The long awaited all new tooled Bachmann Bulleid coaches announced in 2018 are now due to arrive soon (although the SR Malachite versions will be slightly delayed, see below) and SR and BR(s) modellers alike can be pleased to have a range of accurate and highly detailed to modern standards range of Bulleid coaches that can be utilised to create correct coaching sets.
These 63’5” coaches were first introduced by the Southern railway in 1946 constructed as steel side panels on a wooden frame with a traditional canvas on wood roof, construction continued with detail variations until 1951. They marked the change from the previous versions of SR coaches in that they only had doors at the ends and in the middle rather than for each compartment, it also saw the introduction of the Diagram 2123 Semi Open Brake Third layout that comprised of a mix of compartments and an open saloon along with the guards and luggage areas. The later all thirds to Diagram 2017 were also built as open saloons.
One noted omission from the Bachmann first releases is the Diagram 2406 Brake Composite that were used as loose vehicles, especially on the West of England route where they would be used as through coaches for the many South West of England branches to seas-side resorts, they differed from the Diagram 2405 Brake Composites being produced by Bachmann for the 2 coach ‘R’ sets in that the lavatory was more conveniently place for both classes of travellers in the middle of the coach.
There were two distinct type of underframes due to the difference in vacuum brake equipment with some utilising a single central 30” Prestall vacuum cylinder and larger vacuum tanks, whilst other builds had a more standard arrangement with two 22” brake cylinders and simplified brake pull rods.
Their size and passenger layouts went on to become very similar to the standard, albeit with all steel construction for the later BR Mark 1 coaches.
Whilst most Bulleid coaches were withdrawn from BR(s) service in 1967/8, those that had been transferred to the Western were withdrawn in 1968 whilst some that were transferred to Scotland lasted until 1970. A number have been preserved.
These models feature near flush glazing, including the characteristic small lozenge shapes windows above the door droplights, exceptional detail and many individually applied parts such roof vents, end handrails / water tank filler pipes and tank vents along with steps and underframe equipment to allow the wide range of detail differences between coach types as outlined below.
The door handles and grab handles are moulded on the bodyside and neatly picked out in brass paint. Some may feel that the, round head screw details (not rivets) around the tops of the window frames might be a little too pronounced, however the models accurately capture the shape and profile of the prototypes.
The free running bogies are accurate renditions of the Southern Railway standard 8ft bogies and also include the Bachmann now standard electrical pick up arrangement for those wanting to fit interior lighting. The underframes are well detailed, with truss rods, V hangers and brake types and brake pull rods and correct for each individual coach type.
The Bachmann extensive tooling suite allows for a multitude of correct variations to suit the not only the coaches as first introduced but modifications throughout their lifetime.
- Window Ventilators: original 10 inch vents or later 15 inch vents (plus the corresponding toilet window ventilators – original horizontal-opening vents or later vertical-opening)
- Bodysides: As built or with later reinforcing strips added
- Braking System: Original single 30” Prestall vacuum cylinder or twin 22”cylinder system
- Battery Boxes: Multiple positions and Bulleid or BR Mk1 type
- Dynamo: Bulleid or BR Mk1 type
- Footboards and bogie footsteps: Multiple lengths and positions
- Guard’s Handrails: Two or One / Short or Long
- Water tanks: Long and short and central tanks
- The correct style of end handrails / water tank filler pipes as appropriate
The four body versions in this initial release include: Semi Open Brake Third (BTK) to Diagram 2123, Corridor Composite (CK) to Diagram 2318, Brake Composite (BCK) to Diagram 2405 and Corridor Third (TK) to Diagram 2019.
The Southern Railway and British Railways Southern Region operated and managed its coaches marshalled into defined and fixed sets usually brake coaches at each end and various combinations of middle coaches to create a range of set capacities for particular services, often with longer rakes being marshalled from multiple sets to provide operation al flexibility.
These initial releases allow a number of correct Southern set combinations and liveries to be created, although, upon review it was noticed that Bachmann have incorrectly numbered the two Diagram 2123 Semi Open Brake Thirds marked as set 790 as numbers 3993 and 3994 when they should be 4341 and 4342. Bachmann have confirmed to me that the running numbers will be corrected for these versions prior to their, now slightly delayed, release.
- 3 coach ‘L’ set 790 (BTK-CK-BTK) from range 770-793 with 10″ window vents in Southern Malachite introduced 1946
- 5 coach ‘H’ set (BTK-TK-CK-TK-BTK) 847 from range 830 -849 with 15″ window vents in BR Crimson and Cream introduced in 1950. These sets often also ran as 3 coach ‘L’ sets (often a winter formation) minus the two TKs’
- 2 coach ‘R’ set (BTK-BCK) 69 from range 63 – 75 with 10″ window vents in BR Green livery with side strengthening ribs
The individual coach initial releases are as follows:
- 34-725 Bulleid Semi-Open Brake Third Dia 2123 (10″ Vents) in Southern Railway Malachite Green No. 3993 (should be 4341)
- 34-725A Bulleid Semi-Open Brake Third Dia 2123 (10″ Vents) in Southern Railway Malachite Green No. 3994 (should be 4342)
- 34-750 Bulleid Corridor Composite Dia 2318 (10″ Vents) in Southern Railway Malachite Green No. 5771
34-725/725A/750 will make set 790
- 34-775 Bulleid Corridor Third Dia 2019 (10″ Vents) in Malachite Green but with BR “S” prefixes as delivered in late 1948, this coach is a ‘loose’ coach that would be added to strengthen sets. No. s1935
- 34-726 Bulleid Semi-Open Brake Third Dia 2123 (10″ Vents) in BR (SR) Green No. S4377S
- 34-800 Bulleid Brake Composite Dia 2405 (10″ Vents) in BR (SR) Green No.S6706S
34-726/800 will make set 69
- 34-727 Bulleid Semi-Open Brake Third Dia 2123 (15″ Vents) in BR Crimson & Cream No. S4005
- 34-727A Bulleid Semi-Open Brake Third Dia 2123 (15″ Vents) in BR Crimson & Cream No. S4006
- 34-751 Bulleid Corridor Composite Dia 2318 (15″ Vents) in BR Crimson & Cream No. S5865
- 34-776 Bulleid Corridor Third Dia 2019 (15″ Vents) in BR Crimson & Cream No. S75
- 34-776A Bulleid Corridor Third Dia 2019 (15″ Vents) in BR Crimson & Cream No. S76
34-727/727A/751/776/776A will make set 847
Apart from the numbering mistake highlighted above, The fine livery application is very much as we would expect from Bachmann, even down to the small seat number lettering above the windows on the SR livery versions and the small restriction, Tare and dimension plates on the coach ends. The luggage compartment doors have the window protection bars in the inside of the glazing as is the handrail on the corridor side.
For those wishing to add passengers the bodies are held on to the chassis with four clips along each side enabling the body to be simply and carefully eased away.
The accessory pack included, with an instruction leaflet, with each coach includes, corridor connector end boards, cosmetic dropped buckeye coupling, steam heat and vacuum pipes (factory fitted to the brake end of the semi-Open Brake third review sample, along with a spare tension lock coupling), pipe coupling bars are also included.
Overall, despite the incorrect numbers that are being corrected, these are excellent models, and worth every penny in my opinion, and will be a very welcome addition to any Southern or BR(S) modeller’s fleet and we can look forward to other livery / set combinations being added to the range on due course.
This review also appears in the November 2022 Issue 185 of Hornby Magazine.