Nigel Burkin reviews Hornby’s brand new model releases of the 59ft Bulleid suburban coaches featuring a high level of detail and finish.
The Bulleid 57-foot suburban coaches were constructed in 1945 and 1946, consisting of a Brake Third Corridor (BTK) and Composite Corridor (CK) coach, primarily intended for outer suburban services on Waterloo-West of England routes. They were allocated coach numbers 5709-5726 for the CK and Nos. 2841-2876 to the BTK according to published records. The numbers were retained by BR, with the addition of the letter ‘S’ as a prefix and suffix.
Bulleid suburban coaches of this type were marshalled as permanent three-coach sets comprising BTK-CK-BTK with set numbers allocated to each three-coach set, and the numbers applied to the brake ends of the BTK coaches. Numbers allocated to the sets ranged from No. 963 to No. 980, with the coaches allocated in number order (it is interesting to note that the SR applied the same set numbers to earlier stock formations).
The stock is fitted with gangways, and has a curved body profile with exposed solebar and full-length foot boards common to multi-door suburban stock.
On the compartment side, a door opened into each compartment, while the corridor side has larger windows and fewer doors. Lavatories were provided in both coach types
Hornby has produced enough models with the correct running numbers to make up two three-coach sets for the Southern Railway and two for BR (SR) operations, both finished in green livery with yellow markings. Care must be taken to choose the right coaches for the set end numbers on the BTKs, because they are sold separately and not as packs of three coaches.
Sets finished in green produced by Hornby include the following:-
Southern Railway: Set 965: BTK No. 2845, CK No. 5711, BTK No. 2846.
Set 973: BTK No. 2861, CK No. 5719, BTK No. 2862.
BR Southern Region: Set 968: BTK No. S2851S, CK No. S5714S, BTK No. S2852S.
Set 972: BTK No. S2859S, CK No. S5718S, BTK No. S2860S.
A single-piece injection-moulded body shell of the correct shape and proportions is fitted out with a variety of small details including torpedo roof vents, wire water tank filler pipes and moulded plastic commode handles which are very nicely produced. The overall impression is of coach models that surpass anything that could be constructed in brass, with the coaches capturing the character of Bulleid stock well when comparison is made of photographs of the full-sized coaches.
Separate components also include the end gangways and flush glazing, which is clear enough to view the detailed interior with its compartments and seating. A slight hint of prismatic edging around the glazing pieces is apparent in the compartment windows when viewed from certain angles.
Detail incorporated in the body shell moulding includes panel lines, subtle door lines and neatly tooled door hinges, with a suggestion that the top and bottom hinges are slightly taller than the middle one per door, which is correct to accommodate the curve of the body. End panel detail includes roof foot steps and bolt positions where they have been removed from certain coaches. In addition, the end grab rails of the BTK coaches are composed of wire.
A one-piece floor has been built up with a variety of separate fittings for the long foot boards, trussing, battery boxes and brake equipment. Each moulding is beautifully represented with crisp detail, particularly the trussing and solebar detail.
At the ends of each coach are metal-headed sprung buffers, coupling hooks and separate footsteps (no buckeye couplings are supplied). Assembly is robust enough to withstand normal handling.
Bogies and wheels
Numerous components are applied to the bogies, including brake shoes which are lined up with the metal coach disc wheels. Yokes are fitted between the brake blocks, and all is neatly assembled to the bogie frames. Other fine details include the spring planks, axle boxes and fine foot boards applied to some of the bogies. There is a slot at the front of the bogies to accommodate the NEM coupling pocket and its kinematic cam for close coupling of the coaches.
Wheels are composed of metal, and meet RP25/110 standards. They are fully concentric, mounted on metal pin point axles. The models roll freely with their 130g-135g of weight, presenting little resistance for a typical steam locomotive model.
Livery and finish
All of the coaches are decorated in Southern Railway coach green with yellow markings. The finish is the usual Hornby eggshell, whereas the full-sized stock might have had a little more of a shine to the paintwork. The Southern Railways coaches have nicely printed shaded lettering including the compartment seat numbers to the right of the relevant passenger door. BR stock has the coach number applied lower down with the ‘S’ prefix.
No lining was applied to this stock, which looks plain in appearance, but this feature actually adds to their appeal and is perfectly correct.
Internally, the detailed compartments are finished in brown, with blue applied to the First-Class seats. Window labels for ‘First Class’ and ‘No Smoking’ legends are accurate for both eras of stock, and are neatly applied alongside a safety rail along the corridor side windows.
To sum up, Hornby has made a fine job of the Bulleid 59-foot suburban stock of 1945 and 1946 construction, particularly with regard to the set allocation of individual coaches which lasted until around 1963, shortly before withdrawal. Making sufficient coaches available to make up more than one set is excellent planning too, and one that will be much welcomed by modellers.
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