14 December 2020
Bachmann has gone to remarkable lengths in catering for the variations through the long life of these locomotives, as Andy York discovers.
Bachmann has steadily built a good stable of Midland-origin and early-LMS smaller locomotives with the Johnson 1F, Johnson 3F, Fowler 3F ‘Jinty’, Fowler 4F, Hughes 'Crab' and 4P Compound, so the 1P classified 1532 tank is a welcome addition for branch and suburban passenger services.
The Midland Railway 1532 class consisted of 65 0-4-4T locomotives, built by Derby Works between 1881 and 1886 to the design of Samuel W. Johnson. The class could be found anywhere across the former Midland lines and were known for allocations on the Somerset and Dorset at the southerly reaches of influence. How pretty would this model look in lined Prussian Blue to match its Collectors’ Club 4F? Some locomotives were also fitted with condensing gear to facilitate running through Metropolitan Railway tunnels in London.
The prettiest of the catalogue range releases is undoubtedly the lined crimson-liveried Midland Railway example, which is much of the appeal of pre-grouping era models, but I won't argue against the simple elegance of this sample in LMS livery as worn in the 1930s. Although withdrawals took place from 1919, there were still 14 locomotives in LMS stock at the time of nationalisation, and withdrawal from service was a gradual process until 1956. Bachmann is also releasing a British Railways lined early-emblem version to delight the modeller of the nationalised railway.
There are substantial and numerous variations within the released models. The Midland version has the handrail over the top of the smokebox door and a shaped Johnson chimney, round-topped firebox with Salter-valved dome and solid-backed coal rails to the bunker. The LMS model has a 3ft Deeley chimney, smokebox door with handrail above the number and a push-pull pump on the smokebox side with cab-roof linkages; the bunker has two-barred open coal rails. The BR version sports a Belpaire boiler with larger firebox, additional fire iron brackets in front of the smokebox, Stanier chimney, larger dome and Ross pop valves, prominent condensing pipes to the boiler sides and, once again, different coal rails. The BR model is 58072, which was much-pictured as one of the last of these tanks in service on the former Somerset & Dorset.
The deep yellow and red-shadowed letters and numbering of the LMS variant are executed with precision, and the works plate is discernible as printed in a slightly lighter grey beneath the cabside number. Numbered as 1303 with a Gloucester shedplate on the smokebox door, the model compares well to a 1930s photograph at Derby.
The initial impression on removal from the box is a nicely-balanced weight of 193g with a centre of gravity in line with the centre of the rear driving wheels. This has been achieved by mounting the can motor to the front of the chassis, which has die-cast running plates plus a weight that fits inside the smokebox. This balance reflected well in performance on test, capably handling six coaches with excellent current collection from all wheels. Performance suffers once you hit gradients, with the model only handling a few coaches up a 1-in-50 gradient, but this issue has been covered by Bachmann. A replacement wheelset with traction tyres and gear to replace the rear wheelset is included. Bachmann recommends the use of its (MM026) ModelMaker Crank Pin Spanner to assist in disconnecting the coupling rods from the wheels after they have been released by removal of the keeper plate from the base of the model. Once replaced, the model capably handled the load up the gradient.
The position of the motor and cradle illustrates how Bachmann designed the model to have a forward centre of gravity.
Models are available DCC sound fitted, but basic functionality of speed-related sounds can be achieved under analogue control. In DCC-ready guise, the model includes a Next18 decoder socket. Access to the socket is by removal of screws and the body. The model comes with a bag of accessories including steam heat pipes, screw-link couplings, cab doors (which slide into the locating grooves) and cab steps that improve the look of the model substantially if the layout curves permit. After fitting these, I found that the model comfortably managed third radius curves.
A feature of this model is the firebox flicker via red and yellow LEDs in the firehole, which is further controllable with DCC and tethered to sound effects on the sound-fitted models.
The low angle shows the graceful proportions of the locomotive well. Andy York kinked the piping to the vacuum cylinder on the smokebox on reassembly after inspection, but the fit of everything on arrival was perfect.
Overall, it’s quite remarkable the lengths that Bachmann has gone to in catering for the variations through the long life of these locomotives. It’s an appealing prototype to have chosen and has been executed well. If you want express performance on train-set gradients you will need to change the wheelset, but this is an acceptable approach that doesn't spoil the finesse of this model.