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Heljan Re-Tooled Class 33/0

Early green version cab front

Originally commenced as a project with Rail Exclusive of Peterborough but then later taken "in house", the first batch of Heljan's newly re-tooled Class 33/0 models appeared all at once during March 2014.

These new models are a significant improvement on Heljan's original 33/0s and feature etched brass mesh grilles to the cooler group, a correct profile to the roof and lots of fine detail.

Anyone who knows their "Cromptons" will see from these photos that this new model certainly looks right. Placing new and old models alongside, the improvement is clearly visible. Too be more precise, using the template, that I derived from a scale drawing, to demonstrate that the roof profile of the original models was incorrect, I find the roof profile on this version is indeed correct.


Models from the launch batch are:

  • 34101 D6507 in "early" BR green
  • 34111 D6577 in "early" BR green
  • 34121 D6510 BR green with small yellow warning panel *Model Rail magazine subscribers' offer*
  • 34131 D6538 BR green with small yellow warning panel with rounded top corners
  • 34141 D6570 BR green with full yellow front
  • 34301 D6506 BR blue with full yellow ends
  • 34311 6544 BR blue with full yellow ends
  • 34321 33059 BR blue with full yellow ends
  • 34331 33002 "Sea King" in Engineers grey and yellow ("Dutch") livery
  • 34341 33033 in Railfreight Construction sector triple grey livery

Apart from separately applied handrails and a few other parts Heljan's original 33/0s largely featured moulded on detail. These new versions have etched brass grilles both sides and on the roof to the cooler group. I have to admit that when I first saw this model I thought the side grilles were still moulded due to the lack of depth, but on looking closely these are very finely etched grilles set into a shallow recess in the body sides. In comparison, the detail of these etches is actually coarser than on the older versions.

All other grilles are still moulded on, but finely done, as the roof grilles in this picture illustrate.

Etched brass mesh grille to the cooler group
Roof of an early green version
Another weakness of the earlier versions was that Heljan only produced the later - modified - version of the roof with clips and revised exhaust port. This left Heljan and their UK Agents scrabbling to find the very few specific Cromptons in green livery with a modified roof. As can be seen above and below, both original (above) and modified (below) pattern roofs are available for the re-tooled models. Note the cooling fan, which does not rotate, can be seen through the circular grille on the roof. The detail on the modified pattern roofs is more accurate than on the previous versions.
Modified roof of a later version Crompton
Mesh grille on a blue livery model From this picture you can see how that with the body recess painted black the grille looks moulded on first sight from a distance, but closer inspection reveals a fine piece of etching. It is a shame there is not slightly more depth behind the grille to show off its quality.

For the BR Green livery the regular small yellow warning panel version is only available as a Model Rail magazine subscribers' offer. Heljan offer D6538 BR with a small yellow warning panel with experimental rounded top corners as a standard part of their range.

As BR Green livery with a small yellow warning panel is how I fondly remember these locomotives I hope that once the Model Rail offer is sold out eventually there will be more versions in the standard "late green" livery.

Damn those white rectangles on the headcode blinds! Heljan's affectation with atypical white rectangles for the headcode blinds on green livery versions perversely continues - where did this idea come from?

Cab front of te green livery standard yellow panel version
Cab front of a BR Blue version.

The cab front of a BR Blue livery version, with better looking headcode panels.

My six models ran smoothly and responsively straight out of the box. The headcode panel and two small marker lights illuminate when the locomotive is running in the forward direction.

Other to comment that the detail on the bogies is better than on the previous versions the only other thing I have noticed is that the wheels on this new version are silvered but the flange is fractionally deeper.