The SECR / SR D1 4-4-0 from Rails of Sheffield arrives – a review

The Rails of Sheffield ex SECR / SR D1 Class locomotive, produced in partnership with Dapol that was announced, with initial decorated samples (with errors) on show, in February 2022, as a natural follow on from their D Class, has now arrived (DCC Sound fitted versions will take slightly longer to arrive), and it certainly is a nice model.

The Rails of Sheffield / Dapol D1 31487 in BR Sunshine lettered livery

After 1901 the D class locomotive further more powerful locomotives were investigated by the companies. After Richard Maunsell took over as CME from Harry Wainwright in 1913 he worked on a series of new locomotives which were intended for a long service life, this involved the conversion and upgrade of 11 E class locomotives, resulting in the E1 class. This proved very successful and led directly to the conversion of 21 D class into the D1 class in 1921 and 1927. Six of the final nine to be rebuilt in 1927 received new frames.
Though arguably, not as elegant as the D class equipped with a larger boiler, a belpaire firebox and longer travel cylinders the D1 was able to produce a considerable haulage and power increase over its predecessors.

D1 31487  LHS view.

Initially allocated to Ashford shed, this class was to be found all over the south-eastern division from London to the south.
In September 1941 1145, 1247, 1492/4 and 1739 were transferred to Nine Elms and could be seen on on the Basingstoke and Salisbury semi fasts as well as van trains to Eastleigh and Southampton.
All were withdrawn by November 1961, no preserved examples exist.

The model is available in six liveries, with detail variations as listed below:

  • SECR Maunsell D1 Class SECR Grey 4-4-0 Steam Locomotive No.735 (original D frames, side feed, Ramsbottom safety valves, original smokebox with snifting valves and manual lubricators).
  • SECR Maunsell D1 Class Southern SR Maunsell Green 4-4-0 Loco No.1749 (original D frames, plated dome, side feed, Ross pop safety valves, original smokebox with snifting valves).
  • SECR Maunsell D1 Class Southern SR Maunsell Green 4-4-0 Loco No.1741 (new frames, spuriously top feed dome and side feed,  Ramsbottom safety valves, original smokebox with snifting valves).
  • SECR Maunsell D1 Class BR Black (Early Crest) 4-4-0 Locomotive No.31741 (new frames, side feed, Ross pop safety valves, original smokebox without snifting valves).
  • SECR Maunsell D1 Class BR Black (Late Crest) 4-4-0 Locomotive No.31246 (original D frames, side feed, Ramsbottom safety valves, later smokebox without snifting valves).
  • SECR Maunsell D1 Class BR Black (Sunshine Lettering) 4-4-0 Loco No.31487 (original D frames, side feed, Ross pop safety valves, laster smokebox without snifting valves).
Excellent cab detail and also the Dapol ‘pinless’  loco to tender connection can be seen.

It features a five pole motor driving the front driving axle and a the now standard Dapol ‘pinless’ click to couple drawbar that also carries the electrical connections. Electrical pick up is on all tender wheels as well as the locomotive driving wheels. For those using DCC the model has Next-18 Decoder socket mounted on a pull out PCB behind the smokebox door (suposedly tooless but a supplied ‘tool’ is needed) with space for a 15mm x 11mm cube speaker, plus provision for customer to fit a larger bass speaker in tender. The loco also features the current gimmick of a firebox flicker (a fireman would never leave the firebox door open all the time…)

Lovely detail includes a representation of the motion between the frames.

The detail is excellent including a good representation of the inside valve gear between the frames, well modelled and decorated cab details even down to the padlocks on the tender tool lockers. Separately applied items include lamp irons, pipe work, handrails and factory fitted brake rodding on both loco and tender. The buffers are sprung. The slightly plasticly coal, is removable and the water tank and limited coal space on these engines is modelled underneath it. It has been noted however that the version of Loco No.1741 spuriously has been produced with top feed dome and side feed, not a combination that would have occured on the prototype.
[Edit: I have also now noticed that for some reason the smokebox door on the non BR versions spuriously have the cast BR shedcode plate, albeit with nothing printed, moulded on the door shat should not be there].

The removable coal load and the accessory bag items (still in bag) can be seen in this rear 3/4 view.

Supplied in the accessory bag are a cross member to be fitted to the bogie if no front coupling is required, front buffer beam steam heat pipework (identified incorrectly as vacuum pipes in the instructions) and guard irons that can be user fitted if the curves on your layout allow.  The instructions also refer to footplate doors being supplied, but these are not supplied on the D1 class (a cut and paste error from the D Class instructions I guess).

Being a 4-4-0 managing weight distribution and good traction is always an issue, the previous D class with a plastic boiler had traction tyres fitted to one wheelset and was supplied with a spare non tyre fitted wheelset. The D1 has neither traction tyres or optional wheelset, despite the diecast boiler, (the loco minus tender weighs in at 180g that is 25g heavier than the D Class model) on this model its traction is a still bit limited and wheel spins on starting with only three coaches.

The elevated view shows the looks of the D1 loco has been well captured.

The livery application is very well executed and I am pleased to say that having provided some assistance to my friends at Rails of Sheffield and Dapol, the colour, lining and lettering errors originally perpetuated from the D Class models have been correctly applied on the D1s.
The bright silver grey coupling rods and coupling hooks on the buffer beam will need toning down a bit.
Note: although unusual the short lived right / front facing lion within the late crest on the right hand side is actually correct for  31246!

Overall, albeit slightly light footed the Rails Of Sheffield  in partnership with Dapol Wainwright D1 Class 4-4-0 is a lovely model with some great detail and a welcome addition for pre-grouping / SR modellers alike.

2 thoughts on “The SECR / SR D1 4-4-0 from Rails of Sheffield arrives – a review

  1. Graham, these are certainly superb models with much excellent detail.

    Do concur with your observation on being light-footed – on Ewhurst Green there was much wheel-slip with six bogies (using standard Hornby Maunsell coaches); both BR versions appeared to cope with five bogies.

    The locomotives are relying on (I understand) a cast boiler and frames for weight and (to their credit) have not resorted to traction tyres.

    Do you know if future releases with further numbers are proposed?

  2. These are indeed a fine model with much detail (I purchased the SECR Grey version). Pulling power however is quite a different matter with the loco struggling to pull three very free running coaches when tested on radius two curves. Further investigation revealed that much of this problem is self inflicted by Dapol since the loco’s own tender is the source of the most appalling drag. On the loco I have the centre tender wheelset skids around the track much of the time barely rotating, but neither of the other two axles run remotely freely either.

    So, if you can make the tender run more freely you may be able to markedly increase your train length. Quite why anyone should be having to do this to a new model though is beyond me.

    On the plus side I do like the click fitting of the tender to the loco.

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