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Mk5 sleepers – a bit of a drag?

Revolution has received the first consignment of its Mk5 coaches. These are the Caledonian Sleeper versions; the TPE sets are due within the next few weeks.

Chapter and verse – Caledonian Sleeper book sets are here

Models have been dispatched for all pre-paid customers (though some international orders may not have arrived) and we are now working our way through balance payments to fufil remaining orders.

Retailers will be receiving their models soon too.

In the box

All models are supplied with full instructions, a ‘lighting rod’ to operate the interior and tail lighting, working Dellner-style couplers for those who desire added realism and a pair of ‘long’ NEM couplers for use on outer coaches coupled to locomotives that do not have kinematic couplers.

Marshalling your train

In addition to the instructions included we have designed the guides below to enable customers to marshall their trains prototypically.

Caledonian Sleeper runs two distinct services: The Lowlander and The Highlander.

The Lowlander links London Euston with Glasgow and Edinburgh. The train comprises two half-sets and splits (or reforms when running south) at Carstairs.

Revolution Lowlander sets have the code RT-CS-LS-Mk5 packX and can be marshalled as shown.

Haulage is usually Caledonian Sleeper or GBRf Class 92 throughout.

The Highlander links London Euston with Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness. This train runs from Euston to Edinburgh where it splits into the various sections, and Fort William trains have two additional day coaches added. The split between sleepers for Aberdeen or Fort William also varies to take account of seasonal fluctuations and tourist traffic.

Revolution Highlander sets have the code RT-CS-HS-Mk5 packX and can be marshalled as shown.

Haulage is Class 92 between London and Edinburgh, then Class 73/9s (often assisted by a GBRf Class 66) take over for the non-electrified lines north.

Excess drag on some wheelsets

We have sent out thousands of Mk5 coaches and inevitably some customers have reported issues – primarily excessive drag on some wheelsets.

Designing smooth running bogies with inside bearings and power pick-ups is a challenge in N gauge; the Revolution models feature metal half-axles in spacer muffs running in metal ring bearings in an effort to overcome this. 

On our test samples the performance was very smooth, however it is possible that in mass production the alignment of some wheelsets or components may be mis-shapen or just badly fitted. The tolerances involved are hundredths of a millimetre.

Ideally there would be no problems at all, but if you do have difficulties here are some suggestions:

  • Let the models run. Several customers have reported that after a period of running in the drag decreases rapidly as the axles and bearings burnish and settle.
  • We have found that removing any stiff wheelsets and reseating them can often free them up (the wheelsets simply unclip from the bogie and then clip back in.)
  • Check the pick-ups. Some customers have found small burrs which prevent them seating properly in the bogie frame. Correcting this can improve running significantly.
  • Check the back-to-back dimensions. If the wheels are slightly too close together they can ‘pinch’ the pick ups, exacerbating any drag.
  • We recommend that you check that the wheelsets are free running before putting 16 coaches behind your favourite loco. If you’re running-in your coaches as suggested above we suggest doing them in small batches. 
  • Please do not apply any form of liquid lubricant, as such chemicals may react with the plastic of the bogies.
  • Anyone experiencing ongoing problems, or who is nervous about making such checks themselves, is urged to contact our customer support manager for assistance using the email address in the instructions.
  • Also, while we do our best to follow social media it is inevitable that we will miss some posts and information. If you have found issues/solutions with our Mk5s that we may not be aware of please email our support line so we can add that experience to the pool of knowledge.

Needless to say we want to ensure all customers are happy with their models and will continue to investigate all issues and offer solutions.

We have also asked the factory to check the pick ups and bogies on the Mk5 TPE sets currently finishing production to hopefully ensure similar issues are not found with these models when they are delivered.

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Mk5s arrive…

Revolution Trains has received first EP samples of its forthcoming Mk5 Caledonian Sleeper and Mk5a Trans Pennine Express coaching stock.

Left to right: Caledonian Sleeper Mk5 seated, club and accessible sleeper cars.
TPE Mk5a T1, T2 and DT cars.

