Bachmann first announced the introduction of these ex London Brighton and South Coast Railway H2 Class 4-4-2 Locomotives back in August 2013. Although its taken a while have they captured the graceful looks of these lovely lovely Marsh / Billinton locomotives and overcome the challenges of such a wheel arrangement with tight clearances, certainly yes. This review could easily be summed up in three words “it’s very pretty”.
The review is is a version of one I have written for British Railway Modelling magazine the electronic version of which is published today with printed copies to be available next week. The pictures that accompany this post are copyright and courtesy of A York / BRM magazine.
The first H1 Class Atlantics were built to haul express trains between London and Brighton. They were designed by D.E. Marsh, who had been deputy to the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Great Northern Railway, H.A. Ivatt, for 10 years until he was promoted to the top job at Brighton in January 1905. Such was the urgency for express motive power on the Brighton line that Marsh, with the full support of his former chief, borrowed a set of Doncaster drawings and made a few amendments. The result was five H1 Class locomotives which were built December 1905 and February 1906.
The second batch known as the H2 Class, as depicted in this Bachmann model, although essentially to Marsh’s design it was modified by his deputy L. Billinton. These modifications included superheating, larger cylinders, a reduced boiler pressure (although this was later increased between 1936 – 1940 up to 200psi to match the H1 class) and probably and the most visible aspect being the running plate which maintained a continuous line above driving wheels and cylinders.
Six H2 Class locomotives were built at Brighton Works between 1911 and 1912 and remained on front line Brighton express work until the arrival of the King Arthur Class 4-6-0s in 1925. They were named by the SR publicity department during 1925/6 after geographical features on the South Coast. The Atlantics then continued to operate other express trains and boat trains to the ferries at Newhaven until the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939.
The class continued to work secondary services after the war but there was less work for them and some were put into store. The first H2 Class withdrawal was No. 32423 ‘The Needles’ which took place in May 1949. The last to survive was No. 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ which was withdrawn on 24th April 1958. The Bluebell Railway is currently progressing well with its project to reconstruct a Brighton H2 Atlantic, utilising a suitable ex GN boiler as the basis. (see http://www.bluebell-railway.co.uk/bluebell/locos/atlantic/ for more details)
Although originally built to the ‘Brighton’ generous loading gauge the H2 Class were subsequently modified by the Southern Railway to its composite loading gauge between 1935 and 1937 with a revised cab, cut down boiler fittings and the whistle position relocated away from being on the cab roof.
Bachmann have initially released two versions:
- 31-920 H2 Class Atlantic 4-4-2 2421 ‘South Foreland’ SR Olive Green (note: was originally announced as being 2426 ‘St. Alban’s Head’
- 31-921 H2 Class Atlantic 4-4-2 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ BR Black Early livery
Bachmann subsequently announced in January 2017 that they are producing in parallel the earlier H1 Class although these are still to appear.
The 31-920 version number 2421 as modelled by Bachmann is in the condition she was in post renumbering from B421 in 1931 and prior to February 1937 when she received both the SR composite loading gauge changes and being fitted with a Maunsell type superheater and therefore receiving snifting valves on the smokebox.
The 31-921 version as number 32424 ‘Beachy Head’ in BR Black Early livery incorporates the loading gauge changes, revised front lamp iron positions and filled in coal rails on the tender.
The model matches extremely well the dimensions, look, details and elegant lines of the prototype when compared to drawings and contemporary pictures.
Separately applied fittings to the body includes handrails, pipework, smokebox dart, the characteristic LSBSC lamp irons on the front buffer beam. The open cab is well detailed with a number of separately applied parts and nicely painted with pipework, gauges, valves, regulator, reverser and tip up seats all represented. The tender also includes open coal rails, fire iron stands and a cast metal full coal load to add additional weight. Other than those on the buffer beam itself the middle and top lamp irons on the tender body are moulded rather than separate fitted items.
The diecast metal locomotive chassis is fitted with a 3 pole motor, located within the firebox driving the rear driver axle via a gear tower although no flywheel is fitted. The boiler is packed with weight to ensure good adhesion of the four coupled driving wheels which themselves are like the prototype impressively close, although this has been achieved by them being very slightly under the scale 6’7½”.
Due to the tight clearances between the driving wheels, footsteps, cylinders and front bogie the connecting rod has an obvious joggle in it, which is probably more obvious in its pristine finish due to reflections than it would be if slightly weathered. This is of a course a something of a compromise to ensure the ability to run round round second radius curves, but other options such as having to leave off the middle set of steps for those tighter curves is I believe a worse option.
Both the front bogie and the rear trailing axle are slightly sprung, the latter being a pony truck style with plenty of swing allowed between the fixed dummy side frames.
Running on my sample was smooth and quiet across all speed ranges and in a test she hauled 8 Bachmann Mk1 coaches on the level with relative ease and no wheel slip on starting.
Electrical pickups are fitted to all driving wheels and the front and rear tender wheels, the tender is permanently connected to the locomotive via a fixed length drawbar (although the locating pin on the tender is slightly adjustable to reduce the loco to tender gap) and a four-wired connection that is plugged into the tender.
A 21 Pin socket is located in the tender along with space for a 23mm diameter sound speaker, a speaker mount bracket and screws are included within the accessory pack.
Brake blocks and factory fitted brake rigging are fitted to both locomotive and tender (although the latter along with the first wheelset will require to be removed to enable the tender body to be removed to access the DCC socket) with the locomotive chassis also featuring sand boxes and fine sand pipes that complete the chassis details.
The model matches extremely well the dimensions, look, details and elegant lines of the prototype when compared to drawings and contemporary photographs.
Separately applied fittings to the body includes handrails, pipework, smokebox dart, the characteristic LSBSC lamp irons on the front buffer beam. The open cab is well detailed with a number of separately applied parts and nicely painted with pipework, gauges, valves, regulator, reverser and tip up seats all represented.
The tender also includes open coal rails, fire iron stands and a metal moulded full coal load to add additional weight. Other than those on the buffer beam itself the middle and top lamp irons on the tender body are moulded rather than separate fitted items.
An accessory pack is included which includes: vacuum pipes, steam pipes, engine head signal discs, a nice option of open or closed cab doors and the cab weather sheet uprights. Also included are cosmetic screw couplings and front guard irons if no tension lock coupling is fitted and front cylinder corner infills for fitting if being used as a static display model. It is good to see that the supplied comprehensive owners information sheet details the positioning of all the separate items.
The livery application for the Southern Railway Maunsell Olive Green with white and black lining is well applied including the rear trailing truck side frames (although not all the class has these frames so lined). The tender frames are correctly plain black. The lubricator boxes atop of the splashers are picked out in brass and the cast nameplates and cabside number plates are neatly printed although a nice touch from Bachmann is that etched name and number plates are included for the owner to fit.
The introduction of these elegant looking locomotives with their distinct character, being of pre-grouping origin, with further future livery possibilities and details, that were long lived are certainly to prove popular with LBSR, SR and BR(s) modellers and gives Bachmann options for a variety of further liveries in due course, including LBSC Umber, SR malachite Green, wartime black, BR numbered malachite green and of BR lined black, as it is understood that provision has been included within the tooling for a number of the details changes that took place over time.