Locomotive of the century!
Rovex made the first Princess as 'Princess Elizabeth' in time for Christmas 1950. The Rovex train set was made for Marks and Spencers at their request and was 'sold out' within hours. The motor was a sound design and was developed into the X04. This motor must easily be the 'most manufactured' of any motor in Britain. Millions were made as it was used for all Tri-ang Railways but also Scalextric. Despite the quality of this motor, the early Princess did not run well due to inadequate 'roller' pick-ups and many locomotives were modified with new parts. At present, we at the Tri-ang Society do not know of any unmodified examples. The original engine has plastic driving wheels with two rollers for current collection. The modified form pictured below has two plungers and can be seen from time to time at swapmeets. In all 779,565 Princesses were made over a 22 year period.
The Rovex plunger Princess. Rovex was a plastics firm and even made plastic driving wheels. The early plastic was cellulose acetate which was bright and shiny with lots of 'child appeal'. Unfortunately, this soon showed its limitations and twisted and warped alarmingly. Early examples are known as 'Bananas' and the coaches in the above image are twisted beyond use. The locomotive however runs as well as when she was made (despite some twisting).......1951.
Lines Bros bought Rovex and based the Tri-ang railways system on the Rovex design. Hornby railways (AKA: Rovex, Tri-ang, Hornby, etc) still use some of the techniques and parts pioneered by Rovex. (Though the present company would probably not wish to remember this point!!!) This one now has cast metal wheels and looks better without plunger pick ups. The benefit of plastic driving wheels is that since all the loco wheels are plastic, they are all the same colour and texture, which looks good. Behind are two second generation coaches in cellulose acetate also showing some signs of warping. The high gloss finish is evident despite the years.
Tri-ang released the Princess as 'Princess Elizabeth', a Completely Knocked Down kit to make it more affordable. In this picture the models are made in high impact polystyrene and have a 'duller' finish. This is basically the same material used today.
The unlined green version of 'Princess Elizabeth' now with valve gear is attractive with a yellow green colour. This is a cellulose acetate model.
'Princess Royal' meets her future. The LMR electrics soon replaced the Stanier steamers in the 1960's. The plastic for all the models is polystyrene now.
This model of 'Princess Victoria' hauls a sleeper train, and has been improved to correct some of the imperfections of the early tooling. She is still 1" (25mm) too short. One member Robert Telford comments that this model is, despite all:
'Every lost inch a Princess!!'
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