REVIEW - NGS Hunslet 0-6-0 DH Shunter
In 2017 the N Gauge Society announced they were to produce their first RTR powered model to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the society's founding. The chosen prototype was the diminutive Hunslet 0-6-0DH Shunter.
Choosing a small, narrow bodied shunter as a first powered model may have raised a few questions and eyebrows at the time, but the NGS have tackled the subject admirably, even including several innovative firsts in a UK outline N Gauge model. The result is one of the best N Gauge releases in recent times.
The Hunslet Locomotive company is synonymous with small industrial locomotives, perhaps the most famous being the Austerity 0-6-0 steam engine. Founded in 1864 in Hunslet, Leeds, they produced a long line of industrial motive power supporting a wide range of companies.
The first two 0-6-0 Diesel Hydraulic shunters were built in 1964. With a six cylinder supercharged Rolls Royce C6SFL power unit, they produced 325bhp and weighed 40 tonnes. Further versions came in at 50 and 55 tonnes to help increase the haulage capabilities and the short 0-6-0 wheelbase allowed them to operate over the relatively sharp curves and turnouts often found around industrial settings.
The type proved particularly popular with the National Coal Board who ordered 20 for use in its many collieries across the North of the country. Other significant customers included British Steel, Esso, British Petroleum and the Central Electricity Generating Board who employed their examples at power stations around the country.
As industrial use declined, some examples found their way into spot hire fleets, notably with RMS Locotech and Hunslet-Barcley. The final example was produced for Caledonian Paper in 1988. Several examples are still in commercial use today whilst some have also found their way into preservation.
The N Gauge Society model represents the 50 and 55 tonne versions of the 0-6-0DH shunter and is the first prototypical representation of an industrial locomotive in N Gauge.
First impressions upon removing the model from the box are just how small it is. Measuring just 60mm in length, thoughts soon turn to just how the NGS has managed to fit in a working mechanism to such a small model! More on that later....
The model is made up of moulded plastic bonnets and a one piece clear plastic moulding for the cab and cab roof. The level of detail is excellent, with finely moulded grills, hinges and rivet detail present throughout. The tooling has been produced to accommodate the various different details of the prototypes according to the liveries produced. Overall, the shape and detail of the prototype have been excellently captured by the model.
Finer details include separately fitted wipers, horn, exhaust cowling and bonnet top details.
A cast metal running plate adds weight to the model, and it comes in at a commendable 30 grammes which helps give the model impressive haulage capability. The running plate features some nicely moulded tread plate pattern on the steps and sandbox cover openings on the sides.
Separately fitted jacking/lifting points, brake pipes, coupling hook and buffer shanks are fitted at each end, with the buffers themselves being very nicely turned metal fittings.
Extremely fine etched handrails are fitted where appropriate to the livery, with several different variations being catered for. These really are commendably fine, but will require careful handling of the model to avoid accidental distortion. Some of the models on offer feature full length rails, whilst others only have them in certain areas as shown on the NCB version below.
The model is supplied with standard N Gauge rapido couplings, but also supplied are two blanking plates designed to fit the NEM standard pockets for those wishing to either run the model without couplings or fit an alternative type.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the model is the mechanism. A small model such as this was always going to be a challenge, but the designers behind the model have certainly risen to the occasion.
The small spoked wheels are impressively fine as are the connecting rods and the keeper plate includes brake shoes. Motion is provided by a small coreless motor which is virtually silent on running and provides exceptionally smooth movement. The gearing is impressively low with 6 part reduction to ensure excellent slow speed handling. This means the top speed is slower than most other N Gauge models, although it will still move considerably faster than the prototype's 20mph maximum speed!
Current collection is via phosphor bronze pick up bushes, a similar method to most recent Farish releases and one which should guarantee good, consistent pick up.
In a welcome innovation the model comes pre-fitted with a custom DCC chip, produced for the NGS by CT Elektronik, and which allows operation on both DC and DCC layouts without the user needing to install, remove or adjust any additional equipment. The chip is also fitted with integral stay alive circuitry and a small capacitor. Whilst this won't keep the model running for long periods of electrical interruption, it should be enough to get it over any small spots of dirt. All of this combined gives the Hunslet truly impressive performance right out of the box, and I'd go so far as to say this may be the best running N Gauge locomotive I've seen yet.
As a note of caution, the instructions state that the model should not be used with feedback controllers, or the feedback function should be switched off. High frequency track cleaners should also be avoided as these are highly likely to damage the model.
Directional lighting is fitted with brightness being controllable via function key F7. On some versions a small flashing orange beacon is also included which makes for a lovely little feature in it's own right. On DCC this can be turned on and off using F1. On DC it is permanently on.
Using the F2 function on DCC makes the locomotive perform an uncoupling 'waltz' movement, whereby the engine moves forward and then backward to aid with uncoupling where automatic or magnetic couplings are in use. Function F3 toggles the 'Yard Mode' which disables the inertia settings and gives more precise control.
Both of the models shown here had an excellent standard of finish with a good smooth paint finish and crisp printing of text and logos. On the RMS Locotech there is the slightest gap between the silver printed window frames and the orange roof printing however this is only really noticeable when viewed in extreme close up. There was also evidence that some areas of the chassis and wheels had been touched up using a marker pen, with an ever so slight red-ish hue evident. Again, something only really noticeable under close up and certain lighting conditions.
The wasp stripes on the buffer beams are crisply printed and the blanking plates are a perfect colour match.
Despite it's small size, the NGS Hunslet certainly punches above it's weight when it comes to running quality and innovative features. The larger manufactures should certainly sit up and take note of the onboard DCC and stay alive functions as these deliver exceptional running qualities.
The NGS have certainly delivered a model worthy of their 50th Anniversary, and it comes very highly reccomended if you are in the market for a small industrial shunter. It will certainly be interesting to see how many small industrial layouts now start to appear!
Availability & Price
The Hunslet 0-6-0DH is available exclusively from the N Gauge Society to members only.
NGS membership costs from £22 for 1 year, with longer options also available. For more information visit the N Gauge Society website
The Hunslet is priced at £82 plus postage, so even with membership it still represents outstanding value for money when you consider the standard and features included. The forthcoming upgraded Class 03/04 from Farish will retail for around £110, and that's before the cost of a decoder is added.
Five versions of the model are now available for general purchase to members:
NCB two-tone green
British Steel yellow
The full list planned liveries is as follows:
1. NCB NE area two-tone green
2. NCB Midlands maroon
3. NCB Western area olive green
4. Esso red
5. BP original white
6. BP green
7. CEGB Orange
8. British Steel yellow
9. Port Authority blue/yellow
10. RMS Locotec blue/grey
11. ‘Black Agnes’ Lafarge green
12. RfD sectorisation triple grey
13. Harry Needle Railroad Co
14. Caledonian pale blue
15. ‘Big John’ blue
The models are being released in batches and once member pre-orders are fulfilled the remaining stock is made available for purchase.