Train Simulator 2021 Deep Dive: GWR 4700 Night Owls from Caledonia Works

Caledonia Works produce some superb add-ons for Train Simulator, and one of those is among the most popular Great Western locomotive designs, the ‘Night Owls.’

Famous for producing high-quality content based upon quirkier and older steam locomotive classes, Caledonia Works has produced some of the best Train Simulator content that the game has ever seen.

One of their best products is the GWR 4700 class pack. Dubbed the ‘Night Owls,’ these are among the more unusual GWR locomotive designs ever built. Here’s what you need to know about the pack.

The Night Owls of the Caledonia Works pack

The Night Owls were a class of nine 2-8-0 heavy freight locomotives built by the Great Western Railway and designed by George Churchward. Introduced in 1919, they were primarily found on fast freight turns during the night and lived a nomadic life.

Enthusiasts would often see them simmering in sheds in the early evenings, getting ready for a night of nocturnal duties. Despite being successful at their jobs, remarkably, not one member of the class has been preserved. The Great Western Society at Didcot Railway Centre, however, are currently in the process of building a new example, No.4709.

The Caledonia Works pack features versions of the Night Owl class from their very early GWR days of 1919, right up until their withdrawal from British Railways’ service. A range of liveries is included, from early GWR lined, to GWR shirt-button, right through to clean and weathered BR lined black, unlined black, and lined green.

Both the smaller 3,500-gallon and larger 4,000-gallon tender types are included, plus a range of headboards from BR days to represent the class when they did, on occasion, haul passenger trains.

Various animated parts on the engines are featured, such as animated inside valve gear and brake rigging, and fully customisable lamp arrangements on the engines and the tenders. Plus, there is the usual welcome addition of the 3D firebox and coal from Caledonia Works.

Driving the Night Owls in Train Sim 2021

Like all of the products in Caledonia Works’ range, the Night Owls don’t feature the most advanced scripting in the world. For example, there isn’t a simulated steam chest.

However, ejector operation is featured, where you have to open the large ejector to release brake pressure before you can move the engine and train. The gauges also vibrate at speed in the cab, just as they would in real life.

You will find that the Night Owls are an incredibly powerful class of engine and able to pull many a large load, be it freight wagons or passenger coaches. Due to their 2-8-0 wheel arrangement, they have a fantastic grip on the rails and can get up to speed pretty quickly. This means that wheel slip incidents are rare, should you manage the regulator properly.

One nice touch that is also included in the Cathedral class is the working water scoop. This allows the engine to pick up water for the tender from water troughs between the rails. This feature can be used on the Riviera in the 1950s route created by Dovetail Games and for sale on Steam. So, whilst the Night Owls are not the most advanced engine in the world, they offer a fun driving experience in Train Sim.

Detailing and sounds of the Night Owls

As with pretty much every Caledonia Works model, the Night Owls are superbly detailed. Every rivet has been meticulously placed and inserted onto the model, and all of the usual GWR features – such as the safety valve covers – have been represented well. The number plates feature 3D numbers, and the weathered examples of the class truly are works of art.

Inside the cab, it’s a similar story. The single gauge glass is accurately modelled, and the footplate is a perfect representation of what the interior of the Night Owls looked like. The inclusion of the animated valve gear that can be seen inside the locomotive’s frames is a Caledonia Works trademark that is most welcome, providing another level of detail entirely.

Sounds-wise, well, they are as accurate as they possibly can be. Without any modern-day recordings of a 4700 class available, the sounds have been recorded from other GWR locomotives. Essentially, they provide as close to an authentic experience as possible.

Whilst the omission of a steam chest feature and more advanced simulation is not ideal on such a large locomotive, this is a great package.

Priced at £14.99, you certainly get a lot for your money, with a wide variety of liveries included, plus plenty of quick drives to easily setups for you to drive. Plus, it represents a class that was one of the most interesting of all GWR designs.

GWR 4700 ‘Night Owls’ from Caledonia Works is easily a four-out-of-five package.

Henry K

Keen player of both simulation and racing games. Can mostly be found playing the F1 series, Train Simulator, Assetto Corsa, with a bit of Battlefield thrown in between.
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