Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

Gauge 0 Guild Spring Show, Kettering

The extreme weather conditions and the risk of travelling with high value models mean that we have reluctantly decided that Masterpiece Models will not be attending the Gauge 0 Guild Spring Show at Kettering on Saturday.

We apologise both to the Guild and the many customers who were hoping to meet us at the show. If you have a specific enquiry please do get in touch in any case.

Our next scheduled exhibition will be the ALSRM show at Reading on 12 May.

March update

Kettering Show
At the time of writing this note (Thursday evening) there is some snow here in SE England, which varies considerably area-by-area. The journey to Kettering via the M25 and M1 is normally about 3.5 hours, but in unpredictable winter conditions could take much longer. The weather forecast is not good. We are not equipped with a 4 wheel-drive off-road vehicle, so travelling in heavy snow conditions is a non-runner for us. We will review the situation carefully, but the likelihood is that we will probably not be able to attend the show as the risk of injury or being stranded is too great. So in the event of our non-attendance we offer our apologies and hope to see you at the Reading Show in May.

Visit to Korea February 2018
The visit to Korea turned out to be very busy in spite of the partial clash with the Chinese New Year Holiday period when Korean families traditionally visit the tombs/graves of their ancestors necessitating travelling back to their home towns and cities. Our builders very kindly gave up much of their time to see us and discuss a wide range of issues.

47XX and 68XX Grange
There were a number of detailed issues on both of these locomotive types including ATC fittings and pipework on the 47XX and chimneys and oil box covers on the 68XX. There will have to be some additional changes on both locomotive types to get all these details correct. The oil covers on the Grange are a very difficult topic with many variations. There were at least 7 different types that were juggled around frequently when boilers were changed. We are taking a huge amount of effort to get these items as correctly modelled as possible.

It would also be true to say that although the tenders are built, there is still some way to go on the locomotive bodies and the cab and smokebox interiors. The builders think the engines will be ready by May for shipment. We think this is very optimistic and that July or August (2018) is a more likely date.

28XX and 49XX Hall and the 6959 Modified Hall
We spent a huge amount of time reviewing the 28XX and 49XX programmes. This included going over the differences for the base 28XXs as well as the 38XX (2884) side window cab versions. We have asked the builders to produce a new second sample of the 28XX for review before we start production of this model.

The 49XX Hall is ready to go into production as soon as the Grange and 47XX models are complete.

We have also asked the builders to look at the possibility of building some Hawksworth Modified Halls (6959) locomotives to add on to the conventional Collett 49XX Hall programme. We have now provided numerous drawings and photographs to the builders to design these locomotives. Subject to securing the appropriate output drawings from the builders, we intend to make between 30 and 40 of the Modified Halls. Hopefully this will at the same time as the 49XX/59XX/69XX locomotives production. So if you are interested in a 6959 or later engine please let us know.

57XX/8750 Pannier
We reviewed the programme and shuffled around a few locomotive configurations to accommodate late customer changes. The chassis are all now painted, but the bodies still have some way to go and are currently being assembled. The body painting programme will take place in late March with final assembly in April. The builders have promised to deliver the engines at the beginning of May. We are doubtful that they will meet that date and think June or early July (2018) is more likely. Basically this is a very complex build and it just takes time to get it right.

On the sales side we are down to our last five London Transport locomotives and all the S7 LT versions have now been sold.

Class 52 Western
We went over all the changes that we have requested (that we observed ourselves and also helpful suggestions from customers). We have asked for extra detail to be fitted to the Scale7 models, which unfortunately cannot be accommodated on the O gauge versions due to space considerations. The prototype was tested on the track at the factory with some internal changes. Its top speed is rather above prototypical. So we are making some changes to the gearboxes to improve the performance with the objective of having a locomotive capable of operating very well at both high and low speeds and having a high tractive effort. Remember the starting tractive effort of a Western was more than twice that of a Castle. The builders will make a second sample, which they hope to send over to us by the end of April. Meanwhile we have to make do without the sample model for the time being. Thank you very much to all of you that have made reservations.

