There's not much fro me to say today - we have another bumper letters page with some excellent contributions from many readers. Hornby's 2015 range has attracted a lot of interest and alongside this we've discussions on the closeness of the model railway press to the trade as well as behind-the-scenes history from the Airfix and Mainline railway days.
Thank you for taking the time to do this and have a good weekend.
I expect I won’t be alone in saying that Hornby have really come up trumps with Wednesday’s announcement of the S15 4-6-0 and the J50 0-6-0T. They have been a long time coming and will be heartily welcomed!
I’ll bet a few of you had kits of those lurking under your layouts!
Don’t forget…we’re still running the ‘Little bit of Christmas Fun Kit Survey’ – perhaps these announcements might prompt you into taking part?
Click here to visit the Christmas Kit Survey
It is good to learn of Hornby's proposals for next year.
I am particularly pleased to see the S15 (long overdue for Southern enthusiasts, and the Class 71 for 2016.
I am pleased for GN modellers on account of the J50, which was common at Kings Cross and in the Leeds area. How well this much kit built type will sell remains to be seen (I have three kit built/improved Lima engines allocated to Holden Hill that meet my needs). I would much prefer the J69 (once announced by Airfix) but the GN area is a little short of small engines.
A pity that NER engines such as the B16 & J21/5/J27 are yet to emerge.
The 'event' trainsets, such as the Churchill funeral set and the Dunkirk and end of war set are inspired, and I hope they do well.
Lots more Kings too (you can never, seemingly, have enough Kings).
Overall pretty good. If they are all as good as the new K1, great.
Initial reaction - excellent. I'm really pleased with the S15, Bude (I requested these two from Simon Kohler last year - thank you) and 700 Black Motors on offer this year. With J50 and silver A4s for the LNER, Black 5, horse
van and coaches for the LMS, and the King for the GWR surely everyone will be happy.
It was nice to see such standards as the blue 08 and the Black 5 in the range.
I'm not sure about more Pullmans though, are they sufficiently different from what has gone before?
So what is so good about the S15 and Bude? If you look at what actually ran on the South Western lines in the 50s and 60s, the S15 features heavily on various goods and passenger duties even though officially it is a goods engine: it also covers the pre war period nicely.
Bude was the only survivor of the long smoke deflectors experiment to retire in this distinctive configuration; perhaps this will encourage an early crest long deflector Yeovil or Barnstaple next year.
Well hurrah and huzzah for Hornby; the J50 to modern standards, ditto 1928 all-steel Pullman cars for the Queen of Scots, a Low Moor allocated Black 5 and a single-chimney A3 that is not Flying Scotsman. What more could someone modelling West Riding BR steam want? (Well, a J6 actually but let that pass.)
I am delighted that Hornby seem to be back on good form and wish them every success. If they continue to serve the enthusiast like this they deserve to do well. My pre-orders will be going in as soon as the retailers are ready to take them.
Now let us see if Bachmann can get over Tornado and give us a real A1 to haul those Pullmans: Bois Roussel, Osprey or Foxhunter will do nicely.
I had to laugh at the illustrations of a few of Hornby's new items.
Firstly the R3359 (Rothery Industries) R3360 (Mosley Tarmacadam) and R3361 (Hogarth Stone) locos, all named in honour of three members of dodgy progressive rockers Marillion.
Then there's the R6706 BR HAA wagon, described as bearing 'graffiti'. But even back in BR days I cannot believe for a moment that any graffiti artist worth their salt would have sprayed a wagon with the logo of even dodgier prog rockers Asia.
An example of a Hornby designer trumpeting a little too much of their appalling musical taste, I fear.
Oh, the shame!
PS I'm surprised Hornby hasn't done a fish wagon lettered Derek Dick Ltd...
Never a truer word has been written on MREmag than by Ben Jones (Wednesday) when he said that "...personal opinions (however strongly held) shouldn't be confused with facts..."
This is a fundamental mistake that so many contributors to all internet forums seem to make, the rather egomaniacal "this is what I believe and so it has to be right" school of thought. There's an old saying about opinions, which I'm too polite to quote in the august pages of MREmag, but which is a well-known metaphor for a part of the anatomy that all humans possess.
