O Gauge Class 73/1

Posted by Warren Bennett on

FIRST LOOK! O Gauge Class 73/1


We're delighted to unveil the first pre-production sample of our superb new O gauge Class 73/1 electro-diesel. This 'next generation' model features a plug-and-play DCC interface, new lighting features and a wide range of authentic detail variations covering the entire career of this enduringly popular Southern Region class.

**PLEASE NOTE** The sample shown in the photos is a hand-assembled first prototype with some parts missing and a mix of detail parts from both early and later locomotives (most notably the sandbox lids). It is not a complete representation of the final product.

Designed to operate on both third-rail electric and diesel power in non-electrified areas such as yards and depots, the Class 73s lived a relatively mundane life until they were thrust into the limelight when the new ‘Gatwick Express’ operation started in 1984. Over the years, the class has worked everything from express passenger to newspaper and mail, freight and engineering trains. The advent of Sectorisation in the mid-1980s saw the standard BR blue livery replaced by a rainbow of liveries, a trend that continues today.

Despite a steady decline in the 1990s, these hugely versatile locomotives have seen a revival in the 21st century and continue to play a vital role hauling engineering and test trains for GB Railfreight and Network Rail on the 750V DC third-rail network and beyond. Now seen over a much wider area than in BR days, the ‘EDs’ have gained a cult following and 13 locomotives have even been rebuilt with more powerful diesel engines and modern electronics transforming them into 1,600hp go-anywhere machines.

This all-new model is our most detailed to date, containing more than 550 separate parts. It has been designed to offer a range of authentic detail variations covering the entire career of the production batch built in 1965-67, many of which are still active on the main line network and heritage railways. These will include locomotives with or without high intensity headlights and NRN radio aerials, radio pods and optional fibreglass arc shields fitted to the bogies from the mid-1980s onwards.

Standard features include sprung buffers, drophead buckeye couplers, wire handrails, fine etched grilles, separately fitted buffing plates, SR 27-way multiple working cables and hoses, windscreen wipers, sandpipes, bogie and bufferbeam details.

The new HELJAN O gauge Class 73 features our proven high-performance twin motor/flywheel chassis with all-wheel drive and pick-up, separately switchable cab, headcode and high intensity headlights (later liveries only), plus DCC-activated third-rail 'arc flash' built into the bogies. DC users will also be able to control the lighting features using a bank of six microswitches on the underside of the chassis.

The DCC interface is designed for an ESU XL pin decoder (Ref. No. 58515, not included) interface with provision for DCC sound and the easy installation of a large speaker.

Seventeen versions have been selected, covering numbered/named and unnumbered versions across a broad cross-section of BR, Sectorisation and Privatisation era liveries from 1965 to the present day – see below for more information. We are currently examining options for models with factory-fitted DCC sound, details of which will be confirmed separately.

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