Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

Scanning a Masterpiece

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Today, 17 November 2016, a very important step forward was achieved in the production of the Masterpiece Models Class 52 'Western' diesel hydraulic. At Kidderminster Diesel Depot on the Severn Valley Railway, highly detailed 3D laser scans were captured of the only main line certified member of the class, No. D1015 Western Champion.

6104Thanks to the tremendous access afforded to us by the owners of the locomotive, the Diesel Traction Group, specialist scanning company The Severn Partnership of Shrewsbury was able to gather complex data which will help us make the forthcoming model more accurate than anything that has gone before. The data-rich scans will be translated into CAD files to ensure that the elusive shape of these hugely charismatic locomotives – especially the difficult shapes around the cab roof, windows and frontal area – are rendered with an exactitude not previously seen.

Not only were the body shapes scanned in detail, but also the interiors of the cabs and engine room, bogie details and even the underside of the locomotive from the depot's pit. Despite the cramped space inside the engine room, scanning team leader Shelby Green was impressed by the 1962 Swindon-built locomotive: "It certainly makes an interesting change from scanning structures and engineering projects," she said.

6109Many other design aspects of the model are already well advanced with our builders in Korea having developed a new Swiss-powered drive-train which will give the Masterpiece Models Western performance to match its appearance.

Already proving to be one of the most popular locomotives we have produced, the Class 52 'Western' is scheduled for production following our GWR/BR 57XX pannier tanks. Details can be found HERE.

Return from Korea

This report is to tell you about our visit to Korea over the last 10 days. Adrian and I travelled out to discuss the current and future locomotive programmes with the builders. We spent most of the time working on the 45XX/4575 and the 70XX ‘Castles’ making some more changes that had been recommended by our technical experts.

Prairies145XX/4575
With the shelves at the Incheon factory resembling Swindon Works, we started our assessment work on the 45XX Type 1 on which we have undertaken a huge amount of additional research, especially regarding the livery. It’s now clear to us that we need to offer the Type 1s in early GWR lined green with the brass numberplate located in the middle of the tank sides. One of our experts believes that the early locomotives had red external chassis and cylinder covers, but others have a different view. It was not possible for cost reasons (with the post BREXIT devalued £) to make a multiple choice, so we have decided to go with a black chassis, black wheels and black cylinder covers. We also spent a great deal of extra effort researching the cab interior and changing other details to make the model much more accurate.

On the later 45XX Types 3 and 4 and 4575 Type 5, we also made some critical changes to the cab interiors and on the body details. Most of the changes were minor but we believe that they will, in aggregate, make a significant difference. We really want to make these models as accurately as we can.

We also went through the painting details for all the locomotive types to ensure that as far as was practical that we will meet all the requirements of the prototypes. The locomotives go out to the specialist painters next week.

Taking into account the extensive changes that we have made we have been advised by our builders that the locomotives will be ready for shipping to the UK just before Christmas 2016. This is rather later than we wanted, but taking into account the number of changes that we requested, it is a reasonable target date for our builders. This means that we may be able to deliver some models by Christmas, but more likely taking into account the holiday season, it may be January before we can get them out to you. I have already arranged with some customers to bring the models for collection at the Bristol Show.

MssrsKim SongGWR Pannier
We finalised the details of the Pannier tank locomotive, which will be a little ‘Masterpiece’ in its own right with maximum detail and superb running characteristics. We have put in a high tech motor and fully enclosed gearbox of a new design specially made for this locomotive. This model is designed around providing all the features expected on a big ‘Masterpiece Models’ locomotive squeezed into a miniature 7mm scale 0-6-0 tank locomotive. So if you want the best Pannier that money can buy, get your orders in quickly as we expect the production models to be shipping early in 2017!

Class 52 'Western' Diesel
Our Class 52 ‘Western’ is moving along quickly and we hope to have the first preproduction sample early in 2017, possibly for the Bristol Show in January. We discussed in detail the problem of enabling the locomotive to negotiate curved track and we have some interesting ideas to achieve this objective. We also have decided to build separate bogies for the O Gauge Finescale models and the Scale 7 versions due to the very close proximity of the bolster fames and the wheels on the centres axles. This means that it will not be possible subsequently to convert from 0 Gaouge to Scale 7 (or vice versa) without completely changing over both the bogies. Whilst this approach limits our flexibility we believe on such an accurate model of this locomotive we need to go down this path. We have sent a host of new material including detailed photographs of the dismantled bogies to help our builder’s designer get the model as accurate as possible.

Castles170XX CrankAxle70XX 'Castle'
The 70XX chassis have also been painted and have been returned to the builders for assembly of the components and the wheel sets. The tender chassis and bodies have also gone to the painters (see attached pictures). On the main locomotive bodies we requested that the builders make some further changes recommended by our experts and there was still time and scope to achieve the corrections that we requested.

CastleCabI am pleased to say that we will be able to meet the demand in full for the D&M lubricator engines, but we will have no more engines available in this sub-category beyond those that we have already committed. There is still a good choice of names for both single and other double chimney models available, so do make contact if you would like to reserve a model of this iconic locomotive.

