British Railway Modelling (BRM)
N GAUGE SOCIETY HUNSLET 0-6-DH
It was the 50th anniversary of the formation of the N Gauge Society four years ago, and to celebrate the landmark, it announced the commissioning of its first ready-to-run locomotive. The Hunslet 0-6-0 Diesel Hydraulic shunter is an excellent choice, with manufacture of the 403HP locomotive running from the 1960s through to the end of the 1980s, serving a wide number of industrial users and still existing in industrial and preservation usage, with an expansive range of colourful and appealing liveries.
Surprisingly, this is the first accurate pure industrial locomotive available RTR in N gauge and will suit large layouts that include industrial sidings and works through to compact scenes, so holds wide appeal. The society is offering 50T and 55T versions, which span the life of the prototype with variations in handrails, exhausts, buffers and footplate equipment boxes.
Our review sample is a 50T version in British Steel yellow livery as seen at its Workington site in the early 2000s. The model looks absolute spot on for dimensions and appearance comparing it to prototype images, and has remarkable finesse to the handrails in particular, although the user should handle with care to avoid breaking or distorting them. The fine wheels look particularly good and don't betray the scale. I know, through the designer's experience, that it will be readily suited to conversion to 2FS standards with phosphor bronze sintered hornblocks as part of the electrical pick-up, avoiding the chance of wiper pickups losing contact with the rear of the wheel.
The model arrives pre-fitted with a DCC decoder configured to work on both DC- and DCC-powered layouts. Due to the circuitry, it might require about onethird power on a 12V DC controller before it moves, but once achieved, running is excellent with fine slow-speed control helped by the circuitry. The real locomotives only ran to 15mph, so fine control is essential, though it can run at a scale speed in excess of that. The model includes a factory-fitted stay-alive capacitor to provide power for short losses of pick-up over point frogs, so this is a well-thought-through package. After testing, I'll attest that this is the best-running RTR UK N gauge locomotive I've seen – it's quite remarkable.
The accessory pack includes a blanking plate for bufferbeams and additional bufferbeam pipework if the ugly Rapido coupling is removed. With DCC control, the model comes more to life with headlights (F0), a wonderful little flashing LED beacon on the cab roof for some models (F1), a pre-programmed ‘shuffle' for coupling/ uncoupling scenarios (F2), which requires mastering, a shunting mode where the inertia is removed (F3) and headlight dimming (F7). It's an enticing proposition to make it worth joining the society.
The model is offered in 15 liveries, which are all to be found on the society's website. There's even an unpainted version for the modeller to personalise their models.
Genuinely, I cannot speak highly enough of the model and its value for money. I've already started lobbying to see it grow to a 4mm:1ft scale model in the future!