Sounding off with the TTS Vent Van and much more!
Greetings one and all to this instalment of the Hornby Development blog, The Engine Shed. There’s a saying about the best laid plans of mice and men that could be pertinent to us here on the blog, as we’re still waiting for the subject that we mentioned at the end of last month’s edition. However, for us, the change in plans coincided with the arrival of a huge number of samples, offering our most varied edition of the year so far.
We’re beginning this instalment of The Engine Shed with an exclusive first look (or should we say listen?) to the TTS Vent Van (R6888TTS). A unique and hugely interesting part of the 2018 range, we’re able to share with you the first initial steps of development on this project.
Following that we have another first look, as we have the Engineering Samples for the Toad Brake Van (R6833/A and R6834/A). Several of you may have seen some samples of these at shows, or elsewhere, but we have the most recent samples for you here today.
Our third ‘first look’ takes the form of the Maunsell 59’ Kitchen/Dining First (R4816 and R4817), which we haven’t quite managed to cover, until now. However, that’s not all the samples we have for you in this edition!
Following all the big news and announcements we’ve been witness to so far this year we felt it was time to shine the light on a smaller part of the 2018 range, but one that isn’t lacking in history. That leaves us to finish on the smallest Decoration Samples we may have ever featured here in The Engine Shed.
It’s a hugely eclectic mix for April’s blog, but we think it might just be the most one of the most exciting we’ve ever had for you … enjoy!
In amongst all the fantastic new models and new tooling we saw at the beginning of the year, the 2018 range also brought with it an incredibly exciting, and pretty unique, TTS model. The Vent Van with TTS Sound (R6888TTS) piqued the interest of many railway modellers and despite only really having our ‘mission statement’ for the model available, it’s been pre-ordered hundreds of times, not only here on the website but with our network of retailers too.
Well, today is the day we can release the first news on the project, offering you an insight into what the Vent Van will offer. Much like a sound locomotive, the Vent Van helps add atmosphere to your layout by adding that extra dimension. The Vent Van does this in a slightly more general way than our locomotives, offering atmospheric sounds and noises to help set a scene on your layout. You may find that only some of these sounds are suitable for your layout, or you may be able to accommodate them all.
By layering sounds on top of one another you can add atmosphere to your layout, creating the perfect scene with a Vent Van that hides in plain sight. A mixture of spot sounds, loops and randomized loops should give you all the tools to create exactly what you need for your scenes.
Before we show you some of the sounds we’ve been working on, we must add ‘The Engine Shed disclaimer’ that everything you see and hear today is still being worked on. These sounds are some ideas we’ve had but certainly don’t showcase the finished product. Further down the development path we’ll be sure to release the finished sounds, but these are just a few of the samples we have that’ll help create some popular scenes.
We do hope it was clear from the video, but we tried to create three scenes here. The first is an early morning on a farm with a stable. The second scene is a busy station platform that sees a train being boarded, while another train passes through – the scene closes with the Guard’s whistle. The final scene sees a slow day at a workshop, with a handful of workers finishing up for the day.
We recommend playing the video two or three times as each time you’ll pick out a slightly different sound, and it really helps to picture the scene we’ve tried to create.
We hope that those modellers who add the Vent Van to their layouts will be able to use these sounds to create the scenes they want and add an extra level of enjoyment when they come to use their layouts. The Vent Van with TTS Sound (R6888TTS) is currently expected in January 2019, but we’ll keep you updated with this project throughout the year.
The TTS Vent Van isn’t the only exciting 2018 project we have for you in this edition. Also picked out in our January Stop Press blog, the Toad Brake Van was added to the range and proved to be another popular addition.
Having catered for as many variations of the Toad as we could with our tooling, we have a few different samples to show you. Each variation is included as an Engineering Sample, and the project is making good progress.
Overall, we’re very happy with the Toad tooling and we hope you are too. It is worth noting that the incorrect wheels have been fitted to the sample, and we're looking at adjusting the couplings (although the angle of the image isn't doing the coupling any favours). But, as always at this stage, there’s a number of other small changes and improvements the team have noted too. Despite that, it’s always a pleasure to share them with you here. The R6833, R6833A, R6834 and R6834A Toad Brake Vans are all currently due in September.
Continuing with items we featured at the beginning of the year, the first Decoration Samples of the Maunsell 59’ Kitchen/Dining First arrived recently too. Appearing in both SR (R4816) and BR (R4817) liveries, this is yet another first look at some models that, up until this point, only had line drawings available.
Ever the perfectionists, the team have spotted one or two areas that need a little bit of attention so while not the finished article, these images should give you an idea of what to expect in September.
Following the brief lull in the stream of samples last month, there’s more to show you with both the Decoration Sample of the forthcoming RailRoad Class 59 (R3666) and the Signed Sample of the Peckett W4 ‘Lilleshall’ (R3550). Despite having so much for you already this month, we felt we just had to make room for yet another first look, with the Class 59, and there’s always space for a dose of ‘Peckett-mania’.
