At the end of June at very short notice I made a short visit to Incheon to check on the production of the 47XX, 68XX Grange tender engines and the 57XX and 8750 tank engines as well as the Western diesel hydraulic locomotive. This report updates you on where we are in all of these projects.
47XX and 68XX 'Grange'
All the locomotive chassis and tender chassis have now been painted and these are now being assembled with the wheelsets and valve gear. The tender bodies are all complete and are at the painters waiting for the locomotive bodies to be completed. To make sure that we get the painting absolutely right we want to paint the bodies of the locomotives and tenders at the same time.
We are introducing some new technology on these engines that represents a substantial additional investment. This technology makes the models much more user friendly for layout operation. This change requires some design and additional production has resulted in a further delay of two months in completing the engines. It was a difficult decision to make, but we decided the change was so revolutionary it was better to delay the engines to have the improvement rather than to turn them out to the original equipment plan without the technology change. There will be no increase in cost to customers who have ordered the locomotives for the change as we propose to recover the extra cost of a range of new models.
On the 68XX Grange opportunity was taken to check out the oil covers there are 4 different BR types and 1 GWR variation. We are offering all 5 variations.
The plan is to complete the 60 x 47XX and 60 x 68XX models by the end of December with the objective of getting deliveries of existing orders out by Christmas 2018.
BR Standard Class 5
As with the ‘Western’ we have been providing further information for the builders of the details of the Standard Class 5 – in both the Walschaert’s and the Caprotti valve gear versions. The designer has now produced detailed drawings of both types that have been sent to our experts for approval and commentary. We have passed on the experts’ comments to the builders to incorporate the necessary changes in the detailed drawing to prepare for the first pre-production sample model.
28XX and 49XX, plus 6959 'Modified Hall’
This build starts as soon as the Grange and 47XX are finished. We are looking at producing a small range of 6959 Modified Halls at the same time as the 49XX models. On the Modified Hall there are noticeable differences on the front end footplate and smokebox saddle, the cab has the smaller front windows and there is a plate frame front bogie. Most of the engines also had improved draughting higher superheat boilers with ID chimneys that we have made for the 68XX Grange.
If you are interested in a Modified (Hawksworth) Hall do let us know as soon as possible as we need to size the production in the next few months.
On the 28XX the most popular model is the curved frame footplate model with the early Churchward cab. The 2884/38XX (curved frame footplate and Collett cab) and 28XX with the square frame and Churchward cab (perhaps the most interesting version) follow behind. Fortunately there is enough demand to make all 3 versions.
57XX/8750 Pannier Tanks
This ia a sample engine from the pannier tank production run that we brought back from Korea to be photographed. This is a special configuration, also in Scale 7, ordered by a customer.
The 170 models have been built and painted. They are very attractive machines with lots of detail and full working inside valve gear. The LT versions in red and the GWR versions in green are exceptionally attractive locomotives, but even the GWR and BR black engines also are desirable . However there are some changes that still need to be made to get the build correct where hardly any two engines are alike – this is a painstaking exercise.
As ever, we have discovered some new information at this stage of the build which necessitates some additional modifications. So we are taking time and making the effort to get all this work done in Korea rather than having to undertake the changes in the UK. So much for those who told me that this would be a simple build! The builder is busy with this work programme now and we hope to get the engines into the UK in time for Telford.
Class 52 Western Diesel Hydraulic
The surprise from my visit was the discovery of the second painted sample of the Class 52 Western Diesel Hydraulic locomotive painted in BR Blue with full yellow ends. The builder has done a great job of incorporating most if not all of the changes that we have requested.
The engine room detail shows brilliantly through the engine room windows and also through the side grilles. There are still several minor changes still to make and it seems that there are some visual differences between the Swindon and Crewe-built locomotives that we need to discover and implement in the build programme.
We have compared the model to other production models from other sources and our expert advisers say that there is something about our model which sets it apart from anything else in term of fidelity to the realism of the model to the real locomotive.
We now think the changes that are required are so few that we can now commission the production of the locomotive. So we have pressed the production button this week and the builder hopes to finish the run by the end January 2019. Based on prior experience we think it might be prudent to add perhaps two months to this timetable. The production programme is now being set in terms of locomotive versions and liveries.
The Western, although a simpler build in terms of variations than the 47XX or 70XX 'Castle', still has some limitations dependent on time and individual locomotive. For example we have to make a decision on how many engines from the build are fitted with safety catches on the lower side doors. These were fitted during the Blue Period, but not when the engines were green and maroon, so we are taking a guess at how many cutomers will like early or later liveries. Once the models have been built there cannot be complete interchangeability between all periods. So, if you would like a particular model in a particular livery, I would urge you to consider deciding what you want now, as later in the build the programme will become fixed in term of variations that can be offered and your choice may not be still available.
Commentary on the build programmes
Finally, I would like to thank you all for your patience in waiting for the models to be built. We base our production time estimates on what the builders tell us and we then add a little extra time, typically 2 to 3 months. The problem has been on each build we discover new information during the building phase. Sometimes this is new information on the technical details of the locomotive and other times it is new technology that will improve the operation of our locomotives. A good example is on the 68XX 'Grange' where we discovered that we needed to make 3 different chimneys and 5 different oil covers. The available information on oil covers was very limited which made them very difficult and time consuming to incorporate in the build. We have to make the difficult decision on whether to incorporate the information into the build or make locomotives more quickly that do not fully meet our new information base. Our policy is try to incorporate the new information wherever possible. So although this delays the build, we at least offer a more accurate range of locomotives.
We ask for your continued patience so that we get the builds as accurate as we can.
11 July 2018.