Ben also noted the presence of "... a small element of the hobby which is competing to be the most offended about whatever the current major issue is, which leads to hyperbole, exaggeration of often very minor issues and a vicious circle of negativity."
In fairness I think part of this is, in a way, of the magazines' own making. Modern photography allows review pages to depict the tiniest model blown up to a size far bigger than reality which, of course, accentuates the smallest thing about it that might be depicted as 'incorrect'.
For example, on page 18 of latest issue of Model Rail (January 2015), the first thing that my eye noted about the photo of the LMS 'Duchess' was that the smokebox number transfer seemed a wee bit wonky. However, a second glance confirmed that it was a N scale model... so that's fair enough. After all who, in all honesty, would ever notice it at the model's actual size, using a Mk1 eyeball at normal viewing distences? Realistically - nobody.
Unfortunately, while depicting such a small model in exceptional photographic detail is great for those modellers with a sensible head on their shoulders, it also has the side effect of giving ammunition to those for whom nothing is ever good enough and who have nothing better to do with their time than to furiously beat their keyboards in fits of pointless, self-aggrandising indignation.
Another old truism could be applied to this kind of internet forum contributor... that it's always the empty vessel which makes the loudest noise.
I must draw attention to a comment made by Ben Jones in his letter
"We do not have the luxury of operating in a consequence free environment. If there is criticism, it must be constructive, honest, justifiable by facts and evidence and measured. If reviews are not honest, then they serve little purpose, except perhaps as free PR."
Wit regard to the recent DJM associated SPA wagon, there was much constructive comment made during the design process on the forum to which Ben is an admin and these observations were ignored. They were raised again on release and through the process and yet none of there errors seem to have been noted in Ben's review in the current issue of BRM. Seems free PR is very apt in this instance
I am prepared to accept that relationships within this small hobby are likely to quite friendly between the makers of models and the editors of the magazines.
However this was not the main thrust of what I was saying. Accepting the possibility of not wishing to offend, and also the fact that a more robust relationship may now exist, the in-house review is still going to be short on criticism where there are design or production defects which only a specialist in the item can notice.
I have banged on for years, here and elsewhere, about the mistakes made on Walschaert's valve gear with return cranks still being put on the wrong way round. This is an error a schoolboy would notice, the fact that I actually designed valve gear like this early in my career means that if I comment on it, something ought to be done. But it isn't being done because the reviewer may not know enough about how steam locos work. I have a feeling that very few know what a 'return crank' is, or what it does. Dozens of reviews of locos with this glaring defect have missed it.The same comments probably apply to the arguments over the precise contour of the front end of a diesel.
Reviews need to come from outside the magazines, to see any improvement here. This is where the HMRS system (alas now abandoned) scored.
When I ran it, I picked known experts in the hobby to do the reviewing. When a new model hits the market by all means mention it, but do not publish a review till some one who can do so accurately provides one. This may hold things up unless the manufacturers give samples in advance to be reviewed to independent specialists (under embargo) with enough time to get this job done.
This isn't rocket science, it is good marketing. When I was TLO at the HMRS I was sent advance production of both kits and RTR in time for our review to appear as soon as possible after launch. We saved them many a boo-boo.
I would never buy a toaster or a car without consulting Which? Must have saved me hundreds.
May I just say how much I enjoyed reading Ben Jones's letter to MREmag. In my opinion it was an informative and well reasoned response to many of the issues that have been raised recently.
Little wonder that BRM has now become a monthly "must have".
May I wish you and everyone a really happy Christmas and may 2015 be kind to us all.
P.S. Very much looking forward to the new Hornby S15.
I very much agree with Ben Jones when he says that there appear to be a small number of readers who love to knock manufacturers.
I have, on occasion, also been critical but hope that I succeed also in being measured and positive wherever possible.
Readers who looked at Wednesdays edition may have seen my (somewhat hasty) shots of the new Hornby K1. I was surprised and delighted to be advised at the weekend, by Rails of Sheffield, of the availability of this engine (I did not pre-order). I placed an order with Rails on Monday, the engine arrived Tuesday and I am delighted with the model, with Hornby and with Rails.
I am interested in railways and model railways for the pleasure they give me. I hope that all correspondents will search for the many good things about modelling and about the suppliers large and small who, very largely, do us proud.
