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Revolution at the Warley National Model Railway Show at the NEC

Warley 2015 website banner

We have received the first painted samples of the TEA tankers in VTG red, EWS, Freightliner and Greenergy “Efficient” liveries.  Barring a couple of very minor livery amendments we think these look sensational!

We have also been sent first tooling shots of the Pendolino DMSO and PTF.

These will all be on display on stand C12 which we are sharing with Rapido Trains and you can order yours at the show.

You can also find out more information about progress on our proposed Class 320/321 Electric Multiple Unit and 21/29 diesel locomotive models, or talk to us about any other ideas you might have.

Come and find us on stand C12!

Warley floorplan

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TEA samples

We have been checking the TEA samples for any problems and other than a little tightening of some of the tooling and a couple of tiny niggles there seems to be little at fault.


Apoloigies for the indifferent quality of these images – they were snapped on an iPad.  To make some of the details clearer I have converted them to black and white.


This image shows the underside.  The brake pipes and discharge links are fine wire.  The circular witness marks are left by the ejector pins on the tool and are not visible when the model is on the track.


The handbrakewheel on the bogie can be seen in this shot, along with the detailing at the ladder end.  We are particularly pleased with the strengthening ribs on the rear faces of the buffers.  These are prototypical but rarely depicted!  The etched catwalk is slightly distorted due to clumsy handling.   Although fairly robust, the fine detailing does mean these models will need to be handled with care.

We are now awaiting painted samples to check the liveries.  Once this is done we will be ready to start full production, and at this time the order book will be closed.  Don’t worry if you haven’t ordered yet though – all registered subscribers will receive an email reminder.

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Pendolino Tooling Progress

Rapido have sent us some images showing progress on the tooling for the Pendolino.

This is one of the copper electrodes used to spark erode the DMRF bodyshell:


Here is a moulded glazing sprue for the DMSO.  The glazing strip has five windows on this vehicle.  Also visible are the cab windscreen and side windows, the light cluster covers and the moulded guides for the working lights at each end.


Customers will be able to see more tooling images on the Pendolino Development page.

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TEA length

We were recently asked the length over couplers of the TEA model on a forum by a customer fabricating a stock box for the models.

It seemed this information might be useful to others, so here are the CAD drawings with the length over couplers and over buffers indicated.

TEA length couplers TEA length buffers

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Inter car couplers

A lot of work has gone into the design of the inter-vehicle couplers.

Our aims with this component were to find a solution that was simple to use, unobtrusive and robust, but that also provided close-coupling while at the same time transferring power between vehicles.

We considered a magnetic solution but had some concerns about the effect of current on magnetised parts over time.  We also wanted to avoid any large electrical power connectors, and anything that is too fiddly or awkward to easily couple up on the track.  Some products require the model to be placed on its side, then rotated into place, and while this might be OK for a 4-car of 5-car train, for an 11-car Pendolino we felt it would be asking for trouble!

The solution the designer came up with looks, in CAD form, to be simple and elegant.  However, a CAD design is one thing; an actual working model is something else, and once we receive samples we will test and re-test the couplers in all conditions to ensure they are suitably robust and functional.

697XX MS coupler B

One car has a pin, the other a socket.697XX MS coupler A

Both the couplers are on self-centering expanding CAM mountings.

One other advantage of this system is that it ensures the cars can only be put together the right way round, and the vehicles will also be labelled to ensure assembling the train prototypically is a snap.

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Pendolino livery elements

On a model railway forum we were asked whether we had checked the livery will look “right” on our Pendolino.

The answer is that we have compared photographs to the CADs and we believe all is good.

In this head on image we traced the curves of the livery in green; then duplicated them onto the CAD scaled to be the same size.

CAD livery check DMRF front

We feel they match almost perfectly!

The Pendolino is now in tooling and we should have moulded samples to show soon.  Once this happens we will be close to the deadline for ordering – and remember, only customers who pre-order will receive models.

We give at least a fortnight’s notice on the order deadline here, and send an email reminder to all who’ve registered to receive newsletters, so even if you’re not ready to order we suggest you register to be sure you don’t miss out!




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Couplers and Lights

Hello all,

At the N Gauge International Show recently a few supporters were asking about the Pendolino front lights and couplers.

We have always intended to make the front coupler accessible, so that our model can be prototypically “dragged” either away from the wires or in the event of a failure.  For a while Pendolinos were routinely towed by Virgin Class 57 locomotives along the Cambrian coast to Holyhead, while failed Pendolinos are now usually seen in the company of DRS Class 57s.