Standard Class 5
The builders now have a huge amount of information for both the Walshaerts and Caprotti versions of this locomotive. Preliminary pre-CAD drawings have already been made. We studied the drive mechanism for the engine, which requires a narrow extended gearbox inside the narrow firebox driving the centre axle. We want to use the same motor as we used in the 70XX Castle, which has been a proven runaway success. This will need yet another design for a new gearbox! We discussed some of the locomotive details especially the valve gear and cylinders on the Caprotti locomotives. The current plan is to make 140 to 150 locomotives including at least 30 Caprotti versions. This is a most exciting project raising huge customer interest. Thank you very much for all your reservations. It is good to see so much interest in the Caprotti versions.

John Borkowski
01 March 2018.

End of January update

Bristol Show
First, I would like thank everyone who came along to our stand at the Bristol Show. It was very good to see you all and to discuss current and previous models, and as always, to learn about your aspirations for new models. If only we could produce them faster we could meet at least some of your wish-list rather more quickly. As it is, we are working on a record number of models: Pannier, Grange, 47XX, Hall, 28XX, Class 52 Western Diesel and Standard Class 5. The builders are working hard on the production of the Panniers, Grange and 47XX, all of which are now heading towards completion. We expect that we will have the models here in Europe by March or April on current predictions.

Payments: Panniers, Granges and 47XX
We have been running behind on requests for payments mainly due to our pre-occupation with the review and testing of the Western diesel which has taken up a huge amount of time since its arrival on 28 December. So, over the next few weeks, we will be writing to your requesting payment for the Panniers, Granges and 47XX models for which second payments are now well overdue. If you have not yet made these payments nor have been asked for your deposit, please don’t panic we will get round to contacting you in February. If however you do not receive a request for payment (that is due) in February would you please contact us to check that your reservation is in place.

49XX Halls, 28XX and BR Standard Class 5
These are the next engines for production and development. On the Halls and the 28XX the models are ready for production as most of the parts and components have already been made. However, we need to complete the Grange and 47XX programme before embarking on the 49XX and the 28XX programme which is quite a complex build. Halls had numerous variations and there were three types of 28XX if one includes the 2884 (38XX) side window cab version.

For the Standard Class 5 we are preparing the detailed drawings for the first pre-production engines and also for the BR1F high-sided tender for the BR Southern Region named engines. On this build we also have the complexity of the Caprotti valve gear engines in which there has been an exceptional customer interest. The likelihood is that we may increase the number of Caprotti engines in the production programme. On the Walshaert’s engines the BR Southern locomotives have proved popular, particularly the named engines and other locomotives that ran on the Somerset and Dorset line.

Class 52 ‘Western’ Diesel Hydraulic
Our first pre-production sample is an excellent first model of a Western Diesel. The difficult shape and complexity of the prototype has been well captured by the model, which also runs exceptionally well with all six axles driven by a centrally mounted single motor. Some of the detail – for example underneath on the roof, around and inside the grilles, the bogies and inside the cab is phenomenal. For the past four weeks we have had the model extensively assessed by experts and we have now notified the builders in detail of all the changes that we require.

We also carried out rail tests of the locomotive to assess its performance on a large layout and as well as low speed movement. Its slow speed performance on DC has been the best that we have ever recorded on any locomotive that we have ever built at Masterpiece Models. Our objective is to have a locomotive that runs well at all speeds up to the maximum normally run of around a scale 100 miles per hour (161 kph) with a reasonable load. We also want a model that is more powerful than our current Castle steam locomotive model reflecting that the starting tractive effort of a Western that was more than double that of a Castle.

Everyone who has seen the model so far, both customers and experts, has expressed a high degree of interest and the wish to acquire the model or its production successor! Our objective is to try to get the production completed by the end of 2018, if at all possible, which will be quite a challenge.

John Borkowski
31 January 2018

News on all the projects (1 December 2017)

A lot has been happening at Masterpiece Models over the past few weeks and months, keeping us so busy that updates to the website have been somewhat neglected. To bring you up to speed on the significant progress being made on many projects, here is an update.

