Classic UK Minitrix Models  -  Britannia

The Britannia was the first British n-gauge 4-6-2 model that was produced by Minitrix for Hornby.  It appears in the 1974 catalogue, but is not listed as being a new model for that year.  In 1979 when I first started with N-Gauge, the price list shows N203 for the grand price of £21.95, which would have been half my weekly salary at the time.  Not cheap then.

It is worth noting that there are two variants of the Britannia produced by Minitrix. The early version is instantly recognisable by its small, disc like front bogey wheels - unlike the later model shown in the photo above, which has the larger spoked wheels which have become more familiar from the A4 and A3 locos - which were not in production when the first Britannia came out.  The number used by Minitrix for the early Britannia was 51-2037-00, often abbreviated to 12037. 

A new number for Britannia appeared on the tech sheets that are included in every box - 51-2037-10.  This new number also appeared in the 1981 catalogue from Minitrix - a change from the 1980 catalogue - but confusingly failed to show an updated image, instead reproducing exactly the same photo that had been in the 1980 catalogue !  I had always assumed that the change of number married up with when the model was changed, but the tech sheets still showed different part numbers for the front bogies and axles as the original part numbers - which by 1981 could be seen as being different from the spoked front bogies used by the Mallard that was introduced in 1980.  In which case, I don't know why the change of number. 

There were significant changes to the later Britannia from the earlier.  The gearing is different, with cogs on the wheels being larger than the original, and the idlers in between are smaller.  The main cog which interfaces with the worm gear had been black, and is now red - and again, the number of teeth are different.  The centre wheel has the square hole to accommodate the square-pegged crank pin, the bogey wheels are different and the base plate is plastic with moulded brakes.  The valve gear had the new plastic crank pin.  In short, the new Mallard model arrived in 1980 and some time after that the Britannia switched to using  much of the same components and chassis as the Mallard and Gresley.  The later Boadicea, and the two Scotsmen would also use the same chassis.  The switch happened sometime between 1981 and 1985, but I have no catalogues available to pinpoint it.  I cannot see a reason for changing the model number without changing the model, so I am inclined to think it happened after Mallard was produced in 1980 and the stock of old Britannia components had been exhausted.  I have seen the Minitrix number for Boadicea as 51-2037-50, but this was subsequently renumbered as 51-2042-00.

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