This view shows how the front cover simply pops out.  On the real thing it automatically folds up inside the nose; this proved impossible in this small scale.  Our top tip is make sure you don’t lose it!

691XX DMRF nose door

This clip taken during our trip to Longsight depot in Manchester shows it in action.  The coupler deploying in the dark reminded me, for some reason, of the Alien films!

Coupler deploys

In this exploded diagram I have pulled the lighting components down from their position behind the nose.  The red tail lights are illluminated in direction of travel, as are the main headlight (far side) and on the nearside the smaller marker light – coloured green on the CAD.   As the image below shows, this is prototypical.  The top headlight above the windscreen is also illuminated.

691XX DMRF exploded 3

Thanks to Martyn Read for this image showing the lights on:

390002_RugeleyTrentValley END

Finally, this exploded drawing shows the arrangement of the power car.  Items such as the PCB board, motor and soundspeaker that are common components are shown simply as indicative shapes; it is not necessary to draw them out in detail.

691XX DMRF exploded 1

This image also shows the separate windscreen wipers, roof detail parts and underfloor skirts.

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Time to wait… with a little zen-gauge

The checking is done; the CADs are approved.  Now we just have to wait for the tooling to take place and the first Pendolino test shots to arrive.

If, like us, you’re struggling to contain your excitement then here are some calming images to help you relax.  We like to think of them as a little zen-gauge…

Zen 5

Zen 4

Zen 2

And for those that asked on Saturday and Sunday, checking against the 3 sample cars we estimate that when coupled up on the track the 9-car trains will be 1492mm in length, and the 11-car trains 1820mm.

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Pendolino approved for tooling

The Class 390 Pendolino CADs for the intermediate cars have now been approved for tooling.

The cab cars have also been improved on condition of one very minor correction.

This is the arrangement for light clusters on the driving car:

691XX DMRF lights

This image shows working the table lamps in first class vehicles:

PTF 695xx 01

At the International N Gauge Show at Leamington Spa this weekend we displayed stereolithographs produced for us by the Jewellery Department at Birmingham City University.  These enabled us – and the many visitors to the show who admired them – to visually check that the models looked “right” in terms of detail and presence, and that they are the correct scale dimensions.


Once Rapido have sent us sampled produced from the toolings we will be sure to post images.

The production cycle will now see us approve mouldings, test and debug a working train and check livery samples.

Once that is done Rapido will ask us to specify the number of models we wish to produce.  At this point we will close the order book and that will be the number produced.

There will be no additional models available post production, so please make sure you keep an eye on this site to ensure you don’t miss the deadline!



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TEA tanker now being tooled

Tooling has commenced on the Revolution Trains TEA tanker now that all CAD drawings have been approved and signed off.

Working with Rapido Trains, we believe these models will bring a new level of sophistication and authenticity to the British market.

Although the TEA tankers look similar, there are subtle differences between batches and many of these are being reproduced, leading to five different configurations:

Type 1a:

This represents the first wagons built by Greenbrier in the number series VTG88115-42.  These are in VTG red livery.

1a - 1

On this type, as with most of the rest of the builds, there are two top hatches with a three part vent in the centre of the wagon:

1a - 3

It also has the shorter type of air tank and single discharge nozzles each side:

1a - 4

The second type (1b) represents the wagons in VTG blue (VTG 88143-56) and VTG grey (VTG 88157-74)

1b - 1

These  have the same air tank arrangement and discharge equipment as type 1a but only one central hatch, the triple vent at one end and a blanking plate at the other:

1b - 2

The next type represents the wagons originally built for EWS,  now DB Schenker,  (870200-344) and  Freightliner (871001-6).  151 of this type were built, making it so far the most numerous variant.

2 - 1

These had the original arrangement of twin top hatches and central triple vent but differed below the barrel with bifurcated discharge nozzles and a longer air tank:

2 - 3

The last wagons built (so far) for VTG incorporate the larger air tank, but the single discharge nozzles.  they also feature the twin hatches and central vent on the top of the barrel:

3a - 1

Some of this final batch were delivered in Greenergy livery and are dedicated to this company’s traffic between northern England, the Humber refineries, the midlands and south Wales.  These have an additional outflow relief (coloured blue on the CAD) adjacent to one of the discharge pipes at one end:

3b - 2

For all types the walkways will be photo etched, and the models feature NEM couplers in pivoting close-coupler sockets and separate wire brake pipes and actuator rods.

