The William Stroudley designed A1 / A1x class first introduced by the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (LBSC) in 1872 and eventually the class comprised of 50 locomotives. Most were withdrawn in the very 1900s, however 21 gained a new lease of life and were fitted with new boilers and other modifications between 1912 and 1920 and became designated the A1X class. A few members of the original A1 class were sold by the LBSC to other railway companies, including the SECR, LSWR and Kent & East Sussex Railway and Isle of Wight Central Railway, and survived in A1 form, although even these were subject to many other modifications throughout their lifetime. Many of the class in various guises and conditions have survived into preservation.
It is the many modifications, including boilers, smokeboxes, boiler fittings, air and or vacuum braking, wooden and metal brakes and rigging, a multitude of coal bunker sizes and shapes, coal rails, sandboxes and lamp iron positions to name a few, that provides such a challenge for any manufacturer.
It should also be noted that as with ‘Brighton’ Tradition the side tanks were clad, which stood slight proud of the actual tanks, hence the visible recess in the tank top and the visible bolts on the outside cladding (that varied in number at different times).
The first 00 R-T-R Terrier was produced by Dapol in 1989, it was something of a compromise both dimensionally and also and hybrid of A1 and A1X details. One of the most obvious being both above and below footplate sand boxes.
Dapol sold the tooling, along with others, to Hornby in 1996 and it has been as staple in their range since 1998, although latterly in the their ‘Railroad’ range. Dapol have since produced R-T-R version in both N and 0 gauges since.
Rails of Sheffield announced in March 2018 that they were working in partnership with Dapol to produce a new version that would include tooling to allow eventually for most variations of the A1, A1X and IOW variants of the locomotive to be produced, including two cab/bunker types, two smokebox/boilers. Wooden and metal brake rigging where appropriate.
Hornby then announced in January 2019 that they were including a brand tooling version of the Terrier in its own 2019 range. This is believed by many to have been a rushed ‘spoiler’ by Hornby and also £30 cheaper. Hornby had considered and dropped the idea of retooling before, however I can advise my understanding, that, this new tooling was already being worked on, although not by the actual Hornby team direct, but via another associated brand. Under the new Hornby management team, it was decided to move it in to the Hornby brand instead. This new Hornby version first reached the retailers back in April 2019, showing just how far advanced the development of the model was.
This post is look at the latest version from Rails of Sheffield and although not intending to be a direct comparison between the two manufacturers but in some cases, it is difficult not to make mention of both versions. Although I only have the one version myself so far, as illustrated, some of my comments are based on viewing other examples.
The Rails of Sheffield / Dapol version features: a die cast chassis and running plate along with plastic wheel centres (despite die cast being within the original advertised specification), the centre axle being sprung and pick-ups on each axle via fine wipers on the rear of each wheel, a 5 pole screw wound motor, a Next-18 DCC socket and also a firebox glow ./ flicker is included (very obvious, possibly too bright, even on DC) . Etched components are used for items such as the wing plates on the A1 version and for the different coal rails.
I will generally let the photographs speak for themselves however I make the following observations and comments. The model when checked against my available drawings matches all the key dimensions correctly (unlike the Hornby model that is approx. 1mm short along the length of the footplate). My model arrived missing its top smokebox lamp iron and there was no evidence of it being in the box, however she ran smoothly straight out of the box. The livery application is crisp, but perhaps not quite as well applied as the Hornby standard.
The chassis is well detailed with the correct style brakes and rods depending on the version, separate sand pipes are fitted, and the guard irons are a much better representation than the first batch of the new Hornby models (which is area I believe they have now retooled). A representation of the top of inside valve gear is nicely represented between the frames. The wheels are moulded with the correct spoke profile and the tyres chemically blackened which adds nicely to the look.
NEM coupling pockets are mounted on a sprung arm similar to the Dapol B4, I feel this possibly gives slightly to much side to side travel.
The inside of the cab features a back head with gauges that have printed dials, but none of the other items or pipework are painted. This appears to be a common single moulding across all versions, based on the earlier A1 cab, and does not include vacuum brake controls that should be present on my version. Hornby also appears to utilise a single backhead moulding but is based on the later A1X cab fittings. The The Rails of Sheffield / Dapol model is also fitted with a working firebox glow / flicker which is very effective (although possibly too bright) even on DC control.
The spectacle windows are nicely individually glazed (rather than and much better than a single glazing piece across both spectacles), the rims are picked out in brass paint, although they would have been painted body colour in BR days. I am still not convinced that they are not inset slightly too close together when looked at straight on. The rear spectacles have finely moulded glazing bars on my example.
The front generally captures the face nicely, especially well represented are the way the buffer stocks are mounted to and within the running plate, that is a very visible feature of the Terriers.
The smoke box number plate whilst nicely moulded to stand proud of the smokebox door is fitted to high compared to all the pictures I have seen, also the shed code plate is simply printed with no relief. All models appear to have a common air pipe, that on my version should be a spiral wound vacuum pipe.
The tank tops are correctly recessed (unlike the first batch of the new Hornby model, see retool comment above) and all boiler mounted pipe work and lubricators and safety valves are nice separately applied items.
Looking at the rear, this is possibly the most disappointing area of the model. To enable the variations in the cab rear such as centre joint seam plate and rivets etc. the rear of the cab is a separate moulding and for some reason, unlike any other model I have seen this protrudes through the cab roof, rather than be joined under the roof. This join is visible even on the black version, let alone those earlier liveries with a white roof. I do not believe any version of the cab rear includes the bunker coal hole and shovel plate and neither is any representation of a coal load included.
Probably the most obvious compromise area are the coal rails, although etched they are positioned within the bunker, rather than flush with the bunker outside edges and leaving an obvious and incorrect lip. I also believe the finely etched open coals on other versions to also be inset too much and under size. The rear top lamp iron position is fitted in the correct A1 position, which is possibly partly why, but not wholly why, such a compromise on the coal rail was required for those so fitted. The transition curve between the cab rear and bunker seems to be too larger a radius, when compared to photographs and drawings.
The same comments from the front view regarding the buffer stocks and air / vacuum pipe also applies to those on the rear.
Overall, the A1 / A1X Terriers are a very complex prototype due to the longevity, alterations and multitude of detail differences that present such a challenge to manufactures to get the most out their tooling options verses compromises that have to be made.
It is certainly not as easy some people think or might have thought to make a perfect R-T-R model to cover all prototype modifications and variations within the constraints of mass production tooling.
In my view the version from Rails of Sheffield / Dapol might not be the ‘perfect’ or ‘pedigree’ Terrier, but it has the slight edge over the current competing product; being generally dimensionally correct and overall slightly finer. This is despite the cab rear / roof join / coal rails that I will amend when I repaint into SR ‘Sunshine’ black livery.