Kernow Model Rail Centre have today announced that they have been working with Bachmann to produce the Southern Region 4-TC unit, also known as class 491 and later class 438, that were usually propelled by 4 REP EMUs, Class 33/1s and also Class 73s, Class 74s and other compatible 1951/57/63 built EMUs. Although the 4-TCs were un-powered the Southern Region regarded them as Electric Multiple Units.
This model, although based on the existing Bachmann Mk1 design, actually required three totally new tools to produce the four car unit along with their correct bogies and therefore is the equivalent of tooling three completely new locomotives. Despite this Kernow Model Rail Centre have managed to keep the price of the unit to £289.95, which is reduced to £269.95 if you place a pre-order before the model leaves China.
The first Engineering Prototype (EP) sample has been received and a few tweaks are required, such as moving the headlight to the correct position and re-configuring the wiring to allow the unit to be connected in the correct formation.
The units will feature working internal lights and the head and tail destination blinds also illuminate. Separate connecting doors are provided to give variations in headcodes, similar to the previous Bachmann 4-CEP. The unit is wired throughout using connectors similar to the Bachmann Blue Pullman, which allows full electrical connectivity while also allowing relatively easy uncoupling when required.
Switches below the unit allow the internal lights to be switched on or off, and also allow for independent switching of the destination blinds at the front and rear of the unit. The model is fitted with a 21 Pin DCC Decoder socket and also has provision for DCC Sound fitting. One decoder is required for DCC operation and is fitted within the luggage compartment of the Trailer Brake Corridor Second (TBSK) vehicle. The switching arrangements for internal unit lighting are replicated for DCC and can all be controlled from the single decoder.
Initially six liveries will be produced, with delivery expected to be around January 2017:
- 32-640Z Bachmann Class 491 4-TC Unit number 416 in BR Blue livery with small yellow warning panels and etched BR logos
- 32-641Z Bachmann Class 491 4-TC unit number 404 in BR Blue and Grey livery
- 32-642Z Bachmann Class 438 4-TC unit number 8022 in BR Blue and Grey livery with Network SouthEast branding
- 32-643Z Bachmann Class 438 4-TC unit number 8023 in Network SouthEast livery
- 32-644Z Bachmann Class 438 4-TC unit number 410 in BR Blue livery with half yellow ends Premier Charter with etched BR logos
- 32-646Z Bachmann Class 438 unit number 8007 in BR Research red and blue livery
The 4-TCs were converted from Mk1 loco-hauled coaches, with 31 units converted in 1966-7 by British Rail Engineering at York Works. Initially 28 x 4 car units were created with 3 x 3 car units. The four car units were formed Driving Trailer Second Open (DTSO), Trailer First Corridor (TFK), Trailer Brake Corridor Second (TBSK) and Driving Trailer Second Open (DTSO). The 3 car units omitted the TFK. Summer services to Weymouth were frequently overcrowded so in 1974 a further 3 x 4 car units were converted and at the same time the 3 car units had a TFK inserted to make them up to 4 car units.
When the route from London Waterloo to Bournemouth was electrified in 1967 there was insufficient funds to complete the electrification of the route through to Weymouth. An alternative method of operation was designed with high-powered Class 430 4-REP units propelling one or two 4-TC units from Waterloo to Bournemouth. At Bournemouth the 4-REP would be detached and a Class 33/1 Diesel Locomotive would be attached at the Weymouth end to haul either one or two 4-TCs through to Weymouth. In the reverse direction the 4-TCs would be propelled from Weymouth to Bournemouth where the 4-REP would then haul the 4-TCs to Waterloo, leaving the Class 33/1 at Bournemouth to await the next Weymouth service.
The usual area of operation of these versatile units was between London Waterloo and Weymouth, although they could frequently be seen throughout the South Western division of the Southern Region. Regular duties included the Kenny Belle peak shuttle service between Kensington Olympia and Clapham Junction. They were also used extensively on West of England line duties between Yeovil and Salisbury to London Waterloo and between Reading and Portsmouth Harbour. Until the closure of the Swanage branch they worked on through trains from London Waterloo.
Railtours saw the units make trips to varied locations throughout British Rail, including Birmingham, Cardiff, Meldon and Barnstaple.
With the electrification of the entire Weymouth line complete by 1988, along with electrification of other South Western division routes, the need for the 4-TCs was removed and most were withdrawn by 1990. Two units were retained and repainted in original blue livery, albeit with larger yellow warning panels, with the intention to use them for “Premier Charters”, a role which they performed until 1994.
Chris Trerise, Managing Director of Kernow Model Rail Centre, said “When I first left Cornwall to work for British Rail I was based at London Waterloo and was immediately fascinated by the Southern and the variety of units in operation. The 4-TC has always been a favourite of mine and there was never any doubt that Bachmann would produce a model to be proud of. This is probably the largest project we have embarked on but our team work very closely with Bachmann and this has made the entire process very enjoyable. We are really looking forward to receiving the painted samples!”
All images on this page are courtesy of and copyright of Kernow Model Rail Centre / Chris Trerise.