Tractor Pull - A First Look at the Full Class 37 Range!
Note: This is an Update for our Class 37 locomotives. If you are looking for an update on any of our other projects, please check out our "Latest News" tab on our website by clicking here. We will have updates coming on other outstanding project over the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for them.
It's been 6 months since we last updated you on our largest and most complex (when it comes to detail variations!) locomotive project to date. It is of course our hugely popular and exciting Class 37 in 4mm/OO scale!
The most important aspect is of course "does it look like a 37? Is it accurate?" Well, after our checks and measurements, we can say yes! Yes, it does! We have looked at our scanning and survey data, photos and drawings and the model matches up very well.
Other areas we are incredibly happy with are the crispness of the tooling, the fidelity of the grilles and other features, and the beauty of the etched details which all elevate our model to the next level. It is all coming together very nicely indeed. Is there still work to do? Sure - and fit and finish will be improved in areas such the exhaust panel, the fitting of the nose doors and other areas.
As you can see on the modern Class 37/4 prototype below, the turned brass horns atop the cab roof are elegant but robust details. Additionally, the ETH equipment, the stance on its bogies and the variety of buffer heads across the Class 37 range makes for a series of enticing models.
Our December update was only able to preview a single example of this exciting range of Syphon variants; in original EE Type 3 guise as delivered from 1960. As you may already know, the real locomotives have been heavily modified over their subsequent 60 years on the network and we set out to specifically cover variants previously unavailable to modellers in a high fidelity ready-to-run format. This has proven very successful indeed, with pre-order sales exceeding our greatest expectations, already resulting in two extensions to the size of the first production run.
Please bear in mind that the samples shown here are hand-assembled test assemblies from early injection parts where fit and finish is being perfected. The final appearance of these models will be substantially better. In fact, our production team built them themselves, rather than the factory, for reasons we will touch on later. So please excuse the ill-fitting part here, the gap there, the heavy touches, etc. All have been duly noted and will be improved on the models you will get your hands on.
Fit and finish, particularly around the cab front window, the exhaust panel and the fuel tanks will be much improved on our decorated samples. There are also missing rivets (yes, we count them!) around the cantrail grilles, radiator fan panel and other areas. However, these are usually added later in the development process, so this was to be expected. There is a missing hole for the engine room door hinges which must be added, and fitting of these parts shall be improved. One other element that is missing is a blade on the radiator panel on some versions, which will of course be added!
Other areas which are being refined are the glazing (always cloudy on first samples!) as well as flash, parting lines and particularly mould sink, which is common on early injection parts and can be seen on the right-hand buffer of the Class 37/0. Again, simple fixes that just take a bit of time. After all, they must be perfect, right?
We also received these samples with plain wheels. The production models (as will be seen on the decorated samples) will have accurate wheels with correct profile central section with holes - just like the Deltic. This will of course be replicated in the EM and P4 wheelsets which we will provide separately and will be available to buy when the locomotives arrive in stock. We are also investigating alternatives to the plastic radiator fan keeper part to give it that extra bit of prototype fidelity.
Of course, with the devil being in the detail, and there being a huge amount of detail variation between the more modern sub-classes of Class 37s, such as the 37/6 and the modern 37/4, a tremendous amount of time has been spent on research and a massive tooling suite. However, we felt that this time and expense was imperative to create the definitive Class 37 in 4mm/OO scale.
So, that's where we've been. Where are we now? Well, to be honest, we are not as advanced as we had hoped. As other manufacturers have reported in recent weeks, COVID-19 has had a serious impact on supply lines with factories and distribution, resulting in delays on all Chinese-made products, not just model trains.
We had to assemble these samples ourselves from scratch due to understaffing at the factory caused by the pandemic. Travel restrictions have resulted in less migrants moving to the industrial cities from rural China and this has resulted in a shortage of workers, so every hand is on deck to catch up on items currently in production (like our Deltic!) so newer projects must wait their turn. The Class 37 is no different. The samples above took us over 3 weeks to assemble and proved to be extremely challenging work - another black mark against moving production elsewhere alongside considerable price increases and available labour!
These difficulties, coupled to our incessant need to get these right and as perfect as we can, as well as an increased production run to facilitate demand, means a revised project schedule. Tooling tweaks are underway and have been for some weeks now to correct the models based on our feedback. This is due to finish next month.
There will also be an extensive tampo printing process for some class members with more modern liveries, taking into account complex livery fades, logos, warning and information panels and more. That, coupled with there being 20 distinctly different locomotives in the first run (detail-wise, we really have gone mad!) means the production process will take longer than envisaged. Just take a look at the seven Class 37/6 examples where every single running number features substantially different details, such including standard or long-range welded fuel tanks, different plated windows and footsteps, four different nose ends, one or two multiple working sockets, etc! We must be bonkers, but it’s why we decided to make model trains!
Decorated samples will be provided by the factory in October, with production commencing following sign off and will be completed in late Q2 2022. We sincerely apologise for this delay, and the biggest contributing factor is one that really is out of our hands and is impacting the industry as a whole. With this in mind, we will not increase this first production run any further as it will add to the delay. With 85% of the first run already reserved, we can see them being sold out before arrival - just like the Deltics!
Of course, while these delays are not ideal, they do give us more time to add in extra effort to make these the very best Class 37s on the market. As you know we like to put a lot of effort into our sound recordings, and to ensure we cover all bases we are recording several Type 3s to capture that EE growl!
Having already recorded Class 37 215 (big thank you to the Growler Group and the Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway who were so helpful and tremendous hosts!), we turned our attention to 37 714 belonging to The Heavy Tractor Group and based on The Great Central Railway. Once again our railway preservation groups and railways pulled out all the stops to help us create the very best model we can, and a sincere thank you for to both for hosting us yesterday!
We will be recording a Class 37/6 shortly, along with a Class 37/4, and to make our DCC sound fitted models the very best they can be we now have a dedicated sound engineer with a wealth of experience on our books. So, these tractors are going to sound awesome with our twin speaker setup and Stay Alive capacitor pack!
Remember, you can secure your order via your local stockist, or via our website with a £30 deposit. Flexible payment terms are also on offer direct from us. Check out the range and place your order today by visiting your local stockist or clicking here to avoid disappointment.