The tooling should take around 6-8 weeks and we are hoping to have first shots during November.

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Riccarton fuel train now operated with new TEA tankers

This week saw the train carrying domestic fuel from Grangemouth in Scotland to Riccarton fuel terminal in Ayrshire.

Riccarton tanks 2 31-8-15

The train comprised 10 tanks, of which 7 were of the new design and three were of the older types, built in the 1960s and 70s.

The consist was recorded as:

Loco 66023, then wagons 88118 (VTG red), 88134 (VTG red), 88093 (VTG grey), 87585 (BP grey), 88133 (VTG red), 87564 (BP green), 88035 (VTG gey), 88121 (VTG red), 88117 (VTG red), 87260 (BP green).

But of course this train is a perfect model train – short and with  an attractive and interesting wagons, both in terms of colour and design.

Riccarton tanks 31-8-15

Once the Revolution Trains models become availbale, this train can be easily modelled using our products and the older style TEA models from Farish.

Thanks to photographer Tom Smith for permission to use this image.

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Pendolino sound recording at Longsight Depot

The Revolution Trains – Rapido Class 390 Pendolino in N will be the first RTR mass-market model to be provided with a DCC Sound option.

This has proved popular with customers, and last night we were invited to Alstom’s Longsight traincare depot in Manchester – the home of Virgin’s Pendolino fleet – to record the sounds of the real thing.



Longsight handles 15 Pendolinos each night.  From 2208 the units begin to arrive in the depot and are first sent through the carriage washer and a laser scanner that can register anything from the thickness of the brake pads to the state of the pantograph’s carbon contact heads to check whether they need changing.  From there they are sent into one of 15 reception sidings for overnight work to begin.  An initial one hour exam is followed by a thorough clean.  On-train diagnostics will have communicated ahead with the depot control room and fitters will already know what, if any, specific repair work is required.


Inside the workshops longer term maintenance is underway – at the moment the fleet is undergoing a programme of 800,000 mile “H4” examinations which involve full bogie changes and replacement of the emergency couplers – so the entire nose assembly has to come off!

One of those undergoing its H4 exam was 390103 – the Poppy pendolino and one of the ten models we are offering.  With the trains in this conditions we were able to record some sounds not otherwise possible, though we had to be careful not to get in the way as the work is very tightly rostered.


Most of the recording was done outside; this is generally preferred by our sound recordist Legomanbiffo as there is no chance of any unwanted echoes, or the clang of a dropped spanner, that can mar the recording.  He tends to take at least 3-4 captures of any given sound to be sure of a good “take.”


Strict depot rules meant that the sounds of the horn had to be recorded before 2300 to avoid incurring the wrath of local residents.  Alstom likes to be a good neighbour!


Even though this was Manchester we got lucky with the weather – the only precipitation was from the water washers – just one of over 20 separate sounds we recorded.  Who knew a Pendolino made so many different sounds?


Huge thanks to Dave Jones and everyone at Alstom Longsight depot for helping us to ensure our N Gauge Pendolino with DCC Sound will have the best quality and most accurate sounds possible.


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TEA – CAD drawings approved for tooling

Revolution have approved the CAD drawings for the TEA tanker and the model will now be sent for tooling.

The final version features body-mounted NEM couplers, etched walkways and numerous separately fitted details.


The early build VTG versions feature short air tanks and appropriate brake piping.


There are variations in hatch configurations – our tooling allows for this.  Some VTG versions comprise (from the ladder end) blanking panel – manlid – triple vent; as shown above, others have two manlids and are configured manlid – triple vent- manlid.


The EWS (Now DB Schenker) and Freightliner versions have twin discharge chutes and yaw dampers at each outer end next to the bogie frame.

TEA 2 17-8-15 003

Close up showing the distinctive “twin” discharge nozzles on these versions, and the strengthening rib detail of the rear face of the headstock and the buffers that will feature on all models.

We will shortly be adding these variants to our shopping pages to allow customers to start confirming their orders, and hope to have samples to show at the N Gauge International Show at Leamington in September.

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Pendolino – more details added.

Just a quick update to show that the front hatch has now been rendered removable, to allow our Pendolino model to be “dragged” prototypically by a diesel locomotive across non-electrified lines.  For clearance reasons a coupler cannot be permanently fitted; removing the hatch will expose a pivoting NEM socket to which the modeller can fit a standard coupler or another of their choice.  Also a couple of smaller details around the nose and end have been incorporated.

