Rapido News UK Vol. 17
©2018 Rapido Trains Inc.
Dear Rapido Customer,

Yes, it's another Rapido UK newsletter, our seventeenth. Fancy that! Did we manage our 2018 New Year's resolution to produce smaller, more manageable British newsletters on a closer to monthly basis? No, not even close. That means there's a bucketload of news to get through...

Gareth and Jason's big trip to China
LRC and Rapido factory updates
  • Revolution OO TEA
  • Realtrack Class 156
  • Model Rail J70 Tram Engine
  • Guy Arab "Birmingham" bus
Gareth goes N gauge
Pride in the Pendolino
First Class 142 CADs
Big steam era arrivals
On the back burner
Jason and Gareth visit China. This is the actual Guy Arab "Birmingham" bus tooling!
Gareth and Jason's big trip to China

Ever since I started working for Rapido I've been pestering Jason to take me to China to see how our model trains are manufactured. It took me three and a half years to wear him down but I couldn't have chosen a better time with not one, not two, but three British projects in production, including two of my own. More on them later!

It's become something of a custom now when we visit China to film a behind the scenes tour of our factories and this trip was no different. It has to be said though the video is a little more bonkers than normal! Click here or on the image below to watch our latest China factory update. 
It's difficult to understate the importance of visiting our production facilities in China on a regular basis and in the past Jason or Bill have mostly split the burden around four times a year of 15-16 hour flights and being away from their family for a couple of weeks at a time. I hope to be relieving them a little in the future so Jason can spend more time with his kids and Bill more time with his house extension!

Our trip was of particular importance for several reasons. Top of the list was to check on the development of the new Rapido factory which upped sticks and moved to a completely new province at the end of last year. The team at this factory has been responsible for some of our most well known and best received models in the past, including the OO APT-E, N TEA and N Pendolino, as well as North American stuff like the F40PH, FL9 and Budd RDC-1.
The karst mountains of Guangxi province at dawn. Quite the way to start the morning!
The Rapido factory moved from Dongguan City, the heart of the high quality model train manufacturing industry in China (rather the world), for at least three decades, to the breathtakingly beautiful karst mountain region of Guangxi province. It's a risky move, but made for sensible reasons, and shepherded along by our business partners, one of whom is local to the area. However the disruption to our production schedule has been difficult to manage.

Almost as vital for Jason was seeing the progress of the N Scale TurboTrain, which has just finished production at the LRC factory. For readers that aren't aware, the United Aircraft TurboTrain inspired Jason's love of things on rails, and the quest for the ultimate HO Scale Turbo was what directly led to the creation of Rapido itself! It's a big deal and on a par with the N Pendolino in complexity. 
Discussing tampo printing with Mr Li and the guys at the Rapido factory. If you watched our video then you'll know that Mr Li has been working with us for ten years now!
It's not cheap travelling to China, but visiting the factory, talking with the engineers and production managers, being directly involved in the production process can often save weeks or even months of back and forth emails, samples and video conferencing. This point cannot be emphasised enough!

For me, the trip was also a great chance to really cement a mutual understanding with the people that help us turn our designs into actual models. I communicate daily with many of the engineers and managers at both our factories and the chance to put faces to names and thank them personally for everything they do was beyond invaluable.
Posing with some of the tooling for one of the North American locos I designed. That was a very happy day! Plus the owner of the mould shop took us out to a great lunch!
As well as our factories I also had the opportunity to meet the people that make the moulds for our models, visiting not one but both of our favourite tooling vendors. I won't go into the minutiae of cutting steel here; we've covered that plenty in the past. Suffice to say that having been walked through the process of turning a lump of metal into a model train mould, I have a new understanding for why this part of the business can be so eye-wateringly expensive!
A rather wet scene at Guangzhou station. Chinese-built and designed CRH380AL prepares to leave for Shenzhen. These high speed trainsets are clearly influenced by earlier Japanese bullet train designs sold to China.
I also got to ride the CRH, China's high speed rail service!

Anyway, there are lots of updates to get through from both our factories so I'll stop waxing lyrical and get on with it...
Welcome to the LRC factory! Just as we left China the typhoon season was reaching its peak, when scenes like this are common and temporary factory closures are a fact of life.
LRC and Rapido factory updates

The LRC factory, still in Dongguan City, was busy with two key British projects, the Revolution Trains OO gauge TEA tank wagon and the second run of the Realtrack Models Class 156 DMU.
The poor machine operators in the printing room spent about six weeks just working on the OO TEA. I love wagons but I'd have been going crazy after about ten days of it!
The Revolution OO TEA has been in production for some while now, and it's finally getting its time in the tampo printing room following the epic Stirling Single project and its hundreds of intricate printing operations which tied things up for months on end. The TEA is no slouch in this department either and each wagon has around 200 separate "hits", which multiplied by a production run in the mid thousands means that it's important that these machines never stop working. Infamously the N scale TEA drove our original Rapido factory bonkers and we'd get desperate emails from them in the dead of night pleading to be able to cancel whole paint schemes!

