Hornby LMS 20T brake vans


By Howard Smith

24 January 2020

A common sight from the 1930s to the late-1980s on Britain's railways , the LMS/BR 20T brake van was ubiquitous. Hornby's updated iteration has a guaranteed audience.

Disappeared now (for quite some time) in normal goods service, the brake van at the rear of a freight train was essential well into the last quarter of the last century. All the separate companies built types to their own designs, and the LMS 20T reviewed here were among the most common.

Hornby 20T brake van

Hornby's brake van is sure to be an 'evergreen' product.

The design dates back to the late 1930s and was the last type built by the LMS. With its 20ft wheelbase, it was larger overall than the previous 16ft wheelbase type, and, although still wooden-bodied, the ends were metal, giving a more modern appearance. The extra length also ensured good riding for the guard, often at high speed.

LMS brakevan interior detail

Screw removal provides access for interior detailing, if required.

Hornby has long had a model of this type in its range, a descendant from the original Airfix range. This one represents entirely new tooling, and two examples were presented for review – one in LMS unfitted grey and the other in piped/fitted BR bauxite. Both are exceptionally fine examples of modern RTR rolling stock. They check out exactly in all principal and minor dimensions. The fitted van incorporates the extra ballast between the axles. Though the original Airfix/Hornby example had moulded-on handrails, these latest ones are equipped with separate metal ones (with the exception of the safety rails, which are moulded-on and modelled as dropped down). A keen ‘improver’ might consider remaking these, for it was usual to have the rails in the horizontal safety position when travelling. The long, horizontal handrails on both models have a tendency to bow, and, although the inboard stanchions are modelled, they’re not actually attached to the rails.

Hornby LMS brakevan

Underframe details differ correctly - note the enlarged weights on the fitted van, pictured right.

Both liveries are exceptionally well-applied, with lettering and branding all crisp and correct. The LMS builder’s plates on the solebars are legible, but more easily-read by the camera!
The wheels are true round, concentric and have consistent back-to-backs – consistent enough to run through both hand-built and Peco trackwork. The brake blocks are in line with the tyres, which will make conversion to EM or P4 a bit difficult. Believe me, these models will be used by those who model in the more-accurate 4mm gauges!

Read the full review in the March 2020 issue of BRM, available to download from www.pocketmags.com/BRM