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Heljan Class 26
 

Username

Tom Davidson

 

Version

D5340 BR Blue 2603

 

Appearance

The model captures the look of the BRCW Type 2 very well, although there could well be minor detail errors that I don’t know about. Very much looks the part on my Scottish themed layouts, and it’s certainly more accurate than my poor attempts at scenery.

 

Detail

I haven’t tried fitting any of the additional detail supplied, as I prefer to keep the tension locks available for coupling. I’d prefer to be able to have snowploughs and a tension lock (as on the Bachmann 37) but realise this isn’t always possible. The overall feeling of the model is robust and sturdy – and the underside tanks are still attached despite getting knocked around in the name of ‘maintenance’. The couplings can occasionally droop down below the tension lock bar, which can be a little frustrating.

 

Performance

The heavy chassis and 8-wheel pickup has eventually resulted in a very smooth-running chassis. At first the acceleration was jerky and inconsistent, with a very high starting voltage. The solution came from cleaning out the bogie assemblies of all the grease; it sounds counter-intuitive but has really improved the running of the 26 (I've yet to do it to the new-wheeled 27). Tricky business but well worth the effort.
 

Maintenance

The loco was supplied with brass wheels, which were covered in a layer of filth that is apparently designed to polish the surface once you’ve run the loco in. I didn’t realise this at the time and cleaned it all off, but have had no problems since (other than the over-lubrication of the bogies from the factory).

 

Comments

One of my favourite model railway models, and one that has inspired a raft of Scottish-themed layouts – in my house and plenty of others. Great performance once you’ve cleaned out that mechanism...

 

Overall ranking

9/10

 

 

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Username
Paul Johnson.
 
Version
Heljan pilot scheme BRCW type 2 D5309 (later TOPS 26/0), item 26621
 
Appearance
This is BRCW’s type 2 design for the BR specification, in the condition they first entered traffic: a fairly tidy box with a diesel engine inside, and Heljan have the character of it pretty well. I will quickly record here that I have no drawings, so other than knowing that the wheel diameter, wheelbase of bogies and overall locomotive are correct, cannot measure it up. But it looks right enough both as remembered in service and by comparison to photographs. The main cab front windows are probably too shallow in depth, should have somewhere between a half millimetre and millimetre more height. The other thing the model needs is some more black - or even better very dark grey – paint. The horn grilles above the cab appear undefined because the interior isn’t picked out dark to show that it is in shadow, and the wheels and some parts of the pick-up wiper strips are shiny and very conspicuous. Wave a paintbrush at them yourself and the model is instantly improved. Looks good to me out of the box, and easily lifted another notch or two if the owner chooses to do a little work.
 
Detail
I feel it would be very ungenerous to be critical of the detail fit, glazing quality, and paint, totems and numbers etc. Well detailed all over, with equipment, grilles and panels, lifting eyes and access points neatly provided. Is it all correct in quantity, size and position? I don’t know! What I can see from comparison to photos looks right however. The wheel flanges - finer than are usual for OO - help the general appearance too. Lighting is very neat, and there is the usual comprehensive detail pack from Heljan to enable your choice of headcode discs to be fitted: I haven’t got around to this yet.
 
As always some detail may have to come off the bufferbeams to accommodate the owner’s chosen couplers against the layout minimum radius curve; I use Kadees and one pipe had to be bent sideways to clear for 36” radius curve operation. The NEM coupler pocket needed a little packing in it under the coupler mounting to correct a droop and bring the Kadee up to gauge height.
 
Now, on the pipe detail the pipe heads are finished as ‘ex-works’: for me anyway much too bright for a loco that is in traffic, a wash of ‘track dirt’ to tone this down really helped appearance.
 
Performance
Lovely mechanism, just the ticket. Silent, smooth, tons of weight. Glides about and the loudest noise is the wheels on the rails. Will pull anything you hang on the hook, the usual six to eight carriages they worked on suburban services on the Kings Cross lines no challenge at all. (I copied this directly from my review of Heljan’s ‘Baby Deltic’: Heljan know how to make a super twin bogie drive mechanism, and here’s further proof.)
 
Maintenance
Very easy job unclipping the four bodyside lugs from the chassis detents to release the mechanism; not the ‘requires three hands’ struggle sometimes encountered! It’s all very neat and tidy inside. Working parts tidily grease lubricated with no excess spillage, likely to need no attention at all for years. Lighting very neat with light pipes in the body from the chassis mounted LED’s. A Lenz standard decoder was installed in the 8 pin socket, with the usual result that the already good running when tested on DC, is as sweet and smooth on DCC as could be desired. I do wish that all RTR mechanisms were to this standard.
 
Comments
Ees Gooood. I imagine these sell in quantity to those interested in Scottish railways 1960 – 1990 or thereabouts. Bought mine for their brief ‘walk on’ appearance on Kings Cross suburban. Blink and you miss it!
 
Overall ranking
9.5. That’s me being a tiny bit fussy about the cab front windows being a little undersize. Of all the early diesels, I remember these for the very ‘wide-eyed’ effect of the main cab front windows, and the model just misses that.

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