This blog generates some interesting opportunities sometimes. One such occurred when I posted about buying a couple of coaches from Palitoy's first train set - a 1951 effort in S gauge. A few weeks ago, I was approached via e-mail and asked if I'd like to own a more complete set. Of course I agreed, we settled on a price (luckily this stuff isn't valuable) and a few days later, the box arrived.
My set is complete apart from the controller, but it's good enough for me.
The highlight is the loco - a GWR 61xx tank. Compared to modern models, it isn't super detailed. What it is is bigger than you might expect. 20 1/2 cm long over the buffers to be precise. While not as big as 7mm scale, it feels appreciably bigger than a OO model would.
Inside, the large motor drives the rear wheels. Being made of Mazak, the pickup, through a split chassis, is pretty poor. 12V taken to the motor terminals sees things moving and pretty smoothly for a model that won't have seen action for years.
Doing such a good job with the loco makes me wonder why the coaches are so poor. Far too short and with half the expected number of wheels, you have to wonder if Palitoy would have been better starting with a goods train. Perhaps this wasn't deemed exciting enough. Let's face it, the box art hardly represents the contents of the set!
The track is pretty basic. Steel rails at least have an I profile. but there's a real lack of sleepers - the section you can see has had all but 1 shoved along a bit - there are 4 per curve. The gauge is 26mm although the slight distortion of the plastic sleepers probably isn't helping this. An oval is provided by no pointwork.
I wonder what would have happened if Palitoy had persevered with this scale? I quite like it, and S gauge is popular in the USA so this wasn't out of the question. Looking at the label in the box, there was an intention to provide a full system. I don't know, but suspect, that sales didn't justify this.
Except. A little web searching throws up this set in an auction. Complete with a really crude A3 tender loco and the same false bogie coaches. The track appears to be the same too. If you'd prefer the coaches in green, they can do this too. Or Blue, with a red loco. Fred Van Der Lubbe describes the A3 set on P50 of his very comprehensive book on model LNER Pacifics and NYC Husdons (PDF).
So, an interesting addition to the collection. Information seems a little scarce, perhaps there isn't much more to say? Why produce a toylike A and then a pretty good 61xx though? And were plans for the rest of the range anything more than words on a sticker?