The Rapido Trains UK ‘OO’ gauge GWR V6 ‘Iron Mink’ covered vans have arrived, it might seem unusual for such a wagon to mentioned here you might be thinking… there is a reason, read on…
The GWR covered vans of all metal construction, therefore known as ‘Iron Minks’, appeared between 1888 and 1901 (after which their covered vans construction reverted to being built with wooden bodies) were built on 16’6″ underframes with a 9′ wheelbase and had a capacity of 8 tons, with over 4000 being built.
Due to the Governments re-armament programme, the fact the Southern Railway had not built any Gunpowder vans and only had 38 were in service (such as ex LSWR Diagram 1701) , a further 100 were apparently required from late 1937. It was decided to exchange 100 covered vans for GWR ‘Iron Minks’ and convert them as Improvised Gunpowder vans, they were to be returned at the end of the armament period or potentially the end of the war.
It does not appear to be documented exactly how many actually came to the Southern or for how long they stayed, but they were lettered SR with temporary SR numbers in the range 59001-100 and carried the SR code name ‘Cone’.
They were never allocated any SR Diagram number, and do not appear to to have been included within the SR Wagon registers, although they are very similar to the aforementioned LSWR Diagram 1701 Gunpowder vans, except the LSWR vans had lifting link brake gear rather than the two independent sets of brakes on the GWR Iron Minks.
As is now standard on the Rapido Trains UK they feature good underframe detail that includes nicely moulded beams, planking and central coupling rods/spring details and brake gear nicely in line with the wheels. Standard NEM slim line tension lock couplings are provided (on removable mounts for those that want to use 3 links) although they do protrude out past the end the buffers a little more than I personally prefer.
The brake handle correctly passes through the see through ratchet, rather than just being a solid moulding, a welcome development that is now starting to be seen on some of the more detailed new RTR wagons.
They also feature correct 8 spoked wheels on 26mm pin point axles that run in brass bearing cups, that, despite being slightly lighter than I would prefer at 32g, run very freely.
The black livery application is crisp and well printed with the red cross and red and white lettering and has an overall pleasing satin finish. The roof is mid grey which I prefer, although it is suggested that they might haver originally been white.
These ‘modern’ 24ft long 16ft wheel base brake vans with their spacious guard’s accommodation were first introduced in 1918, and given the nickname ‘Dance Halls’ . Although the later SR standard brake vans had shorter bodies they used the same underframe design. A total of 60 of the vans were built between 1918 and 1927 with the first 20 being on 12″ channel underframes to Diagram 1559 and the following 40 on 15″ channel underframes to Diagram 1560.
The difference between the two diagrams can be easily spotted as the Diagram 1560 vans did not have the bottom 3″ plank across the sides. Ten of the vans were rebuilt in 1963 for departmental use, these had one balcony incorporated into the van section and end windows added becoming diagram 1571, some of these after being both vacuum and air piped lasted until the 1980s.
These vans were forerunners of the later SR built Diagram 1578/1579 ‘Pillbox’ vans that had shorter bodies on the same SECR design underframe.
The four Bachmann models of the SECR Diagram 1559 brake vans being released are as follows:
38-916 D1559 SR Pre-1936 Livery No.55462 (although many would have survived in this livery style well after 1936 and throughout the war)
38-917 D1559 BR Grey livery No. S55457 as based at Hither Green
38-918 D1559 BR Departmental Olive Green No. DS 55455 as based at Eastleigh Permanent Way Dept.
The model nicely and accurately captures the size and bulk of these brake vans. Non sprung (cue the usual nonsense cry, from some quarters, that for the price these should be sprung) self contained buffers are fitted, corner lamp irons (although the end lamp irons are moulded) and handrails are separately fitted items. Care should be taken when handling the models from the sides as the longitudinal rails are very fine and correctly fixed the body at the ends and middle four locations, so the longer prototypical centre section could be easily bent.
The chassis includes brakes nicely inline with the wheels (but not easy to drop in alternative wheelsets for the slightly wider gauges without some slight surgery), and the brake pull rods, the main longitudinal pull rod is included for the user to fit that although simple to do so, although I am not sure of the reason for it why it wasn’t factory fitted.
It appears that only a single tooling exists for the main chassis part that also includes the W Irons and axleboxes, all version are therefore the same, fitted with the later BR style axleboxes but the difference between them and the original style fitted is very slight and possibly a reasonable compromise from normal viewing distances.
The SECR and SR version run on 10 spoke wheelsets whilst the BR versions are correctly with the later style disc wheels. The vans weigh a reasonable 45g and are free running.
