This model by REE represents a Gaston Moyse 32-tonne 'locotracteur' from around 1960. REE have released the model in a variety of liveries, and with and without lamps. There are also analogue (DCC-ready) and factory-fitted DCC sound models to choose from.
Moyse locomotives seem to be quite rare in Britain, but there are at least two possible precedents: a locotracteur of 1929 at the Atlas Stone Company near Meldreth (Cambridgeshire), and a much later diesel-electric shunter named 'Autumn Gold', which worked the railhead of the Stockton Haulage Company in Middlesbrough during the 1990s. The model appeals to me because it fits within the British loading gauge and it looks at home on my layout. It also has a very well-engineered chassis. I am pleased with it, so this attempt at a review is probably a bit biased.
The model has some features of an SNCF engine, like the exhaust silencer mounted on the roof, while photographs of engines in industry have a silencer in front of the cab. So I suspect the livery on this particular model is freelance, but typical of industrial use. The model measures 30 mm across the width of the running boards and 42 mm high above rail level. These dimensions represent a prototype 8 ft 6 in wide and 12 ft high, so the model fits happily inside the usual British loading gauge in 1:87 scale.
The model has a moulded plastic superstructure and a die-cast chassis. The mechanism fits entirely below the level of the footplate and running boards, leaving the inside of the cab free from obstructions. The pcb and its blanking plug for a decoder are hidden inside the bonnet.
The dimensions and detailing of the model are exemplary. REE have captured the curved shapes and proportions of the design very well, and the model seems to include all of the physical details of a typical prototype. The cab interior includes duplicated left- and right-hand controls, and a model of the rear of the engine.
Performance is also very good indeed. I suggest, this is largely because the model has a compensated chassis with one axle fixed and the second axle pivoting around the axis of the worm. So the model always has all four wheels on the track, and not usually three out of four.
Out of the box, my model ran perfectly through my Peco code 75 pointwork but struggled to get through through my H0-SF points. Upon investigation, I found the wheel back-to-backs had been set to 14.3 mm in the factory. I took the wheels out of the model to adjust the back to backs, so here is a view of the compensation arrangements in the chassis:
I now use two gauges to set back-to-backs, one 14.4 mm and one 14.5 mm, making sure the smaller gauge fits and the larger gauge does not.
The model weighs just 78 grams but it produces enough traction to haul or propel a bogie van (my Mk1 BG) up a 1:20 gradient. This is rather better than any other four-wheeled chassis I have ever had, in 00 or H0.
I bought one of the analogue models. I am not a fan of 'DCC sound' (I usually turn it off after a few seconds) but the factory DCC sound version of the model does include a stay-alive circuit and I have watched such a model run for about ten seconds after being lifted away from the track. The analogue version saves £100 but a non-sound PluX decoder costs most of £30, and it is probably worthwhile paying the extra for the stay-alive feature, even if you never use the sound.
The things I would like to change are to darken the ventilation grills on the bonnet, and add a driver figure. The buffer heads are separate mouldings and will pull off, and I could try fitting some round ones in their place too. But really, as a ready-to-run model train, I do not see how it can be any better. I think it will become the pilot at Fairport, to detach wagons from incoming trains and move these wagons around the yard.