DMSO 692xx 12-08-15 4

The prominent seams adjacent to the cab side windows – that mark the join between the aerodynamic nose and the standard profile of the body – are also present now.  In the image below I have highlighted the construction lines in black to make them easier to see.

DMSO 692xx 12-08-15 3

We are close to approving these drawings now – just a couple of very small issues to sort out..



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Red TEAs in Scotland


The distinctive red VTG tanks moved to Scotland from South Wales appear to have started work.  Photographer Tom Smith sent us these shots of the red VTG tanks passing through Coatbridge Central on a Grangemouth train with the more usual older style BP green tanks.


Red TEAs in Scotland

Red TEAs 2
Red TEAs 2



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Pendolino Interiors finalised


We have received revised versions of the interior mouldings.  This is standard class with standard seating, for coaches E, F and U.

interior 301 - 1

Following feedback, the designers have now changed the profile of the seats to more accurately reflect the distinctive curved seating used by Virgin in the Pendolino trains.  This moulding is for Coach J – first class with disabled toilet.

interior 302 - 1

This comparison of the Shop area (Coach C) plan with the same section as depicted shows the attention to detail being offered.  Even the seat in the small guard’s cabin is, correctly, of a different type.

interior 303 - 2

PTSRMB interior 2


The designers have even depicted the two types of table – single and twin-leaf – that Pendolinos carry.

interior 301 - 4

The CADs previously seen of the trailer vehicles are now ready for approval, once the driving cabs are approved the model will move to tooling.

Revolution Trains will be at The N Gauge International Show at Leamington Spa this September – and we plan to have prototyped samples on show.  Come and ask us more about our projects.


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Pendolino CAD moving to approval phase

We are now close to approving the various CAD drawings for the Pendolino. All the interior cars are pretty much there – we are just waiting for the all-important driving cabs before we can move to tooling.

This is an overview of Coach U – vehicles in the 653XX number range.  These vehicles have pantograph wells but no pantographs and with coach F form the pair of additional cars in 11-car sets, and are part of the add-on sets for those wishing to depict delivery trains.

TS 653xx 290715

The component on the far right is just the coupler mech from the adjoining vehicle that the CAD designer has added to “virtually” check clearances etc.

The Pantographs have been improved and are now accurate depictions of the unique Brecknell Willis pantographs fitted to Pendolino trains.  These differ slightly from the standard high speed pantograph because they are designed to operate on tilting trains.

PTF 695xx 290715

There is some work still to do on the main coach interiors, however the cab interior is looking ready:

Pendolino Cab interior
Pendolino Cab interior
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Murco Red tanks in Scotland

23 of VTG’s red tankers have been moved to Scotland for use on Grangemouth traffic.

The wagons involved are VTG88115-37.  These were formerly used for Murco traffic from South Wales, and are in all-over red livery with blue VTG lettering.  The wagons were built in 2006 and are of the same type being offered by Revolution.

This is believed to be the first time the red VTG tankers have been seen north of the border.

They were moved north on Friday June 11th 2015.  60011 took the train as far as Carlisle, where 66170 took over.


66170 hauls 23 VTG TEA tankers towards Grangemouth
VTG88117 and VTG 88132 are seen behind 66170 heading towards Grangemouth.

Photo courtsey Tom Smith.

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Pendolino Laser Scanned!

We’ve now laser scanned a Pendolino power car at the Virgin Talent Academy at Crewe.  The weather was cold, dull and overcast – but not rainy – apparently ideal scanning conditions!  If it’s too bright, or the surface is wet and shiny – reflections can make it a lot harder for the laser to get a clean fix.

Scantech at work
Scantech at work

The laser scanner is made by Leica and costs around £70,000.  It’s known as a “time of flight” scanner – that is, it measures the time it takes the light to travel out and be reflected back, and from that calculates the precise distance to the point.  It generates a million data points per second, and at the range the scan was carried out is accurate to +/- 0.3mm.  When this is scaled down for N gauge the error margin is around 2 micrometers!

The Leica scanner
The Leica scanner

The whole process took around 3 hours and involved the two operators – David and Jonathan McCrory of Scantech International – postitioning the scanner at various points and allowing the laser to make a sweep.  They first scanned around the train at low level, to ensure bogie and underframe detail was captured, before using a tripod and the platforms present to scan further up and eventually along the roof to ensure the entire body was scanned.

The resulting “point clouds” from each pass will be stitched together, cleaned up and extraneous items such as the track and any fencing/shrubbery removed to give Rapido’s CAD designers a clean outline to begin designing the model.  Look out for more updates soon!