Here is a shot of a slightly larger engine which I got to drive.
Editor: After Wednesday's shots of Dudley's K1, I asked him to check and photograph the side we hadn't seen to see if there is any problem with the running plate. Several comentators on-line have reported issues with a bend in this part but this model doesn't seem to have a problem. To quote Dudley:
"I can see no problems, the running plate seems good and straight both sides. I have to say that I have never (in perhaps 200 locos bought new - I am receiving therapy), had a duff one from Hornby. I once had a Maunsell mogul (Bachmann) which had a wavy running plate that seemed to have been affected by heat. Bachmann supplied a new running plate and I put it on - no problems."
It will be interesting to see how widespread any problems really are.
Like Dudley, Hornby have also made my Christmas and my new K1 will soon be pounding along the slow lines near Greatford with the usual mixed freight.
However, in line with my self indulgent policy of building my loco fleet around photos that I took (no matter how bad!) this little beauty will soon become 62067. Normally this would not be a problem but my photo taken in the summer of 62 clearly shows a different smokebox!
Just like the 01 that I chose to portray (new door poached from a donor Bachmann B1) it nows needs some surgery which is a shame because the original front end looks more attractive and much nicer than what appears to be a 'mini B1'. I have seen pictures from the mid 60's that show it to have been restored to the original state so maybe I will have to break my own rules for once unless anyone has any info on where to get a suitable smokebox door.
On the subject of Hornby it was a real surprise to see this gem pop up from seemingly nowhere when possibly like others I have been waiting for my P2 with TTS and wondering if I will ever see it.
The 2015 catalogue has solved another problem concerning the Pullman cars. Only two weeks ago I began researching how I was going to modify a Railroad Parlour brake to go with my Metro Cammel cars for a Yorkshire Pullman formation. The intention was to create one of the converted third class parlours (no 67). The press release seems to show Car no 79 so I am hoping Hornby will look into the various other quirky options for those modelling ECML pullmans during the sixties.
Thanks to Merl Evans for his letter regarding the Airfix and Mainline Royal Scot locomotives - I do think it is important that those who are first hand witnesses to events are able to put these things on the record as otherwise the urban myths take hold and can then be used as 'evidence' to support possibly questionable assertions!
One (on the record) fact that I would like to correct is that Airfix did not go bust in 1980. In fact, the Airfix group called in the receivers in May 1981. It's very easy to view the world through one's own narrow perspective but it must be remembered that Airfix was a major toy and hobby manufacturer and that its model railway range was but one line amongst many.
As well as the famous kit range they produced toys and games, and owned the British arm of Meccano Ltd, the maker of the construction sets and Dinky Toys. A large part of the woes that brought the group down were the losses incurred by Meccano and in particular, the costs of the close down of the famous Binns Road factory in November 1979. The model railway range had nothing to do with these issues and was effectively collateral damage in these wider events.
Airfix had acquired the UK arm of Meccano from the receivers of the Tri-ang group, which had collapsed in 1971. At that time, Meccano's French arm was purchased by General Mills, better known in the UK for their Palitoy range. With Airfix's collapse in May 1981, they were an obvious suitor to acquire the assets and as a result, Airfix and Mainline ended up as stablemates, with the latter brand prevailing for the railway range (naturally, the Airfix name was retained for plastic kits).
Merl refers to the strategic decision of General Mills to withdraw from the toy and hobby market which had far reaching effects for a number of iconic toy and hobby brands (Airfix, Meccano, Action Man, Dinky Toys for example), and, as he says, the demise of Mainline was the result of this and not any failure of the range in the marketplace.
I too have been reading with considerable interest the latest subjects of Duplication and Short supply. When I saw the comments from my 'former foe' Merl Evans (How are you old friend? I hope all is well with you and yours !) I had to write in with my two penneth worth.
As Merl's opposite number at Airfix G.M.R. Design and Development, I will concur with almost everything he said. Our production of the Royal Scots did not lead to the bankruptcy of Airfix Products. In fact the sales of said Royal Scots exceeded projections.
What caused the collapse of the Airfix empire was trying to keep all the divisions going in a time of recession. For example some seven million pounds was spent bailing Meccano out of trouble and moving it to London from Merseyside. A product that was arguably past it's prime in 1980.
