomotives might follow).

Bachmann

The long awaited C Class from Bachmann in both the exquisite full SECR livery and post 1937 Southern Liveries were available at the show and the BR black version is also imminent. I will be reviewing this model on this blog hopefully later in the week.

The EP of LMS diesel 10000

In their usual display cases at the show were a number of Engineering prototypes of current work in progress and their version of the LMS main line diesel twins 10000 and 10001 looked impressive, mentioned on here as they of course ran on the Southern Region. This model is in part commissioned by Rails of Sheffield with some livery versions being exclusive to them. Availability is anticipated to be early next year.

Dapol

Whilst the announcements made by Dapol at the show were for some modern image wagons in 0 Gauge (I assume to compliment their previously announced Class 08 shunter) they had for sale on the stand SR 5 and 8 plank open wagons also in 0 Gauge although I think these are generic open wagons rather based on specific SR prototypes.
Dapol have also rereleased their N Gauge CCT (Van U) utility van which appears to have been slightly updated with finer tooling and NEM coupling pockets.

RT Models

Robert continues to add useful detailing items to his ever expanding range that can be found at www.rtmodels.co.uk. I covered his etched LSWR and LBSC lamp irons in my post here and can now confirm that the LBSC version is now available and has enough irons for two locomotives including the extended bufferbeam irons.
On show for the first time at Warley were SR engine lamps very nicely cast in white metal offering a much finer scale alternative to those available from Spingside (although Robert’s do not have the jewelled lens).
Also under his custodianship the Albert Goodall range now includes cast white metal brake cylinders for the Bulleid Pacific 4500 and 5500 gallon tenders that are noticeably absent from the Hornby models and are well designed to be a simple direct fit.

Trafford Model Centre (TMC)

The TMC Mk1 Horseboxes, picture courtesy and copyright M Wild

The TMC Mk1 Horseboxes, picture courtesy and copyright M Wild

The TMC commission, via Bachmann of the Mk1 Horsebox was available at the show and the weathered Southern Region green version I saw certainly looked extremely good. Further details can be found here.

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Robert Thompson of RT Models has added a new etch to his range of 4mm scale detailing parts suitable for  the Southern Railway and its constitutions companies.  This lamp iron etch is in addition to the  range of Albert Goodall Bulleid / SR related components that RT Models acquired last year, that are steadily being either reintroduced or upgraded.

RT Models LSWR Lamp Irons etch

The etch of  London & South Western Railway (LSWR) style lamp irons includes buffer beam, smokebox and tender type and enough suitable for two locomotives.

To follow after the LSWR style, but not availble just yet, will be a similar etch for the London Brighton and South Coast (LBSCR) style irons that will include the longer buffer beam mounted irons that were a recognisable feature of their locomotives rather than mounting the irons on the smokebox.

At £2.00 this is a low cost etch that will be a good alternative to using either generic lamp iron etches or as I currently do slightly over scale Bambi staples!

I certainly look forward to Robert continuing to add such useful Southern related detailing parts to his range at RT Models.

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Back in March I was delighted to be able to post that friend and fellow Bulleid fan Robert Thompson of RT Models had acquired the range of Bulleid castings and parts from the late Albert Goodall following the decision by Shirley Goodall to retire from continue to trade.

Robert advises that the first part of the range  is now available online via dedicated pages on his RT Models website.  Over time almost everything will be re-introduced although some parts will be upgraded or replaced as well adding a few more items to the range. Roberts own Bulleid parts (such as Cylinder Drain pipes and lost wax brass front footsteps) have now also moved moved over to the Albert Goodall area of the RT Model website.

As I have said before this is great news for anyone who models Bulleid Pacifics as Robert will be an excellent custodian of the range, along with his intention to both improve and expand it with new items and the fact that the name of Albert Goodall will live on.

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I posted back in September about the last chance to obtain the late Albert Goodall Bulleid Pacific components due to  Shirley Goodall and her and Albert’s friend Jim Corbett both retiring from attending exhibitions, and may we  wish them both a long and happy retirement and thank them for keeping Alberts parts available for the last ten years. I am now delighted that my friend and fellow Bulleid fan Robert Thompson of RT Models (yes he is also bus enthusiast and driver for which he has most suitable initials) has now announced that he has acquired the Albert Goodall range of mostly 4mm scale Bulleid pacific detailing parts.

Robert’s RT Models Cylinder drain pipes have already been fitted to my entire fleet of Bulleid Pacifcs and his new brass front steps have arrived and are yet to be fitted.

Robert advises that the whole range won’t appear as yet as there is alot to sort out so it could be a few months before anything is released again.  Also whilst almost everything will be re-introduced, some parts will be upgraded or replaced as well adding a few more items to the range, this will also see the current Bulleid parts (such as Cylinder Drain pipes and lost wax brass front footsteps) he already does moving over to  Albert Goodall pages shortly as Robert will be keeping Albert’s  name on the website pages with his nameplate displayed on them too.

This is superb news for anyone who models Bulleid Pacifics as Robert will be an excellent custodian of the range, who already does some excellent Bulleid detailing parts and I am pleased that he will be keeping the Albert Goodall Name / ‘brand’ alive which is a fitting tribute to the amount of work and research that Albert did in his time. I wish Robert all the very best in his endeavours and I am sure he will be receiving yet more of my cash in the future. Robert’s RT Models also has a wide range of other detailing parts and narrow gauge model kits and parts.

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