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Statement from Ixion Model Railways Ltd
The model looks like an Earl the overall impression is convincing; the archaic appearance is very obvious. The overall finish is very crisp and legible.
The Great Western Earl class was introduced in 1936, primarily to replace the aging Duke of Cornwall class on the lightly laid main lines of the former Cambrian, Didcot Newbury & Southampton and Midland & South Western Junction Railways. The “new” engines incorporated the refurbished chassis from redundant Bulldog class engines carrying Duke class boilers and cabs, the result was a mechanically updated, but still archaic looking, engine with an axle load below 16 tons but capable of hauling the available traffic.
When introduced they were numbered in the 32xx series, the initial batch of 20 engines were allocated “Earl” names, although only the first 13 carried them and these were removed during 1937. A second batch of 20 engines was commenced during 1938, but following the outbreak of the 2nd World War in September 1939 construction ceased after 9 engines. They were renumbered in the same order into the 90xx series during 1946.
The new engines were always closely associated with the former Cambrian Railways sheds, with around two thirds of the class usually allocated to them, the remainder were usually shared between Swindon, Gloucester, Didcot, and Tyseley. However, following the upgrading of their stamping grounds during WW2, they were displaced from the most prestigious duties and the first 3 were withdrawn 1948, the remainder followed between 1954 and 1960. Fortunately 9017 is preserved on the Bluebell Railway in Kent.
The model supplied for review carries British Railways unlined black livery with the early emblem in “ex-works” condition; it will also available in post war GWR green livery and weathered BR black. The model captures the archaic looks of the prototype with its double frames, outside cranks, spartan cab and a small diameter low mounted boiler carrying a tall chimney and dome.
The detail in the models cab is clearly shown as is the lack of a crew. The lack of thickness of the printed cab side number plate is apparent.
The model has a boiler without a top feed, one of the three types carried by the class; the other types had different styles of top feed cover. The model is fitted with a copper capped chimney which doesn’t appear to have been a very common prototype fitting during BR days. The chassis has small sand boxes fitted as did the majority of the prototype but a few did carry an enlarged pattern.
The model is dimensionally quite accurate but the front buffer beam is noticeably shallower than scale, by approx. 2mm, no doubt a necessity to allow the fitting of the front tension lock coupling.
The tender is a Churchward pattern of 3500 gallon capacity, the most common type attached to the class, although in true Great Western style other types of tender were also utilised. The model captures the feel of the prototype.
The “coal” is a separate metal casting which is easily removed to reveal the coal space beneath and allow the tender to be coaled to the owner’s desires. The rear tension lock coupling plugs into a standard socket and is easily removed.
The locomotive body follows Bachmann usual approach incorporating a cast metal footplate, with injection moulded plastic cab, firebox, boiler and smokebox fitted. The model is completed with separate buffer heads, hand rails, vacuum pipes, lamp irons, cosmetic screw couplings and tie bars are supplied for fitting if required by the owner. The cab has a wealth of backhead detail, but the lack of a crew is very noticeable in such an open cab. The finish of the model is crisp and sharp but the printed number plates fail to capture the relief of the prototype; etched metal number plates would be a welcome improvement.
The main chassis block is a metal die-casting with plastic keeper plate, containing the brake rodding and brake blocks that line up with the wheel treads. The bogie side frames are of the correct plate frame style, an NEM socket is provided to accept the front tension lock coupling, this does mean that the ATC shoe is missing. Correct pattern coupling rods are fitted.
The model is driven by a 3-pole open framed motor powering the rear axle through a worm wheel and spur gear reduction gear. The locomotive is coupled to the tender by an adjustable length draw bar, electrical continuity is via 4-pin plug and socket, a small bracket fitted to the draw bar holds the wires clear of trouble. Electrical pick-up is achieved using wipers on the rear of the four driving wheels and split axle pick up from the outer four wheels on the tender.
The chassis removed from the body showing the open framed motor and the connection and plug to the tender are shown.
The loco to tender electrical connection is shown with the 4-pin plug and socket between the front two axles of the tender, the clip on the drawbar is also shown. The draw bar adjustment screw is just visible beneath the leading axle.
The tender has separate plastic mouldings for the body and chassis with separate factory fitted buffers heads, brake standards, lamp irons, rear hand rails and vacuum pipes, the brake rodding, vacuum reservoir and screw link couplings are supplied for user fitting. A set of fire irons is also supplied. A separate metal casting represents the coal, this is easily removable revealing the coal space below. A slightly disappointing feature is the brake blocks are moulded as part of the tender chassis and consequently are about 2mm out of line from the wheel treads. The tender comes fitted with a standard tension lock coupling mounted in an NEM socket. A standard 21-pin socket ready wired for a DCC decoder unit is carried in the tender, a speaker mounting is also provided in the tender.
The Earl from the front showing the shallow buffer beam, it should be about 50% deeper. The prominent capper cap fitted to the chimney does not appear to be very common on the prototype.
The running was excellent straight from the box, it ran smoothly and controllably from around a scale walking pace up to a realistic looking top speed, the model proved to be a good shunting engine straight from the box. After a little running in the model comfortably hauled 7 Bachmann Mk.1 coaches, however, the addition of an eighth coach resulted in excessive slipping. This level of performance should be adequate for most people’s requirements and represents the typical maximum load of the prototype.
This recent release from Bachmann will no doubt be a success and prove to be popular with modellers and collectors alike, Bachmann should have another good seller. The size of the class may restrict the number of further releases representing other members of the class. However, by utilising this chassis and footplate with new boiler, smokebox, firebox and cab mouldings Bachmann could produce a GWR Bulldog which would prove very popular with GWR modellers.
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