These models are also complete with interior detail such as stove, brake handwheel and desk visible through the end windows, The body can be easily prised and lifted off the chassis by releasing the four chassis to body clips at each corner of the main body section, as seen in the image left .
Decoration is neat and crisp as we would always expect form Bachmann, however the sole bars on the SECR and SR livery versions to be correct for the period should really be in body colour with only the iron work below the solebar in black, although as 38-915 is numbered 11902 which is the same as the preserved example, in preservation this currently has black painted solebars. The SR brown colour and finish is nicely rendered and consistent with their SR Pillbox brake vans
The SR and BR Grey versions also have working instruction boards printed directly on the bodysides, in reality these were actual wooden boards affixed and therefore slightly proud of the sides, but again it is a reasonable compromise from normal viewing distances.
Overall these are excellent models, and were often requested, so will be a popular edition to most SECR ./ SR / BR(s) fleets, and I am sure other livery variations will follow in the future.
The Diagram 1426 vans were introduced in 1918 and they lasted well into BR days, setting the standard for future Southern Railway vans.
These vans Rapido Trains UK feature: Two types of rain strip: curved and straight, separately-fitted end ventilators, split-spoked wheels running in metal bearings and highly detailed body, under frame and self contained buffers.
There are eleven Diagram 1426 covered vans available:
927001: No. 15782, SECR grey (curved rain strip)
927002: No. 16737, SECR grey (curved rain strip)
927003: No. 45784, SR brown (Pre 1936) (curved rain strip)
927004: No. 47162, SR brown (Pre 1936) (curved rain strip)
927005: No. 45779, SR brown (Post 1936) (curved rain strip)
927006: No. 47159, SR brown (Post 1936)
927007: No. S45819, BR grey
927008: No. S47144, BR grey (curved rain strip)
927009: No. DS47182, Departmental black
927010: No. DS776, Departmental brown
927011: No. 15750, SECR grey (preserved)
The SECR used the same underframe for the two-plank ballast wagon. It introduced the first example in 1919 and 120 were built over the next four years. Incredibly, BR didn’t withdraw the last until 1971.
The Rapido Trains UK two plank ballast wagons feature: Two floor versions: curve-ended planks and straight-ended planks, split-spoked wheels running in metal bearings and highly detailed bodies, underframes and self-contained buffers.
There are also eleven Diagram 1744 two plank ballast wagons available:
928010: No. S62433, SR red oxide with BR(S) number
928011: No. S62388, BR Departmental black
All versions of both models, share the same underframe although the Diagram 1744 two plank ballast wagon correctly has an extended brake lever. Both diagrams have accurate body detail, including nicely planked insides on the two plank ballast wagons. The roof of the vans is a good tight fitting separate part and allows for either the original curved or later straight rain strip option.
As is now becoming much more common on such new wagon releases, the also feature good underframe detail that includes nicely moulded beams, planking and central coupling rods/spring details and brake gear nicely in line with the wheels and a wire cross rod. They also feature nice 8 split spoked wheels on 26mm pin point axles that run in brass bearing cups (careful if removing wheels as the bearings might drop out), that along with a with a reasonable weight of 38g for the van and 25g for the two plank, ensures very free running. Standard NEM 362 coupling pockets are included [Edit: to correct a previous statement].
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.
372-875 No. 319004 in the colourful Network SouthEast (Revised) livery of red, white and blue as the units would have been when fresh into traffic, this model is fitted with a Sprung Stone Faiveley pantograph.
372-876 The Thameslink franchise was operated by Thameslink (Govia) from 1997. The Class 319/1s built in 1990 were the only 319s to feature first class seating but this was quickly removed by Thameslink, following which the units were reclassified as Class 319/3s. No. 319382 depicts a typical Thameslink Class 319/3 in its bold blue and yellow livery and fitted with a Sprung Brecknell Willis pantograph.
372-877 As new trains were acquired for Thameslink services, many 319s found work away from London including twenty 319/3s with Northern Rail. Following light refurbishment, the units were decorated in Northern Electrics livery as carried by No. 319362 which is fitted with a Sprung Brecknell Willis pantograph.
It is noted that the DTSO is missing the 3d rail shoe beams on the leading bogie and Bachmann Europe are correcting this error by making a replacement bogie available. They will announce more details on that shortly and the process for obtaining them, and should be commended for taking this action.