We spoke to the builder about delivery and their target is to complete the models for shipment by the end of December. So, like the 45xx/4575 Prairies, the 70XX ‘Castles’ will be available for delivery by January 2017. I am very sorry about this further delay but I hope you will understand that there are good reasons for this occurrence.

Great Western Tender Locomotives 28XX/38XX, 47XX, 49XX and 68XX
These locomotives are currently being scrutinised by our technical expert who is preparing a detailed technical report on each locomotive type. We will then prepare a series of slides for the builder outlining the changes required for the production models. We have agreed with the builder that we would like some further pilot models before we commit the full production programme. Our builder has already made most of the components, so once we finalise all the details the build should be faster than it has been on the 70XX ‘Castle’. This points to the locomotives becoming available in the spring of 2017. We still have to decide on the production programme, but our current thought is to produce the ‘Grange’ and the 47XX together, followed a little later by the ‘Hall’ and 28XX, but this has not yet been finalised.

HawTernderWe hope you will understand that in today’s post-BREXIT situation we and our builders are both struggling to produce these locomotives at the advertised prices. Unless there is some recovery in the £ on the foreign exchange markets, it is likely that we may have to increase the price of the GWR Tender Locomotives. If the long term situation is one of today’s much weaker pound continuing or weakening further, our models like many other premium goods made abroad will have to increase in price. If we do increase prices we will make every effort to minimise the increase. We need to ensure that our builders remain in business – so I hope you will understand our situation. It really is one of ‘force majeure’ with market conditions in exchange rates completely beyond our control.

John Borkowski
02 November 2016

Post-Guildex update

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First I would like thank everyone who came to visit our stand at Telford. It was great pleasure to meet new friends and to renew friendship with previous visitors. I am sorry this update is so late, but I have only just returned to the office as I have spent a week taking our Korean builder around sites in the UK where he has been able to research and photograph future Masterpiece Models projects. So I regret not having been able to respond promptly to all of you who requested information or required acknowledgement last week, but you at least now know the reason for this delay.

I would like to apologise to anyone who felt that they did not get an opportunity to speak to me, Adrian or Kevin due to the crowding around the stand. As an exhibitor it’s always difficult to give people enough time to ask and respond to their questions or points of view in full. Although we try to talk to as many people as possible we sometimes don’t achieve that, even when we do our best.

However, if you have any points that you would like to raise or discuss, please do contact us by email, telephone or letter. We want to know your views and issues that concern you.

We were delighted to have our principal builder Mr Lee at the show and he really did pull a rabbit out of the hat. Despite much time pressure in advance of the show, not only did he bring three painted 70XX Castles and five 45XX/4575 Prairies, but he also arrived at London Heathrow Airport with another suitcase full of pilot models of other projects in the pipeline. We only discovered the extent of his work when we unpacked the models at Telford on Saturday morning!

These included two 28XXs, one 38XX, one 47XX, one 49XX and one 68XX. These were all early pre-production models in brass, but in the case of the 49XX and 68XX they were almost completely detailed. They will be examined by our panel of technical experts led by Bob Meanley.

Guildex was also the occasion of the launch of our new range of Superwheels for those who want the ultimate realism in their locomotives. These superb wheels are made by Tony Wall of Allendale Components and are fully machined front and back to the correct profiles. 15 sets will be offered on the Castles (ScaleSeven only) and the take-up so far has been very encouraging. Our plan is to offer these wheels on all future large locomotives, including the Great Western Tender Locomotives that are the subjects of the pre-production models shown at Guildex.

We are very pleased with the pre-production painted engines both the 70XX Castles and the 45XX Prairies, and while there still are some further minor changes to make, the general execution of works, especially in the cabs and in the tubeplates behind the smokebox doors, is very fine indeed.

In the rush to get everything done before Telford some errors did creep in (for example some of the chimneys and buffers are not correct and you will see porthole windows on some of the 45XX locos which should not have them), but these are details that will all be correct on the engines when they are delivered. Smokebox numberplates, nameplates and shed plates are not yet properly painted either.

The fact that the models brought to Telford made the journey from Korea in Mr Lee’s suitcase rather than in proper packaging meant that some components such as steps and slidebars were bent, but we thought you would like to see our progress on all these models anyway.

You can see the latest pictures by clicking these links: 70XX ‘Castles’ HERE; 45XX/4575 Prairie Tanks HERE; Early pilot models of other Great Western locomotives HERE.

We now realistically expect the 45XX/4575 Prairie Tanks to be shipped by the end of October, with the ‘Castles’ following very shortly afterwards.

We are constantly striving to improve our models and your input has been vital, together with the support we have received from our builders. So please continue give us your views so that we can incorporate them constructively in our future planning. Please tell us your interest in our current and planned models and don’t be afraid to put up your own suggestions for future models.