We are also hoping to see many of our customers at the Reading Trade Show on 2 December – please do come and see us to discuss your models and future interests. We will bring a limited number of models for sale and for delivery for customers who have requested them. For those of you who cannot get to Reading I will do my best to make deliveries to you before the year end.

47XX 2-8-0 and the 68XX 'Grange' 4-6-0
All the chassis for both of these engines are now made and all the 'Grange' bodies are complete ready for detailing. The 47XX bodies are also now being assembled. On both models this also necessitates assembling the detailed components such the superheater header/tubeplates, steam pipes and other smokebox and cab interior parts. The firebox backheads for both engine types are complex assemblies that require concentration and effort to make as well as fine metal work and soldering skills. A few pictures taken at the factory at the beginning of October show some of this work underway.

You all probably want to know two things:
• When will the engines be completed ready for delivery?
• When will you be asked to pay the second instalment (for those who have not already paid)?

The answer to the first question is that the builders say the engines will be ready by the end of February. Based on our experience with the 'Castles' we think it would be more realistic to plan for March or April delivery. The answer to the second question is that we will be writing to you all over the next two to three weeks to request second payments as they have now fallen due.

57XX/8750 Panniers
As with the tender locomotives, the Panniers are well underway in production. The chassis are complete and have been painted and the bodies are now being assembled. We have been making some changes in the production programme as we recently received a large number of orders for GWR locomotives in early configuration.

We have tried to introduce as much flexibility as possible in the production programme but the number of early GWR non-ATC locomotives available is now limited. The Pannier build has been by far the most complex that we have undertaken due to the enormous number of variations.

The locomotives are planned for delivery in February, but we think this date will slip to March or possibly April for final shipment. Ensuring that the myriad of details are correct simply takes a long time, but we are determined that these should be the most accurate 57XX Panniers ever produced.

The request for payments on the Panniers will be made over the next few weeks.

Class 52 Western Diesel
Two sets of parts are now being assembled to make two pre-production engines and we hope to receive at least one locomotive for assessment in January 2018. The objective is to put the engine immediately into production if possible after completion of the Pannier Programme. This is subject to the number of changes that may be required to meet the specification, but we are aiming to have the production completed before the end of 2018. Here's a picture of the Western bodies and an underframe at the factory.

Class52 Body 1

28XX 2-8-0 and 49XX 'Hall'
Preparatory work is being undertaken to get these engines into production as quickly as possible after completion of the 68XX 'Grange' and 47XX 2-8-0 mixed traffic locomotives. They will be built concurrently with the Western Diesels and target completion date is the end of 2018. Both these builds are far more complex than the 'Grange'/47XX. We are effectively building three different types of 28XX/38XX and the 'Halls' were the subject of a huge number of variations and changes in their lifetimes. We have decided not to make the very late 69XX 'Halls' that had mechanical lubricators fitted on the footplate. So far none have been ordered. However, we will make the early 49XX 'Halls' that had ATC fitted behind the front buffer beam and had compensated springing on the front two driving axles. In later days these engines were converted back to the later 'Hall'/'Grange' individual springs. So if you order an early 'Hall' in GWR livery you need to decide if you want the early or later spring arrangement.

Standard Class 5 4-6-0
We continue to gather detailed information on these engines including the Caprotti types. The plan is to start production of these engines in 2018 if at all possible. This will depend on how we progress with delivery of the 57XX Panniers and the Western diesel.

A3 and A4
Production of these engines will follow the 28XX and 49XX 'Halls'. We are gathering detailed information following the laser scanning of 60009 'Union of South Africa' at Didcot. We still have not yet decided whether to make these locomotives together or in a staggered programme. The plan is to include the Thompson rebuild of 'Great Northern' – the unique A1/1 – in this A1/A3 programme. That means 'Great Northern' will be available in three variants: the original Gresley A1, its later condition as Gresley pacific and then as the Thompson rebuild. We will make the A1s and A3s in early and later LNER configuration, and also in BR configurations with single chimneys, double chimneys and double chimneys with German deflectors as most of them were configured in their final BR days.

