Written by Richard Grigg.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, the War Department chose the LMS 'Jinty' as their standard shunting engine. However, the Hunslet Engine Company managed to convince the WD that a simpler design would be better suited to the task and so was born the Hunslet 'Austerity' 0-6-0 saddle tank engine.
Over the course of 21 years (1943-1964), some 400 of these engines were built by 6 different companies and after the war, the 'Austerities' were most commonly seen working in collieries across the UK, their short wheel base, ability to change direction quickly and negotiate poorly laid track made them the engine of choice. 75 'Austerities' were purchased by the LNER also and, after some modifications, were reclassified as the J94 class.
Today, several examples of these engines are in preservation, including 2 of the original J94s. Such was their versatility, in 1985 the boiler of an 'Austerity' was used in the construction of the National Railway Museum's replica of the Great Western Railway broad gauge locomotive 'Iron Duke'.
Hunslet Austerity no: 3806 was built in 1953 and worked at a Staffordshire colliery before being purchased by the Dean Forest Railway in 1976. Originally named 'C.B Keeling', the engine was later renamed 'Wilbert' after the creator of the 'Thomas' railway books and President of the Dean Forest Railway, the Rev. W. Awdry. And it's Wilbert who is the subject of this review as we examine the debut model of manufacturer DJ Models who, in collaboration with Hayward's Models, have produced a limited edition run of 'Wilbert the Forest Engine' (DJMO0J94-098). Price £99.50.
This model is limited to just 200 pieces and a donation is made to the Dean Forest Railway with every model sold.
Also available are:
• 68023 BR early crest with tall bunker
• 68061 BR with original bunker height
• 8064 LNER with original bunker height
• 8023 LNER with original bunker height
• 68068 BR with tall bunker
Each model has an RRP of £95.50.
In addition, Hatton's Model Railways have commissioned DJ Models to produce 10 limited edition J94/'Austerities' covering a wide range of liveries in either pristine, lightly or heavily weathered finishes, priced at £99.00 each. These include:
• 'Robert' - NCB bold colliery lined green (pristine)
• 71515 – in Mech Navvies maroon (pristine)
• 68012 – in BR black with late crest (lightly weathered)
• 1763 NCB - in Peckfield Colliery lined maroon with chevrons (heavily weathered)
• 'Hurricane'- in NCB Bickershaw Colliery lined green (heavily weathered)
• 8 - in NCB Mountain Ash Colliery lined green (heavily weathered)
• 4 – in NCB Backworth Colliery lined black (pristine)
• 98 'Royal Engineer' - in army green (pristine)
• 7 – in NCB Littleton Colliery lined blue (lightly weathered)
• 15 - in Wemyss Private Railway lined brown (pristine)
At the time of writing, RMWeb has commissioned DJ Models to produce a limited edition run of Britain's penultimate industrial steam engine, NCB No.65 [£99.95].
The model comes in a sturdy, compact cardboard box. Inside, the locomotive is held snugly in a soft foam frame together with its maintenance/instruction sheets, metal etched footplate tools, warranty paperwork and a certificate unique to the model purchased. Another accessory bag is enclosed containing alternative couplings, vacuum pipes and a moulded representation of the inner valve gear to place below the boiler.
Starting with the body, the chimney, water filler cap, dome, whistle and safety valves are all neatly presented as is the moulded detail on the cab roof. The saddle tank however is slightly marred by a visible seam running along its top. The detail on the smokebox door is crisp and it is fitted with separate handles. Moving to the cab, the windows are flush-glazed with grilles on the rear windows. Inside the cab, the moulded backhead features painted controls and pipework although the reverser and handbrake have been left unpainted. The coal load is flat and unrealistic and could do with changing for greater realism. The model also features separately fitted handrails, lamp irons and linkage to the reverser. Present too are sprung buffers and moulded rivet detail. Under the running board the detail continues with prototypically dished wheels, moulded water injector pipework, gusset plates and brake rodding.
One thing I noticed is that the water carry-over pipes have been extended to allow them to connect to the underside of the rear cab steps [which are the wrong shape compared to the real engine]. This has clearly been done to prevent the pipes from breaking.
For this review I had an opportunity to compare the model with the real engine, so for the detail and livery application sections I shall use photographs and video footage of 'Wilbert' taken during a visit to the Dean Forest Railway in May 2014.
Already mentioned are the inaccurate cab steps. Several other inaccuracies have been noted also, including:
• The toolbox on the driver's side of the running board is missing
• A steam pipe on the right hand side of the saddle tank is missing
• The extension to the coal bunker is missing.
• The mechanical lubricator over the front right drive wheel is missing.
In fairness to the maker however, so many changes and modifications were made to these locomotives over time that it's difficult to make each model absolutely faithfully.
Comparing the model to the actual engine, the dark blue livery is perhaps a little too dark whilst the red lining has been applied to the model in places where it doesn't appear on its real life counterpart.
The name and builder's plates are present as 2D printed decals, personally I would have preferred the option of having metal etched versions included.
The lettering on the nameplates appears to be in the correct font although it seems that they are slightly compressed compared to the real ones. The builder's plates were missing on the real 'Wilbert' but I'm assuming that they had yet to be returned to the engine.
The model features a DCC socket located inside the boiler and decoder installation is simple. Instead of removing the entire body from the chassis, simply remove the smokebox door [held in place by magnets] and carefully pull out the decoder socket.
After an initial run-in, the locomotive, with its core-less motor, performed very smoothly with minimum noise. The super fine flanges on the wheels managed pointwork without any drama.
The 50:1 gear ratio allows for very realistic shunting operations at very slow speeds. When it comes to strength, the Hunslet 'Austerities' were not found wanting and the same can be said for the models. One recent review had a J94 pulling13 Hornby and Bachmann bogie coaches on level track.
Until recently, Hornby were the only company to produce an'Austerity'/J94 in 00 scale, using ex-Dapol tooling. Now that DJ Models have released their version, it's time to ask if it's better than Hornby's offering.
To be honest, this model is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to good points and bad. It's a shame that some prototype details are missing but the motor and gear assembly, together with easy DCC installation and sharp, clear moulded details, go a long way to compensate.
So to sum up, it's a great model and is a step-up from Hornby's version but there is room for improvement. That said, I'm quite sure that DJ Models will be a major competitor on the model railway market in the future.
• Sharp and crisp detail
• Sturdy Construction
• 50:1 gear ratio allows for realistic slow shunting speeds
• Plenty of strength
• Quick and easy DCC installation
• Visible seam on top of the water tank
• Details specific to this particular engine are missing/inaccurate
• Nameplates seem to be compressed
• Incorrect lining pattern
• Livery is too dark
With this I give an overall score of 8/10