Sunday, January 10, 2016

It's a shame about the 07

News that Heljan are to produce a RTR Class 07 shunter has delighted the Interweb but makes me a little sad. I've enjoyed quite a long history with this attractive prototype and this announcement changes everything.

As mentioned in the past on this blog, my first etched brass kit was a cheap Blackpool toastrack tram. Encouraged by this, I was on the look out for a locomotive to have a go at. I had a DJH whitemetal kit 02 under my belt and so Dave Elbourne at the model railway club sold me a part completed Craftsman 07 kit.

It was a bargain as he'd done the hard work making an operating chassis. Even the lubricator linkage worked. All I had to do was build the body.

Craftsman kits are good basic products and this was no different. Front and rear bonnets were pre-formed and after some careful work, I ended up with a model I was very proud of. It ran for many miles on Melbridge Dock and Dave's Scotland Street Yard. Then it was stolen from the back of a van along with all the other rolling stock in the late 90s.

07 shunter

It's replacement is powered by a Porterscap motor - real Rolls-Royce power and stupidly expensive. Since I was spending the insurance money, I was determined that if I was going to have to build the model again, it was going to be an upgrade.

More recently, for my Modelling British Rail Diesels bookazine, I took the opportunity to build the excellent Silver Fox resin kit. Basically a body to fit a Bachmann 03 chassis, with a little detailing, the results are very impressive. It's a simple enough job and I always felt that the kit should have sold in huge numbers. After all, people were always saying they wanted one.

07 007

Now of course, no-one will want either kit. Worse, the 07 joins the ranks of locos I don't run because you can have the same thing RTR. I have a trip out with the Dock next month and I bet every time my 07 appears, someone will witter on about the Heljan version and some of them will be feeling superior because I was stupid enough to build a kit and they were smart enough to sit and wait for someone to do the work for them.

On the other hand, if I was that clever, I'd have missed a lot of fun over the years building things.


matt scrutton said...

This was my exact complaint with the Hornby Duke of Gloucester. I wanted to do the DJH kit but I thought oh well might as well buy the RTR one. Big mistake, its horrible. Still I can always build one in gauge one!

Nick Brad said...

It's a shame you are considering retiring yours due to Heljan's announcement, after all, I don't expect to actually see it hit the shops until next year at the earliest. I take all such announcements with a pinch of salt these days as although we do get them eventually, I think the manufacturers do it just to basically say to the others, "WE're making this model, so don't waste your time and money on the same thing".

I'd love to see some shots of your model on Ruston Quays, although I can understand you not wanting to allow a much loved kit to be used by the unpredicable general public at shows.

You've spurred me on, I have 3 of the Bachmann junior dcc shunters and although I have plans for 2 of them, I am going to turn the third into a kit 07. I know the chassis isn't the same as the 03 one, but I'm sure they can be fettled to fit together.

Phil Parker said...

Nick - Good idea. I'll photograph the 07 on RQ. Can't let the public loose on it as the layout is powered by DCC and I'm not chipping my locos. I'm also trying to stick with the standard tension lock couplings wheras my models use Spratt & Winkles.

I'll keep running the 07 until the RTR version appears. As you say, it's at least a year away. I can understand the early announcements as you don't want to risk sinking thousands in tooling costs into a model and then find yourself sharing the market with another maker. Give the forumites something to froth over too.

Huw Griffiths said...

As we all know, the moment these new models actually appear in the shops, the froth will be replaced by an army of instant, self-styled, "experts" - moaning about some "obvious" (to them) detail error, which makes the new models UNUSABLE - UNACCEPTABLE - DISGUSTING - OVERPRICED - *#@! WHICH NOBODY IN THEIR RIGHT MIND SHOULD EVER BE SEEN WITHIN A MILE OF!!!

Well, I've got news for these "comedians". Quite apart from the fact that I actually find them slightly less funny than root canal treatment (without anaesthetic), there's also the fact that a lot of them don't even know what they're talking about.

If these new models are so terrible, I'm sure that nobody would be buying them. If they're really so terrible, perhaps these guys might like to enlighten us with some of their masterpieces.

Oh, sorry, I forgot. These guys don't build models - but, if they did, they'd probably be the best models in the World.

Except they probably wouldn't be - but we're probably not allowed to suggest that.

No - RTR models have their place - so too do kit and scratchbuilt models. It's likely that any real expert would be able to guess which is which - and they'd probably be right the majority of the time - but is anyone here really worried about this?

As for a model you built yourself appearing on Ruston Quays - Edgeworth - or any other layout, there's nothing to stop you arranging for this to happen (especially when you don't need to worry about show visitors messing anything up).

I'd be very surprised if the "official" controller is "hard-wired" in in a way that doesn't allow you to disconnect it for a few minutes.

I'm sure that, somewhere in the line between controller and track, there's likely to be a "plug / socket" arrangement, some screw terminals, or a "choc-block" connector - if nothing else, to allow for the possiblity of the controller not working and you needing to quickly "patch in" a replacement.

Well, if you can do this, there's nothing to stop you using a "smooth DC" controller for a few minutes - there's also nothing to stop you pointing a camcorder at the layout, so you can prove that properly built homebrew models can run every bit as well as RTR ones.

The real issue is whether you actually wish to do this - and this is a personal choice.