These two models, along with the Class 156, illustrate the one of the challenges that face manufacturers catering to the British market. The amount of printing on the average British locomotive, multiple unit or item of rolling stock is vast compared to North American prototypes, and that's before we get into the vinyl wraps that are increasingly common in the UK. This makes production very complex and can often push projects that seem like great ideas into unprofitability.
The hazchem warning panels on the OO TEA are nearly all different. Don't tell Jason because he'll go crazy if he finds out!
The printing is coming together. Of course everything is legible and directly scaled from the prototype. These are going to be very special when they are finished.
As of the end of September the OO TEA has just finished up in the tampo room and final assembly is now underway. Packaging will take another week after that which means that delivery into the UK will probably be in mid- November.

As for Revolution's other projects with us, the N KFA is set to begin production after the OO TEA leaves the factory, while we're just awaiting the final N Class 92 sample. This has been a little held up waiting for electrical components but it should be completed before the end of September. We'll show that off in the next newsletter.
Clipping Class 156 interior and underframe parts from the sprues. Mind numbing!
While in China we watched the production line undertaking final assembly on Jason's gorgeous little N Turbo while the rest of our workers were tasked with the incredibly tedious job of separating all the Class 156 underframe parts from the sprues ready for chassis assembly, which has now started in earnest!

On our last day at the LRC factory, the team were just finishing up the samples for the forthcoming run of Class 156s, and very tasty they looked too in the classic Provincial and colourful East Midlands Trains paint schemes. These models were completed without the benefit of final paint masks and much of the tampo printing was done by eye rather than production jigs. Their fine appearance is a testament to the quality of the masters in the paint and printing rooms.
The LRC factory did not disappoint with the painted samples for the second run of the Class 156. Wowsa, these are nothing short of gorgeous! Only a few tweaks required.
We've made a number of tweaks to the Class 156 to address some of the minor issues that cropped up on the first run, the most important for customers being the addition of the pin on the rear of the snowplough brackets. These make it much easier to install them into corresponding holes in the bufferbeam. This was accidentally removed before due to a miscommunication in the rush to get the first run completed.

The other key change was relocating the clear plastic part for the door warning light from the chassis to the roof. This part proved liable to break if you took the body off several times, so this will no longer be a problem.
Production is already well underway. This photo is from September 25th!
These Class 156s are expected to move through our production line much faster than the first run last year, a reflection of their relative simplicity compared to the ScotRail Saltire (SpotRail) and First "Barbie" liveries! We aim to be shipping the first examples in Realtrack's direction before the end of October.
Without doubt the cutest thing that Rapido has ever manufactured... although the N Turbo runs it pretty close.
Six hours away by car or car/high speed train in Guangxi Province, the Rapido factory is working hard on assembly of the OO Gauge LNER J70 0-6-0T tram loco for Model Rail Magazine. I'll admit I had no idea that Project "Toby" was so far advanced so I tapped Bill up for a quick update on this most adorable of locomotives:

Bill explains: All decoration samples have been reviewed by the guys at Model Rail and production is already well into full swing at the Rapido Factory. Being of nearly all die-cast construction this little bugger pulls far more than most would have a right to expect! For details and a full list of liveries and numbers available see Model Rail’s website. These locos are still available to order.
Lots and lots of J70 boiler assemblies. Just because it's hidden doesn't mean we haven't modelled it. That's kind of a Rapido thing.
And it's me again. Jason and I had lots of fun playing with the final livery samples before they were sent to the UK. And Bill's not joking about their tractive capabilities either, we managed to find seven Dynamometer Cars to hang behind it and the J70 handled them with ease. In the busiest times of the year it wasn't unusual to see the tram engines handling huge strings of box vans and we reckon our representation will have you more than covered in this area.
The perfectly formed BR/WR 16xx Pannier tanks. This is 1638 at the Kent & East Sussex Railway earlier this year when Jason visited for a research trip.
By the way, Model Rail have also let slip their next couple of locomotives that we're designing and manufacturing for them, the LB&SCR Class E1 0-6-0T and BR/WR Class 1600 0-6-0PT. As this newsletter is already approaching novel length and these are long term projects we'll save the details for a future issue. Keep an eye on Model Rail magazine for the latest updates!
The Guy Arab "Birmingham" bus tooling... Now with added rivets!
Excitingly (for Jason at least) we were also able to see progress on the Guy Arab "Birmingham", better known here as the Brummie bus! At one of the mould shops we visited Jason and I were able to see the tooling first hand, which is now complete with beautifully rendered rivets.
First painted samples. Note: Not all parts installed yet!
The latest samples from these moulds were being rapidly transformed at the Rapido factory into the first painted samples, which arrived in our office just as we were finishing up this newsletter. Disclaimer: Jason has already spotted a few issues with the paint jobs which will be corrected when the models go into production, which should be pretty soon. (Ed: They also seem to have been masked with gaffer's tape while painting.... We'll improve that in production! -Jason)

