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DC Kits' Bulleid Type HA / Class 71 Kit

Pictures from Charlie Petty of DC Kits

Class 71
 
My first impression upon opening the familiar white cardboard box was of wide open spaces, because quite unlike DC Kits' EMU and DMU kits which have so many parts that the box tends to bulge there are relatively few parts to this kit! However, as I shall explain, this is indicative of a kit that promises to be reasonably quick and easy to build and what it lacks in quantity is more than compensated by quality. This model is supplied as a "complete" kit and all the modeller needs to supply is adhesives, paint and transfers, though many will choose to source and add a little extra detail.

The resin body is an extremely fine casting. Details are crisp and well done, there being very little flash and the casting is free of distortion and pinholes. Window apertures to both cabs are opened out but that on the "A"side into the "booster" compartment needs drilling cutting and filing out. Things like handrails, lampirons and door handles are moulded on. I would prefer for such details to be separate, save for dimples moulded indicating where holes are to be drilled. The instructions do mention that some modellers may care to remove such details and add their own. I am worried about the moulding of the two vertical panel join lines on each side as these look far to prominent to me - they are hardly noticeable on photos of the prototype. However this is nothing that careful filing cannot cure.

By offering the body up to 4mm scale drawings (having first checked with the stated major dimensions that they are scaled correctly!) in MRC Planbook 3, BR Electric Locomotives in 4mm scale (by R S Carter, published by Ian Allan 1985) and with some elementary measuring, I would say the major dimensions are accurate. I did notice the right hand panel vertical join lines on both sides of the body are just under 1mm too far right but I noticed a similar discrepancy on my Golden Arrow Productions RTR class 71 model and I am now beginning to suspect the drawing on this issue. I also noticed the heights of the grilles of the six set on the "B" side are fractionally too shallow. I am not a "rivet counter", nor do I require accuracy to a tenth of a mm, so I am not fretting over these possible tiny inaccuracies.

The body as supplied appears to represent these locos in early condition, certainly of the first batch. I have yet to see a picture of a class 71 in blue livery that exactly matches the detail on the body of this kit as supplied. On each cab front there is a small moulding of an electrical receptacle, which is positioned to the left and above the right buffer. I have so far only seen on photos on early locos in their earlier lives. This socket was either moved to the buffer beam later or may have been on the buffer beam from new on later built locos. This socket can easily be removed for portraying a loco in later life. However, the major thing to be aware of is the centre group of grilles on the "B" side because either some/all? locos were modified in later life and/or some were built with a revised grille pattern from new. Many published pictures, and plans in the above-mentioned book, show the early version to have three portrait format grilles above the horizontal lining and two landscape format grilles directly below the outer higher grilles. Some photos of locos in later condition, plus a drawing in the plans book, show a revised grille pattern with the centre higher grille eliminated and no lower grilles. Some careful filing and filling ought to allow a later grille style loco to be portrayed.

I have also noticed in many photographs on the lower body of the "B" side there is a large top-hinged hatch to the right of the left cab door, certainly on some later condition locos. This does not appear on this model or the drawing for an early version loco. This reinforces my comments that the body as supplied is for an early version. The following is always good advice, but in this case I think a good set of photos for the loco you are modelling from the time period you are modelling is definitely required.

 
Class 71 Class 71
 
The flushglaze glazing sheet is vacuum formed in clear plastic of the sort you would normally find biscuits (cookies) nestling in. A RTR pantograph is supplied. At the Alexandra Palace exhibition in March Charles Petty told me this would be of an incorrect pattern because no one makes the correct type. The most obvious difference between the supplied pantograph and the real thing is that there should be two pan heads and the model has only one. Also the real pantograph has cross bracing on the upper planes of the parallelogram and the model does not. The cross bracing ought to be easy to add, adding the twin pan heads will involve more in the way of surgery. The cast metal buffers have a heavy moulding line on them that needs filing down but otherwise these buffers look OK and unusually for me I may not feel the need to replace them with higher quality turned brass items.

Again during our conversation at Alexandra Palace, Charlie told me the metal bogies were by Dave Alexander. These are also very fine castings with remarkably little flash. These bogies are dimensionally accurate and when comparing them to drawings the excellence of their casting becomes even more apparent. However footsteps and footboards are absent, as are the sandpipes (all these items easily added by scratchbulding). On a "dry run" I noticed that axle keeper plates will need fettling to fit the bogie sub-frames because the locating lugs on them are slightly larger than the corresponding cutouts. The worm gears need gluing onto the motor shafts after careful positioning and testing. It looks like I need to buy some type of Loctite thread locking adhesive for this purpose, though the instructions only mention in their overview use of 5 minute epoxy and PVA. Spoked wheels of the correct diameter are supplied. I did not bother to check the number of spokes because in reality the spokes are hardly noticeable. Of course some 71s gained disc wheels and some locos (including the NRM's preserved example) had a mixture.

The instructions, which are sufficient for a modeller of reasonable experience, come on two sheets and are not written to be sequential from one sheet to another. One sheet instructs on some, but not all, sub-assemblies for the other. Studying the construction of the kit and being clear about the construction order is definitely required - but this is again good advice about building any kit.

In his review of this kit in the August edition of Model Rail Darren Sherwood has commented that it only took him around two hours to build this model without painting and additional detailing. It is comforting to have my initial view that this is a relatively quick and easy kit to build by someone far more experienced and skilled than I am. Removing cast detailing and adding additional detailing as I have outlined will only add a few more hours to construction, so even with painting and adding transfers this model is not going to be in the workshop too long. My only concern about building this kit in advance of construction is locating and securing the bogie sub-assemblies accurately into the body. I am sure only due care and attention is required.

In summary, this is a good value good quality kit, which will allow any modeller of average skills to have a class 71 completed and running in a short time. Roll on the promised class 74!

Finally, what follows is grandmother sucking eggs time for many, but for the uninitiated - if you are thinking of buying this kit and modifying it to a class 74 EDL, I am sure Charles Petty will not mind selling you one but unless you are a masochist and/or into major conversions (is there a model railway equivalent to extreme sport?) I suggest you wait for the class 74 kit. Very little is similar between the two classes!

Colin Duff, July 2003.

all photographs are copyright.

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This page was last updated 21 July 2003

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