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Blast from the Past - The Class 56 from the January 1994 Issue of British Railway Modelling

08 December 2011

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We go back to British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'...

 British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'

For too long regarded as the 'Cinderella' class of BR's locomotive fleet, this rugged
workhorse has always had its supporters among modellers of the present day scene. Dave Lowery considers prototype details and livery choices as he constructs the 0 gauge kit from RJH. With the shift in freight traffic patterns, the days of the real thing may be numbered, but with models of the Class available in scales from 2mm to 7mm, the 56s will roar on. Prototype photographs by the author. Scale drawings by R.S Carter.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56' British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'

Regarded by many drivers as a "bloody good machine", the Class 56 has for many years undertaken and dealt with very well, many of the heavy freight duties it has been allocated to. While the Class 59s received tremendous coverage in the press when first introduced, and were sort out by enthusiasts for being 'something different', the good old Class 56s carried on with everyday work.
While they are not known for their glamorous looks, there is little more stirring than standing next to one of these locos when it pulls away at the head of a heavy long freight train - brilliant! Introduced between 1976 and 1984, they were built at three places, two well known to us in England at Doncaster and Crewe, while the remainder were built by Electroplaters at Craiova, Romania as sub-contractors for Brush. The Doncaster and Crewe batches were built by BREL.

Classified as Brush Type 5s, the six wheel bogies give the locos a Co-Co classification. The Ruston Paxman 16RK3CT engines of 2460kw (3250hp) at 900 rpm produce a maximum tractive effort of 275km, giving power at the rail of 1790kw or 2400hp from a locomotive weighing 125 tonnes. While it’s maximum speed is only 80mph its power output has allowed heavy trains to be pulled along easily at this speed.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'
Below: Lower cab steps on the bogie. Note the worn edges to the steps, simulate 
by dry-brushing with silver paint.
British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'

Having escaped from the spotlight probably as a result of its fairly mundane duties, the Class 56 has sported only a small number of liveries compared to certain other classes. For me the most impressive livery on this solid looking loco is the current Trainload Freight triple grey colour scheme. The slap sides to the body particularly show off the various Trainload Freight squadron motifs. My favourite is the Trainload Coal sector markings, and this is the livery I chose to finish my 7mm scale model built from an NH Model Railways kit. Having now built several of the models from the NH range, the kit for the Class 56 is by far one of the best in the range for assembly, design and, most importantly, the fit of various parts. The etched brass components are well detailed and form the majority of the locomotive's shape. Good quality white metal castings add both weight and bulk to this powerful-looking engine. This loco would, I feel, be an ideal 0 gauge modern image kit for those readers new to kit building in this larger scale, but who have had some degree of knowledge of soldering both brass and white-metal. Experience of building other simpler kits would also be of benefit.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56' Most significant detail differences between the Romanian and English built 56s are on the cab front. English versions exhibit outstanding horn grill cover and marker lights. Those on the Romanian locos were flush and inset respectively.

An area where the RJH kits do need additional information is in the instruction area It is hoped that the following notes which I made during construction of this kit may not only be of help for building this particular loco, but also apply to other kits in the RIH range. Paramount when undertaking any kit construction is a good drawing to a recognised scale to help ease of measuring and converting to the scale you are working in. Also proper detailed photographs of the real thing, preferably of the chosen engine you intend to represent by your model. With this article we are fortunate to have use of the excellent drawing by the late RS. Carter, while the prototype detailed photographs are taken from my own collection.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'
A pristine Trainload Coal sector 56 021 at Doncaster Works

It has become apparent to me as I model more of the current diesel and electric fleet, whether it is 4mm super-detailed repaints or locos and units in 7mm, that there is no such thing as a standard loco! There are, I believe, more anomalies in the modern image motive power fleet per class than there were in any of the steam loco classes. So, if at all possible, try to get detailed photos of your chosen subject that you are modelling. I have, however, selected a few variations for the purposes of illustrating this article, and to show the scope.

Three quarter views taken from all the four corners, plus a full side-on view will be ideal. However, the most difficult part of the loco to photograph is the roof. The detail on the roof is probably the one area where good references are needed as it is the part of the model people see the most Very few layouts are viewed from underneath or an upward angle, usually it is seen from a looking down position, so the roof is the most important aspect to get right. It is also an area where most of the weathering will have taken place and therefore needs to be faithfully reproduced on any model.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'
Air compressor with white pipes going to and from it. On the
lower body to the right of the compressor is the emergency fire pull lever - 
paint red with white centre.

