Oxford Rail, the new brand of The 4mm scale road vehicle manufacturer Oxford Diecast, announced last November their intention to enter the UK 4mm 00 scale ready to run market, with initial an ex London & South Western Railway (LSWR) Adams 0415 class 4-4-2T Adams Radial Tank and a range of 1923 PO wagons (which perhaps would have been better being the 1907 version not currently already produced in RTR form). Within weeks of their announcement Hornby also announced that they were already producing such a model and theirs is currently due in January 2016. Oxford Rail have this week released images and samples of the first version of the locomotive in their range reference number OR76AR001 as number 30583 in British Railways Late Crest livery and stated that they are due to be available from Monday 23/11 next week.
I have not yet seen a physical model in the flesh and fully accept that judging such a model from only the pictures released by Oxford Rail here along with the image below, that is courtesy of Tony Wright / BRM Magazine / Andy York / RMweb / (although their sample does appear to have a bent piston rod and one of the tool boxes is not sat square on the running plate), does not possibly give the full story, so this post is not a review just a few initial thoughts.
The first thing that struck me is that the front face of the model does not appear to be quite right, which might be due to what seems to me to be a lack of taper on the chimney, slightly high positioning of the smokebox number plate and the silver painted possibly slightly overscale appearance of the handrails, stanchions and also the smokebox dart (perhaps if they had been left unpainted they might have looked finer?). But I would have to reserve final judgement once I have had a chance to see the actual model in the flesh. From a construction / tooling perspective there appears to be some prominent mould lines along both the boiler, chimney and also the cylinders and the dome does not appear to sit as flush to the boiler as perhaps it should. Also the motor assembly (including a flywheel), that drives the rear axle, is located forward within the smokebox end of the boiler resulting in the motor casing being visible under the boiler at the front which should really be daylight above the frames.
Other details such as cab backhead, pipework, underframe brake gear etc. look to be to the fine standard we have come to expect from recent Ready to Run models.
There were a number of detail difference between the last surviving three locomotives such as front frames, slide bars, Adams / Drummond boilers (with differing domes and safety vales) which were swapped betweenthe three locomotives over time, and rear radial wheel diameters etc. Oxford Rail have stated that they are tooling for all this differences and from my initial check the combination of the variations appears to be correct for 30583 in the livery being produced.
We shall have to wait and see how these models look and perform in the flesh and compare with the albeit slightly more expensive Hornby model in due course. We will of course be able to pay our money and make our own choice.