EUROPEAN DELIVERIES: Please note that John Borkowski will be away until 29 March delivering models in Europe in order to avoid possible post-Brexit surcharges. As a result enquiries may not be answered until the beginning of April but we will come back to you as soon as possible.

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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