A New Dawn for the Diesel Shunter

A New Dawn For the Diesel Shunter

Bachmann Europe Plc today (Saturday 15th June 2024) revealed that it has been working on brand new OO Scale models depicting the iconic BR Class 08 and Class 09 Diesel Shunters. Bachmann has long supported the Diesel and Electric Modellers United (DEMU) and their Showcase event, so naturally Showcase 2024 was selected as the launch platform for these important new diesel locomotives. Visitors to the Sutton Coldfield event will be the first to inspect these exciting new models for themselves.

The LMS had pioneered the idea of diesel shunters during the 1930s and following Nationalisation the LMS 12033 series was adopted by BR as the starting point for a new standard design of shunting locomotive. The first British Railways Standard 350hp Diesel-Electric Shunter, latterly the TOPS Class 08, was constructed in 1952 and over the next ten years, no fewer than 996 locomotives would be built, making this the most numerous of all British locomotive classes. In fact, the fleet totalled well over a thousand when the near-identical Class 09s (26 built) and Class 10s (171) are included – the former having higher gearing and the latter different engines and transmissions.

Class 08 Nose View

The locomotives were built ‘in-house’ at BR’s Crewe, Darlington, Derby, Doncaster and Horwich Works, and would be found allocated across the BR regions. Used for shunting, stock movements and occasional trip workings, the 08s had a top speed of just 15 mph (the 09s could reach 27½ mph) but their signature feature was their immense tractive effort which was more than double that of the BR Class 03s and 04s.

Class 08 Roof View

The type was enduring with hundreds still in traffic at the start of the 21st century and today, dozens remain in service with train operating companies, freight operators and at railway workshops. The Class 08 is also the shunter of choice for many heritage lines and nearing 100 locomotives are now preserved and serve heritage railways – often carrying out the same roles they were originally built to perform.

Models of the Class 08 Diesel Shunter have been produced in OO Scale by Bachmann since 2000, when the new Branchline models were released under the then-embryonic ‘Blue Riband’ title which adorned models that set new standards for their time. However, in the two decades that have followed, Bachmann has been at the forefront of introducing new technologies, innovations and even higher levels of detail with each new model it has produced, and so it was high time that a new model of this important prototype was considered.

The all-new Class 08/09 Diesel Shunters from Bachmann Branchline owe nothing to their predecessors, these new models have been developed from the rails up and benefit from the latest production techniques and material technologies, whilst incorporating all of the features that are expected of a modern Bachmann product – including lights, sound and Auto-Release Couplings.

Class 08 Left Side and Front View

Constructed from a combination of precision moulded components, diecast metal parts and etched and formed metal details, these new models are both highly detailed and excellent performers. With a powerful five pole motor and flywheel, the new 08/09 is geared to provide excellent slow speed performance and exceptional haulage power. The sprung centre axle aids smooth running over uneven trackwork whilst electrical pickup comes from all wheels and each axle runs in a pair of separate metal bearings.

Class 08 Side View

DCC provision comes by way of a Plux22 DCC decoder socket which is accessed via a removeable roof panel – this clip-fit component provides a positive fitment and ensures that unsightly misalignments are avoided. The pre-fitted speaker is utilised on SOUND FITTED and SOUND FITTED DELUXE models which will be fitted with a Zimo MS450P22 DCC Sound Decoder. SOUND FITTED DELUXE models also feature Bachmann’s new Auto-Release Couplings providing hands-free uncoupling at the press of a single DCC function. Another benefit for DCC users is the addition of a stay-alive system which will be fitted to all models – making the 08/09 the first Bachmann Branchline model to feature such a system which provides uninterrupted power to prevent stalling, light flicker and sound cut-outs. 

The lighting features incorporated into this new model are impressive to say the least, with up to six individual lights fitted at each end (depending on the prototype) and a cab light, all of which can be controlled independently when used on DCC or Analogue Control. Control switches for the lighting are accessed via the removable roof panel and include a ‘shunting lights’ option to provide one red and one white light at each end, as so often seen on the real locomotives when in operation.

With a fleet of more than 1,000 locomotives and a history of 72 years and counting, the detail variations seen on the prototype are many and the new Bachmann Branchline models cater for most of them, with hundreds of detail combinations available thanks to the flexibility of the tooling suite meaning that most models will be unique in one way or another. Prominent differences include the light configurations at each end which can feature two, four or six lights, alongside the presence or otherwise of radiator steps, exhauster cabinets and air compressor cabinets. Cab doors can be of wooden or steel construction and both locomotives fitted with high level air pipes and those with buck-eye couplings are catered for amongst the vast detail options available on the new Class 08/09.

Class 08 Cab View

On the announcement, David Haarhaus, Managing Director of Bachmann Europe Plc said: “This new announcement epitomises Bachmann’s commitment to producing the finest models of the locomotives that formed the backbone of the British Rail fleet. The humble diesel shunter has been the cornerstone of the Bachmann Branchline range since the dawn of the Blue Riband era, and I well remember the first of those new models arriving back in 2000, however with the rate of change and new technologies we have added to the Bachmann ranges over the last two decades it was well time that the 08/09 was brought right up-to-date.”

Class 08 Right Side and Front View

David continued: “As with any Branchline model, this project has been many years in the making and I’d like to thank the whole team here at Barwell and at Kader who have pushed the boundaries to create the breathtaking model we can now proudly display. I am also proud that Bachmann remains dedicated to supporting our retailer network, so you will only see these models on the shelves of Bachmann retailers when they arrive early next year, so that all of our retailers can benefit from the investment we have made in these new models and continue to support our much-loved industry.

Now at an advanced stage of development, the Engineering Prototypes displayed today have been fine-tuned and livery samples for the first models will be revealed in August. The details of those first models, including liveries, identity and pricing will be included in the Autumn 2024 British Railway Announcements at the start of August, at which point Bachmann retailers will begin taking orders ahead of the first models arriving in early-2025.

You can find out more about these new models and see the Engineering Prototypes in action in the video below.