The all new RTR South Eastern & Chatham Railway Diagram 1558 six wheel brake vans announced by Rapido trains UK in April last year have now arrived.
Forty 6 wheel 20t brake vans were built in 1898 by the South Eastern and Chatham Railway to Diagram 1558, were heavily influenced by Midland Railway practice, these had an open veranda platform (i.e. with no roof, sides or end rail) at one end and a closed one at the other. In 1910, 50 more were built with close verandas at each end, between 1914 and 1920 the original vans were modified with two closed verandas. These modified vans were identifiable as had double top rails at the end opposite to the rebuilt end to increase the height of the veranda. All 90 vans entered Southern Railway stock and most passed into British Railways ownership. There were also variations in some of the framing, planking and handrails between the two build versions.
Rapido trains UK have tooled two body types to cover both the dual veranda vans built new in 1910 as well as the single-ended vans re-built that year and have announced ten initial versions:
- 931001: No. 2033, SECR grey with black underframe
- 931002: No. 2036, SECR grey
- 931003: No. 55382, SR brown with red ends (large lettering)
- 931004: No. 55409, SR brown with red ends, 1910 batch (large lettering)
- 931005: No. 55384, SR brown with red ends (small lettering)
- 931006: No. 55366, SR brown with red ends(small lettering)
- 931007: No. S55429, SR brown with red ends, 1910 batch (BR lettering)
- 931008: No. S55434, BR grey, 1910 batch
- 931009: No. S55371, BR grey
- 931010: No. 80383, Engineer’s black, 1910 batch
The model contains a wealth of detail and many separately applied parts including, handrails, step boards and all lamp irons. Nicely moulded, non sprung buffers are fitted which is fine by me.
Due to the shape of the handrails and their prototypical fixing point positions, these have been finely and understandably moulded in plastic, so they will need to be handled with care. The upper step at each end just like the prototype is mounted on a single central bracket, on my example these steps are not quite horizontal.
Also included with the van is an etch of three of the document clips that were usually fitted to freight stock but not always in the same positions on the same type of van / wagon, so the purchaser can fit to the correct positions for the van modelled (some might have preffered the compromise of them being moulded or prefitted).
For those that want to remove the glued on roof, there is a also fully detailed and decorated interior.
The underframe with its wealth of brake gear as we have come to expect from Rapido Trains UK is wonderfully reproduced. This detail does mean that there is not enough space for the usual NEM 362 coupling mount so the tension lock coupling fitted is an NEM 363 short style with the fishtail but no socket, a sensible move.
The van weighs 36g which is a little (perhaps 10g or so) lighter than I would usually apply to my own models of this size, but with the brass axle bearings they are extremely, if not too, free running. Whilst I would always fit brass bearings to kit built models, I have rarely seen a need for them in most RTR wagons.
The livery and lettering as we would expect is nice and crisply applied, although as I have discussed here, the use of a stain finish gives the SR brown a perceived lighter colour, so I will give mine a coat of matt varnish.
The RRP is £39.95 or discounted at official retailers such as Kernow Model Rail Centre here.
P.S. Before anyone asks about the already sold out Rails of Sheffield commissioned original pre 1910 single end van, the version that has “Goods Break” on the side, is the correct and prototypical spelling for the period of the modelled van!