We even received a sample of the deluxe version. Check out that subtle lighting. We'll fix that little bit of light bleed though, but we think it looks great for a first sample with lights.
The deluxe version in all its glory. What a cracker and very far removed from die-cast!
While in China we were also able to see how things were going on some other future projects aimed at the British market and we will be announcing the next of these at the Warley Show in November. Something to look forward to.
Post show pizza and drinks with the Revolution guys, from left to right: Mike Hale, Ben Ando, Paul Churchill and me, gurning.
Gareth goes N gauge

Straight after touching down at Toronto Pearson Airport after returning from China, I was wheels up again just a few days later for a visit to the UK. The main purpose of this trip was to attend the Birmingham Bus Bash at Cannon Hill Park in Brum on September 9th. What a shame that they didn't bother to tell us it was cancelled. Eventually we found out from our good friends at the Wythall Transport Museum while I was half way across the Atlantic! 

My time wasn't completely wasted of course as I'd planned lots of other activities around this date, not least popping in and saying hello to my family. There may also have been some measuring of things! 'Enuff said.

One of the highlights was gatecrashing the Revolution Trains stand at the International N Gauge Show (TINGS) at the Warwickshire Event Centre on the Saturday. Not being an N gauger I'd never attended this event. However, having now designed more than a few British and North American N scale models in my time at Rapido I've developed a new appreciation for the smaller scale and this show really cemented that. It really does seem to be a scale on the way up at the moment.

Surprisingly, while I was supposedly on the stand to answer queries about the N gauge models we're making for Revolution, I spent about 50% of my time answering questions about the OO TEA, OO Gunpowder Vans and the OO Prototype HST! The other 50% was promising delivery of the N Class 92 as soon as we can in 2019 (thanks for your patience guys).
You have to admire Virgin's knack for publicity and their willingness to splash out on promotional vinyls. The Pride Pendolino looks fantastic and it'll look brilliant in n gauge.
Pride in the Pendolino

Revolution Trains announced loads of new products at TINGS, but the highlight was the much anticipated second run of the Rapido N Pendolino. Ever since Virgin Trains began repainting the Class 390s in the new 'Azuma' white and red 'flowing silk' scheme we've been bombarded with requests for the new livery, which became an absolute torrent when the Pride 'rainbow' set was outshopped. Seven numbers make up the new release and their details can be found below.

White/red "Azuma" style scheme:

390010 Cumbrian Spirit (first to be repainted) 9-car
390005 City of Wolverhampton (black window bands) 9-car
390045 Virgin Pride (with Pride "Rainbow" power car) 9-car
390107 Virgin Lady (first 11-car set to be repainted, also with black window bands) 11-car

11-car Original livery with dark grey doors:

390130 City of Edinburgh (much requested Scottish name)
390152 Virgin Knight (much requested name)

9-car Original livery with striped doors and post 2006 door letters:

390049 Virgin Express (9-car units in first run were all in "as delivered" form, with no coach door letter markings. This version has the door letters, so is good for 2006-present)

They are available in DC/Silent or DC/DCC/Sound variants. As before, Revolution Trains will handle UK/EU orders, while North American and the rest of the world orders will be via Rapido. We'll be opening pre-orders soon so watch this space!
One final note, it's award season already. While we're not up for an Oscar for the acting in our videos (for shame), some of our models have been nominated in the Hornby Magazine Model Railway Awards 2018, including the Rapido/Revolution N Pendolino. If you think the Pendo was the coolest item of N gauge motive power released this year, and we hope you do, please click here for more details. You can also vote for us as manufacturer of the year if you reckon we're deserving of such an accolade.
DMSL with original roof pod, two-leaf doors, small destination blind and three ribs on the roof. Still lots of things to tweak before this is ready for tooling, but it's getting there.
First Class 142 CADs

It's been a while but we're finally able to show progress on the Realtrack Models Class 142 DMU in the form of these early CAD drawings, albeit minus more than a few details.

Note, the plethora of different body variations and alternative parts we're making are split between the DMS and DMSL vehicles at the moment to make things easier to design. The actual models will accurately represent the differences between these workhorses (well, nodding donkeys) as built and throughout their lives.
This is the DMS vehicle. This vehicle shows off its huge Merseyrail-style destination blind, as well as the 10-rib roof, later "blanked" roof pod and four-leaf doors.
Class 142 aficianados will be nodding in appreciation at the moment, but for those of you that didn't swallow the Ladybird 'Big Book of Pacers' at a formative age these detail differences are quite extensive and include four-leaf (original) and two-leaf doors, roofs with three or ten strengthening ribs, two styles of roof pod, two styles of destination panel, and numerous other minor underframe and cab front parts.

