These suburban coaches were designed by Collett for use on Great Western branchlines and main lines. They were based on the 60'0" length, 9'3" wide series, built from 1930. The longer length permitted more space in the third class compartments but the wider body necessitated the recessing of the door handles.
Most of the Bristol area sets remained in use into the early 1960's whereas the Birmingham area sets were divided into three coach sets after the area became part of the Midland region in 1955.
The Bristol Division 'B' sets an Birmingham/Worcester Division 'D' sets were made up of two closely coupled Brake Composites to Diagram E140. They were normally hauled by a small Prairie, although the Birmingham/Worcester sets were normally hauled by larger Prairies.
The Birmingham Division 'B' sets and London Division 'A' sets were four coach units, consisting of a pair of Brake Thirds to Diagram D109 and a paid of Composites to Diagram E141. These were hauled by both small ane large Praries and sometimes, a 43xx Mogul.
The models which are the subject of this review represents a Bristol Division 'B' set.
The Lionheart models are provided in a sizeable box containing two separate polystyrene trays, one for each coach, stacked on top of each other such that both coaches can be seen through the front of the box.
The coaches are wrapped in a protective plastic sheet which aids their removal from their respective trays. Once removed, one can only say that they look truly magnificent! :
The author's initial observation was that there were loose parts rolling around both in the trays and internally. This turned out to be a buffer shank which had come out of its buffer beam on one coach and the window glazing on the luggage compartment doors on both coaches as can be seen in the picture above.
The buffer was an easy 'push and fit' with a little solvent glue to help.
The windows necessitated removal of the roof and re-gluing the perspex to the body inside using PVA:
While the roof is removed, we can have a look at the exquisite interior, complete with seats and luggage racks. It is actually very simplistic in implementation, but it is highly visually effective. I will need to work out how to turn the lights on and off...:
While on the topic of lighting, a PCB can be seen protruding above the left buffer in the picture above. Its purpose it to act as a seat for a working tail lamp. A single lamp is supplied and can be swapped between the two ends of the set as both luggage ends are fitted with the PCB.
It was at this point that it became apparent that there were quite a few assembly and quality control problems, non insurmountable, but some more involved to resolve than others:
- The bogie on one coach appeared to be twisted. It turned out that the cross member on one end of the bogie had not been correctly inserted into its locating recess on the back of the bogie frame on one side
- One wheelset had dropped out on one bogie on the other coach. It wasn't immediately obvious what the problem was as I initially thought the the entire bogie might be bent and unserviceable, but further investigation found that the bogie frames had a curve outwards along their length which allowed the wheels to drop out. This required the bogie to be removed and completely dismantled, the frames to be bent straight and then re-assembled. Having resolved this, I'm still not entirely happy with it as there is some side-play movement of the wheels which does not leave much length of axle protruding into the bearings. Fortunately, the axles are stub-ended and don't have pin-point ends, so this makes resolution more realiable at the expense of free-running, not that this is much of a problem.
There is no justification for axle side-play on these models. The bogies are screw-assembled from multiple parts anyway, so why not fit the wheels during bogie assembly instead of fitting them afterwards ? After-fitting necessitates side-play to enable wheels to be fitted between W-irons. Not necessary if the construction order is changed!
- Resolving the previous issue found that the bogie could not be removed because the retaining screw had been done up so tightly in the factory that the brass retainer mounted in the coach floor was rotating in its hole. I resolved inthis during re-assembly by dropping some superglue down the hole so that the brass retainer was held rigid:
- One of the under-chassis frame trusses was leaning out sideways. It required repositioning into its correct locating hole on the truss cross-frame
Popping of window glazing can happen during transit and is easily resolved, but the other issues must have left the factory in this condition. Not good.
Resolving these issues highlighted other problems which will be the subject of a further article:
- There is no lubricant in the bearings. This was duly remedied
- There are no bolsters, meaning the the coaches wobble on their bogies. The bogies themselves have a flexible frame to accomodate uneven track, but bolsters will need to be added to one end of each coach
- The wheels stand out because they are very shiney. They need painting to match the bogies
These coaches are quite free-running (axlebox lubrication helps even more) and at around 1Kg each in weight, they have a certain amount of momentum. They certainly sound 'heavy' and this all adds to the 'presence' that 7mm scale models have by virtue of their size.
The wheels appear to be very 'true' but as previously indicated, the lack of bolsters does mean that there is some body wobble.
These are beautiful models. These coaches normally cost £399.00 for a pair. I was fortunate to obtain them on a very good special deal from DCC Supplies for £320.00. Irrespective, for these prices one would expect Lionheart's quality control to be better. Fortunately, all issues are straightforward to resolve.
These models are full of 'B' Set character and are an essential addition to any BR(WR) layout with suburban services. Recommended.
Graham Plowman (Created 25/6/2021, modified 24/07/2021 2:01:36 PM +10:00)