Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

Reading and Doncaster

It was good to see so many of you at the Reading show. It was a busy day on the stand until late afternoon and it was good to be able to meet you all and discuss issues of interest and importance.

The delivery cycle for the 45XX/4575 prairie tanks and 70XX ‘Castles’ continues but is inevitably a slow process. We are determined to deliver the models to you in pristine condition and our experience of the poor treatment of packages in the hands of couriers and in the post has made us resolve to deliver all models personally to our British clients if at all possible. With customers scattered widely across the UK and 250 models to deliver, this is a mammoth task. Of course, even when we plan a delivery trip that looks likely to encompass many deliveries, there are inevitably customers who have prior or more important commitments that reduce your availability to see me.

One way of speeding things up is to hand models over to customers at exhibitions. At Reading we were able to hand over quite a few models to customers who had notified us of this as requested on our website. Sadly, however, several customers came along hoping to collect their models, but because they had not let us know in advance we did not have the models with us. We have capacity to take about 50 models to shows, but we cannot bring them all.

About 15 customers have already asked to collect their models at the Gauge 0 Guild summer Show at Doncaster next Saturday – IF YOU WOULD ALSO LIKE TO COLLECT YOUR MODEL AT DONCASTER IT’S VITAL TO LET US KNOW BY THURSDAY 1ST JUNE AT THE LATEST. That way we can ensure your model is packed.

For the future we plan to arrange to arrange regional collection points around the UK (possibly in a hotel or other meeting place) where we can hand models to customers without having to visit everyone individually. This should mean that most people will receive their models much faster with no risk of damage.

John Borkowski

47XX and 'Grange' into production, 'Castle' and Prairie deliveries

The top news this week is that we have now given the go-ahead for production of the 47XX 2-8-0 and 68XX ‘Grange’, and work has already started in Korea.

Back in the UK we are making excellent progress on the delivery of the 270 models (70XX ‘Castles’ and 45XX/4575 prairie tanks) recently arrived from Korea, but early deliveries suffered damage from very poor treatment at the hands of couriers and the Post Office, so we have taken the decision that wherever possible we will deliver the models personally, by hand. As you can imagine this is a massive task, but we are drawing up travel schedules to try to get the locomotives out as fast as possible. Although yet again we find ourselves apologising for delays as a result of this, we feel it is far better to ensure your model(s) arrives safely, than risk damage in transit. We hope you agree.

We were able to supply around 20 locomotives to customers at the ALSMR Reading Show last Saturday. We had asked customers to let us know in advance if they wished to collect their models at the show but not everybody did this, resulting in some disappointment. We are very happy to bring models to any show we are attending for collection in person, but we do need to know in advance so we can ensure we have the right models with us. Thank you very much all of you who came to our stand at Reading. I am sorry if you had to wait to speak with me as it was very busy.

For overseas deliveries we have designed and are making bespoke wooden boxes, which again should give the models ample protection from the ravages of transport.

Unavoidably I now have to be abroad for a few days, returning on 17 May. Although I hope to have internet access I cannot guarantee rapid replies to enquiries during that time, but you can contact my colleague Adrian Knowles by email, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

John Borkowski

70XX 'Castles' and 45XX/4575 prairie tanks now in the UK

Just to let all our very patient customers know that the full consignment of 70XX 'Castles' arrived at Heathrow yesterday and the 45XX/4575 priarie tanks have arrived this afternoon. It is likely to take a couple of days for them to clear customs so we are expecting them to arrive at our storage facility before the end of this week, whereupon we will immediately commence distribution to customers.

We will shortly be contacting customers to make the necessary arrangements and we will be requesting payment of any outstanding sums due.

It feels like the end of a very long road, but all the lessons we have learnt in raising the standards for these models are being applied to the next projects in the pipeline – the 57XX/8750 pannier tanks, 47XX 2-8-0s and 'Grange' 4-6-0s, the former due for delivery within a few months and the tender locos in late 2017/early 2018. After those will follow the 'Western' diesel hydraulic (also due for delivery in early 2018), the 49XX 'Halls' and 28XX/2884 2-8-0s. 

Now that we have overcome the production 'gap' that resulted from the change of ownership of Masterpiece Models we expect to maintain a much tighter schedule of new model deliveries.

John Borkowski

'Hall' and 'Grange' chimneys

The frequent interchange of GWR Standard No. 1 boilers between classes complicates the question of ‘Hall’ (49XX/59XX/69XX) and ‘Grange’ (68XX) chimneys. There are many cases of ‘Granges’ appearing in traffic with ‘Hall’ chimneys and vice versa, followed in later years by the taller, thinner ‘ID’ chimney that was fitted as part of the Improved Draughting works. In this update we provide some information to assist you in choosing the right chimney design, although there is no substitute for a good photograph of your chosen locomotive in the period you have selected to ensure you have the details right. In the reservation forms we have now added the option of the ID chimney.

