The Class 800 Test Train: "As complex as it gets..."
Hello and welcome to The Engine Shed. Well we’re back to normal after our trip across the border to attend one of our favourite model rail shows – Model Rail Scotland. Despite Storm Doris doing her best to stop us from getting there, as you will have read, the Hornby team and The Engine Shed team were there in full force, chatting with model rail fans of all ages and of course providing regular updates to those that were not able to be there. The show itself was busier than ever, and it seems each time we attend a show like this we come away saying the same thing – how fantastic it is to see so many families and youngsters engaging with and showing a real passion for the hobby.
With no announcements or talks taking place, our attention was solely on chatting with the public and actually having a great deal of fun! Are there any of us that can really say they do not enjoy standing around talking about model trains? As expected, our 2017 prototypes and various samples stole the show. With the news of our recent wins at the BRM Awards, it was great to be able to display the next generation of potential award winners, with the Hitachi Class 800 prototype and the stereo sample for the Class 87 being the talk of the stand.
Talking of the BRM awards, we mentioned at the time how happy and honoured we were to be recognised in this way - and we just want to reiterate how much it means to us not only as a company, but as a Development Team as well. We put everything we have into developing our products (we don’t like to use the cliché “blood, sweat and tears” but it’s often very close!) and to see the product not only being bought online and from independent model shops but also voted for in these awards, we find it tough to put into words what that means to us – particularly when you consider what stiff competition we are up against! We couldn’t let it pass without saying a very heartfelt thank you from everyone here at Hornby for all your support.
We hope you enjoyed our rolling coverage of the show both on Social Media and here in the blog, it was a little bit different for us but something we very much enjoyed and we would love to hear what you thought of the coverage. We plan on getting out and about much more this year and will be looking to give those not able to be at these tremendous shows a flavour of all the goings on!
A new way of printing? The Class 800 Test Train livery is finalised
Our hand painted prototype of the upcoming Limited Edition Hitachi IEP Class 800
So let’s get back to business shall we? While some of us were gallivanting around the country, an interesting development had been taking place behind the scenes as the livery for the Hitachi Class 800 /0 DPTS & DPTF Test Train was being finalised and approved. We have featured the work of our extremely talented Product Graphic Designer before, but we just couldn’t let this particular milestone pass by unmentioned, with the livery itself being described as “as complex as it gets” in terms of applying real world graphics to a scale model.
A section of the complex Hitachi Class 800 Test Train livery supplied to us by Hitachi to help us with the project
We have been lucky enough to work closely with the good people at Hitachi and they have been kind enough to supply us with the red graphic that is present on the side – an audible sigh of relief escaped the mouth of the designer when it became clear he was not going to have to recreate this very attractive but complex design in miniature form – from scratch! However, his relief was short lived when it became clear it was not going to be as simple as just scaling it down to fit. You see, the graphic itself had been supplied as one layered image with each red block of colour essentially being a different layer. With no allowances being made for the gaps for the doors and other details, it was up to the designer to edit the graphic, red block by red block, scaling it down piece by piece and matching it to the research photos we had to hand. No easy task, believe us! The graphic below gives you an idea of just how many different elements of colour there are present on the livery.
Weeks of detailed, highly skilled, migraine-inducing work have finally come to an end and the design has been finalised, which now presents a different challenge - how best to apply the design to the model.
The Tampo Printer - you can see the different coloured ink in the reservoirs and the silicone pads above them ready to be stamped onto the model, in this case the Huntley & Palmers Peckett W4
Long-time readers of the blog will know about tampo printing – the process of applying 2D designs to 3D surfaces. Unfortunately though, in this instance this popular and industry standard technique will not be appropriate due to the overwhelming complexities and the number of colour gradients in the livery’s design. This means we are currently exploring a couple of other methods for the application of the livery; namely water labelling and inkjet printing.
A close up of the livery reveals just how many different gradients are present in the design
We have used the inkjet method before on some Special Editions of our FGW Class 43 'Harry Patch' - 'We Will Remember Them' (R3379) and it is a tried and tested method of livery design, used by airline companies and car racing teams to apply increasingly complex designs with fantastic detail. The process works by using an inkjet head with separate nozzles that spray cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks onto a surface. The inkjet prints the design line by line, from top to bottom (much like a printer you might have at home) with a clear coat being applied at the end to seal the design. The inkjet method allows for complex colour gradients to be applied to large and small areas of the model that simply could not be achieved with the normal tampo printing process.
FGW Class 43 'Harry Patch' - 'We Will Remember Them' (R3379), the highly detailed livery was applied using the ink jet method.
The second possibility is water labelling, and going down this route would be something of a first for us but again, it is a tried and tested technique of livery application and one that is used by our friends at Scalextric with truly remarkable results. Using this process, they are able to achieve some of the most complex and detailed liveries the slot racing world has ever seen and therefore it would be really rather exciting to see what could be done with a model locomotive.
Obviously the traditionalist in all of us would automatically lean towards tampo printing and there is no doubt this would be our preferred method of livery application, however with modern train companies looking at more and more “out there” designs to set their brand apart, we cannot shy away from new printing processes if we want to recreate the locos in scale form.
Check your local stockist for pre-order availability of R3579 - Hitachi Class 800 /0 DPTS & DPTF Test Train Power Units Train Pack - Limited Edition
We are still fairly early in the development process and the final decision has not yet been made but more news will follow soon and we will try to give you a comprehensive and detailed look at whichever process we choose.
Well that about wraps things up for this edition of The Engine Shed. Thank you as always for reading and keep checking back as we are expecting some exciting samples to make their way to us very soon. Until then though, be sure to let us know what you think of the blog and to leave any feedback over on Facebook or Twitter as well as our Official Forums.
Thanks for reading and until next time…
The Engine Shed Team
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