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.
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.
01 March 2018.