The plastic kits and toy division were holding their own and model railways was the one ray of sunshine. Trying to redefine the Articles of Incorporation so as to increase its borrowing level was the last straw for the banks and financiers. The plug was pulled and the receivers sent in.
As Mr. Evans stated, I had identified a large disadvantage in having production in Hong Kong. We had a perfectly good tool room just downstairs from us. The costing from them may have been higher than Hong Kong but I maintained that any problems or questions could be sorted out within hours not months. I know that statement brought a large nod of understanding from Mr. Evans!
Add to that, any problems or mistakes on the part of H.K. were not costed for and Airfix had to pay for any rectification. Throw in the variable of lost time and the cost of transport, I made my case. The board grudgingly agreed to test the waters with the 5 and 7 plank wagons. This was an outstanding success. It proved to be that our in house quote may have been higher but was accurate.
The end cost from H.K. was very much unknown because of the communication, corrections, and time issues. The next test was the two Siphon vans which also proved positive. The Dean Goods was in the process of being set up on the assembly lines when then metaphoric locks were changed.
Parallel to this was the ridiculous situation of the N2 being produced in H.K.. The mouldings were good. The paint and print were epic but we could not get any more than 50 hours of running out of the motor! No mater what modifications we tried. This on-going farce took over a year! Airfix never did get any them out to sale. When Palitoy/Mainline ended up with the N2 situation it went to sales with a different motor/gear. Something that H.K. would not entertain for us. If only we had a bit more time and the recession hadn't hit just then...
Was it really 30 odd years ago!
formerly of Airfix G.M.R. design and development
I was delighted to read Merl Evan's input to the most famous duplication mess. At last we have the true story of those Royal Scots from some one 'who was there' rather than the guesses we have had to make up till now.
I have to doubt his assertion that it did not contribute to the downfall of two companies, though as he says there was more to it than that, and so it would seem. I am grateful that he felt able to share the real reasons for that debacle with us.
Having once been a manager in a company which made a bad marketing decision (but was so big they got away with it - David Catton knows which one!) I can sympathise. However it beggars belief that one or other of the marketing departments went on willy-nilly with a programme knowing that there was going to be direct competition. The current problems may well deal the same blows to the outfits pressing on into what can only be potential disaster for one of them, maybe both. If two items which are substantially identical appear at the same time one of them will be perceived to be superior, and the other will die on the vine. A couple of bad reviews (see above) could kill either.
It makes all those 'wish lists' a waste of time if development of dupllcates takes place with so many other potential subjects for models being ignored. The idea of two Adams Radials is absurd - I find even to have one is questionable, but then I'm an LMS man.
I have been following with interest all the discussion on new model announcements and time taken to deliver. I have no experience of the model industry, but I do have parallel experience in the motor industry. To me three years from green light to delivering a model is far too long. The motor industry can do a new car in that time, and that would include a vast amount of testing and certification needed for something as complex and regulated as a vehicle.
I would expect a good tool-shop to go from CAD to first shots in less than six months, with final mouldings being available in quantity two or three months later.
The most complex part of a model loco is probably the motor, but you don't need a new motor for each model. So for me anything much over a year from the CAD is more likely to be due to either 1) non-availability of toolmaker capacity to start the work or 2) lack of cashflow to fund the tools.
On 3D printing I don't think you'll see any significant effect on the Hornbys and Bachmanns of the world in terms of production for at least a decade. And when the change finally does come, it may not be what you might expect.
For instance we may evolve to a point where it becomes possible to 3D print not the model but directly or indirectly the tool to mould the model. Why do I say this? Commercial models can't live with the long cycle times which 3D printing imply. A loco body probably moulds in 30 seconds max for one complete cycle. 3D printing will not be able to match that for many many years, even if the resolution available improves to the point where the perceived quality is comparable. The result is that for models with production runs in the high hundreds to thousands the cost of production will remain lower for injection moulding.
3D printing will help as a tool to shorten development times (just as it already has in the car industry) by offering for instance the chance to develop livery samples from the CAD without needing to wait for first shot off tool parts to work with, or to test mechanisms with a near representative thermal and mechanical environment before off tool mouldings are available.
