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Blog- Sixties Snapshots - 00 scale - Holiday Relief - Mainline 4-6-0s

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The Xmas period has provided an opportunity to bring some of my older locomotives out of retirement. I was prompted in part by questions about the running of old Palitoy / Mainline 4-6-0s.


Holiday Reliefs – Mainline Jubilee and Scot on Bachmann Chassis

When I returned to the hobby in the late 1970s both Mainline and Airfix had just started to produce their range of super detail plastic models. The contrast with Hornby Dublo and Triang was amazing – was Meccano management asleep on the job? While Airfix concentrated on tender drive locomotives the Mainline / Palitoy range featured engine driven locomotives.


Mainline Baby Scot ‘Illustrious’ - black painted wheel rims

In 1980 I bought Illustrious and Royal Scot from the local model shop in Morpeth. These purchases were followed in 1981 and 1982 by Jubilees ‘Orion’ and ‘Leander’ from Johnson’s in Alnwick and Trent’s in Swindon respectively.


Mainline Jubilee ‘Leander’

The wheel rims on these early Mainline engines were rather heavy and the buffers rather small. Generally my early engines ran and pulled well.


Early Mainline / Palitoy chassis for ‘Royal Scot' with crescent shaped balance weights and single lining to cylinders

Mainline made improvements to their product range and in 1983 I purchased the newly released models of Jubilee ‘Mars’ and the Royal Scot ‘Scots Guardsman’ from Northumberia Models in Killingworth and Kings X Models respectively. The engines featured larger buffers and Mars was paired with a highly detailed Fowler tender. The wheel rims had been made thinner and a plastic inlay had been used to provide better detailed spokes and balance weights.


Later Mainline chassis with improved wheel profiles and twin lining to cylinders

Unfortunately the performance of my particular engines did not match the appearance. Both Mars and Scots Guardsman were rough runners (maybe faulty quartering) and in due course both acquired replacement mechanisms from the earlier models. I don’t know how many models were produced of Orion and Royal Scot but there were plenty of unboxed examples available for spares at the end of the 1980s. The BR black varieties were the least popular and in 1984 I bought ‘Private KC Wood’ to repaint in BR green. The necessary smoke deflectors came from a damaged Royal Scot whilst a new green tender came from an unboxed ‘Orion’.


Mainline Private KC Wood - repainted BR green L/C - seems to have a Scot chassis

It would be around 1996 when Bachmann started to reintroduce models under their own name (rather than using the Mainline / Palitoy brand). In place of the Mainline mechanism Bachmann redesigned the split chassis with a ‘can motor’ and worm / flywheel drive.


Bachmann Royal Scot chassis with a mix of blackened and unblackened rods, and an early front coupling

The redesigned chassis was a direct replacement for the earlier Mainline mechanism. Bachmann sold two separate versions specifically to upgrade the earlier Mainline engines. One version was for the Scots (crescent shaped balance weights), and the other for the Patriots / Jubilees (square ended balance weights).


Separate Bachmann Chassis for Jubilee or Patriot

My work situation at the time meant that I had to take a break from the hobby and I did not get back to running trains for almost ten years.


Bachmann Royal Scot ‘Black Watch’ running on a later Bachmann chassis

When I did run trains again I would buy a couple of Bachmann Scots. The running qualities of the Bachmann models was so much better than the Mainline products that over the next two or three years I set about selling most of my Mainline 4-6-0s and replacing them with later Bachmann products. Hornby were in the process of marketing their new Royal Scot range and eBay was well supplied with Bachmann models from collectors moving over to Hornby. I used the opportunity to buy and sell older models and mechanisms and to update my fleet.


Mainline ‘Scots Guardsman’ running on later Bachmann chassis

As mentioned above the Bachmann mechanism is a direct replacement for the earlier Mainline chassis. Jubilee ‘Mars’ and Royal Scot ‘Scots Guardsman’ were of particular sentimental value. I did not sell these models. Instead they were upgraded with later versions of Bachmann chassis featuring extra fine lining to the cylinders and blackened wheel rims and rods.


The final guise? Bachmann train set ‘Royal Scot’ with sprung buffers, finer lining and blackened wheels and rods

Appearance wise there is little to choose between the later Mainline engines and the early Bachmann products. The most noticeable difference is that the boiler bands on the Mainline models are a single colour whilst on the Bachmann bodyshells there is an additional central black line.


Latest super detail Bachmann Jubilee left, ex Mainline Jubilee right

Fast forward to the current situation and Bachmann have completely re-engineered the Jubilee. In place of the split chassis is a new solid chassis featuring wheel sets with steel axles and a DCC ready open frame motor. The body (and tender) detail is improved to the now ‘standard’ Bachmann mix of detailed metal castings and plastic mouldings. At a distance I think the old models are still presentable. ‘Close up’ the moulded smoke box handles and the lack of lamp irons are telling features indicative of the age of the older models. These are not difficult items to add or modify but for personal reasons I will be keeping ‘Mars’ and ‘Scots Guardsman’ as built by Mainline in 1983.


More Holiday Specials, Mainline ‘Mars’ and ‘Scots Guardsman’

Unlike some parts of the UK rail system, it has been busy here this Christmas and there is a short Youtube video showing the above two 4-6-0s in action.

Now I wonder what I will do if Bachmann re-engineer their Royal Scot?


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