11 March 2020
Bachmann’s latest model provides a ready-to-run version of the Class 24 with cab roof headcode indicator boxes and without the lower valance to the body sides. Andy York investigates...
In my pre-TOPS numbering trainspotting days, we didn’t know the locomotives as Class 24, 24/1 or even Class 25, they were just ‘Sulzer Twos’. The early locomotives (D5000 – D5150) had lower-powered engines (1160HP) and became Class 24, whilst the later numbered locomotives from D5151 onwards utilised 1250HP Sulzer engines became Class 25. D5000-D5113 (later classified as Class 24/0) were readily identifiable from a distance with their domed cab roof without a headcode box and from that point upwards it became a little more difficult, from a distance, to know what you were seeing. Simplistically a Class 24/1 is a 1160HP Type 2 Sulzer with a headcode indicator box and not just because the TOPS numbering gave it a 24 1xx identification. As the story moves on with the 1200HP (Class 25) versions, the early numbers, D5151 – D5176, also featured the same style of headcode box, whilst D5177 onwards had an extended box with the horns on each side of the headcode indicators.
An excellent detailing pack is included with nine items to be fitted to each bufferbeam area and etched makers’ plates for the drivers’ cab doors. Snowploughs are also included to fit into the NEM pockets.
Our review model is 24137 in BR Blue which dates it to post April 1974 when it was allocated to Stoke and prior to its storage and withdrawal in May 1978. This version illustrates that Bachmann have made a commitment to different tooling slides to accommodate variations which happened within the operational life of the locomotives, with its plated-over boiler room grille and bodyside grab rails and steps which led to the steam boiler filler at cant rail height. The grille was plated over to reduce the amount of cool air getting into the steam-heat boiler area and the steps were plated over for safety reasons as the class frequently operated below overhead electric equipment. The other two models released in BR green feature the boiler room grille and steps thanks to a different tooling slide for the bodyside being utilised.
The chassis and bogie frames feature excellent relief and detail, comparing very well with the prototype. In this area there were variations in the size and style of the fuel and water tanks around and beneath the batteries so it’s worth consulting photographs if you wish to renumber the model. The same caveat certainly applies when looking at headcode boxes too, as some Class 24/1 locomotives received later-style headcode boxes with side horns after maintenance at one or both ends. The class is certainly a minefield for the unwary and that’s before we get into tablet recesses for Inverness allocations – always check the photographs and dates!
Fitting a 21-pin DCC decoder is straightforward - six screws to remove the body and you are in. The model has a pre-fitted speaker below the fan grille area so a sound-fitting is a very easy install. Directional lamps and subtle headcode indicator characters can also be configured by the analogue control user via the dipswitches beneath the tanks.
There’s nothing to fault the model and, just like the real thing, it's a capable maid of all work for a 1970s layout.
Read the full review in the Spring 2020 issue of BRM, available from www.pocketmags.com/BRM