Written by Richard Grigg, Photos By Gwion Rhys Davies
At the beginning of the 20th century the LB&SCR (London, Brighton & South Coast Railway) had a problem. Their Express service between London and Brighton was in urgent need of a larger and reliable locomotive. The solution was provided by Douglas Earle Marsh, who taking inspiration from the GNR (Great Northern Railway) Cl Atlantic, developed his own variation of the 4-4-2 design... the H1 Atlantic.
Built by Kitson & Co. between 1905 & 1906 a grand total of 5 H1s (originally classed as B5s) were pressed into service after undergoing a 1,000 mile trail run each. Work for the H1 was plentiful until the onset of WW2 when a few of them were placed into storage.
Withdrawal of the class took place between 1944 and 1951 and unfortunately none of the Hls survived into preservation.
In this review we shall be looking at Bachmann's singular release of the H1 class no:39 'La France' in LB&SCR lined umber brown livery (31-910) with a RRP of £199.95.
Bachmann continues to use their usual packing, with the model cradled in the well known 'Block Of Ice' which in turn is placed in a sturdy cardboard box and card sleeve.
Enclosed with the model is the owner's information booklet along with a bag of accessories, which contain:
• Indicator discs
• Air pipe
• Vacuum pipes
• Cosmetic screw link couplings
• Cylinder corner in—fills
• Guard irons
• Steam heat pipe
• Speaker mount & screws
• Cab doors (both opened & closed)
• Cab weather sheet anchors
When it comes to the details this model is absolutely bristling with them.
Moulded details include as follows:
• boiler bands
• Rivets on the cab roof, cylinders, smokebox, boiler, firebox, running board, cab steps, buffer beam and the main body of the tender
• Oiling points on top of the wheel splashers
• Lamp irons on the back of the tender
Separately fitted details include:
• Handrails on the cab sides, firebox, boiler, smokebox (front & sides)
• Smokebox dart handles
• Lamp irons (front & back)
• Route disc irons
• Reverser linkage
• Whistle and safety valves
• Water filler cap
• Tool boxes
• Guard rail around the coal load
Below the running board the valve gear and side linkage are perfectly scaled and the leaf spring suspension and axle boxes are picked out sharp and clean. The brake rigging is already fitted and attached to the brake blocks, also present is the sanding gear in front of the driving wheels.
Turning to the cab the immaculate detail continues with the flush glazing and painted regulator, reversing wheel and copper pipework. also present is a little blink and you'll miss it gimmick... an opening firebox door.
Once again the coal load in the tender looks too glossy, which is a shame as the individual lumps look correctly scaled. a coat of matt black paint is definitely recommended.
The LB&SCR umber brown with gold lining looks sublime to say the least. the lining is sharp and crisp as is the printed decals, of particular note is the crest which adorns the front wheel splashers and the builders plate just ahead of them, which for their small size are perfectly legible.
A rather surprising aspect of the livery was the orange top of the tender which I wasn't aware was part of the paint scheme for LB&SCR tender engines.
In addition to the already mentioned opening firebox door the model also has provision for a 21-pin DCC decoder in the tender. space has also been provided for optional DCC sound.
The model is fitted with a 3-pole motor and after the initial run-in period ran very quiet and smoothly. there's no brass fly wheel attached to the motor's drive shaft however the die-cast metal chassis and running board provides ample inertia as well as tractive effort to pull a sizeable train (about 8 coaches on flat and level track).
Pre-grouping R-T-R models are appearing more and more nowadays and the H1 is a fantastic addition to that particular line up. The fine details, livery, decals and paint apps, combined with the stunning performance makes it a must have model for any collector.
However there's one question that I have to ask...
Why is this model's RRP £199.95?
Throughout this review I have not seen anything that warrants such a high price tag. I own several steam locomotives from Bachmann and when placed with them the H1 doesn't stand out from the crowd as it were. Many of them can equally match the H1 on detail, livery and performance and yet they cost less than the Hl.
The particular H1 that Bachmann have produced was the only member of the class to be temporarily named for a special duty, which was to carry the french president Raymond Poincare during his second visit to Great Britain in 1913. For this the engine was decorated for the occasion and I believe that if Bachmann had portrayed the locomotive in this attire and packaged it in a decorative box as a limited edition then I could justify the RRP.
With that little rant over I still consider the H1 Atlantic as another amazing model to come out from Bachmann and can fully recommend it to anyone who's interested in obtaining one.
Just try and find it for a reasonable price.
Pros & Cons Pros
• Intricate detail both moulded and separately fitted
• Immaculate livery and decals
• Smooth and quiet runner
• Adequate tractive effort
• Glossy painted coal load
• Questionable RRP
With this I give an overall score of 9/10.