Bachmann’s LBSCR ‘Atlantic’ and Hornby’s Railroad ‘14XX’ go under the spotlight.
Bachmann has taken a lot of flak from militant keyboard warriors for the length of time that it’s taken to develop certain models. While Bachmann isn’t entirely blameless for this situation, it does tie in with its new design ethos – like pouring a pint of Guinness, it takes time to achieve perfection! The elegant London & Brighton & South Coast Railway ‘H2’ 4-4-2 has been five years in the making. It’s been tantalisingly close for what seems like ages. Last summer, its arrival was postponed as some tooling tweaks were still required – proof that Bachmann wants to ensure that a model is as good as it can be before it’s released to the public. We received ‘H2’ No. 32424 Beachy Head for review. This was arguably the most famous of the six ‘H2s’, for it outlasted its siblings by two years and is one of those missed opportunities for preservation. Happily, that wrong is being righted as a replica is nearing completion at the Bluebell Railway. Beachy Head was a railtour favourite and looked particularly splendid in BR lined black. It’s this familiar livery that our sample carries and it does indeed look, well, splendid. The paint and printing is to Bachmann’s usual high standard. A pair of etched plates is supplied in the box, but the printed ones are so beautifully printed that it seems a shame to cover them up. Impressive stuff! FOOTPLATE FINESSE It seems strange to start the review with the footplate but the ‘H2’ has a feature that we’ve never seen before: a fully hinged deflector plate that protects the driver when the firehole door is open. The finish here is good too, with lots of subtle brass and copper paintwork and all the fittings appear to be where they should. The finishing touch is a hinged metal fallplate. Taking a step back from Beachy Head reveals what an excellent model it is. Bachmann’s design team nailed that intriguing blend of Great Northern and LBSCR styling. The shape and proportions look right and compare well to prototype photographs (published drawings are a little scarce). Even the unprototypical bend in the connecting rod, which draws the eye on the GNR ‘Atlantic’ (MR210), isn’t as noticeable here. The die-cast metal running plate gives the ‘H2’ plenty of weight. The trailing truck frames are die-cast too but, between them, the fully flanged trailing axle, mounted on a pivot, has plenty of play – see opposite to see how it worked on our test track. The smooth, handsome lines mean that there’s not a great detail of separately fitted detail to comment on, but what’s there is excellently rendered. When you have to sink to the level of criticising the lack of mating flanges on the smokebox end of the driver’s side steam pipe, you know that you have a very good model on your hands!
Rivet detail is impressive throughout. Those around the smokebox are good but it’s the ribs on the cab roof that really catch the eye. It’s worth looking at the line of rivets around the tender tank too – they’re just as good.
The only visual niggle concerns the all-important ‘face’. The shape, proportions and ‘dish’ of the smokebox door are spot on but the effect is spoilt by the lamp irons, as they sit a little too close to the handrail. Due to the tolerances involved with working with parts of this size, it’s difficult to see how this could be avoided.
The shape and proportions look right and compare very well to prototype photographs
The other slight issue concerns the way the handrails are fixed to the boiler and smokebox. There is a very small gap around the base of each handrail knob when there was no such gap on the real locomotive. Again, it seems churlish to point it out but, from certain angles, it is quite noticeable. These very minor niggles should in no way detract from what is a truly excellent model. It looks like an ‘H2’ from every angle – from the prototypically tiny gap between the driving wheels to the protruding washout plugs. Full credit to Bachmann – the ‘H2’ really has been worth the wait and is heartily recommended. Bring on the ‘H1’!
Drummond whistle, fitted to side of safety valve bonnet Lowered dome, fitted November 1935 Cast iron Ashford ‘U1’ pattern chimney, fitted November 1935 Cab corners rounded-off, fitted November 1935 Maunsell superheater snifter valves removed 200lbs/sq. in boiler, modified April 1938 Southern Railway pattern lamp irons