As can be seen from the pictures for such small items, especially when compared with the one penny coin, the level of detail is exquisite, even the wheels on the barrows rotate! All are supplied unpainted and ready to paint, with acrylics being recommended.
Hornby subsequently amended their plans and advised that R40030 Number 7864 and R40030A Number 7867 in SR lined olive green to be Open Thirds would now be produced numbered 1363 and 1366 respectively. This gives those modelling the Southern Railway in the 1930s greater flexibility in their accurate use.
During the WWI all except No. 1367 were converted for Ambulance Train use. Four of the six, were converted in July 1947 to Third / Composite Dining Saloons branded as ‘Restaurant Car’ to Diagram 2658 and numbered 7841-4 . These conversions have also been announced by Hornby as R40031 Maunsell Dining Saloon Third / Composite to diagram 2658 Number S7841S and R40031A Number S7843S in BR(s) Green. The other two were now fitted with 48 loose 2 +1 chairs and classified as First Class diners and numbered 7846/7 were paired with newly converted Diagram 2661 Buffet cars for use on the reinstated ‘Night Ferry” service.
Whilst originally announced as being SR lined olive green, I am not sure that when they changed the running numbers Hornby actually indicated that these would now be unlined; although it does mean they match the already released kitchen dinning firsts as these have also so far been released in unlined SR olive green.
The model is of the same high standard of all their SR Maunsell coach releases with their excellent SR Standard 8ft bogies, good chassis detailing, sprung buffers, separately applied door grab handles , fine foot steps at each end and end handrails. Being unlined the decoration is plain and simple, but the lettering is neatly applied as we have come to expect from Hornby. The inside is nicely modelled and decorated with the internal wooden partitions, seats (blue) and table tops (white) all being correctly coloured.
There are however two main areas that let this model down a little; firstly the horizontal bar that separates the main window from the upper vents should be flush with the bodyside and whilst Hornby have, perhaps understandably, modelled this bar as part of the glazing insert it inexplicably is too shallow and therefore not flush with the body side.
Secondly the lower panel vertical joints are modelled with a raised beading applied to them, whilst there is some evidence that some beading might have been to these vehicles later in their life, it certainly was not present during the period applicable to this livery. These two issues do detract slightly from the 3/4 side view of the model.
Supplied with the coach is an accessory bad that contains roof boards, Roco style coupling and for the first time with any SR Maunsell coach are a pair ‘Hunt’ style magnetic couplers that are a representation of the vacuum and steam heat pipes. Until these coupling are main available as separate parts just supplying a pair with an individual coach is not really practicable.
In service these 3rd Class dining saloons were actually paired with the first Maunsell Kitchen / Dining Firsts to Diagram 2651 that were also built in 1927 and numbered 7858-7863. Modellers licence will be required as this Diagram in original its 1927 form has not been produced by Hornby and therefore will have to be incorrectly paired with the Diagram 2656 Kitchen Dining First instead.
Graham asked: “should this review be written in the style of a Rapido marketing email,?” but Muz replied: “Right! Stop that! It’s silly.” (with apologies to Monty Python).
I will let the photographs show how good these wagons are and provide a welcome addition to any SECR / SR modellers fleet. I have only purchased some of the SR versions, but SECR grey and BR Grey and BR Departmental versions are also available (see the original announcement here for the full list).
Some people, without a full understanding of the manufacturing process and where production and overheads costs lie, might crawl away at the RRP of £32.95; and whilst there might still be other manufacturer’s wagons currently available at a cheaper prices the realistic market prices are certainly changing as all costs rise. The models can of course be purchased from retailers such as Kernow Model Rail Centre at a slight discounted price.
The 7 plank open, later SR Diagram 1355, were the SECR’s most numerous wagon with 2,121 wagons built between 1915 and 1927. The SR later fitted a sheet rail. British Railways had over 70 wagons still in service in the 1960s and the last withdrawals were not until the 1970s.
The 5 plank opens utilised the same steel chassis as the 7 plank wagons, 550 were built between 1920 and 1925 with standard buffers that became SR Diagram 1347. A further 150 were built 1921/2 with the self-contained buffer type, as on the 7 plank D1355 wagons, and became SR Diagram 1349. They were withdrawn in the early 1960s.
All three versions of the models, sharing the same underframe, have accurate body detail, including nicely planked insides and now becoming much more common on wagon releases good underframe detail that includes both etched and wire parts. They also feature nice split spoked wheels on 26mm pin point axles that run in brass bearing cups, that along with a with a weight of 32/33g ensures very free running.