We’re taking a quick break from all the samples to take a look at a smaller part of the 2018 range. We can often get so caught up with the locomotives, coaches and wagons that we often lose track of some of the smaller items in the Hornby range. Still requiring much of the work that goes into the bigger items, there’s a number of models that may not grab the headlines or forum column inches, but still require a great deal of work and attention to detail.
Two such items that have almost slipped under the enthusiast radar are the AA and RAC sentry boxes (R9866 and R9878); once common sights on the roads of Britain, but now restricted to a handful of preserved roadside examples or museum exhibits.
It was the Automobile Association that, in 1912, first introduced the sentry box to the roadsides of Great Britain, to be followed shortly afterwards by boxes operated by the Royal Automobile Association. Motoring at this time was still a hobby, not a necessity, and cars were prone to breaking down, so both organisations employed patrolmen to help its members, providing motorists with roadside assistance, directions, petrol, fire extinguishers and first aid. Each sentry box carried its own unique number, which not only helped the organisations to dispatch patrolmen to a specific location, but also gave members a fixed reference point from which to navigate to, or from.
As telephones developed and telephone wires spread across the country, both organisations fitted their boxes with handsets, giving rise to the issuing of call box keys to AA members in 1920 so that they could contact the organisation or to make free local calls. The installation of telephones freed patrolmen from permanent duty at the boxes, leading to them becoming more mobile, at first on motorbikes and then subsequently in patrol vans. The first RAC box was installed at Alrewas in Staffordshire, at the junction of the A38 and A513, while the first AA box was at Newingreen in Kent, at the junction of the A20 and A261.
By 1947, the AA had nearly 650 boxes, with the RAC having just over 500 and the keys of both organisations were now interchangeable. The style of both organisation’s boxes was constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of motorists, leading to different styles of boxes and placement of emblems being in existence at the same time. By 1968, the total number of boxes installed by the AA peaked at 787, the RAC having stayed at the 1947 level and both organisations decided to phase out the wooden box in favour of modern pedestal telephones, except for those with a heritage listing or installed in areas of scenic splendour. The last RAC examples disappeared from the roadside during the 1990s, with the AA decommissioning the last of theirs in 2002, leaving just nineteen preserved roadside examples today.
With so many variants of box type produced (a situation exacerbated by Patrolmen being encouraged to improve the appearance of their ‘patch’ from 1927) we decided to model boxes from the late 1940s through to the mid-1950s for consistency and to opt for a typical layout of the emblems and box numbers. The dimensions of the RAC box were taken during a holiday visit to the Avoncroft Museum of Historic Buildings near Bromsgrove during the summer of 2016, leading to a few strange looks from visitors. For the AA box, a suitable example to measure was found a lot closer to home, at Dover Transport Museum in April 2017 which also allowed for several other items to be looked at in more detail. Dover Transport Museum’s example has been carefully reconstructed from the remains of a similar, derelict box and is just awaiting the final fitment of emblems and box number, the measurements for these being taken as an average of those fitted to Beadnell, Aysgarth and Dunmail Raise boxes.
The final result of this attention to detail are faithfully scaled and proportioned AA and RAC call boxes from the Thanet area, but we look forward to seeing them incorporated into your layouts and dioramas with a degree of customisation.
Speaking of smaller items in the range, we just had to include what could be the smallest Decoration Sample we’ve ever had here in The Engine Shed. A necessary and important part of the range, the Con Rod Nut Spanner (R913) is something that sees a lot of use but has probably not been discussed as much as other items in the range (much like those sentry boxes).
To right this wrong we thought we’d show you the Decoration Sample of the updated Con Rod Nut Spanner, which was recently received too. Having impressed us here in the office with its higher quality Anodised Aluminium body, we thought we’d show you the new sleeker spanner here. We even grabbed the older, plastic version to show you a comparison.
The older plastic R913 on the left, with the new Anodised Aluminium on the right
A potentially record-breaking blog for us here at The Engine Shed – the smallest ever Decoration Sample we’ve featured, plus it’s likely it’s the most ‘first looks’ we’ve ever had too. We hope you’ve stuck with us as we have jumped about somewhat, but with so much to show you we just had to find a way to feature everything.
While keeping in mind that almost everything we’ve shown you today is still at a relatively early stage of development, we’d love to have your feedback on all the samples we’ve showcased. In particular, if you have any thoughts or suggestions for the TTS Vent Van please do share them with us online using either our Facebook or Twitter pages, or by posting on our Official Forum.
That leaves us to end this edition of The Engine Shed with some big news. An exciting Hornby announcement is coming soon so be sure to keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground. More details will be released soon, and you can be sure we’ll be back with all the inside info too!
Until next time,
The Engine Shed Team
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