Andy York declares this latest model in 'N' from Graham Farish as superior to previous OO gauge models in shape and character.
Graham Farish introduced a new model of the Class 31 early in 2015, which catered for locomotives from introduction through to the mid-1980s before the refurbishment programme. This year sees further versions of these models, plus a newly-tooled body representing the refurbished versions to take us onwards from the 1980s through to the 2010s. Although the main reason for refurbishment was performance related, which saw maximum speeds on some locomotives increased from 80mph to 90mph, the main visual difference was the removal of the waist-high band around the body and nose, revised roof panelling, and plating over the headcode panel to create ‘domino’ lighting.
The new body tooling reflects these alterations, but there are differences inside, too, with a change from the previous six-pin decoder socket to the better standard Next18. The body simply unclips and can be eased away for access to the decoder socket. There are no cumbersome wires inside with contacts for the chassis to body interface for the directional lighting, which takes the form of domino marker lights and waist height tail lights at the opposite end. Analogue users have the option of turning the directional lights off at either end by means of the two small DIP switches on the top of the circuit board.
The overall looks, detail and design of the model is exemplary. It could be argued that the Farish Class 31 is superior to any of the OO models in shape and character. Comment had been made regarding the thickness of the windows, but this is addressed and is less relevant in these liveries because the window surrounds are painted a different colour.
The Commonwealth bogies are correctly shaped and have good relief in the framework and springing, plus separate footsteps and sandpipes. Even the centre axle on each bogie has smaller diameter wheels and is unpowered, just like a real Class 31 with its A1A-A1A axle arrangement.
Our review model sports Railfreight Grey livery but there’s also a more attractive Railfreight Petroleum sector-liveried model in addition to the more recent Network Rail yellow version. Each of these models and the pre-refurbished models arriving are available in DCC ready and DCC sound-fitted versions. We’ve yet to hear the sound version, but Farish is doing well with other models on that score.
The model ran smoothly and capably-handled eight Mk. 1 coaches on the level on test and is a welcome addition to the later Diesel Electric modellers’ arsenal. Highly-recommended.
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