Another area where 3D printing will impact much more quickly is in the world of short run and very specialised kits where I think it will completely displace etching for bodies in the next five years. Etching will probably still have its uses on the mechanical side of our models, but it will be eclipsed elsewhere.
In reply to Nick Lamkin re the broken chassis on the Hornby Class 31.
I also suffered the same problem and despite several phone calls to Hornby I never received a promised replacement chassis and eventually I decided to glue the chassis to the body which means I can no longer access the motor to carry out any maintenance etc. It’s basically going to run until it gives up!
My model was the blue version 31270 which I believe is no longer available and after all this time I doubt Hornby would consider replacing the model!
In answer to Nick Lamb’s question regards broken models, I also had one of the errant class 31 diesels from Hornby. It was apparently a common problem with this particular loco, with the cab ends, both in my case breaking away from the chassis.
I, like Nick had purchased the model some time before getting round to fitting it with a DDC chip, and it was at this point that I found that it was indeed a bad one. As a sometimes critic of Hornby, I have to say that in this instance I received exemplary service from them, by going through Simon Koler, who could not have been more helpful, as always. Once I had sent the broken model back to Simon a new one without faults was returned almost by return of post.
That is what you call good service, and it is to be hoped that the Company will still stick to these principles in the future.
Neil Lamkin asks about Hornby Class 31 locos with failed chassis. Hornby has in fact been replacing these on request for a number of years, although due to supply problems more recently they will, as an alternative, offer a £100 voucher for use through the Hornby shop if a replacement is not available.
Although the failures are unfortunate, in this case I think it needs to be acknowledged that they have tried hard to mitigate the issue.
Readers may need to bear in mind regarding the 2015 4th Quarter posting of this new release that I have just received back (on 17/12/14) from Hornby within a free warranty repair to R2585 34045 Ottery St Mary covering both a minor mechanical repair alongside a possible operational technical concern.
As things stand the returned 34045 Ottery St Mary is ready to start work on different track plans of varying degrees of difficulty to ascertain whether, or not, any problems still persist.
One would hope that if any other readers have anything to say on any model of this type that they should contact Hornby direct over the next few months first and not air possible concerns anywhere else.
Further to Ian Taylor’s comment on Wednesday 4 car set 869 was formed in 1952 and contained BTK: 34239 / CK: 15027 / TK: 24305 / BTK: 34240. Thirds (T) became Seconds (S) in June 1956. And the coach and set numbers on Hornby’s new SR coaches ref R4607, R4608, R4609 & R4609A are indeed, correct for this set. However it is extremely unlikely that it had roundels as applied by Hornby! These were restricted to the ’Royal Wessex’ train.
It was an E. Section set until c.1959. It was then on Hastings & Eastbourne to the WR and other through trains until Summer 1961. In winter 1961/62 it was a special traffic set based at Eardley. In Summer 1962 it was on Eastbourne and Hastings to Birmingham. It was reduced to a 3-car set during 1962, loosing the SK, 24305. I don’t have 1963 details but by Summer 1964 (as a 3 car set) it was operating on the Western Section. This lasted until 1965/66 when set working was abandoned on the Region.
Of course, when built in 1952, it was turned out in crimson and cream, not being repainted green until after 1956, I suspect (though I don’t have a precise date) around 1959.
The review of Hornby Magazine attributes Haddon Bank to the Guildford MRC whereas it is the work of Chelmsford Model Railway Club.
With regard to "Hints & Tips No.919 - Electrofrog or Insul Frog?" I have a large number of manually operated Peco medium radius code 75 electrofrog points on my layout.
I find that a wide variety of locos (DMUs, EMUs and small 0-6-0s up to 9Fs) run without any problem over unmodified points with no extra electrical connections as long as the power is always fed from the toe of the point as suggested in the hint and tip. In the past I had been put off using electrofrog points by not wanting to have extra wiring but I eventually took the plunge and found it unnecessary.
MREmag has had rather an overload of ‘doom and gloom’ postings of late which haven’t made pleasant reading. Whilst my posting here won’t be a panacea or ‘make it all go away’, I thought I would write to simply say this……
I am totally and thoroughly enjoying my model railway!
Month by month, new models turn up and these gradually take their place on my layout (which is ‘generic’ and can purport to be WR, SR, LMR or ER just by changing the stock).
