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Building the Class 87 Engineering Sample

Building the Class 87 Engineering Sample

Hello and welcome to another edition of The Engine Shed, your fortnightly peek into the Hornby Development office. We’ve been teasing you for a few weeks now but the day has finally arrived - we have received the first engineering sample of the one and only Class 87!

Our friends at Hornby Magazine were the first to let the cat out of the bag so to speak and revealed an image of a bag of bits resting on our test layout, and today we want to go into a little more detail about the process of building an engineering sample for one of 2017's most exciting models.



This image first appeared in the "Inside Hornby" Section of July's edition of Hornby Magazine


The Engineering Sample is really the first time we get to see what the tooling we’ve designed can do. Each component of the model is moulded and several examples are sent to us here in the UK. This will usually consist of a die-cast chassis, with separate plastic bogie details as well as a main body and any external pipework and/or pantograph detail that will be on the finished product. This huge bag of bits (not too dissimilar to an Airfix kit) is then usually given to our resident model maker to assemble.




The different elements of the model are sent to us separately with fine details on a spru, much like an Airfix kit


This job is not for the faint of heart, assembling a delicate engineering sample such as this requires years of experience and skill (something we’ll go into in more detail in a future blog) and must be done correctly as we are essentially judging the quality of the tooling on this sample, hence why several examples of each component are sent to us. Each step of the way, the model maker will advise us of any potential fit issues and we work together to adjust the CAD if we have to with each point carefully noted down and relayed back to our colleagues in the factory. It can be a painstaking process but one that is so important to go through before the business of mass manufacture can begin.


Using our CAD details the model maker begins the painstaking, but also very enjoyable task of building the sample


Occasionally, in their eagerness to see the fruits of their labour, our team in our factory will beat our model maker to it and send a delicate and well wrapped example to us before our house built sample can be completed. This actually happened to be the case with the Class 87, however the supremely talented chaps in our workshop are always on hand with a pair or pliers and some modelling glue to make any tweaks to the motor or make any other quick adjustments if necessary.


Our team in the workshop are always on hand to make any last minute adjustments if needed


We’ve explained in a previous blog how we go about testing this type of sample, a process that will usually start with us grabbing a magnifying glass and giving the whole thing a good once over, comparing it to the CAD and reference photographs to ensure there are no glaring errors. That being said we are more often than not satisfied by what we see and then it’s over to our test layout to get it running. We will usually leave the sample running in an oval for a good hour or so to really give the motor a chance to get to know the geometry of the chassis and the body of the model, and after this we start to put it through its paces through points and pulling a load.


Our Engineering Sample for the upcoming Class 87 on our test track here at Hornby HQ


It just so happens that this sample we received from the vendor some weeks ago made its way to the Great Central Railways Model event where lucky visitors were able to see it up close, and Hornby Magazine, our neighbours for the weekend just couldn’t resist getting their hands on it to put on their layout. Take a look below to see how it fared.



 Our 1st Engineering Sample (Running Sample) of the Class 87


We will have more on the Class 87 in an upcoming blog where the next step is the decoration samples, and we're sure our excitment for these is shared by many of you!


Hornby Magazine now available!



Before we leave you today we wanted to make sure you’re all aware that August’s edition of Hornby Magazine, which marks the 50th anniversary of the end of steam on British Railway’s Southern Region is available now! 

This feature packed issue includes the change to win a trio of late BR steam era Southern Region locomotives – a Hornby ‘West Country’ 4-6-2, ‘S15’ 4-6-0 and ‘M7’ 0-4-4T – while our features turn back the clock to July 1967 and the final weeks in the run up to the end of express main line steam operations.

Other features include a full makeover for Hornby’s rebuilt ‘Merchant Navy’ 4-6-2 to represent the last of the class in service, 35030 Elder Dempster Lines, in its final weeks, 20 train formations for the 1963-1967 period on the Southern, Railway Realism profiling the era and a full feature on Jeremy Everett’s evocative Westbridge layout set in Hampshire during the 1960s transition.

If that wasn’t enough we have a first look at Hornby’s first running sample of the ‘OO’ gauge BR Class 87, reviews of the new Twin Track Sound Bulleid air-smoothed ‘Merchant Navy’, more hands on projects, a guide to modelling level crossings and two more stunning feature layouts.

We also as showcase reader layouts in our new Showcase feature, review the latest products from across the sector and much more.

Don’t miss it! Visit our Hornby Magazine page for a sneak preview of this month's issue.


That about wraps things up here in The Engine Shed this week. Please do let us know what you think of how the Class 87 is progressing and your thoughts on the Southern H Class in all the usual places (Facebook, Twitter and our Official Forums).

Until next time! Happy modelling. 


The Engine Shed Team


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