The Tri-ang-Hornby M7 tank locomotive, model guide.

The Tri-ang Hornby M7 Tank locomotive model was in the Hornby range for over 40 years. Additionally, The model was also the first to feature a firebox glow and opening smokebox door.

The prototype

An M7 in action

The London and South Western Railway M7 tank engines were used on the intensive London services of the said company. Notably, 105 were built between 1897 and 1911. The designer was Dugald Drummond a Scottish engineer who had worked for three different companies.

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Tri-ang Minic Motorways, a slot too far?


Tri-ang Minic Motorways, was a slot car system that appeared in the 1960’s. Notably, It was deigned specifically to go with the existing Tri-ang model railway range. Consequently the vehicles were to the same 1/76 scale.

Early advertising was bizarre and unintentionally funny! See the header image. The ad. reads “Fun for all the family” while showing a car crash. This would bring today’s woke snowflakes out in a rash. Interestingly one of the later features was a kind of “logic” control that stopped the crashes.

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Model Review – Hornby 4P LMS Compound ( R3063)

The prototype

The 4P has a complicated history with many rebuilds. The version modeled by Hornby was built by the North British Locomotive company for the LMS, between 1924 and 1932. The Midland Railway 1000 series were very similar. The type remained in service until 1961 and none have been preserved.

The model

The Hornby 4P compound was issued in 2011, it has a modern can motor and was part of the Railroad range. The drive is in the Loco with a DCC decoder in the tender. Consequently, there are visible wires, however, this allows for pickups on all the wheels. The body is the same one used for R376, 30 years earlier.

Detailing is adequate although the cab pipework and handles would benefit from painting. The lining is well applied and the model has a nice satin sheen.

Running & drawbacks

This is a light model with poor pulling power, it originally came with traction tyres, however, adding more weight will improve performance. The can motor is quiet and there should be no problem on points.

The DCC socket is in the tender giving plenty of room.

Overall this is a good model with no major problems.


The Hornby R3063 4P compound can be had for £60 -£70, on auction sites.

There is an earlier version made from 1981-83. This model (R376) has the Ringfield motor fitted in the tender and a smoke unit. These can be had for about £50.

Roman model kits and figure sets

This article looks at the many Roman model kits and figure sets that are available. Roman models have proved popular over the years with figures and ships made by Airfix and others. So, which kits are the rarest?

Roman model kits and figure sets – early figures

One of the first Roman plastic kits was that of Julius Caesar. This was made by Airfix in 1964. It was originally bagged but gained a box in 1967.

The original Airfix Julius caesar kit from 1964

The kit was a relatively large one for a figure, at 1:12 scale, or about 6″ tall. These make up into nicely detailed models. However, the kit was last produced in 1978 and it is probable that the tooling has been lost. They very rarely turn up on auction sites.

The latter boxed Julius Caesar from 1967.

Another Airfix Roman set appeared in 1967 this was a 1/76 scale, set of Roman soldiers, there were 28 figures including horses. Additionally, they were made of a slimy soft plastic that was notoriously difficult to paint. Consequently, These can still be had on auction sites for around £20.

The Airfix Roman figure set of 1967 -eBay.

Modern Roman Figures

MiniArt produces 1:16 scale Roman figure Kits, these are good value at £12. Furthermore, they are readily available from most model shops, online. Indeed, they have a good level of detail and are well molded.

Modern MiniArt Romans – Amazon

1:72 scale figures

Strelets Roman figures

Perhaps the most popular scale for Roman figures is 1:72.

Strelets produce Roman figure sets in 1:72 scale, these are molded in soft plastic.

Strelets Roman Transport set – Javis
Plastic soldier review

The set includes and ox drawn cart that you would probably not find anywhere else!

HaT 1:72 figure sets

Hat also produce many Roman 1:72 figure sets

  • 8052 Punic war command
  • 8064 Roman X HVY Legionaire
  • 8066 Imperial Roman auxiliary cavalry
  • 8067 Imperial Roman pretorian cavalry
  • 8074 Roman Auxilliaries
  • 8075 Roman Command
  • 8082 Roman legionaires
  • 8086 Late Roman cataphract
  • 8087 Late Roman heavy infantry
  • 8100 Late Roman ligtt / medium infantry
  • 8137 Late Roman missile troops
  • 8151 Republican Roman army
  • 8183 Late Roman medium cavalry

Italeri also make a range of 1:72 figure sets

There are lots of Roman figure models but what else is available?

Roman chariot kits

A number of Roman chariot kits were produced in the 1950s and 60s, this probably had something to do with the Ben Hur film! All were in 1:48 scale.