On the sales side, all the Davies and Metcalf 70XX Castle locomotives have now been sold and we have a waiting list to see if we can squeeze out an extra locomotive. On the Prairies we have only a few Types 1 & 2 left and very few Type 4. Types 3 (packed wooden rear buffer beams-my favourite) and Type 5 4575 sloping tank versions are still reasonably available.

We have now gone ahead with the Western diesel (shortly to be laser scanned) and the Panniers and will follow up with the Standard Class 5, the A1 and A3s and also the LMS 4-6-0s. There has been a huge interest in both 60113 A1/1 Great Northern and the rebuilt Fury 46170 British Legion, so we plan to offer both of these two locomotives as part of their respective builds.

John Borkowski
12 September 2016

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Super wheels for Masterpiece Models

Ever since it was founded by Michael Brooks 8 years ago, Masterpiece Models has been on a permanent and enduring task to find smart ways of upgrading its models. The launch of ScaleSeven wheels on the Britannias and Clans was a breakthrough enabling modellers to buy top grade models with much more accurate wheelsets for a small premium (since abolished on all current Masterpiece production). 

At the time that we introduced these wheels Michael consulted the late Geoff Holt about this change.  Geoff, one of the finest model makers of our time, quickly replied “the wheels look fine at the front, but what about the back and the sides?”  At that time I was working with Michael on the Britannia and Clan wheels, and we knew that 360 degree machining was a complete non-runner with our builders. We even had a big problem getting the builders to machine the Britannia and Clan wheels sufficiently flat. I told Michael that of course Geoff was right, but it was a bridge too far - we would never get it done in Korea.

Geoff’s comments never left my ears and when I took the helm at Masterpiece Models I thought we should do something about it. It was then that I was introduced to Tony Wall.  Tony rang me one day and said he would like to buy a Masterpiece Models’ locomotive in ScaleSeven. In the course of the conversation Tony said that his company Allendale Components was a UK manufacturer of scale model railway wheels as close as possible replicas of real wheels from the works drawings. His wheels covered 7.5” gauge down to ScaleSeven. He kindly sent me some samples, which when I received them, were as close replicas as possible to the real thing, machined 360 degree brass centres in stainless steel tyres. In short, I was blown away by their perfection. They were exactly what Geoff had said that we needed when we put ScaleSeven wheels on the Britannias and Clans.

When I received the wheels I called Tony immediately. Could he please make sets of wheels for Masterpiece Models’ current and future production? Yes he said, but he was limited in his production capacity and the wheels were not cheap to produce. So we agreed as first step we would make 16 complete sets of later 'Castle' 4-6-0 wheels in ScaleSeven.

SuperWheelsWhat you see here is a complete set of wheels in ScaleSeven for one of our 70XX Castle models. They are machined from solid on both sides and that the first thing that is noticeable is that the spokes are much, much finer that the wheels we use in our standard production. 

Now you will ask how much will it cost to fit these wheels on a 70XX Castle. The answer is they are not cheap. They will, in fact, attract a premium of £600 over the standard wheels and they are only available in ScaleSeven. However, we believe that for the modeller who wants the best they represent a good investment. So what we will do is to offer a limited number of our future locomotives in ScaleSeven for both collectors and modellers alike to give them the opportunity to buy the best for a modest premium.

For the more cost conscious customer we will continue to offer both O gauge and ScaleSeven models with our standard wheels at a lower cost with no premium for ScaleSeven.

We believe that Superwheels will further enhance our current and future models, taking them into a new quality league. It is part of our commitment for continuous improvement in all our models.

John Borkowski
3 September 2016

Guildex, Telford, 3-4 September

We are very much looking forward to meeting you at Guildex this weekend and hopefully you will find our stand interesting. We will have at least one surprise for you, which you can discover on the day by visiting our stand. The plan is to have some plant and machinery to show you, but it all depends on our builder and his baggage arriving safely at London Heathrow on Friday afternoon.

As you will see on this website, there are many exciting new developments so do come and see us and speak to us to discuss anything, whether you have ordered something already or are just thinking about it. By way of example we always happy to discuss the merits of DC, DCC, O Gauge, ScaleSeven and many other model railway and full scale railway topics. We are at Guildex to give you an opportunity to meet us and discuss all your actual model railway interests.

We are constantly striving to improve our models and your input is always vital here. So please give us your views so that we can incorporate them constructively in our future planning. Please tell us your interest in our current and planned models and don’t be afraid to put up your own suggestions for future models. You will also be able to meet our builder Mr Lee when he is not busy looking at other stands. His English is limited, so deep technical conversations may be difficult, but I am sure he will be glad to show you some of the details of his wonderful creations past and present.

Also on display will be a selection of previous Masterpiece Models, as well as our current production. We do occasionally get second hand Masterpiece Models for sale. This year we will have at least one model for sale on behalf of a key customer. If you want a previous Masterpiece Model do come and let us know and we will try to see if we can find one of our past models that meets your wishes.

Our team is looking forward to meeting you at Guildex.

John Borkowski
1 September 2016