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Hornby 4Vep

DTCO of blue Vep 7756

I was pleased when Hornby announced they were going to produce a Vep because I prefer to model hard-working humdrum and everyday trains rather than those glamorous named things. Much overdue, these models became available in the first two weeks of September. Both models are of the later, non lifting ring, type with R2946 being unit 7756 in overall blue livery and R2947 unit 3588 in late Network SouthEast colours branded for Kent Coast (there's a surprise from Hornby!) workings.

This model has many excellent features. The paintwork and graphics are done to a very high standard. On the overall blue version the printed curtains and representation of aluminium window frames are most convincing. The complex Network SouthEast livery looks very smart. The moulding of the bogies, underframes, electrical equipment and door furniture is amongst the best I have ever seen. The first release was of the overall blue version and there were soon comments expressed that the moulded door furniture did not look as realistic as on Hornby's Maunsell coaches. My view is that the overall blue scheme was drab on full sized stock, it does not improve on a model and this unduly accentuates the moulded details. As the door furniture is more convincing on the Network SouthEast version I feel my view is vindicated, and maybe Hornby did themselves a disservice by choosing this early livery for the launch of the product. Blue and grey might have given a better impression. The cab handrails, windscreen wipers, airhorns and jumper cables are finely modelled and separately applied and a dummy buckeye coupler is supplied to be fitted, if desired, by the user. The metal buffers are sprung.

This model is driven by Hornby's familiar five pole pancake motor with traction tyres on the wheels of the outer axle. Its performance is what is expected from this arrangement and slow speed running and responsiveness improve with running-in. All other wheels on the MBSO pick up, but there are no pickups on the other cars. There is an eight pin DCC socket in the roof of the guard's compartment. All cars have interior lighting and there is directional lighting to the headcode panels, plus to the high intensity headlights on the later version, the feeds top other cars coming from the MBSO by the conducting couplings. The bodies are readily removed but remember that the jumper cable to the ceiling lighting has to be detached and attached. It would have been better if white LEDs had been used for the high intensity headlights on the NSE version

A sheet of self adhesive headcode numbers and blanks is supplied to stick onto the headcode panels, which whilst not realistic is convincing from a distance. So the user can choose their own headcode, but the headcodes are only changeable in a destructive fashion. Be sure that the DTCOs are located on the correct ends otherwise you will end up with a red light showing at the leading end and white on the rear. Also be aware that when reversing the numerical headcode will show red whilst the blank shows white, so this model only uni-directional if you require realistic lighting.

Refurbished MBSO small saloon Refurbished MBSO small saloon

(above) Hornby have produced tooling to allow modelling of both original and refurbished Veps. This shows the additional small saloon of the refurbished version.

Southern modellers have been spoiled by Hornby during the last decade by their excellent models of rebuilt Merchant Navies, light Pacifics (airsmoothed and rebuilt), Q1, M7, N15 and V classes, plus their Maunsell coaches and Hitachi Class 395 EMU. Unfortunately with the 4Vep some perverse design decisions have been taken, and lapses of attention to detail have occurred, which have compromised the attractiveness and authenticity of what otherwise could have been a stunning model.

Placing of the motor bogie in the large saloon of the MBSO has been public knowledge for some time. I would have preferred the motor bogie to have been located at the brake end. On an original Vep it would then have been difficult to see. Admittedly on a refurbished Vep the small saloon would have been totally occupied by the motor bogie, but on the full sized stock I never noticed this saloon as being particularly "see through" anyway. With the motor bogie in the large saloon, on a version with curtains it is not so noticeable but without curtains you simply cannot miss it.

(below) The motor bogie. Now you don't see it (so much), now you do?

Blue Vep MBSO showing motor bogie behind curtains NSE Vep showing motor bogie

Shortly before the models were released it became known that the corridor partition alongside the first class compartments had been moulded solid due to the draw angle of the injection moulding tooling. Considering that the otherwise inaccurate model coaches of the early 1960s managed to have windows and doors in their corridor partitions this is a stunningly retrogressive step and I find it difficult to believe the tooling could not have been designed another way. Fortunately, over the years, by way of various conversion projects, I have amassed a sufficient quantity of spare Mk1 side corridor compartment interiors and I intend now utilising these for a "cut and shut" job. It is believed that the BR blue and grey version, due in 2012, will have revised DTC interiors with windows and doors in the corridor partitions.

(below) From both sides the visual effect of the side corridor partition without doors and windows.

Side corridor partition without window and doors Side corridor partition without window and doors