Caledonian Sleeper Mk5 coaches

The Caledonian Sleeper cars are of four types: Seated, Club (with wifi dom on roof), Accessible Sleeper (PRM) and Standard Sleeper. Each vehicle is unique with accurate underframe, interior and bodyshell variations.

Mk5 Caledonian Sleeper Club car and Accessible (PRM) Sleeper.
Mk5 Caledonian Sleeper Seated car.

The models feature working Dellner type couplers in kinematic NEM pockets, though each pack will also include standard NEM couplers to enable the models to be coupled to a locomotive, as well as full interiors, saloon, cabin and vestibule lighting as standard, numerous separately fitted details – especially on the undersides – and photo-etched grilles where appropriate.

Detail showing etched parts, interiors, wifi dome and inside bearing bogies on Mk5 Club car.

Revolution is offering a total of eight different packs to enable complete Lowlander (London Euston-Glasgow/Edinburgh) or Highlander (London Euston-Aberdeen/Fort William/Inverness) rakes to be recreated or to allow shorter rakes representing the split portions of the trains to be modelled.

The diagrams show normal operating arrangements – during the last 14 months Lowlander and Highlander trains have operated from time to time in shorter forms due to reduced loadings.

92023 at Chelmcote with Caledonain Sleeper in January 2019. This train can be recreated with Revolution Trains’ Class 92023 and Mk5s.
Photo courtesy Nigel Gibbs.
Accessible (PRM) sleeper and Club car.

Trans Pennine Express – Beacon Rail Mk5a coaches

Trans Pennine Express operate their Mk5a sets in permanent rakes of five branded Nova 3 in push-pull mode with Class 68 diesels. Each set features a driving trailer (DT), standard trailer with bicycle rack (T2), two Standard trailers (T3) and a first trailer with standard draw gear at the outer end (T1).

TPE DT + T2 car.

The Revolution models feature the same kinematic couplings and similar levels of detailing to the Mk5 sets and are available to pre-order in two complete 5-car sets.

Inner end of T1 car, and outer end of DT car.

In addition to the interior saloon and vestibule lighting on all cars as standard, the DT features directional head and tail lights at the cab end.

Underside of DT car showing details, wire sanding pipes and bogie bearings and power pickups.
TPE Nova 3 at Keckwick in January 2019. Photo courtesy Dave Harris.
Caledonian Sleeper and TPE operating routes.

Once the samples have been assessed and checked decorated samples will be prepared before the models go into production.

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Sleepers to Scotland with Revolution!

Revolution Trains, working with our friends from Accurascale, have almost completed the research work on their forthcoming N-gauge models of the exciting new Mk5 coaching stock in operation with Caledonian Sleepers.

Caledonian Sleeper, Serco and CAF kindly allowed us access to Polmadie depot in Glasgow to enable us to carefully record the details and other aspects of the vehicles.

These models are being produced with kind permission and under licence from the Scottish Ministers.

While we were there two 8-unit sets, which had just completed Lowlander runs from London overnight to Glasgow and Edinburgh, were being serviced while a third set (nearest the camera) was being checked over.

There are a number of detail differences between the sleepers as delivered and in service, and we’d like to thank the engineering exam at CS/Serco for talking us through them.

Since their introduction the new sleepers have attracted high levels of praise from passengers.  There are four different vehicles: Standard Sleeper, Accessible Sleeper (with larger berths at each end) Club Car with bar and Seated car.

“Classic” berths with bunks and a sink are now joined by twin and double cabins with en-suite toilet facilities.

Club Car interior

All have , stylish, contemporary interiors. Our models will feature these and interior lighting to show it off!

The Caledonian Sleeper logo on the ceiling light in each vestibule is a delightful touch!

Externally the vehicles are sleek and exceptionally smooth-sided as this image shows.

We expect to open the order book on these models very soon, and anticipate selling them in packs of four enabling a full 4, 8 or 16-vehicle train to be assembled.

The stylish livery features three antlers at one end representing Fort William, Aberdeen and Inverness, the three destinations served by the Highlander Service.  Two antlers at the opposite end represent Glasgow and Edinburgh, served by the Lowlander trains.


