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Bratchell Network SouthEast Pair
Appearing in September for those who placed advance orders were Bratchell Models 455835 and 456007 in late Network SouthEast, South London Lines sub sector, livery, available in 4mm scale as kits ready to assemble or as assembled bodies and bogies ready to motorise. A 455/8 in Southern livery prior to refurbishment is said to be "some way along the line". As with other Bratchell Models these require a certain amount of "southernisation" (chiefly underfloor electrical equipment, pickup beams/shoes and cab front jumper cables), interiors and a little extra detailing such as grab rails, to complete. Livery-wise both models are finished to a very high standard, and the ready to motorise versions are assembled to a high standard as well.
The 456 needs additional detailing to convert the supplied Class 321 end to one representing a Class 456 front end and amongst other items I will be adding etched brass WIPAC light clusters to replace the graphics versions on this model. Hopefully just a repainting of the warning yellow panel will be required once the detailing work is completed.
The 455/8 is a new introduction with new or revised tooling to produce the earlier cab front ends, car sides and roofs. The new front end tooling certainly reproduces the clumsy front design convincingly and is correctly slightly inset from the sides, but is waiting for two tone horns to be fitted above! On the car sides rain strips only above the doors characteristic of early Mk3s (as opposed to continuous gutter strips on later versions) are correctly reproduced. There are two further items requiring attention by the purchaser. Firstly, the warning yellow correctly extends slightly around to the cab sides, but with the cab front being fixed between the sides the ends of the sides have not been painted yellow resulting in slim fuzzy black lines either side of the cab front. Also the cab front lights, as on the 456, are represented by graphics, plus the small grille under the driver's window is not reproduced. Given grab rails and jumper cables need to be added, adding extra detail such as the grille and lights in relief can be done at the same time and a then full repaint of the yellow area will cover the gaps in the original paint job. Unit numbers will, however, need to be added after the repaint, something that ought not to be needed following the 456 front end detailing. Secondly, the window level ventilator grilles (one end of each car only) are only represented by graphical horizontal black lines, their riveted frame and the plating off of the top part are not reproduced. This can easily be corrected using parts from an etched nickel silver conversion kit from Jim Smith-Wright . I understand the production economics of the launch batch did not permit these two factors to be corrected. I hope this model will sell well so that it will prove economic to address these issues.
The ready painted versions are only £9.50 a car more than the unpainted kit. Given that you would pay at least £38 for transfers and paint for a 4 car unit, given the complex livery and quality of its application, this is remarkably good value for money. The same can be said of the additional cost to have the kit built, ready to motorise by yourself. Even with the additional cost of a motor bogie and detailing parts, provided you do not charge your own labour the end cost (~£375) is still significantly less than what it would cost to have a four car EMU kit acquired, built, detailed, painted and motorised by a professional model maker (~£1000). True it is more expensive than a ready to run 4 car EMU mass-produced in the Far East (~£135), but as far as I know RTR models of 319s, 455s and 456s are not being planned, so Bratchell gets you most of the way there with a quality product without having three noughts left of the decimal place.
(above) 5835 in ready to motorise (RTM) condition
(left) The reproduced by graphics ventilator grilles on adjacent cars of 5835
(below) 456007 RTM