The ex London and South Western Railway (LSWR) Gate Stock sets from Kernow Model rail Centre, were first announced back in 2011 and although the process has been a long one with a few hurdles along the way, the four being produced will shortly be available (they are on the high seas as I post this). These models represent the 56ft stock, originally built by the LSWR in 1914 and as later converted in the early 1930s by the Southern Railway to their now adopted standard Pull Push air control system and the SR four window driving end. The last set to be withdrawn was set 373 in 1960.
Although only four versions are being produced there are a still a number of detail variations which has meant quite complex tooling, albeit still with a small number of compromises. The most obvious difference being the addition steel plating applied to Set 373, towards the end of its life under British Railways, which has been tooled for as version K1004. The four versions being produced are as follows:
K1001 Set number 374 in SR Lined Maunsell Green livery as carried between 1933 and circa 1945
K1002 Set number 373 in SR unlined Malachite Green livery as carried between circa 1947 and circa 1949
K1003 Set number 363 in BR Crimson livery as carried between 1950 and circa 1954 when subsequent re varnishing made the lining almost invisible.
K1004 Set number 373 in BR (SR) Green livery (in reality a heavily varnished malachite with BR number style and positions)
Each set, comprising of a driving brake trailer and an open third trailer, is packaged within a single Kernow Model Rail Centre house style cardboard box with inner plastic tray lid. As supplied the coaches are fitted with NEM tension lock couplings in sprung close coupling cams, but two different lengths of a fixed bar are also provided to allow for different close coupling lengths between the coaches depending on the purchaser’s layout curves.
The characteristic vestibule ‘gates’ that of course gave rise to the name of this stock are exquisitely etched but robust separate components. A detail pack includes the air control hoses for the coach ends.
The development of these models has at times been frustrating with a number of challenges that have tried to be over come in as economical way as possible. I certainly believe that the models capture the very distinctive look of the prototypes well, however as with any process especially when the CAD work, tooling and manufacture is carried out on a different continent, such as in this case China, occasionally it does mean errors do creep in, but lessons have certainly been taken on board for future projects.
A number of us involved have tried to ensure the result is as good as possible, now that the first of the finished models have arrived, the majority of the product batch is still on the high seas, on closer inspection a small number of errors have additionally come to light. However I do not feel that they detract from the overall model (except for those most vocal & critical rivet counters for whom perhaps no model will ever meet their perceived standards).
Starting below the underframe the bogies frames are slightly too narrow (the datum for tooling possibly taken from the 00 wheel face), resulting in slightly deeper stepboards but with weathering the effect will be minimised. Although the detail of the construction of the underframe with fine trussing and planking etc. is well represented an error has occurred with transposing of the brake V hangers and battery boxes (the correct information for which was certainly supplied to China).
On the coach bodies, the slight tumblehome and panelling is well captured and windows fitted with flush glazing throughout. A number of the small detail differences between the sets has been incorporated where possible, such as the air operated whistle and front window wiper positions. The large number of complex and varied shaped handrail are all separately fitted items.
A slight mismatch in the tooling tolerances between the side and ends has resulted in a very slight height anomaly only visible on very close inspection of the relative positions of the top of the front driver’s windows and the waistband beading on the inner ends, but this is hardly visible on the final painted versions and the eye is very much drawn to the good representations of the scissors gangways, steps and handrails.
On the version of set 373 with the plating (K1004) the requested representation of the flush rivets, that certainly should not be proud, has resulted in slight dimples where perhaps the intention was for the pint to fill more than it has.
Inside the coaches a representation of the seating is provided however one internal partition is missing between the second and third window bays at the inner ends and also for some inexplicable reason a bench seat goes totally across the inner end (on the driving trailer only, the trailer coach is correct) which should be two plus seating giving access to the corridor connection between the coaches.
At least one magazine reviewer has questioned the waistband lining on K1003 set 363 in BR crimson, but this is correct and the photographic evidence exists, taken at Bisley in 1952 (although I cannot post the full image here due to copyright).
The large windows and the open nature of these coaches with the gated vestibules do mean that populating the models with passengers would add to the effect and to enable this the bodies are simply fixed the chassis via clips along the sides and can therefore be carefully prised apart. Grip the body in one hand and the chassis in another, and sliding a piece of plasticard between the two, lift the body off, leaving the representation of the interior seating available to add passengers and if required perhaps add the missing partition and cut back the spurious bench seat across the inner ends.
These sets could be found on the following services at various times during their life: Seaton – Seaton Junction, Yeovil Town – Yeovil Junction (363, 373), Lee-on-the-Solent – Fareham (374 up to 1930), Ascot – Guildford (374), Farnham – Guildford (374), Bordon – Guildford (373), Plymouth – Turnchapel (363, 373, 374), Plymouth – St Budeaux – Tavistock (including Bere Alston – Callington non Pull Push mode) (363, 373, 374). They also saw railtour use during the 1950’s and have been recorded at Plymouth, Plymstock, Callington, Turnchaple, Exteter, Yeovil, Salisbury, Bisley, Bournemouth, Poole, and Swanage.
I am sure that most modellers of the SR and BR(s) of the western section will be pleased with these models and they make an ideal companion to either the Hornby ex LSWR Drummond M7 or indeed the Kernow Model Rail Centre’s own commissioned ex LSWR Adams O2 0-4-4Ts.