The Class 71 - The Final Chapter
It was a rather overcast day back in August 2014 as we motored up the M1 with anticipation in our hearts (and rather questionable service station pasties in our stomachs) - armed with measuring sticks, tape measures, cameras, note books and perhaps most importantly, revolutionary 3D laser scanning equipment. On arriving at Barrow Hill the Barrow Hill team sprang into action, and out of the roundhouse the green figure of the only preserved Class 71, engine number E5001 (on loan at the time from The National Railway Museum) was shunted into position. So began the journey of our Class 71 and perhaps the most hotly anticipated loco of recent years.
Class 71 E5001 at Barrow Hill August 2014 © Paul Isles
Fast forward almost two years to us, with just as much anticipation, tearing into a box to unveil the Final Approval Samples of the Class 71 electric loco. And you, the Engine Shed readers, are the first to see these fantastic locos in all their glory!
The Class 71 has been somewhat of a regular guest in The Engine Shed, and rightly so. It was one of the first locos to be 3D scanned by Hornby, enabling us to replicate the loco in levels of detail that had not been achievable before, and it is one of the first locos that we have been able to track almost all the way from research phase to release.
Following its announcement at Warley National Model Railway Exhibition in 2014, several subsequent development samples passed through the department, and it was in our third edition that we gave you the Class 71 Story So Far. We premiered a short film featuring an animation of the data we were able to gather during the 3D scanning, and the resulting CAD models and renders. We were also able to show you, for the first time the rapid prototype models what were on display at Warley.
Animation of the 3D Scanning at Barrow Hill, August 2014
It was then in July last year that we took delivery of the first running sample and we were bowled over by the weight of the loco – any doubts anyone had about it not sticking to the track were well and truly quashed. It was quiet, smooth and we couldn't wait to show you!
A video of the first running sample, as seen in The Engine Shed, July 2015
The second running sample arrived in September, right on time, complete with a working pantograph - a great deal of effort went into the design process to ensure this functional feature was correct and of the highest detail.
In November 2015, one year after its announcement, we were able to unveil to the world (at the same time as people attending Warley that year) the decoration samples of what stole the show the previous year. The story was slowly reaching the end, pre-orders were being taken and it was looking like the months and months of hard work was going to pay off.
CUT TO: An unseasonably cold, blustery April afternoon in Hornby HQ. Our Hornby Development Manager finished the last of his cup of tea and glanced around the office. Work was ticking along nicely and he set about answering a few of the afternoon’s emails. No sooner had he clicked “Open”, a cardboard box appeared on his desk. After a quick swipe of a box cutter and a rifle though polystyrene packing beans, there in front of him sat three approval samples of the loco almost two years in the making. Approval samples that were a result of ground breaking technology. Approval samples of The Class 71!
And here they are, Engine Shed readers, in all their glory!
Take a look at our video below and please let us know what you think, we couldn't be prouder of these locos and hope that you share our enthusiasm. The loco is planned for release in early June and is still available to pre-order, take a look at the Class 71 page for a complete history and more information.
As we’ve been looking back and getting all nostalgic about the development journey of the Class 71, we wondered whether our Engine Shed readers would like to get nostalgic as well? We’d like to know the significance of Model Railway collecting to you, we’d like to know which Hornby model is significant in your life. It could be the first loco you received as a child, or a brand new model of a loco that you've sought after all your collecting life. Tell us about it by emailing email@example.com and your story could feature in the next edition of the blog!
Calendar Wallpaper Competition Winner
Lastly, you may remember a competition we launched last month offering you the chance to have your image used for May's Calendar Wallpaper. The success of our Customer Image feature has been truly overwhelming, we love seeing your collections and locos on your layouts. However there could only be one winner and we are very pleased to announce that the winner is Graham Foulston with his image of the R3323 - BR 4-6-0 ‘Black 5’ Class 5MT - Late BR. Congratulations Graham! You can download Graham's fantastic image as a Calendar Wallpaper from today.
We were so overwhelmed with your photos that we have decided to feature a customer's photo on the monthly calendar again soon. So if you have already uploaded images they could still make it onto a calendar, and if you haven't then start uploading your images at the bottom of the relevant product page now!
The Engine Shed Team
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