10 September 2020
Produced exclusively for the National Railway Museum's model railway arm franchise, this latest addition to the 'National Collection in Miniature' series is examined by Andy York.
Complementing Heljan’s recent release of main range Class 33 locomotives, Locomotion Models has commissioned an exclusive edition of ‘Crompton’ D6535, part of the National Collection. This is the first exclusive edition model produced for Locomotion Models by the Danish manufacturer.
Built by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, it was delivered on December 10, 1960, entering service on British Railways Southern Region as D6535. It was renumbered 33116 December 31, 1973, and was named Hertfordshire Rail Tours on December 11, 1993, at Weymouth station by John Farrow and Ian Kapur of Hertfordshire Rail Tours. The name was carried until April 1998. It was withdrawn from traffic in August 1998 and stored out of use at Old Oak Common until June 2003, when it was acquired for the National Collection. D6535 was push/pull fitted and was usually found operating with non-powered 4TC units on non-electrified lines on the Southern Region. These were designated as Class 33/1 locomotives for push/pull working, which was commonplace between Bournemouth and Weymouth prior to completion of the Weymouth electrification scheme in 1988.
The National Railway Museum loaned D6535 to the Great Central Railway in April 2005, where it has been located ever since and where it is available for traffic, although it looks in need of some cosmetic restoration to bring it up to the standard of Heljan’s delightful decoration.
This recent reworking of Heljan’s Class 33 features the re-tooled bogie sideframes with the springing correctly inset which, to me, makes a big difference to the appearance. The body retains the moulded style of bodyside grilles, which I find preferable to the etched type of grille fitted to the re-tooled early variant Class 33/0 of a few years ago. Where this model particularly shines is the quality of decoration with the white-walled tyres and painted axle roller bearings, even before getting to the body decoration.
Colour can be a subjective issue at times and I find that the shade of BR blue applied to this model is a touch darker than some previous Heljan incarnations. We had an extensive three-way discussion about this shade and ended up with three opinions and no conclusion, so I’m sure you'll have your own, too! The model is delivered with printed Hertfordshire Rail Tours nameplates and Eastleigh ‘Spitfire’ depot plaques but is further improved by the inclusion of etched plates from Shawplan’s Extreme Etchings range. These are as good as one can get and sit perfectly over the printed renditions.
The detailing pack supplied includes bufferbeam detailing – although much of this is already attached – cosmetic buckeye couplings and snowploughs. There are sufficient parts for both ends, but full detailing would preclude the use of the included tension-lock couplings. The pack also includes blue-painted cab-to-shore radio cover pods for each cab roof. Care should be taken to ensure you are happy with the placement compared with prototype photographs before fitting these into position.
The performance of the model is as good as it always has been, with ample mass and a strong motor giving stronger model performances than the prototype ever did. Overall, it’s a useful and capable model enhanced by top-quality decoration and provision of extras for the modeller to get the best out of it.