Back to the project, when building any RJH,I always start with the bogie side frames first. On the 56 kit these are made up of etched brass side frames which, when carefully folded up and soldered together, form a strong base to which are attached the white-metal castings for the brake cylinders, dampers, axle boxes and springs. The bogie steps are also folded up and soldered in position as per drawing and photographs. Next, the bogie inner frames are folded up and the two outer axles saddles are adjusted prior to soldering in place to be exactly in line with the bogie side frame axle journals. There is nothing worse than misaligned wheels and axle journals; this way ensures an exact match. The bogie side frame and channels can also be aligned and fixed. Before assembling these items prime them and paint black. When dry, the wheels can be added using fibre washers on the insulated wheel end, this stops shorts during running. I would always suggest a Delrin chain drive is fitted to each bogie as this significantly increases the traction power of the model.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56' This view shows the subtle beds in the cab side around the door, top and bottom of the waistline. Also note the offset handrails.

The body etch is reinforced with brass channel along the body bottom making sure that slots are cut in the channel at the points where the cabside tapers in at the front. The use of bulldog clips will help to hold the brass channel in place when being soldered into position. Start at one end and work towards the other; or at thecentre and work outwards in both directions. Never tack on points along the length, as when the metal expands the tacks will cause the metal to buckle – and while the real thing may often look like this, it is not acceptable on a model. Solder the cab fronts to the body so forming a box. Then tack in place the bogie cross pieces in position as measured from a drawing, taking into account that the bogie pivot is offset and not central. To check for clearances, offer up the completed bogies to check the pivots are in line, confirmed by the bogie steps lining up with the cab door.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'
The finished 7mm model, constructed from an RJH kit, in Trainload
Freight triple grey livery with Trainload Coal sector markings. 
Photo: Tony Wright

The cab roof and windscreen complete the body panels giving a strong box structure. Make sure the two buffer beams once in place are square and inline to each other, and that the body is not twisted. The rest of the body details can then be added. The lower body tanks are folded up, again clearance needs to be checked between the two bogies before they are soldered into place. At all times check squareness and that no twists have crept in.

For cab interior detailing, the Class 47 cab interior kit can be used. The main difference being that the floor is not inset on the Class 56 as with the Class 47, and so needs to be filled in with plastic card.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'
The data panel shows class and type, weight, brake force, rate and
speed limit.

Other scales
While the above notes deal with the 7mm scale kit, models for the Class 56 are also available in 2mm, 3mm and 4mm scales. In 2mm there is a white-metal kit from P&D Marsh. This comprises the body parts plus bogie side frames and battery box details, and is fairly straightforward to construct It has been designed to fit straight on to the Class 47 chassis from Graham Farish. The kit, Ref. No. A212, costs £16.20. [price correct in 1996] Graham Farish have introduced the N gauge ready-to-run Class 56 in three different liveries: Coal sector/Construction sector/BR blue with small logo (see page 14, BRM No. 9). In 3mm there is a kit comprising a polyester resin cast body with bogie sides and fuel tanks. The kit utilises Triang TT bogies from their A1A (Class 31). The A1A bogies have to be filed clean and then the cast sides stuck on. The 3mm Class 56 kit costs £18.00 (postage & packing £’1.50) [prices correct in 1996]

The ready-to-run Class 56 from Mainline Dapol, available in a variety of livery variations, has provided the staple source for 4mm modellers, with detail enhancements available from the likes of Howes of Oxford. A two-part article on detailing 4mm Class 56s appears in 'Rail' Nos. 213 and 215.

British Railway Modelling, Vol. 1 No.10 from January 1994 and 'The Class 56'

In-roads have been made into the Class 56 fleet since the introduction of their successor, the Class 60, which has been compounded by the loss of traffic due to drop in demand for aggregates and coal. So, if you intend modelling any of this Class, get out now and take as many 'snaps' as you can for future reference. If this article has been of interest to you, what other diesel/electric prototypes would you like to see covered in detail?

Dave Lowery
British Railway Modelling, Vol 1, No. 10, January 1994


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