In a way this post follows on from my previous ramblings in my ‘armchair’ series such as “Armchair R-T-R Designers” and “Armchair R-T-R tooling and manufacturing Logistics” and even my comment piece on “The process in producing an R-T-R Models”.
Questions were recently raised on a popular model railway forum why certain Ready-To-Run (R-T-R) models either have not been or are going to be produced in either Pre-Grouping liveries or form, even to extent that the manufacturers were losing sales because of it. I would point out however that if the demand was not actually there to sell a complete batch, as minimum production run sizes often come into play, of a certain livery then it might be a case of not enough sales rather than one of loosing sales.
I picked up on this because the models in question being discussed were the recently released Adams O2 class 0-4-4t and the forthcoming Pull Push Gate Stock from The Kernow Model Centre, that were not being produced in London South Western Railway (LSWR) liveries. The particular post also cited the fact some manufacturers had already managed to issued Pre-Grouping livery versions such as: the Bachmann E4 Class 0-6-2t and C Class 0-6-0; and the Hornby M7 0-4-4t. Whilst other models including the Hornby 700 Class 0-6-0 and T9 class 4-4-0 and the aforementioned O2 have not yet been so issued.
In an ideal world if money was no object I am sure the likes of The Kernow Model Centre and even the larger manufacturers such as Hornby would love to tool for all permutations and variations of a particular prototype, but economics do rule and decisions have to be taken based on the size of a potential market for a specific variation / livery and the return possible.
Where the existing tooling is correct / accurate for the same locomotive / rolling with either no or very limited detail changes for an earlier period such as the Pre-Grouping era, or even early Grouping times, then producing such liveries, in perhaps a smaller production run becomes a viable option. However where there would need to be substantial tooling changes, complexities or even completely new tooling the return on such an expense, that can easily run into tens of thousands of pounds, against potential sales needs to be taken into account.
I would therefore not perhaps rule out an LSWR liveried Adams O2 at some stage, as this importantly could be achieved from the existing tooling.
With respect to the Kennow Model Centre ex LSWR Gate Stock these were modified in the early 1930’s from the original LSWR design and therefore the proposed tooling would not be correct for any liveries before that modification took place. Sets 373/4 were converted to Southern Railway air control system in 1929/30 and at the same time gained the standard Southern Railway four window pull push unit style front end, instead of the earlier LSWR 3 window front end. Set 272 was disbanded in 1929 (prior to driving front end and air control conversion) and reformed as set 363 in 1933, with standard SR front and air control, as per sets 373/4.
A version of the Kernow Model Centre ex LSWR Beattie Well Tank was produced in SR Maunsell 1930’s livery No 3329 but as in the early 1930s the Well Tanks were already on their second substantial rebuild, completely new tooling would have been required to be correct for any earlier livery application.
Both the Hornby produced 700 class 0-6-0 and T9 class 4-4-0 engines were fitted with superheaters from the very end of the pre-Grouping period onwards that not only extended the smokeboxes but in the case of the 700 class also raised the pitch of the boilers, by some 9 inches, extended the frames and a new taller cab, and in such a case would not only require a totally new body tooling but would effect the chassis design as well, which even with the high pitched boiler of the superheated version produced is already very tight for space for the motor a gearbox etc. I do note however that that there would be possibly 4 or 5 members of each class that could legitimately be produced in late LSWR livery in the superheated form from the existing tooling, if Hornby felt the the market was there for them.
I hope this post goes a little way to further explain the issues and complexities of producing Ready To Run models and that sometimes it is neither practical or cost effective to be able to please all modellers all of the time. I am pretty sure that none of us want to return to the days of putting any livery on any model regardless of any historical accuracy!