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 The last was withdrawn in 1916.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.