Catering for a variety of passenger train formations now comes in the form of an RMB ‘miniature buffer’ car in N gauge released by Bachmann under the Graham Farish label. They are long-lived vehicles which were constructed in five lots between 1957 and 1962 at York and Wolverton. A total of 82 were constructed, numbered 1801-1882 and they saw use in a variety of trains services involving a whole range of coaching stock including Mk.2s and even Mk.3s from time to time. My latest record of an RMB in daily revenue use was in the early 2000s when Great Western Trains utilised one in locomotive hauled trains between the West Country and Paddington on a regular basis with Mk.2d stock. They can be observed in charter trains today as a convenient and efficient catering vehicles. A considerable number have survived into preservation with almost every preserved line owning one.
Bachmann’s N gauge model has legs, without a doubt, with around 10 RMB vehicles still in main line use today, and a wide range of liveries to choose from. Initially, the model was released in four colour schemes including the two review samples which are decorated in Western Region chocolate and cream as W1813, and M1838 dressed in BR blue and grey livery. Both models are to Diagram 99 where two full seating bays on both sides of the coach are replaced with a catering area and counter, together with part of a third for a storage cupboard resulting in a seating capacity of 44 (except the first batch constructed at York). Passenger seating is laid out in the normal 4-aside bays with a table in the same manner as Mk.1 TSO vehicles. It was generally accepted that the seating would be for regular use rather than dedicated to passengers taking refreshments.
In common with the rest of the new Graham Farish Mk.1 coaches, the paint finishes appear nearly flawless in terms of printed detail, lining and paint margins. There are no fuzzy paint edges and all lettering and lining is level and neatly applied. Blue is correctly applied to the solebar of BR blue and grey M1838 whilst the black underframe of the WR coach has correctly stencilled markings. The roof colour applied to the BR blue and grey version appears a little shiny, as if representing an ex-works vehicle.
The RMB is a great coach to provide as a model because its one of those vehicles which enjoyed a wide geographical spread of operation. Unlike some catering vehicles, including the NPCCS kitchen cars which may be restricted to certain types of train, RMBs could turn up on almost any service advertising refreshments. Today, some enjoy an extended life in charter and tour train formations, working on the main line whilst the majority of them are preserved on heritage railways in one form or another. As for a variety of liveries – Bachmann has a lot of choice to consider for future releases, including those in use today.