A Class Update September 2020
As the factories in China return to normal post COVID19 shutdown, we are able to bring you the latest updates on our previously announced projects.
Today it's on our A Class locomotives.
As you know, the A Class is our very first locomotive. It's one that has been close to our hearts since childhood and when we first started IRM it was the holy grail. We really wanted to do this locomotive justice.
Of course, we started small with our wagon range, which delightfully found favour with modellers and allowed us to build up to this mammoth project (both in cost and complexity.) It also gave us some experience in producing models so we could take on a locomotive.
We tore into this project with enthusiasm and worked tirelessly to bring a RTR A Class of the highest quality to market for you all to enjoy.
However, mistakes were made. Sloppy mistakes.
A couple of these issues were from the China side, such as missing out on the radiator elements behind the side grill, and the prism effect on the glazing, but most were from us.
We moulded the roof mounted radio antennas instead of making them a separate part. These were only added in the 80s so made the earlier SuperTrain and the rebuilt Black and Tan locos incorrect. These are now a separate part which will be factory installed where appropriate.
We missed off a pipe on the bufferbeam for the speedo cable, the footsteps for the original Crossley locomotives were wrong, a receptacle for the front vac pipe was missing and the modified cut out fuel gauge which was added to some locomotives when rebuilt was not tooled, so a slide to account for this was created.
However, instead of ignoring these issues and continuing to market, we sent the A back to the tooling shop and tooled these amendments at considerable expense. It has to be right at the end of the day. Sadly, that was not the only problem. The other issue was the decoration of the models, which to say the least, was poor on the samples we received.
Incorrect chevrons on the SuperTrain and IR models, wrong fonts, incorrectly placed numbers, oversized logos, incorrect CIE broken wheel logos, some wrong colours among other issues meant a serious rethink when the models were scrutinised in depth. As a result, we have scrapped 80% of the printing masks (not cheap!)
All in all a 50 page document of changes and corrections has been sent to China to amend these locomotives to ensure they are the very best they can be. We have also learned a harsh and expensive lesson and have taken some very strong measures to ensure such mistakes do not occur again.
What does this mean for the A? Well, our plan had be to land them in time for the three day show at the end of October this year. However, with COVID rearing its ugly head, we have been subjected to delays in China for tooling amendments and production. The knock on has hit both re-tooling and production slots badly.
The tooling and new decoration samples will arrive with us at the end of November, and then once they're up to standard production will begin in December. This will be completed post Chinese New Year with a delivery of May 2021 envisaged. We can only apologise for this delay, but as you can see from above it is for valid reasons and we do not want to put a substandard locomotive on the market. We want it right, and we have put in measures now to ensure it is right and will be top quality.
This will also give modellers budgeting breathing space between the 121s due from Murphy Models later this year which we know was a concern for many modellers.
It's not all bad news; we have completed the GM sound file with ESU and will be demonstrating it with a video early next week, so keep an eye out for that. We are still working hard to secure a Crossley engine for sound recording, but events this year have made it somewhat tricky. We will continue to work towards making it happen.
If you wish to pre-order your A Class, you can do so here.