The first run will feature the original bus-style seating (not dissimilar to that in the Brummie bus or the North American New Look bus).
The rear view. Did we mention this design still needs a lot of work?
I've been tasked with getting these CAD files up to scratch and ready for tooling before the end of the year so you can expect to see them pretty much finished by the Warley Show. This will save my ears from a good bending by our friends at Realtrack!
Big steam era arrivals

I'll be honest, I'm not a massive fan of steamy things. There are of course exceptions to this rule, for example anything to do with the Great Eastern Railway (hello Toby!) and diesels with steam generators! That said I couldn't help but admire our two big pre-Grouping model releases this year. Both pushed our factories to the limit but the results are nothing short of stunning. As I really don't know what I'm talking about I'll hand the conch back over to Bill who helmed both projects on behalf of Locomotionmodels and Rails of Sheffield:

Bill writes: While Gareth plows ahead with all sorts of new-fangled diesel and electricity powered projects, it has been an eventful summer for those of us who fancy something from a bit earlier in railway history.
GNR Single No. 1 looks very at home atop a rake of six-wheel teak coaches!
Photo courtesy Graham Nicholas.
The end of July saw the arrival at Locomotionmodels of the OO gauge GNR 4-2-2 Stirling Single locomotive. This iconic steamer has been very well received by customers and reviewers alike. We’re immensely proud of this little jewel! If you forgot to order one (or if you want to order a second) contact Locomotionmodels and ask if they have any unsold stock left. No promises, but it can’t hurt... 
The D-Car in all its glory. The new Rails Limited packaging has come out very nicely too.
At very nearly the same time Rails of Sheffield received their shipment of the OO gauge Dynamometer Car (otherwise known as the “D-car” around our offices) in both 1938 (World Speed Record Run) and 1946 (BR Locomotive Exchange Trials) versions. After many months of trying to sort out the teak decoration on this project it has been quite satisfying to see the many glowing e-mails that we’ve received from customers. Both variations are available direct from Rails.

However, the real stunning package is the 1938 version partnered with the one and only A4 'Pacific' Mallard in gorgeous LNER garter blue. This box set is a partnership with Locomotionmodels/National Railway Museum to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the record-setting 1938 high speed run. Again, limited stock may be available. Contact Rails directly.

Now, back to Gareth...

Thanks Bill, the factories say hi. And by "hi" I mean you should leave it a while before you visit China again!
By the way, both the Single and the D-Car are also nominated in the Hornby Magazine Model Railway Awards 2018. Click on the link for the opportunity to vote. Everyone involved with these models put their heart and soul into them and we don't think we could have made them much better. We hope you think so too.
On the back burner

That pretty much covers all the active projects. There are a couple of models that we've semi-announced that haven't seen much progress since we revealed our plans. As we get asked about these quite often we'll do our best to explain why they are still in a holding pattern and what chance they have of escaping it.
We revealed our plans to manufacture the Prototype HST power cars for one of our partners at the Warley Show more years ago than I care to admit. After the success of the APT-E there was a clear momentum to push on with this project, which would include tooling to create a range of Mk.3 coaches at the same time (although we only hinted at those). The huge drop in the value of the Pound the following summer and the subsequent currency fluctuations and other instability combined with the announcement of a rival Mk.3 model caused some serious re-evaluations to take place at both our partner and at Rapido, hence the long pause.

While any plans that we had to make Mk.3s are now dead in the water there is still a lot of interest in the HSDT. We get a lot of enquiries about this project and we'd love to be able to give positive information. However, there's a good reason that we've been quiet on this front, we have nothing new that we can report. Rest assured if we get the go ahead to proceed then we will be broadcasting the news from the rooftops!
We promised an official announcement of the Gunpowder Van earlier this year, which never happened. Sorry! We admitted at the time we jumped the gun (groan!) on these at the Warley Show last year because the 3D printed samples looked so good. Always intended to be a fill in project, it has been somewhat squeezed out of our schedule by other models. We're still very keen to make the GPV and we're hoping and break the impasse soon and move these fantastic little wagons onto the next stage of their development.

That's about it for now. Our next newsletter will be along in a month or so and will preview our plans for the National Model Railway Exhibition at Warley in November. We'll be revealing our next Rapido-branded model at the show and our stand promises to be a real eye-opener, maybe even a little controversial. It's shaping up to be so exciting that Jason has even managed to get approval from the higher authorities for a flying visit to the show just to be there! It really is not to be missed.

All the best,


Gareth Bayer
Project Manager
Rapido Trains Inc.