‘HALL’ class 4-6-0s

GWR Period
In the GWR period the ‘Halls’ originally appeared with the early taller chimney fitted with a capuchon ring on the front top of the chimney. Later, after the ‘Grange’ was introduced in August 1936, many ‘Halls’ received boilers fitted with the shorter ‘Grange’ chimney that also had a capuchon on the front lip.

BR Period
In the BR period the improved draughting ‘ID’ chimneys originating with ‘Modified Halls’ also appeared on some of the standard Collett ‘Halls’. The ‘ID’ chimneys are taller and thinner than the standard ‘Hall’ or ‘Grange’ chimneys and do not have a capuchon. In the early BR period when the locomotives were painted black we have found pictures of locomotives fitted with the taller ‘Hall’ chimney, the shorter ‘Grange’ Chimney and also the ‘ID’ chimney. In the later BR (totem) period it seems that the taller ‘Hall’ chimney was not fitted to many engines. By this time most locomotives seem to have either the ‘ID’ chimney or the ‘Grange’ chimney.

49 with Hall ch   49 with Grange ch   49 with ID ch

‘GRANGE’ class 4-6-0s

GWR period
Apart from the first three locomotives, which at the very beginning of their lives were fitted with cast iron chimneys similar to the GWR Moguls, the boilers for subsequent Granges were all fitted with a new, smaller copper capped chimney with capuchon. We are not offering the early Mogul-style chimney as these were quickly replaced on the first engines by standard ‘Grange’ chimneys. However, during the GWR period there were many instances of ‘Granges’ running with the taller ‘Hall’ chimneys probably as a result of swapping boilers from ‘Halls’.

BR Period
During the early BR period most engines appear to have carried the standard ‘Grange’ chimney with some engines fitted with the taller ‘Hall’ chimney as a result of boiler swaps. In the BR (totem) period increasingly more ‘Granges’ were fitted with the ‘ID’ chimney, which appears to have been in general use on the engines at or towards the end of their lives. By this time it seems that ‘Hall’ chimneys were not common on ‘Granges’.

68 with Grange ch   68 with Hall ch   68 with ID ch

How do you choose right chimney for your locomotive?

We are unaware of a totally reliable source of information on what type of chimney was installed on each engine at each stage of its life. So the best way to discover what chimney was fitted to your selected engine for the period that is of interest for you is to try to find an appropriate photograph. We have a number of books that cover every Hall and Grange, but most of the photos are for the BR era, especially the totem period. So to the extent that we are able we would be happy to give you any information that we have, but we cannot guarantee complete accuracy. For the GWR period we have very limited photographic resources, but as boilers were frequently changed many engines will have had both the ‘Hall’ and ‘Grange’ chimneys. If you have already reserved a locomotive and want further advice, please do contact us as soon as possible. We will do our best to help you.

"I would be surprised if these 'Castles' are ever surpassed"

– Bob Meanley, Tyseley Locomotive Works

Meanley5043If anyone knows a thing or two about GWR 'Castle' class 4-6-0s, it's Bob Meanley of Tyseley Locomotive Works. Bob managed the team that undertook the benchmark restoration of 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe and now has day-to-day care of this exceptional locomotive which was once considered only fit to be a source of parts for other preserved 'Castles'. Shortly, the restoration of another much-loved engine – 7029 Clun Castle – will be completed at Tyseley.

It's fair to say that in the process of restoring and maintaining these magnificent locomotives Bob has become familiar with literally every nut, bolt and fitting, and we are extremely fortunate to have him on the Masterpiece Models panel of experts. So, when we take our pre-production models to Bob for assessment, we listen very carefully to what he says. In the case of our 70XX 'Castles', Bob examined the pre-production models in minute detail and, in conjunction with close inspection of the real engines, he made wide-ranging recommendations – all of which we have followed.

What, then, did Bob think of our production 'Castles' when we took a pair up to Tyseley following our recent return from the builder in Korea? "I'm extremely impressed," he said. "In fact they are so good that they are on a level with some of the best professionally hand-built models that I have seen costing many times the price. For a ready-to-run model, that's remarkable. These models really are as good as genuine 'Castles' and I would be surprised if they are ever surpassed. It proves the worth of concentrating on one series of the 'Castles' in order to get them right as there are so many subtle differences between the engines built in the 1920s and 30s and these final 'Super Castles'."

We know what he means; just within the 70XX series we have built, almost every engine has small differences that make it unique.

On our visit to Bob we also showed him our latest batch of pre-production models. He scored the new Collett 3,500 tender at 100/100 with no changes or corrections necessary; the 8750 Pannier Tank scored 97/100, the 47XX scored 92/100, the 49XX 'Hall' 92/100 and the 'Grange' 94/100. All in the 90s before we have even made any tweaks or corrections! Our policy of going for absolute accuracy with no compromises is paying off!