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  • Writer's pictureTom Everitt

REVIEW - Revolution Trains N Gauge Class 128 parcels DMU

First announced in 2018, Revolution Trains new N Gauge Class 128 parcels unit has now arrived and it lays the groundwork for future 1st generation DMU models. Have Revolution built themselves a solid foundation? Read on to find out!

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The Prototype


Introduced in 1959 and originally an order of eight units before an additional two were later added, the class 128 was designed and built by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Company specifically for the carriage of parcels to areas on the London Midland and Western routes without regular passenger services or to stations where the scheduled stop time was not sufficient to on and offload mail.

Equipped with two 230hp Leyland Albion engines, the units boasted impressive power for a single 40 ton vehicle. This allowed them to haul additional stock when extra capacity was required. On the western region they were often paired with single Class 116 driving vehicle from which the seats had been removed, along with GUVs as demand required. By the start of the 1980s two units had been withdrawn, however two vehicles remained on the Western and 6 on the Midland region. Various modifications were made to the units throughout their life as they moved between regions. The Midland removed the gangways from the four units transferred to it whilst some had the headcode boxes removed and plated over with marker lights fitted. Only 55991 and 55992 would retain their gangways until withdrawal.


In addition to their parcels duties, during the 1980s a Chester based 128 would also occasionally be drafted into service hauling ballast trains over the Barmouth bridge due to heavier locomotives being banned from crossing as a result of structural concerns.


Around 1985, two units were painted into an attractive two tone blue with red stripe livery and Red Star Express Parcels branding. This was short lived however, as the units would all soon be painted in the striking red and yellow livery of the Royal Mail following asbestos removal in 1988.


1990 was the final year of operation on parcels services for the Class, with five passing to Regional Railways for potential conversion to route learning or sandite vehicles. Unfortunately the lack of windows was seen as a disadvantage over other types such as the Class 121/122 bubble cars. After being transferred to Inverness all remaining vehicles were cut up, leaving no survivors of the Class.



The Model

revolution trains n gauge class 128

This is the first 1st generation unit produced by Revolution Trains, and the low profile 64ft chassis will form the basis of future DMU models from this period such as the already announced Class 120. so naturally we're interested to see how the chassis in particular performs and if Revolution have given themselves a solid platform for future models.


First impressions on removing the model from the usual attractive Revolution packaging are certainly positive. In the case the Royal Mail version reviewed here there is certainly no missing the bright red and yellow livery! The body moulding is certainly up to the usual high standard now expected and, although the 128 is a fairly spartan unit, the detail that is present is nice and sharp and includes door handles, hinges and rivet details.


Dimensionally, the model checks out to within a few points of a mm against the available Class 128 information in all main areas and Revolution have captured the shape and look of the 128 pretty much spot on.

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The roof features moulded representations of the weld lines where the roof panels are joined and rivet lines at each end where the fibre glass cab dome is attached. Some may find the roof ribs a tad on the over pronounced size, but they are not quite as obvious as those on the Farish Mk.1s. The roof also features moulded BR standard domed ventilators

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The cab ends are where the most detail is to be found, with separately fitted grab rails, fine etched windscreen wipers and separately fitted exhaust stacks at the number two end. The Royal Mail example in this review is also fitted with gangway connectors, however Revolution have tooled for all of the different cab end variations found across the class. These include the centre 4 digit headcode box, split headcode boxes with gangway, indicator lights with gangway and plated over gangway versions. The gangway includes separately fitted parts for the supports and some very fine etched lamp holders either side and Revolution even include a very nice tail lamp in the bag of extra parts for fitting by the user.


Flush glazing is fitted throughout, with the side door windows including a representation of the protective metal bars fitted to the inside.

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The bogies are competent representations of the standard Derby type fitted to many 1st gen units, and perhaps the only area that would have benefitted from a little more relief in the detail. Those weathering their models will be able to bring out the detail that is there to good effect though. As with the bogie end steps, the brake shoes are moulded as part of the plastic frame, so are not inline with the wheels. The underframe is where most of the detail is to be found on this model, with nice representations of the various items of equipment found under the real unit, including the twin engines, gearbox and drive shaft, battery boxes, exhaust pipework and more. Revolution have clearly designed the chassis with future 1st gen DMU models in mind!


revolution trains n gauge class 128
revolution trains n gauge class 128

The buffer beams are separate plastic mouldings and an extensive array of detailing parts are provided for the user to fit, including multiple working cables, brake system pipes and coupling hooks with screw link couplings. If you elect to retain the standard N Gauge rapido coupling, which is fitted in a NEM pocket on mounted on the bogie, some of the pipework may have to be left off to avoid restricting bogie swing.

