The 50-strong BREL Class 58 was a good choice of heavy Type 5 freight power for Dapol: a strong following amongst enthusiasts together wide a number of different liveries, including Dutch operators’ colours to apply to it. It has taken some time for a Class 58 model to be produced, probably due to engineering a good drive to fit such a narrow body shell. Its technical features include the use of split axles to collect current from the rails and wheels via the axle ends and not through phosphor bronze wiper pick-ups (which can be so troublesome in this scale) and a large die-cast inner frame enclosing the motor for maximum weight and haulage capacity. The overall shape looks good too, so its popularity is quite understandable!
The model has a number of very nice features including finely etched radiator side grilles, working lights with no light leakage into the cab and many separately applied details; a common feature of Dapol’s N gauge releases.
Composed of three sections: two driving cabs and the central body section, with the cabs fitted with the join along a body shell seam present on the prototype locomotives. The body shell demonstrates some excellent tooling work resulting in fine detail, particularly around the side radiator grilles and the cooling fan grilles on the roof. The curve of the roof on both cabs and the body is nicely shaped, including the taper on the cab mouldings.
Looking at the cab fronts, the shelf like lower panel is correctly represented with a slight slope to the top lip and the correct overhang over the buffer beam at the lower edge. However, in profile, the forward slope of the cab roof can appear a tad exaggerated.
Dapol is careful to include locomotive specific detail when possible to do so on its new models, as seen on the Class 86. Consequently, the modeller is not faced with buying an ‘averaged’ model with a ‘one size fits all’ body shell, but can choose a specific locomotive to suit a particular time period. Both Class 58 models featured in this review represent the class in later years and are equipped with up-to-date fittings such as the cab roof aerial pod and sand boxes fitted to the bogies, a retrospective change to the design (CP3a bogies) made during the life of the class.
The Class 58 has Dapol’s standard arrangement for collecting current from the track through to the motor via a small circuit board which also includes the 6-pin DCC interface. The arrangement where track current is collected through the ends of split axles as fitted to this model is more reliable than wiper pick-ups acting on the rear face of the wheel. The Class 58 collects current from all 12 wheels using this arrangement which also reduces drag on the model. The current is transmitted to the chassis frame via sprung contacts instead of wires.
There is some wiring inside the bodyshell, connecting the lighting circuits to the circuit board and for connections to the motor. The wires sit in a groove along the top of the die-cast frame so they do not become pinched between the body and chassis frame. The model features all wheel drive, with powerful performance the result. I can see this model handling 36 free rolling MGR wagons with ease. The motor is mounted in the die cast frame making up the loco chassis; with drive shafts, twin flywheels and gear towers distributing power to all six axles.
The underframe, together with fuel tanks is a separate moulding clipped to the die cast chassis frame. It includes the buffer beam detail which has a small slot in the bottom edge to clear the coupling shank. The characteristic solebar is well modelled, including the fish belly shape and the infill panels too, which differ from one side to the other, quite correctly. The bogies have some very nicely cut in detail, including the suspension springs (modelled the same size on all axles) and footsteps. Sand boxes are represented on the model but are of relatively shallow relief. One improvement a detailing enthusiast could make would be to build up the depth of each sanding box. Some locomotives were not fitted with sanding gear, and removing the moulding is straightforward if your chosen locomotive was not so equipped.
A real Class 58, No. 58 025, heads away from Southern rails through Kensington Olympia with a rake of empty EWS intermodal wagons (FCAs?). The Class 58 was very much an engine of the southern half of the UK, working the colliery branches of the Midlands and other general freight duties which made it a regular sight in the Midlands and the former Southern Region.