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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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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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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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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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More Pendolino CAD images

A couple more images from the CAD. The bogies are pretty much there now. The dampers are separate parts to allow the bogie frames to be correctly recessed…

The PTF and PTSRMB vehicles have now had the pantographs added. These are plastic mouldings, and poseable, rather than sprung, since we felt that more people operate their models without contact wires than with!! We’d like to thank Brecknell Willis who sent us excellent drawings of the real thing to help us get this right. There are still a couple of mods to the collector needed – the ends should be less angular – but we think we are definitely getting there.


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Revolution Pendolino – first CAD drawings

Here are some preview images of the almost ready CAD drawings of the Pendolino. Very soon we are expecting the designers to have completed the first stage of the design, and once we are happy we will post some images of the complete model to allow our customers to offer their feedback.
DMSO roof and bodyside
653XX vehicle pantograph well. Note there is not actually a pantograph on these vehicles.
653XX under frame and skirts.
Once the CADs are approved we will move to the next stage of the project, converting the 3D images into steel tools that will mould the actual parts of the model.   We are very happy with the overall shape and look of the model – the hard work is in making sure all the smaller details are right!
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Set number choices

We’d like to thank all those that voted for their preferred Pendolinos. The majority of our customers did register their votes, so the counting process has taken a little longer than we’d anticipated, but here are the results. However, there are a couple of caveats which are explained below.

390001 Virgin Pioneer
390005 City of Wolverhampton
390006 Tate Liverpool
390045 101 Squadron

390104 Alstom Pendolino (Alstom livery)

Pendolino - livery button - Alstom
390114 City of Manchester
390122 Penny the Pendolino
390138 City of London
390151 Virgin Ambassador (Business is Great Britain livery)

Pendolino - livery button - businessPlus, of course, 390103 Virgin Hero (Poppy Pendolino)

Pendolino - livery button - poppy

We had originally expected to offer 5 9-car and 5-11-car, however not only do we have more orders for 11-car trains, but also the 9-car selections are heavily skewed towards 390001 and 390045, while the 11-car voting was more evenly spread out. This means that the 5th choice 9-car set had far far fewer votes than the 6th choice 11-car set. The split is also complicated by the fact that the Poppy Pendolino could almost be considered a separate item on its own, meaning we could argue the split is more like a 5 for 11 and 4 for 9 car.

There were also a couple of almost-ties, in which case we have tried to select variety (eg offering City of London instead of City of Liverpool, as Tate Liverpool had already made the cut).

We are sure that the selections will not please everyone, but hopefully they offer a reasonable spread of interesting colour schemes, geographically diverse cities and notable identities. And, of course, they were selected by our customers, which as far as we are aware is a first for any mass market range of new models.

Over the next few weeks we will update the website to add set choices. If you voted for one of the selected sets and have paid in full then we will update your order.  If you voted for one of the selected sets but paid a deposit or if you didn’t vote for one of selected sets then we will ask you to make your order choice via our website.

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Pendolino – preliminary CAD

We’ve just received the first draft CAD of the Pendolino driving car.  Purchasers can log in to their account and get a sneak preview of the CAD and some of the point cloud data images (on the Pendolino Developments page – only accessible by Pendolino purchasers).

There is still a lot of detail to be added, but the basic shape is starting to get there.

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First Pendolino scan images

The first 3D scan images are now in – you can see a teaser below!


We’ve also received some more CAD from Virgin – again a sample here:


If you’ve placed an order for a Pendolino then you can view all the images (and latest updates) here (please note you must be logged in to your account – the user name / email and password are the ones you supplied when you placed your order).

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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!