Accurascale Class 92 Review
Such is my abiding passion for all the railways of the south of England over their entire history that back around the turn of the century I abandoned the final pretence of my modelling period being the Southern Region Western Division between the early 1960s and mid 1970s and settled on any railway from Cornwall to Kent loosely south of a line of latitude extrapolated west from the Thames Estuary, between the late 1950s and the current day. Yes, this includes the arch-rival GWR, but strictly only in the West Country!
Having then recently taken the family to Disneyland Paris by train I soon found myself in my local model shop (I still had a local model shop back then) buying Hornby’s toylike inaccurate and incomplete Eurostar model and asking to compare Hornby’s and Lima’s Class 92 models. If I recall correctly, Lima’s version was superior in fine detail but significantly let down by the cab side windows being a separate moulding inserted into the side with a very noticeable and unrealistic gap around them. So I bought Hornby’s overall better looking version, it being the Hornby tooling that was used after the acquisition of Lima, and over time I amassed five of them in various liveries.
Some 27 years after Hornby’s model was first released Accurascale’s state of the art versions appeared just before Christmas 2022. Has the wait been worth it? Without hesitation or reservation – yes!
Before I go further this is to clarify that my layout is DC operated, so this review does not cover DCC and sound aspects, and as it is of a Southern Region location I am also only concentrating on the DC conductor rail specifics. The Class 92 is not a locomotive I know as well as earlier Southern “native” locomotives, so I am relying on published information and photographs, principally Modern Locomotives Illustrated number 213, Class 92 (and other Eurotunnel related locomotives).
First try getting the model out of the box! These large heavy models are supplied in sturdy cardboard boxes that are over four times the volume of the model. These boxes are wrapped in a clear plastic sleeve which needs careful removal. Then the lid of the box is a very tight fit, which to avoid damage needs to removed by carefully easing out the longer sides and rocking, usually raising the box from the horizontal surface by a few inches by its lid, to break the suction and allow the tray of the box to use gravity to slip down. They usually open with a comical raspberry type noise! Within the box is a foam tray encasing a clear plastic “egg box” cradle, which itself is encased in a clear plastic sleeve. The cradle supports the model firmly and the model needs careful removal to prevent damage. Despite this seemingly transit-proof packaging, on other manufacturers’ very finely detailed models with similar packaging it is quite common to find detached small parts rattling around in the plastic cradle. There then follows the challenge of identifying these parts and fitting them back, if indeed this is possible as exploded diagrams are either not supplied or are too small and busy to be useful. Consequentially I have a small plastic storage box labelled “unidentified loose parts” which has ever increasing contents. Others have commented that Accurascale Class 92s are refreshingly free of detached parts. On two of my four models one of the tension link couplings and one of the pan heads became detached during the unboxing process, but these are very easily identifiable parts and the coupling is readily fixed back. Refitting the pan head needs a little patience! I also found an etched brass large grille under the foam tray of one of these two models, but the model did not have any grilles missing, so heaven knows how this got there. At least I have a spare if I ever need one.
My first impression was this is one breathtakingly well detailed model. Frankly, on direct comparison these models make Hornby’s version look plain and simplified. Closer and longer inspection confirms first impressions. The subtle shape and details, when compared to photos, both overview and of specific details, look spot-on. The quality of construction, decoration and finish is extremely good. Attention to fine detail in the livery is exacting, as exemplified by the correct short gaps in the orange cantrail lines. The cab windows are thin with no prismatic effect and the windscreen wipers are wafer thin. In particular the piping/cables on the bogies is exquisite and compare extremely well to a close up photo of a bogie in MLI213. One cab end usefully comes fully detailed and there is a bag of parts for the other, plus additional parts. The rectangular metal sprung buffers are imposing. Mention needs to be made of the cab interiors, though lacking a driver, as these are much more than just notionally detailed. I recommend use of a magnifying glass to see and appreciate the interiors. Etched brass nameplates, BR double-arrows and Crewe electric depot plates (as appropriate to the specific locomotive) are supplied to fit, if desired, over the printed versions. The tunnel section logos, which appear to be moulded on rather than separate parts, I am not so happy with as they are not as crisp looking as the real thing. Though from a distance they look OK.