Caledonian Sleeper and TPE Mk5 route map


The next stage is to complete the CAD work on these models, and once that is done we can open the order book.   As ever, the sooner we receive orders the sooner we can reach production.

If you are interested in 4mm scale 00 gauge models you can order from Accurascale here.

We’d very much like to thank Caledonian Sleepers, Serco, CAF and the team at Polmadie for accommodating us.

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Sleeping to Scotland and Across the Pennines with Revolution!

Revolution Trains is proposing Mk5 and Mk5a coaches for N gauge in both Caledonian Sleeper and Trans Pennine Express liveries.

92023 leads Caledonian Sleeper Mk5 coaches on test run at Chelmscote. Photo courtesy Nigel Gibbs.

Trans Pennine Express Mk5a “Nova 3” set at Keckwick. Photo courtesy Dave Harris.

The Mk5 vehicles are the first new loco-hauled coaching stock (LHCS) to be introduced in Britain since the production of Mk4s vehicles for British Rail’s East Coast Inter-City 225 trains three decades ago. They are in use with two operators:  Caledonian Sleeper operates them on Anglo-Scottish overnight services while Trans Pennine Express is introducing them between Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Manchester and Liverpool.   Caledonian Sleeper The iconic Caledonian Sleeper runs every night between London and the Scottish Lowlands and Highlands.  The trains are popular for both business travel and tourism – allowing passengers to fall asleep in the home counties and wake up amid the mists and moors of the majestic Scottish highlands. There are four Caledonian Sleeper trains every night, two in each direction. For most of the journey they’re hauled by powerful Class 92 locomotives, making them the ideal accompaniment to the forthcoming Revolution/Rapido Class 92.  You can still order a Caledonian Sleeper Class 92 here. The shorter services in Scotland are usually operated by Class 67 or 73 locomotives. The Lowlander runs between London Euston, Glasgow and Edinburgh.  At Carstairs the 16 coaches are split, wth the front half for Glasgow and the rear eight for Edinburgh. The Highlander also comprises 16 coaches, but serves three destinations.  At Edinburgh the train divides and then half goes forward to to Inverness, and the rest of the train splits into two further portions: one for Aberdeen and one for Fort William. Caledonian Sleeper is replacing the existing Mk2 and Mk3 fleet with a single fleet of the new Mk5 vehicles compromising four different vehicle types:  Sleeper, Sleeper (Accessible), Club coach and Seated (Day) coach.

Mk5 seated coach

Mk5 Accessible Sleeper. These vehicles have both wheelchair accommodation and berths with double beds.

These vehicles are all in the company’s attractive Dark Teal colour, with pale silver doors and bodyside antler motif – the prongs of the antlers representing the two Lowlander and three Highlander destinations. Revolution plans to offer models in attractive book-set cases to allow individual portions, or the complete 16-car Lowlander and Highlander sleepers, to be depicted.

These models are being produced with the kind permission of The Scottish Ministers.

Trans Pennine Express The TPE sets are used in fixed rakes of 5 between Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Manchester and Liverpool and are powered by Class 68 locomotives, so ours will complement the highly regarded Dapol model. The vehicles are owned by Beacon Rail and we would like to thank them and TPE for their cooperation in enabling us to produce these models.

TPE Driving Trailer

All models will feature detailed interiors, switchable coach interior lighting as standard and where appropriate directional head and tail lights.  We are also looking at other exciting features though these are currently still at the design stage.

TPE Trailer First with outer buffers

The TPE models will be sold in complete train packs of 5 vehicles, again in attractive book sets.

TPE formation comprising DT-TS (with bike rack)-TS-TS-TF-Class 68

As ever, these models can only proceed if enough people pre-order, and we will be opening the order books for both Caledonian Sleeper and Trans Pennine Express models in due course. This project marks our second collaborative venture with highly-regarded Dublin based manufacturers Accurascale. They are producing the models in 4mm scale, and we are sharing much of the research and development to offer modellers the highest possible quality while keeping overheads down as low as we can.