Finally, my Heljan L&B Manning Wardle has arrived. To say this is long-awaited is an understatement, it's nearly two years since I ordered it, and it was already later than originally scheduled then.
I know they are not everyone's cup of tea, but I've liked these locos since reading P. D. Hancock's Narrow Gauge Adventure. The model certainly captures the lines of these distinctive machines, the detailing is impressive, and the livery is finely applied.
I fear it may be rather delicate though. The brass pipe under the right tank is hanging free at the rear, and the motion covers drop off rather easily, though I expect a drop of superglue could sort those. The rear cow-catcher appears to be bent upward and outward too. There are some plastic mouldings in the box, I think for brake rigging though the instructions don't mention them, I doubt I shall bother fitting them.
The cab interior is detailed too, though at this angle the distorted rear cowcatcher is clear. The instructions say couplings can be fitted with the loop removed, or the cowcatchers should be removed to allow the loop to be retained.
Running is smooth enough, though I've not been able to run it in properly on Awngate. The problem seems to be with corners, or at least point-work, where the pony wheels derail. The instructions claim the loco can manage 305mm (12 inch) radius curves, but if it derails, adjust the springs on the pony trucks to loosen the tension with tweezers.
Here's the front pony truck, and as you can see I've opened up the springs until they don't make contact at all until the truck is near the end of it's travel. However, so far, this hasn't helped. I've also tried adjusting the spring of the pick-ups (one of which can be seen above the wheel) which apply downward force to the wheels, but neither increasing or decreasing the force has helped.
Hexworthy is being built with 18" radius points so I will have to see how it fares on those, and on the club layout which has 18" points but 12" curves, I'm hopeful it will do better. But so far the performance seems disappointing.