Finish


The slightly satin finish on the model reviewed is really quite excellent. The base Royal Mail red is smooth and vibrant, whilst the yellow ends, stripes and logo of the RM livery is commendably opaque. Lining, diagonal door stripes and logos are pin sharp and without any sign of them being out of alignment and the correct style of OHLE warning flashes are also present.

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The underframe features some equipment picked out in the appropriate colour whilst white information/warning text in the correct location, and all but the smallest warning panels, are fully legible thanks to the high standard of printing.

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The standard of finish applied to the Class 128 reviewed here is certainly up there with the best we've seen in N Gauge to date!



Mechanism


At the start of this review we asked the question if Revolution had built themselves a solid foundation for future 1st gen units, including the already announced Class 120. The key feature to answering that question is the chassis and how it performs, and after testing the Class 128 on the NGN test circuit, we think the answer to that question is undoubtably, yes! The unit features a low profile diecast chassis block which will allow future passenger DMUs to retain open saloon space. Weighing in at 65 grammes, it is heavy enough that it should have no issues with two, three or even four car units. This is aided by an additional, removable weight sitting above the powered bogie.

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The chassis provides space for a small coreless motor and flywheel which drives one bogie of the model via a cardan shaft with current collection from all 4 wheels courtesy of pinpoint collectors. Straight out of the box the motor was quiet and performance was exceptionally smooth across the full power range. With 5 Farish mk.1 coaches in tow, the model showed no signs of struggling at all. It's obvious that in this chassis Revolution have really put the effort in to ensure they have an excellent performer around which future models can confidently be based.

revolution trains n gauge class 128

The model also comes with a pre-fitted speaker which nestles under the PCB and is a neat solution for those wanting to make use of DCC sound (YouChoos have a Class 128 sound project available as do DC Kits via legomanbiffo) The decoder socket is NEXT18 and easily accessible once the body is removed. Directional lighting is provided for the marker lights and happily Revolution have used yellow LEDs and not bright white, giving a much better appearance for an early DMU, although they could probably stand to be dimmed by tweaking the CV values to properly represent the incandescent bulbs of old!



Summary


The Class 128 is a fantastic model all round with an excellent standard of finish, smooth and powerful performance and should be a welcome addition to the scale for modellers of the period spanned by the units. Their use with a mixed array of other stock broadens their appeal and we have no hesitation in recommending the model. It certainly bodes well for the in development Class 120 multiple unit, and we can't wait to see what other models Revolution put this chassis to use in!

revolution trains n gauge class 128

Availability

Revolution are in the process of dispatching orders to those customers who pre-ordered Class 128s direct from them, and Revolution stockists have also started to receive models for general sale. 7 livery versions are now available as follows with a retail price of £174.95:


CLASS 128 W55994

BR GREEN WITH SPEED WHISKERS

WITH GANGWAY & SPLIT HEADCODE BOXES


CLASS 128 M55987

BR GREEN WITH SPEED WHISKERS

CENTRE HEADCODE BOX


CLASS 128 M55990

BR BLUE WITH FULL YELLOW ENDS

CENTRE HEADCODE BOX


CLASS 128 W55991

BR BLUE WITH FULL YELLOW ENDS

GANGWAY & MARKER LIGHTS


CLASS 128 55994

EXPRESS PARCELS 2-TONE BLUE LIVERY

PLATED OVER GANGWAY WITH MARKER LIGHTS


CLASS 128 55992

ROYAL MAIL RED/YELLOW

GANGWAY & MARKER LIGHTS


CLASS 128 55993

ROYAL MAIL RED

PLATED OVER GANGWAY WITH MARKER LIGHTS



The model in this review was purchased by the reviewer for £135.00 direct from Revolution Trains.



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