A still from the 1959 version of Ben Hur – Variety

Miniature Masterpieces Roman chariot kit, early 50s

In 1953 Miniature Masterpieces produced a rather crude injection molded model. This can still be had for Around £30.

Crude modeling? – eBay

UPC Roman 1:48 Roman Chariot kit ,1960s

In the early ’60s a Roman Chariot kit was produced by UPC. These were made in japan.

Life Like Roman chariot kit, 1974

In 1974 the US Kit manufacturer Life Like made a Roman chariot kit, in 1:48 scale. This is another fairly scarce kit, that turns up on auction sites, only occasionally.


Glencoe Models 1:48 scale chariot and horses, 2019

This is an injection-molded kit that came out in 2019 and can be had for £65. The kit is rather oddly molded in blue plastic and is expensive for what it is.

Roman ship kits

Academy and Zvezda produce a Roman Trireme kit. The Academy kit comes in two scales 1:72 and 1:250. They are both still available for around £40 and £25 respectively.

The Czech manufacturer Zvezda also makes a 1:72 scale version for around £45. The kit includes a number of figures. There are also Resin and wooden boat kits available.

Roman Fort kits

There is an Airfix fort kit that is still available, all be it at around £140. This represents a mile castle, typical of those found on Hadrian’s wall.

Finally, there are a couple of card kits of Roman forts. These are cheap and maybe OK for background models on a larger diorama.

The Metcalfe Castle kit could be adapted to represent Hadrian’s wall or the walls of a fort. The N gauge version could be used in forced perspective, for example, as a wall in the distance.

New for ’62, Tri-ang’s pivotal year.

Tri-ang on the rise.

The year of 1962 marked 10 years since the founding of, model railway manufacturer, Tri-ang. Consequently, lots of new products appeared. Most importantly, Super 4 track and scale length coaches.

Other new products included colour light signals and some new “Action Stations” items. This range consisted of some blood thirsty military style wagons. I am not sure about the bomb transporter with exploding bomb!

The transcontinental “export” range continued with an old style Wild West locomotive “Davy Crockett” with or without smoke. There was also a matching coach. The transcontinental models were discontinued in the early 70’s.

Super 4 track

By the early 1960’s the course code 150 rail and odd sleeper spacing of series 3 track was beginning to look outmoded.

As a result a more scale appearance track was developed. This still used code 150 rail but had a more realistic sleeper spacing and geometry.

The 13.5 ” radius “corners” of series 3 track had gone, replaced with a more reasonable 14 5/8″ radius. However the 2nd radius curve stayed the same, at 17 1/2″. Super 4 track was only produced for eight years until system 6 track came along in 1970. This used a more scale rail profile, of code 100 height.

Scale length coaches

Another innovation in ’62 was scale length coaches with ready fitted interiors. They also had closer fitting windows. At 10 5/16″ long, they were much closer to scale length than the current 8 15/16″ coaches. The body mouldings stayed in use for many years. Additionally they had pinpoint axles and later, metal wheels.

New Colour light signal and automatic train control

To add to the excitement working colour light signals were issued. Also an automatic shuttle service set.

The light signals used 16v filament bulbs and a two way yellow lever switch. There was a generous amount of wire provided with the standard connectors.

Automatic train control takes a hand

The automatic train control set used two isolated track sections and a relay to stop a train at the layout’s station. Two trains ran on the same oval. The oval was fitted with two trip switches, one just past the end of the station platform and another on the other side of the oval. When a train passed over the station contact the relay cut power to the isolated section stopping the train.

Meanwhile the second train kept moving until it passed over the other isolated section and contact. Consequently the relay toggled and power was restored to the first train causing it to move off. Finally, the second train reached the platform switch, stopped, and the cycle repeated.

This was a clever use of simple technology, with two trains on the same track, long before DCC.

The only other way of running two trains on the same track was with the old Trix 3 rail system. In fact this was a major selling point of the Trix 3 rail system

New wagons

New wagons were fairly sparse in ’62 with a bogie tanker wagon. The main issue of note was a rescue crane truck and bolster wagon. The bolster wagon was redesigned as a crane match truck.

The crane has a working chain driven hook and jib . Although they were prone to breakage. The chassis was metal with a plastic jib. The model had a long life being in the range until 1979.

New in Transcontinental

The final new item was an old time US locomotive and coach.

These were quite plasticky with an odd wheel spacing.

The Tri-ang, Dean single locomotive model, R.354 – retro review


The Tri-ang Dean single, lord of the Isles, R.354, first appeared in 1961 and is still available today, after 60 years. Although the modern version has an updated motor. The original used an X05 motor with a unique chassis.