Slowly, but surely, I am recreating the memories of my steam/diesel era youth; Class 31s on the Lea Valley Enterprise; Black 5s, Jubilees, Princesses and Duchesses lined up on shed; splitting and reforming express trains at Exeter Central; shunting a long line of different types of wagons in my sorting sidings; and watching the occasional outer-suburban train of Thompson non-gangwayed stock double-headed by a B1 and a bunker-first L1 – fantastic!
Perhaps it’s time to return to ‘the good old days’ when MREmag readers could ask a modelling question and get a speedy, comprehensive and factual reply?
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New in at the Bachmann offices are engineering samples for our OO scale BR/SR CCT Vans, known variously as Covered Carriage Trucks (CCT), Passenger Parcels & Miscellaneous Vans (PMV) and Passenger Luggage Vans (PLV).
The models include highly detailed under frame equipment including axle brake linkage as accessory items, wire grab rails, separate torpedo vents and footsteps and a close coupling system with NEM pockets. They are also available with or without footsteps and with different planking layouts (PLV and PMV have even planks, CCT has 2+2 planking). In addition there are options of roof with/without vents.
Four different models are being produced: 39-525 Passenger Luggage Van (PLV) in SR Green livery, 39-526 Passenger Parcels & Miscellaneous Van (PMV) in BR Crimson livery, 39-527 Passenger Parcels & Miscellaneous Van (PMV) in BR Green livery and 39-528 Covered Carriage Truck (CCT) in BR Blue (weathered) livery.
From the Titfield Thunderbolt website:
Wild Swan Books Ltd
I am very pleased to announce that as from Tuesday 16th December I have taken over the book publishing and marketing operations of Wild Swan Publications from Paul Karau and June Judge. From now I will be handling all trade and retail sales and will be responsible for the future production of all new titles under the Wild Swan imprint.
Paul is happily carrying on with the magazine publishing side of the business, namely Model Railway Journal, Great Western Journal, British Railway Journal and the new LMS Review, together with continuing sales of the LMS Journal and Midland Record. He will be changing the name of the magazine business to Cygnet Magazines as he is keen that the Wild Swan name should stay with the book publishing business.
I have long admired Wild Swan books and am very pleased to have the opportunity to continue the name and business into the future. Paul has very kindly indicated his willingness to stay very much involved in the production side of things and there are a number of projects in the pipeline together with some new ideas for publishing projects.
There are lots of details to be attended to and I will announce developments here as they unfold. My very talented friend George Mumford has devised an excellent "back of house" administrative system and I will shortly be putting up a new website for Wild Swan at www.wildswanbooks.co.uk, which will become the website for Wild Swan.
Especially when you're painting miniatures you want to be able to paint very tiny things. For this you obviously need a small brush. You can take a brush (e.g. size 0) and cut the outer hairs so you are left with a brush that is thin enough for even the finest work.
Here we have English Electric’s most famous mixed traffic design. The first batch entered service in 1960 and the Class 37s became the largest of the Type 3 classes with a total of 309 being built between 1957 and 1962. Over the years that followed, modifications and refurbishments created six subclasses. Refurbishment was seen as an alternative to locomotive replacement in 1984 as, within the budget available, it would give the British Railways Board more up to date locomotives. A total of 135 of the 309 members of the class underwent refurbishment at Crewe. The subsequent 37/4 subclass, as represented by this model, contained locomotives modified for passenger work by the addition of an electric train supply (ETS) for heating the carriages.
New this year, six versions of the model were initially planned. The version seen here is superbly detailed. It has a twin flywheel 5-pole skew-wound motor, a 6-pin DCC socket fitted and cab interior detail. The bag-o-bits which comes with the model includes snowploughs and cab-front/bufferbeam fittings.
The model is in DRS ‘compass livery as 37409 Lord Hinton and the printing is clean and neatly applied. The fine lettering is easily readable with a good magnifying glass.
The real locomotive was built by English Electric at their Vulcan Foundry and introduced in March 1965 as D6970. It was given its TOPS number 37409 in February 1974 and was renumbered in October 1985. It carried the name Loch Awe between August 1996 and June 2002.
The recommended retail price for each of these models is £104.95.