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Recalling — and re-creating — the ‘Westerns’ By Neale Monks

D1051 at the famous turntable at Old Oak Common (Paul Toulmin)

It’s 40 years since the last ‘Westerns’ were withdrawn from British Rail, and with them came the end of the Western Region’s flirtation with diesel-hydraulic locomotives. As Brian Haresnape noted in his 1982 survey of the breed, British Rail Fleet Survey 2: Western Region Diesel-Hydraulics, the class attracted the sort of following that hadn’t been seen since the demise of steam, and the surviving ‘Westerns’ remain among the most popular diesel locomotives on Britain’s preserved railways. In fact no fewer than seven were preserved, an astonishing number by the standards of the time, when the railway heritage movement was largely focused on preserved steam locomotives, rather than the ‘boxes on wheels’ that replaced them. Unsurprisingly model ‘Westerns’ have been produced by many of the major manufacturers across all three of the major scales, including ready-to-run versions from Trix, Hornby, Lima, Farish, Heljan and Dapol. A brief history of model ‘Westerns’ The first ready-to-run ‘Western’ was produced in something approximating to 00 scale by the West German manufacturer Trix, later sold under the Lilliput label. They were produced in a variety of liveries throughout the 1970s, including green with small warning panels, maroon with full yellow ends, and rail blue with full yellow ends. Although these ‘Westerns’ were highly regarded at the time, the bogies are not convincing, and the buckeye coupling used is not compatible with standard tension-lock couplings. In terms of dimensions, Trix seemed to scale their British outline models halfway between 00 and HO, i.e., 3.75mm to the foot, with the inevitable result that their models come up a little short when compared to standard 4mm fare. In short, while a good-looking model, the Trix ‘Western’ is nowadays more one for the collector rather than anyone else. By 1980 modellers had two new 00 ‘Westerns’ to choose from, one from Hornby and one from Lima, a good reminder that two manufacturers releasing models of the same loco at the same time is by no means a new phenomenon! What’s most interesting about them is how the two companies solved certain 86

Model Railway Express Issue Two January 2017  
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