The prototype

The Dean single also known as the class 3031 or Achilles class started out as a 2-2-2 design for the GWR broad gauge. It was designed by William Dean and 80 were produced, between 1891 and 1899. The locomotive was intended for passenger use. Due to width constraints a larger boiler had to be made longer not wider. Consequently, this lead to excess weight being placed on the leading pair of wheels. After an accident caused by a broken axle, in 1893, the front wheels were replaced by a four wheeled bogie.

The design rapidly became antiquated and the class saw less than thirty years of service. The last was withdrawn in 1916. None of the class remain in preservation, although a replica was made in 1982.

Hand coloured original photo

The models

Tri-ang first released Lord of the Isles in 1961. This originally had a mat finish. The locomotive also featured in sets and train packs. There was a smoke unit fitted to the earlier models.

The body was moulded plastic with a high gloss dome. However, the chimney cap was metal as was the bogie frame. The number was also moulded into the body, while the name was a sticker that has managed to stay on! Finally there is cab detail although it is not painted. The version shown in the images was released in the early 70’s. It can be distinguished from the first version, as it has a gloss finish.

Hornby Lord of the Isles 1970-72 gloss finish R.354, photo by the author

There were various production runs of this model between 1961 and 1965. There was also a run in 1967.

There are a couple of interesting sets that came out in 1961 and 1962, RS.8 and RS.28 respectively. Most importantly, Super 4 track came out in 1962 and was included with the 1962 set. The first version of the set had series 3 track. This first set is hard to find and the second can be £400+

This set was a sort of “super deluxe” train set with a signal box, signals, two points and a level crossing!

The 1962 Lord of The Isles set with super 4 track.
The RS.28 set in the 1962 catalogue with super 4 track.

A train pack was issued in 1965, this featured the locomotive tender and one coach. This can be had from £150-£250.

The 1965 train pack

Finally in the early 80’s, another run of the model lead to a new train pack with three coaches. By this time the crude coaches were well past their sell by date.

The current Hornby Dean Single.

Hornby released a “new” version of the Dean single In 2019. This used the original Tri-ang body shell and tender. Improvements included pickups on the front bogie, however there are still no tender pickups. The new model can be had for £80 so is good value.

The Mainline class 45, D 52, Retro Review

Class 45 Lancashire Fusilier Cat. No. 37068

The Prototype

The class 45, built by British Rail in Derby, was derived from the English Electric built class 40. Consequently the 45’s had a larger engine and were more powerful. The Sulzer 12 LDA 28B engine provided 2500hp. Most importantly the weight was 133 tons. The high weight resulted in the 1-Co-Co-1 wheel arrangement being needed to reduce the axle loading. For example, four eight wheel bogies distributed the weight.

127 class 45’s were built from 1960-62, withdrawal was in the late 80’s. They became known as the Peaks due to the locomotives being named after famous mountains. Later, they were named after regiments, as with this example. D52 was made at BR’s Crew works.

Lovely quality name plate for the era.

The class 45’s were mainly used on the Midland main line. Consequently some were stabled at Leeds and were used on passenger duties on the Settle and Carlisle line.

Classic poster art from 1900, the Settle – Carlisle line opened in 1876
From British locomotives of the 20th century Vol. 3 O.S.Nock

The Mainline class 45 Model

The Mainline class 45 model came out in 1980. Eight versions were produced including some with onboard sound!

From British Model Trains 3rd edition.
Photo, the author.

The buffer beam is simplified and should be red, as with the modern Heljan or Bachmann version. The model is a good runner and negotiates 1st radius curves without difficulty.

Photo, the author.

The bogies are articulated with the end pair of wheels on a pivot. This does make them a pig to get on the track, however! Traction tyres are fitted to the power bogie.

The motor is similar to the Hornby Ringfield unit.

The radiator vents are nicely represented and the paint finish is an attractive mat green and gray.

While not up to modern standards, they can be had for £45 or less, boxed and make a nice addition to your Green period Diesels.

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The Mainline BR 16′ Brake Van – Retro review.

Mainline Railways

The Mainline BR 16′ Brake Van. Mainline Railways existed for barely 10 years but in that time they produced some excellent models. Prices nowadays are low and this is a good range to collect.

In the 1970’s the General Mills corporation of America was a producer of toys. As a result they user Kader of Hong Kong to manufacture them. Therefore, it was logical to use Kader when General Mills decided to enter the UK model railway market.

Mainline Railways began production in 1976. Consequently, the company chosen to market the brand was Palitoy. Palitoy already had plants in Hong Kong , As a result, Manufacturing was done there. The J72 locomotive was on show at the Harrogate toy fair, in 1976. The model was well received. More models were on the way. A class 45 appeared in 1981 along with some MK I coaches.

In 1981 Airfix also had a model railway system. Palitoy bough Airfix at that time. Consequently the Airfix range was merged with mainline.

