Big-chimney ‘Nelsons’ in BR guise

Hornby’s highly regarded OO-gauge models of the four-cylinder ‘Lord Nelson’ express passenger 4-6-0s have now appeared in British Railways guise, and are reviewed by Nigel Burkin.

Constructed by the Southern Railway for heavier cross-Channel passenger trains between London Victoria, Dover and Folkestone, the 16 Maunsell-designed four-cylinder ‘Lord Nelson’ 4-6-0s continued to operate under British Railways until their withdrawal in 1962. 

Built at Eastleigh, the lightweight but powerful express passenger locomotives were designed to reduce track wear, particularly at port terminals, and were successful despite their reputation for being difficult to fire thanks to their long Belpaire fireboxes and lack of footplate crew experience because of the small number of locomotives in the class.

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The design incorporated several interesting innovations intended to reduce and distribute the locomotive weight more evenly and reduce hammer blow through the use of four cylinders instead of the conventional two, together with changes to the crank angles to give eight beats per revolution instead of four, thus smoothing the locomotives’ action compared to a two-cylinder design.

The Southern Railway numbered them 850 to 865 and applied the names of famous naval officers starting with No. 850 Lord Nelson by which the class was known. BR added 30000 to their numbers at Nationalisation.

The two models reviewed this month represent the locomotives as operated by BR, and incorporate detail changes to reflect the modifications implemented by Maunsell and Bulleid in an attempt to improve the locomotives’ performance. These included smoke deflectors and large diameter chimneys.

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When the ‘fleet’ was withdrawn from traffic in the early 1960s, the only member of the class to escape the cutting torch was No. 850 Lord Nelson, one of the two new BR-condition models finished in BR lined green; Lord Nelson boasting the late BR tender crests while Lord Rodney has the older ones.

The models

Hornby released its first ‘Lord Nelson’ (LN) locomotive late last year as No. 851 Sir Francis Drake in lined olive green livery with a 5000-gallon eight-wheel tender and without smoke deflectors, which placed it in the early 1930s period, but this time we revisit the model, this time in BR guises as Nos. 30850 (R3603TTS) and 30863 (R3635) which are attractively finished in BR lined green.

The level of detail applied to the models is approaching exceptional, including the fully detailed cab and back head, and the use of a multitude of small components for fittings such as the whistle, safety valves, smoke deflectors and hand rails. Assembly is neat, including the cab roof and side assemblies.

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Both models are matched with twin-bogie, eight-wheel 5000-gallon tenders, but with extended sides and modified tool bays made up of thin plastic sections and equipped with a wealth of small details and toolings for important components such as the three tanks mounted over the water tank, which itself has neatly modelled hatch details.

The tender houses the decoder socket and space for a sound decoder and speaker. The coupling between the tender and engine is adjustable for length and the gap in the footplate can be closed up if desired. A metal fall plate is fitted to the cab to further detail this important part of the model.

Current pick-ups are fitted to the engine driving wheels and tender wheels with an electrical connection between the two. Such a good power-collection span will making stalling on complex track work unlikely.

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The model of No. 30850 Lord Nelson is factory-fitted with a digital sound decoder and speaker using the Hornby TTS sound system with some very good results. Overall, both models are well finished, with much care taken over the assembly and finishing of both models. The paint colours are consistently applied to all fittings.

BR (SR) modellers will be delighted with both models as they fill an important gap in express passenger train operations covering boat train services as far apart as those operating to the Kent Coast and Western Section main lines.

The large chimney and smoke deflectors are appreciated from a different angle in this head-on shot of No. 30863 Lord Rodney. The model is beautifully presented and faithfully captures the character of the real locomotives.

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About the Author

Sam Hewitt