Review of Golden Arrow Production's Class 71 RTR model


photograph by Colin Duff

For information about the prototype please see our Class 71 picture page

The Model:

Golden Arrow Production's proprietor Chris Meachen specialises in producing hand-built short batch runs of ready to run models in OO gauge of unusual prototypes not covered by the major manufacturers. Typically each overall production run is only of 200 per type and although they are built to order there are no customising options offered. Superstructures and interior details are moulded in a high quality durable modern resin with running gear and other details in whitemetal and etched brass. All Golden Arrow RTR products are guaranteed for one year.

Golden Arrow's first product was the Bulleid Leader 0-6-6-0T and the second is the British Railways class 71 electric locomotive, which will be reviewed here. Other SR products offered, but not yet available, are the body of the 1937 construction Southern Railway diesel shunter designed to fit a modified Lima class 09 chassis (this will be offered as a painted and finished ready to fit body in SR black or as a kit) and Bulleid's Q1 0-6-0 as a RTR model. Although the majority of Golden Arrow Products to date are Southern Railway/Region oriented another existing product is of a LNER prototype and other company's/region's designs are also planned. However the long "future plans" list in the latest GA catalogue has distinct Southern leanings!

The class 71 loco is supplied well packed in foam, surrounded by tissue paper, in a sturdy cardboard box. Removal of the model from the box is easy to perform without damaging the model, a point overlooked by some major manufacturers such with recent Bachmann Spectrum models.

"B" side of the model 

photograph by Colin Duff

As described above the body and interior detail, which unfortunately does not include a driver or fireman, are made of resin. Fine detail is moulded on, but very finely indeed, and larger details are added. The model is of as originally built by BR with an upper central grille on the "B" side. This grille was later removed. As a compromise towards being a model the buffer beam and lower side valances are moulded as part of the bogies rather than the body front. Windows are semi-flush glazed using vacuum formed clear units like those supplied by South Eastern Finecast. The moulded details are finely done and accurate according to pictures and drawings I have. The only error I can find if I want to be very picky is that the right hand vertical body seam on the "B" side is fractionally too close to the grilles. Handrails, footsteps, pantograph, buffers, pipes and whistles are separately added details. I do not think the pantograph is designed to be raised or used as a pickup. Windscreen wipers and brake pipes are left to be fitted by the purchaser which on a model costing GBP 185 plus postage irked me a bit (admittedly the pipes are left off because of the coupler).

All dimensions seem to be accurate according to the drawings I have from "BR Electric Locomotives in 4mm scale by R.S. Carter published by Ian Allan.

The model comes in BR green (without a yellow warning panel) with a white-red-white horizontal line between the cab door inner handrails, later BR emblem, light grey roof, red buffer beam and numbered as E5001. The spray finish, the green being slightly less than high gloss, is extremely fine and does not obscure any of the detail nor does it "puddle" anywhere. The loco numbers in white are the weakest part of the finish as the transfer carrier film can be seen, their positioning is slightly low, and they are of an incorrect font. One end of the loco carries headcode 46 - Victoria to Dover Marine via Herne Hill and Orpington - and the other 04 (with the zero slightly scrolled down and the one beginning to show in the top) - a nice touch - although my personal preference for headcodes on SR models is for one end to carry a double red or white blank. Clearly with these headcodes this particular loco is not for goods use which was the class' main reason for existence. As the model also comes with an unpainted etch of "Golden Arrow" plates and arrows it is clear what Chris Meachen's intentions for this model are!

"A" side of the model

photograph by Colin Duff

The bogies and side frames are of whitemetal construction. One bogie is motored and electrically picks up on one side, the other bogie picks up on the other. Both axles are driven on the motor bogie using metal gears. I have yet to summon up the courage to open up the loco so cannot tell you the type of motor used. The wheels are correctly spoked but life is too short for me at the moment to check whether there are the correct number of spokes, besides you can hardly see them. The bogie castings are well detailed - the only obvious thing missing being the pipework - but are let down by a slight blemish above inner wheel on one side of each. This would be hidden if the model was weathered. The shoe beams and pick up shoes are quite prominent on the prototype and the model correctly displays this. However being very picky again, according to pictures the shoebeams on this model are not recessed at their ends and the grey paint on them should also not be carried to the end. The buffer beam on the bogie comes fitted with round buffers, a hook (but no three link or screw coupling) also with the outer pipes already fixed but the inner pipes left to be fitted, for which holes are already drilled. This is because the model comes supplied fitted with narrow (Bachmann/Mainline type) tension link couplers.

The model weighs a respectable 12.75 ounces/360g.

I would like to comment on the running qualities of this model but have not yet had much opportunity to run it. Brief tests suggest that like many models it needs a period of running in. My ability to run it is hindered by the fact that as the bogies are constructed to accurate 4mm scale, but the model is to OO gauge, the inner part of the shoe beams and the superbly modelled sand pipes foul the third rail on my layout (Peco Individulay fitted as per Peco instructions). The result of this is that the wheels are slightly lifted off the running rails - so currently I have a third rail loco which won't run on my third rail fitted trackage. It looks as if I am going to have to take a file to an expensive model. I note that the shoebeam on my Ian Kirk 2 BIL model also overhangs the third rail, but does not foul it.

On first impression I am pleased with this model which is just as well as I ordered it sight unseen. I am now about to set out a circle of trainset track to run the model in whilst I think about how to modify the bogies. I now feel sufficiently confident about Golden Arrow modelling standards to order a Bulleid Q1.

The Golden Arrow BR Class 71 electric locomotive in 4mm scale/OO gauge costs GBP 185 plus GBP 5 insured postage for UK delivery. A GBP 50 deposit is required to obtain a reservation in the production schedule. Chris Meachen, Golden Arrow Productions, 392 Harold Road, Hastings, East Sussex. TN35 5HG, United Kingdom. Tel/fax +44 1424 445334. Chris does not have an e mail address nor a web site.

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This page was last updated 3 December 2002

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