The A4s will be available with and without valances, with single chimneys and double chimneys as appropriate to their operating era.

RoyalScotRebuilt BR/LMS 7P/6P 4-6-0s
With the help of Bob Meanley we are gathering more detailed information on these locomotives to ensure that we get the build as correct as possible. Sadly, there are no preserved locomotives from The rebuilt 'Jubilee', rebuilt 'Patriot' and 'British Legion' types that are significantly different in detail from the rebuilt 'Royal Scots', two of which are preserved. The Stanier two-window cabs are the main distinguishing feature of these locomotives with the rebuilt 'Patriots' having the fixed front window version broadly similar to that fitted to the later conventional Black Fives. 'British Legion' had a longer non-standard boiler than the other locomotives and outside steam pipes that sloped backwards which were later encased in larger fairings. The smokebox projects further forward. This gives the engine quite a different appearance compared to its rebuilt 'Royal Scot' half-sisters. 'British Legion' was the only 7P locomotive to have had a single chimney as well as a double chimney. We will make it in three basic forms: LMS red as built, LMS red with double chimney and straight pipe fairings, and BR green with smoke deflectors.

Post-Guildex report, September 2&3, Telford

First, thank you very much to all of you who visited our stand at Guildex over the weekend. We were especially pleased to greet customers from overseas – Australia, Canada, USA and Germany. We hope everyone who came had a chance to look at all our latest products at the show. We were very busy talking to many customers for virtually all of the two days, so if we didn’t manage to speak to you please accept our apologies. The enthusiasm that we receive from our customers sometimes makes it difficult to disengage quickly in conversation without appearing to be rude!

We were very busy at Guildex and had on show pre-production samples of the Pannier (both the 57XX and the 8750), the 68XX ‘Grange’ 4-6-0 with the Collett 3,500 gallon tender, the 47XX 2-8-0 with a Collett 4,000 gallon tender and a 49XX ‘Hall’ 4-6-0 with a Hawksworth 4,000 gallon tender. Also on display were single and double chimney ‘Castles’, including our flagship 7022 Hereford Castle with S7 Superwheels and 45XX/4575 Prairies in GWR green, BR Black and BR lined green.

We were also able to deliver a number of 45XX/4575 and 70XX locomotives to customers, so thank you very much to all of you who have been waiting patiently for your locomotives. We did bring a large number of engines for customers, some of which were not collected for various reasons and have since returned to our warehouse. We will endeavour to make other arrangements with customers to deliver these engines as soon as we can.

We were privileged to have Bob Meanley, Managing Director of Vintage Trains Tyseley, on our stand on Sunday afternoon. I know he was delighted to speak to a number of you about the complications associated with the detail of our models and all the research and effort that we have put in to try to ensure the fidelity of our models. We would like once again to pay tribute to all the work that Bob has put in to the design and execution of our builds and to thank him for giving up his weekend time to come to see us on the stand at Telford. Without Bob’s involvement we could never have made models to the standard that has been achieved.

Our Surprise at Guildex - The LNER BR A4 Pacific

60009 Didcot

In our last message we said that we would have a surprise for you at Guildex. Those of you who came will have noticed a new additional banner on our stand (although or two did not see it until we pointed it out to them!). This comprised a magnificent photograph of A4 60009 Union of South Africa taken the previous week at Didcot. Thanks entirely to my Masterpiece Models’ colleague Adrian Knowles, arrangements were made to laser scan 60009 on Friday 1 September, which fortunately was a sunny day. We did not want to make any advance announcements in case it was pouring with rain which would have delayed the scanning. This scan has been made with the latest Leica scanning technology so that we can have a highly detailed 3D image for every fraction of a millimetre of the length, breadth and height of this locomotive and its tender. A big vote of thanks is due to Adrian and Shelby Green of the Severn Partnership for getting this A4 initiative under way and completed at very short notice, as well as locomotive owner John Cameron for allowing it to be done.