MLI213 only contains a table of certain dimensions and a contrary to best practice un-dimensioned 4mm scale diagram. However, the scale diagram appears to conform to the table of dimensions. Placing a model over the diagrams, and running a ruler and callipers over the model, most dimensions are either spot-on or within half a millimetre. However, surprisingly I found the length over buffers and the body width to be up to 2mm short. I have checked several times on different days, but I always find a discrepancy. Which is correct, the published dimensions or the model? However, I note the length and width dimensions of Hornby’s model agree with the figures in MLI213.
MLI213 does not have a picture looking straight down on a roof and its roof diagram I can only describe as “notional” when it comes to the wiring and plumbing, so I can only comment that things like the position of horns, grilles, pantographs and recesses, etc, appear to be accurate. Given the accuracy of all other details I doubt if Accurascale got the roof’s wiring and plumbing wrong.
The model weighs in at about 665 grams. There is a diecast alloy chassis containing a low profile motor-twin flywheel assembly driving helical gears. This leaves room for a large loudspeaker should you be into DCC sound. All my four models ran extremely smoothly and responsively on DC straight out of their boxes. I have not been able to test the maximum haulage capacity, but I have seen videos online of these models happily hauling realistic length trains of bogie goods vehicles on the flat and such formations are likely to be longer than most modellers can accommodate. So I do not think haulage capacity will be an issue. These models are designed to have EM or P4 wheels easily fitted. We Southern Electric modellers need to know that the bogie appears to be true scale width and therefore the shoe beam and shoes lie outside of conductor rail fitted to sleepers on 16.5mm (OO/HO) gauge track. This is the case with the vast majority of RTR Southern Electric models. I did note that on DC the directional lighting subjectively comes on later and goes off sooner than on other locomotives of other manufacturers. This obviously will not be a problem for DCC users.
I have been told that there is no wiring between the body and chassis so removal of the body is easier in this respect than many models these days. Contacts between the body and chassis are instead used, though I will comment that Hornby’s Class 50 models also use similar contacts for lighting and I had some problems with their electrical continuity straight out of the box. The trade-off is gaining potential contact alignment issues for losing skeins of very thin wiring and incredibly fiddly miniature plugs and sockets. When separating the body from the chassis it needs to be done with great care to avoid damage as the body is a tight fit. Popping out the bodyside grilles is a possible casualty as they are only spot glued in, however they can be carefully glued back all around for a more secure fixing.
I will briefly mention a few pantograph aspects I noticed during research. Firstly both pantographs are supplied clipped down and need unclipping before raising. There is a warning in the box about this. Needless to write, on my four locos they remain clipped down. The raising and lowering of the pantographs is done by motors, not by a servo as on a competitor’s overhead electric loco. DCC operation assumes pantographs in use as the default, though it can be set to “DC” pan-down operation. As on the real thing the rear pantograph in the direction of travel being raised is the default, though this can be changed. The height of the pantograph head can be changed and set.
In conclusion this is the best model, in terms of looks and features, of any British diesel or electric locomotive I have. Plus for an eminently reasonable price by today’s inflated standards. I look forward to having them hauling long, almost realistic length, freight trains around my layout. That is once I have the large tedious job of ballasting and conductor rail fitting completed. If you want one of these extremely good models you will need to be quick, or it may already be too late. Accurascale operate a business plan of largely producing to the number of pre-orders from dealers and direct customers and only keeping a small stock for non-advance orders. At the time of writing some versions are already sold out at Accurascale and some retailers.
Colin Duff. Modelling Officer. 10th January 2023