On my examples, as can be seen in the images, a number of the self contained buffers were glued in at wonky angles, but being separately applied parts these can be carefully reaffixed.
The livery application is crisp and well printed. I know for a fact that Rapido have used the same paint colour reference for the SR brown as the Kernow Model Rail Centre used on their ex LSWR/SR D1541 Road Vans, although this appears to be a slightly lighter but still more than acceptable, interpretation of the colour possibly due to the more satin finish, (and even lighter with the lighting I have used in my studio), on these wagons.
The tooling allows for both taped plain and the self-contained buffer types for the 5 plank wagons. To achieve the 7 plank versions fitted with the sheet rail, a pre shaped wire rail along with its moulded mounting brackets for each end of the wagon have been supplied as separate parts for the use to fit (glue) into position (instructions on fitting is included with each wagon).
The holes in the mounting brackets for the sheet rail will need to be opened out very slightly to ensure a good fit. The one slight downside is that the rail can only be positioned in the upright position, as it would be when a sheet was covering the wagon and not, without some modification, in the sideways stowed position when no sheet was fitted.
[Edit 20/05/22] To demonstrate the effect that the factory satin finsih has on the paint colour as mentioned above, the picture left shows a comparison with one of the Rapido wagons given a coat of Testors Dullcoat matt varnish and brings the colour much closer to the Kernow Model Rail Centre ex LSWR/SR D1541 Road Vans, and therefore looking much better.
My good friend, excellent modeller and proprietor of 247 Developments Brian Mosby has advised me that he now has produced in his vast etched range Golden Arrow headboard and Arrows that adorned either Rebuilt Bulleid pacifics or BR Britannia 70004. He has also produced the rectangular style headboard used when Bulleid 1Co-Co1 diesel 10202 was used during 1954 on the prestigious Pullman service.
The famous ‘Golden Arrow’ name was first used in 1929, although the origins of the service dates back as afar as 1882 and the final service ran on 30th September 1972. Unlike the ‘Night Ferry’ service passengers would travel by ferry from Dover or Folkestone to Calais where they boarded a similarly prestigious French train under the French name Flêche d’ Or. Ten all-new Pullmans were built from 1949 and entered service as the “Festival of Britain Golden Arrow” on 11th June 1951.
Before WWII the “Golden Arrow” was usually worked by Lord Nelson class locos, For the resurrected post war service the first locomotive used was 21C1 Channel Packet, although though from 1946 a Bulleid light pacific. When in original form as well as the headboard a large arrow was carried on the side of the casing.
A smaller arrow was used affixed to the smoke deflectors of rebuilt Bulleid light pacifics. Although between 1956 and 1959 No. 35015 Rotterdam Lloyd was the only rebuilt Merchant Navy to be used and and for a while in the early1950s, BR Britannia 70004 William Shakespeare. Light pacific 34100 Appledore hauled the last steam worked Golden Arrow on 11th June 1961 when electric traction took over with what were to become Class 71 locomotives.
In addition 247 Developments stock other SR named train headboards, numerous BR(S) smokebox door number plates for many ex SR classes, dated smokebox door roundels for the Bulleid pacifics and SR Engine Head Signal route discs. Brian’s products are of excellent quality and I can wholeheartedly recommend them.
The much-anticipated ex LSWR / SR Diagram 1541 10T Road Van produced as an exclusive model by the Kernow Model Rail Centre have now arrived (appropriately via Southampton Docks) and are being despatched to customers and all pre-orders being fulfilled (but please expect this to take a few days). This is not a review for obvious reasons, but hopefully the photographs will speak for themselves.
First introduced by the London & South Western Railway (LSWR) in 1884 they were later classed as Southern Railway Diagram 1541. Almost 500 of these were built between then and 1905 making them the most numerous LSWR Goods Brake Van. Brake Vans with side doors through which parcels or other goods could be loaded were known as road vans.
The pictures show the high level of detail and multitude of separately fitted parts including: flush glazing, hand rails, brake gear with pull rodding, step boards and lamp irons to accurately portray a number of different versions of the prototype. These options include alternative buffer shanks with a ribbed option as fitted to some vans including those preserved on the Isle of Wight and Bluebell steam railways and either straight or cranked step board supports, the latter as fitted to the majority of those transferred in 1925 to the Isle of Wight.
Care and research has been undertaken with the various liveries to to ensure that the correct livery specifications have been met, especially for the LSWR / SR Good Brown. The application is crisp, as we would expect, and includes legible solebar cast number plates.
I hope that those whom have have had these models on pre-order for some time are pleased with the final model.