Several of our good customers with detailed knowledge of the A4 body cladding modifications have come along with additional help warning us of changes that were made to reduce the boiler cladding height since the surviving A4s were taken into private ownership from British Railways to enable them to run on the modern main line. We are also aware of modifications to A4 locomotives and tenders since their departure from BR service. So, while we believe there is enormous merit in scanning the locomotive, we will also be referring to works drawings and thousands of photographs to ensure the most accurate result to date.

Why are we planning to make the A4? Several models have been made before in 7mm. None of them we feel have fully captured the elusive shape of the locomotive. We are already committed to make the A3 which shares many components with the A4 (especially the chassis and some of the tenders). We have now decided to offer both the A3 and A4, either on the same build, or if this proves too difficult for the builders, we will offer them as consecutive programmes.

We will shortly be opening the reservation schedule for A1/A3 and A4 locomotives so that we can plan the most appropriate programme for both locomotive types. We will also offer the A1/1 Thompson 60113 Great Northern locomotive in this programme for which we have received a huge interest.

Pannier Production
The Pannier is now in production, but as we reported last time we are still discovering new information, which we are incorporating into the build. As an illustration, one area in which we discovered anomalies is the routing of the injector overflow pipes; we found photographs of locomotives still fitted with GWR injector pipes when they were withdrawn in the 1960s and scrapped in this condition. This makes the build far more complicated than we hoped, as we now have to make some BR engines with GWR injector overflow pipes.

The Scale 7 models – with a wider, more realistic chassis – are selling out fast and we are limited to only 30 engines all fitted with the wider chassis. This means we have to pre-allocate the Scale 7 models and we no longer have the ability to retro-fit models with alternative gauged wheels as was possible with the 45XX Prairies and 70XX ‘Castles’ programmes.

At present there is a rush on Scale 7 London Transport models (there are only 20 LT models in total) and the Scale 7 allocation has already gone. So we are now busy transferring Scale 7 chassis from 57XX models to the LT run, which also involves the addition of all the LT modifications. If you want a Scale 7 model in any form (GWR, BR or LT), please don’t leave it too long as soon they will all be gone.

The Pannier completion date is still under discussion with the builders. We hope to have the models available by the end of the year, which probably means delivery starting in late January 2018.

68XX Grange and 47XX Production
We have had a rush of new orders for the 68XX ‘Grange’, which is set to be an outstanding build for a superb 4-6-0 miniature locomotive judging by the quality of the sample model. We think it looks especially interesting in three guises:

1. GWR plain green with either the Grange or Hall chimney with the Churchward tender

2. BR Black or lined Black with the Collett 3,500 gallon tender

3. BR Green (Grange or ID Chimney) with either the Collett 3,500 Gallon or 4,000 gallon tender.

Several customers have made contact wanting to switch names and in some cases also key features such as chimneys. So far we have been able to accommodate all of these changes but we are now reaching the stage where further switches are becoming more difficult, except by juggling unsold engines and tenders. We did order some extra ‘Grange’ name and number plates so there is still some flexibility in the system, but this may disappear soon as further customer selections are made.

We will post the available names and allocations of BR and GWR engines still available for both the ‘Grange’ and 47XX Models.

Reportedly, the ‘Granges’ were the best GWR two-cylinder 4-6-0s as far as enginemen were concerned and it’s a great pity that none were preserved. To support the replica 6880 Betton Grange project we are allocating a Scale 7 example from our production to the Betton Grange Trust.

We are also supporting the programme to make a replica of a 47XX being undertaken by the GWS by donating a Scale 7 model finished as 4709.

We feel that is important to support efforts by preservation groups to restore or recreate key missing locomotives that failed to be preserved after they left service with BR.

Our expectation is for delivery of both models probably in late January 2018 at the same time as the Pannier. We will keep you informed of developments as the programme moves ahead.

John Borkowski
5 September 2017