New OO Gauge Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 Fireless locomotive

19 February 2024
Rapido Trains has revealed it will be expanding its OO range of industrials with the black sheep of the family, the Andrew Barclay 0-4-0 Fireless.

The new model will be available in a variety of liveries, covering the loco's lengthy history, from the 1920s right through to the present day. 

Specification highlights include a factory-installed speaker, NEM Coupler pockets, an ESU E24 decoder socket, variations of reservoir supports buffer guides, reducing valves, and also some versions with an extra tank and injector. 

The models can then be personalised with oil and electric lamps, cab side windows, low doors, shutters, and full cab doors. 

Currently in tooling, the order book is open for the new model, and you can pre-order your DCC Ready (RRP £139.95) or DCC Sound Fitted (RRP £249.95) versions directly from Rapido’s website, or from any of its official retailers. 

Proposed liveries

  • SKU 965001: Bowaters (Kent) No.2 (Works No. 1962)
  • SKU 965002: Lined Caledonian Blue
  • SKU 965003: Croda Chemicals (Works No. 1944)
  • SKU 965004: Shell Mex (Works No. 1952)
  • SKU 965005: Bowaters (Ellesmere) No.1 (Works No. 1982)
  • SKU 965006: Boots No.2 (Works No. 2008)
  • SKU 965007: Doon Valley Railway (Preserved) (Works No. 1952)
  • SKU 965008: Gloucester Corporation (Works No. 2126)
  • SKU 965009: CEGB (Works No. 2126)
  • SKU 965010: Lined Maroon

About the prototype

As the railways established themselves as a reliable method to transport goods one problem came to the forefront – fire. Steam locos fundamentally need a heat source created from some form of fire to turn water into steam. However, this fire, alongside sparks emitted from the chimney, caused great concern in environments where munitions, fuel or other flammable materials were being moved or stored.

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Thankfully, the clever idea of harnessing steam power in a large rechargeable steam reservoir, which would sit in the place of the boiler of a conventional steam locomotive, was formed. This reservoir would be filled with a mix of boiling water and steam at high pressure. As the locomotive was used, the steam would be used and thus, the pressure in the reservoir would drop. This in turn allowed the water to start to boil replacing the steam that had been used. With this method, a locomotive could work for about 4 hours prior to recharging.

The result is a design that has a distinct lack of key features that people associate with more traditional steam locomotives, such as a smokebox and chimney, a firebox, forward-mounted cylinders, and coal bunkers or tenders. Its lack of a firebox requires its cylinders to be rear-mounted both to improve efficiency and redistribute the weight of the loco, and its other missing features are simply because they are surplus to requirement.

Engineered to be simple and rugged, they could run anywhere there was an existing steam supply, and allowed single man working as well as being very cheap to maintain. A true pioneer of rechargeable transportation. 

The largest number of British-built fireless locomotives were constructed by Andrew Barclay & Co. Ltd, and an impressive 114 were built between 1913 and 1961 of varying designs, so it was only fitting that we pick the most numerous of Barclay’s prototypes, the ‘Caledonia’, to produce as the very first Ready-to-run OO Gauge British Fireless loco.

These industrial oddities survived far longer than most British Railways and industrial coal-fired steam locos with many examples working into the 1980s and even into the 1990s. 

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