Pantograph Electric AL1 Class 81 locomotive E3002 (Hornby Dublo 2245)

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Pantograph Electric AL1 Class 81 locomotive E3002 (Hornby Dublo 2245)

Electric Pantograph 3300hp Locomotive, Hornby-Dublo 2245 3245 (DubloCat 1963).jpg (i)
BTMM map 037.gif
Arch Four , Area 37
Hornby Wall (display)
Shelf 7

An 00-gauge two-rail model of an Electric 3,300hp BR dual-Pantograph AL1 "Class 81" locomotive, Hornby-Dublo 2245. The loco was supplied in two-rail and three-rail ("3245") versions, and could be powered either via the track or by the working overhead pantograph pickup(s). However, with Meccano Ltd being taken over by Lines Brothers in 1964, the unreleased overhead power system whose existence was suggested in the catalogue as being under development, never appeared.

1963: "NEW" Horby-Dublo Electric Pantograph 3,300 horsepower locomotive

This was one of the very last Dublo locomotives, and (when we exclude the "beginner's" loco introduced in 1963/4), seems to be the last prestige loco ever produced under the Dublo name. It was also one of the most powerful Dublo locos, being the last of the company's ring field motor-powered engines, with plenty of internal space for a good chunky motor.

The loco appeared in the catalogues in 1963, but apparently didn't appear in the shops until 1964, by which time the "3001" running number shown in the catalogue illustrations had been changed to "3002"


Other than the obvious pair of sprung silver metal pantographs, the loco's main distinguishing feature is its overall bright blue colour, which makes it look more like a continental locomotive than something you might expect to see on British track – it almost looks French or Swiss. The reason for this is that the Class 81's ended up painted in a more conventional BR livery, a darker blue with yellow ends, and the junction between the blue and yellow created a different "look" for the locos that made them almost unrecognisable. However, the single-colour "baby blue" paintwork on the Dublo model arguably does a better job of showing off the locomotive's lines and makes for a much prettier engine than the later, more utilitarian-looking dark-blue-and-yellow.

The original locomotive

The AL1 locomotives were British Rail's first AC all-electric locos, and entered service in 1959, making them an obvious choice for modelling in the early 1960s (if one was ambitious enough to try to tackle the overhead pantographs).

The series started with number 3001, with 3002 being withdrawn due to fire damage before it could receive the new classification "Class 81". The first three locos were nominally given names – Envoy, Eleanor and Enchantress (presumably the "E" stood for "Electric") – but weren't apparently ever given nameplates.

A fleet of twenty-five of the engines were built, with the initial set assigned of numbers running sequentially from E3001-3023. Most of these were Type A" locos deigned for high-speed passenger service, but the order also included a small number of "Type B" goods locos with a lower specified maximum speed.

In preservation

One member of the Class 81s survives, number 3003.

This is preserved by the AC Locomotive Group, who initially purchased Pete Waterman's critical collection of AC locomotives, and has now expanded their collection to ten machines.

External links