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Kernow Bulleid Diesel Locomotives

The three Bulleid diesel-electric locomotives left the Southern before this group was founded, but on the basis that diesel locomotives have always fallen within our remit, herewith a review of Kernow Model Rail Centre’s exclusive 4mm scale 10201 and 10202 models (product numbers K2701 and K2702 respectively).  These became available in late November 2017 and I was fortunate to be able to pick up my samples at the Warley National Model Railway Exhibition.  In brief summary, they are superb and well worth waiting their seven year gestation period. 

Kernow Bulleid diesel 10201 three quarter view
Unfortunately the real locomotives no longer exist for the models to be checked against for accuracy, however their tooling was designed from works drawings located in 2016 (hence the long delay between announcement of the project and the models appearing).  Works drawings are not always accurate and it is known there were modifications made during their short lives.  I only have a poor scale drawing and a hunt for published photographs revealed many general views with poor contrast and sharpness, and I have yet to find a shot of a clear view of the roof, so not the best evidence to help assess the model.  I do, however, have a copy of works “DRG. No. A11111” which is the weighting diagram also specifying official major dimensions.  Running a ruler and caliper over the model I found all major bodywork and wheelbase dimensions spot-on.  The diameter of driving wheels is about 0.5mm too small and diameter of the pony truck wheels about 0.2mm too large, however all wheels are correctly of the Boxpok design.  As with many new models released recently, the flanges fall somewhere between NMRA RP25 standards and the pizza cutters of old, an acceptable compromise to this modeller whose standards fall between those of fine scale and a train set.  Every element of the bodywork and bogies appears to be in the right place in the right proportion.
One side of 10202
Cab front view with all route indicator discs open

The curve of the body sides and the all-important “face” look accurate though I have yet to find a photograph with the windscreen wipers both parked to the centre as on the model (yet my scale drawing shows them like this).  Photographs show two vertical lines of rivets to the outer edges of the cab front windows - as built - whereas the model only has a single column, however this demonstrates how close you have to look to find fault.  Both cab fronts come with open route indicator discs open at all positions, through which LEDs are illuminated.  Closed discs are supplied for the modeller to fit where desired and as a South Western man I will fit mine so that only the 12 and 6 o’clock positons are open.  Also included to be fitted are vacuum pipes, dummy screw couplings and bogie weights of two types, one type to allow a coupling to be fitted.

Details on the roof differ from those shown on my scale drawing (I do not entirely trust the drawing), but the only approaching clear photo of the roof I have so far found indicates the roof on the model is probably all right. 

Roof of Bulleid diesel locomotive model

The mouldings of the body and bogies are crisp, well detailed and extremely high quality.  For instance, the cut outs on the sides of the bogie footsteps are magnificent, however what I think may be the protrusion of the truck axle beyond the bogie side is not nearly as prominent as shown in photographs, I suspect due to limitations of the injection moulding process.  Windows are flushglazed and the chassis/mechanism is hidden from being seen through the side droplight windows by moulded representations of the engine right up against the windows.  These are closer to the windows than the engine was in real life as there are photos of loco staff leaning out of the open windows.  Grab rails and handles are made of wire and separately applied.  The radiator fan grill on the roof is a separately applied etched item and whilst there is a wonderful representation of the fan beneath it, this does not rotate.

The model works very smoothly straight out of the box.  Centrally mounted within a diecast chassis is a five pole motor with flywheels driving six axles via gear towers.  Electrical pickup is from all driving wheels.  Because of the bogie’s long wheelbase the driving axles are on a pivoting inner bogie within the sideframe.  The non-powered axle is on a pony truck.  There is a lot of horizontal and vertical side play and probably room for conversion to EM or scale dimensions.  These, combined with a considerable 624g weight, result in a sure footed powerful hauler.  I am not currently able to assess haulage capacity on my test track, however others say it can comfortably pull a model train of the maximum length of real trains pulled by these locos.  My only chief negative observation is that because of all this play these locos are difficult to place on the track on the straight, let alone a curve. (These models can happily negotiate a trainset radius 2 curve, though they look better on a larger radius.)  The normal technique of holding the bogie sideframe sides when manoeuvring onto the track does not work.  What worked for me, in addition to a fair bit of patience, was to place the wheels of the inner pair of axles of each bogie onto the track – this is not that easy – and then gently to avoid derailing what you have already done lever the remaining wheels onto the track using the blade of a jeweller’s screwdriver, or in my case the tip of a letter opener.  A slimline tension lock coupler is fitted to each bogie.

The finish of these models is outstanding.  Black and silver (vice aluminium) are notoriously difficult to represent in small scales but these models pull it off to perfection.  The aluminium body stripe is printed on and I think this is much better than the over-prominent raised moulding on kits that preceded this RTR version.  Cabside numerals and “ferret and dartboard” emblem are sharp and printed with the right density. 

The body is released by removing through the bogies four screws underneath.  Electrics within are a 21 pin DCC socket and a factory fitted 8 ohm 28mm diameter loudspeaker should you want to fit a sound chip.  A capacitor is fitted so that lights will remain illuminated during brief interruptions.  Indicator disc LEDs work on DC, however cab interior lighting will only work with DCC.

One side of 10201

This has to be to best ready to run model of a Southern diesel and electric locomotive ever produced and is excellent value for money.