J70 is almost here!

 The Model Rail/Rapido Trains J70 with just some of the optional details fitted, posed with a pair of D&S Models coaches (no longer available).

The Model Rail/Rapido Trains J70 with just some of the optional details fitted, posed with a pair of D&S Models coaches (no longer available).

From the very first issue of Model Rail we wanted the magazine to be at the centre of a range of activities within the hobby. That range would go on to include events such as Model Rail Live, the video/DVD productions made jointly with Telerail, and our own exclusive models. Our venture into limited editions began in that first issue with the Hornby/Virgin Trains Class 87 Mission Impossible.

More recently, the limited edition market has become exhausted, as any locomotives with reasonable sales potential have been covered by Model Rail or other retailers. We moved on, in 2009, to our first fully exclusive locomotive, the tiny Sentinel 4wVBT produced for us by Dapol. Then came a joint exercise with Bachmann to produce the SR ‘USA’ 0-6-0T for which the second production run is due in stock any day now.

I had only peripheral involvement in both those projects as Ben Jones managed them until Richard Foster took over the ‘USA’ during its early stages. Richard has also put in many hours researching the ‘J70’ 0-6-0T which is now entering the production stage. I’ve been delighted to be involved in some of the liaison with Rapido Trains who I already knew through my interest in Canadian railway modelling. Rapido’s man in charge of steam outline models and particularly UK steam, is Bill Schneider, an American who lives in New England, models British and has a GWR branch line layout.

I’ve just finished putting the optional details onto a sample ‘J70’ and I’m delighted to be able to say that I think this cute Great Eastern engine is a little gem. We broke new ground with the tiny Sentinel, and with the complex bar-framed ‘USA’ tank, with its numerous tooling variations, but the ‘J70’ moves us forward again, particularly in the area of tiny details. Bill cut his British loco-designing teeth on the GNR Stirling Single which he designed for Locomotion, and there’s no doubt that the ‘J70’ has benefitted. Little details such as the buffer beam safety chains on the ‘J70’ clearly had their origin on the Stirling. They were essential on that locomotive. In later years the ‘J70s’ mostly ran without them, so we could have simply left them off. But, no, they are included, together with etched LNER numberplates, BR shedcode plates and even the metal reinforcements for the cab seat brackets, which were present on some locomotives and not others. In addition, some (No. 68222 for instance) had a reinforcement with three bolts, while others had just two. The ‘J70’ optional parts include both types, so you can fit either, or neither, and they are nothing like as difficult to fit as they look – because you’ll have my instructions in the booklet to guide you.

Go on! Place an order now! You won’t be disappointed.