By 1983 General mills had decided not to continue with model railway manufacture. As a result the assets were sold to Dapol in 1985.

Note the type A coupling with its tension spring.

The Mainline Brake van model 37-139

The The Mainline BR 16′ Brake Van model was an early adopter of separately fitted parts with vacuum pipes supplied for the user to fit. The couplings were also a point of note. They were similar to Hornby but with a tension spring that forced the hook down. The model was produced from 1976 – 1981.

Handrails were made of shaped metal and the wheels were also metal. Moulded detail is crisp and the printing is legible. The vehicle is all plastic, however the paint finish is good. The model is light but very free running.

The Box art is striking with bold lettering .


This is a collectable range and the models run well on modern track.

Hornby Brush Type 4, Class 47, R.060 – Retro Review.

Is this the worst class 47 model ever produced? The Hornby Brush Type 4, Class 47 was released in 1976. It has a Ringfield motor and a rather shiny paint finish! The version I have is a good runner with a disastrous paint job, as they all had!

The prototype.

By 1961 the end of steam was in site and there was a need for a large number of lightweight type 4 locomotives. Locomotives classed as Type 4 produced between 2,000 bhp and 2,999 bhp. A contract was awarded to Brush, initially for 100 Diesel electric locomotives.

The Brush type 4’s were built between 1962 and 1968. Over 500 were built at Crewe and Loughborough. Seventy eight are still in use today. They had 2750 horse power Sultzer engines, later de-rated to 2500 horse power, giving a top speed of 75 mph. The engines were 12 cylinder units, effectively two six cylinder engines sandwiched together in a V shape. The locomotives are popular on heritage lines. I shot a class 47 similar to the model, at the East Lancs Railway in 2019, see the video below.

The model

Released in 1976 the Hornby Brush Type 4, Class 47, is depicted with a 1960’s green colour scheme and the later BR crest. It was only produced for one year and sports the 1970’s style box with the silver seal logo. The box is in OK condition.

The model has a rather odd shiny appearance. Also, if you look at the roof vent detailing the silver colour on the model is overdone and not very realistic. See the prototype below. This paint job is a disaster and may be why the model only survived for one year!

A black wash may help the vent detailing.

There is an attempt at windscreen wipers, moulded into the window glass. The handrails are moulded on and picked out in silver paint. The head code is illuminated but very dim at normal running speeds. It has crude, un-sprung buffers of the wrong size and very little buffer beam detail. The green band on the livery should continue round the cab front.

The bogies are plastic and all the wheels have pickups. The bogie detailing is very primitive, oddly the power bogie centre wheels have no flange while the trailing bogie has flanges on all the wheels. The gearing is all plastic. Remarkably the model gets round minimum radius curves without effort.

This was not a cheap model at the time, costing £13.25, that is over £100 in today’s money.

Hornby Brush Type 4, Class 47, R.060 on the Hornby collectors guide site


The review model cost £60 on eBay. This is a crude model even for the 70’s . The only redeeming feature is the running. The paint job is incredibly bad.

See the class 47 on my test layout.

Below is a video of the class 47 in action, from my YouTube channel Not Just trains.

Dinky Jaguar Cars – Collectors Guide

The first Jaguar car in the Dinky range was the generic “sports car” of 1940, the 38f. This was probably based on the SS 90 of 1935. The model had a blue or khaki body. There was also a red variant and a scarce green version.

The Jaguar XK 120 model came out in 1954. Numbered 157. It was available in green, white or red. In 1960 two, two tone schemes were issued. Cerise/yellow or grey/yellow.

The XK 120 was the first post war sports car from Jaguar, appearing in 1948. it had a top speed of 124mph. The engine was a straight sis with 160bhp.

In 1958 The D type was issued in turquoise blue, with a driver figure.

The Jaguar Mk II model came out in 1960, numbered 195. it was available in maroon, cream or gray.

The Jaguar E type appeared in 1962, numbered 120. This model came with windows and a removable roof. You could have red or blue.

The jaguar Mark 10 came out in 1962, in blue, numbered 142. The mark 10 was over 6 feet wide and was the broadest car on the market in 1961. it had distinctive dual headlights and disc brakes.

In 1968 another E-type variant was produced. This had a fixed roof with opening doors and bonnet. By this time Competition from Corgi and Matchbox was fierce. More working featuring were introduced in response. The packaging was also modernised.

This was available in red, blue and bronze.

See the Jaguar e type models available from us now

The last Dinky Jaguar was the X15 numbered 219 and issued in 1978. This featured some fairly ugly decals and represented the desperation that was setting in!

Finally there was also a Jaguar Police car and a tie in with Avengers TV series.