Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

The trains arriving at last...

Originally we had hoped to have production models of our 45XX/4575 Prairie tanks and 70XX ‘Castles’ available at Telford in September. When that proved impossible we were aiming for the Reading show in December, but even that was unachievable. The good news is that, at last, we expect to have production models at the Bristol 0 Gauge show on 22 January. The problem is that we are too pernickety. On multiple visits to Korea we have identified issues and revisions that we have insisted that the builder must carry out – nothing major but we are determined that these will be the best RTR models available.

45XX smokeboxJohn Borkowski is currently in Korea with the builder giving all the models a final check and he reports:“The models are beautifully executed, the quality of the bodies is superb and the painting is impressive with re-worked decals for all the emblems. Best of all, the brand new motor and gearbox, plus re-engineering of the chassis has made them fabulously smooth and powerful runners.”

Here’s a photograph of one of the small Prairies showing the opening smokebox door and interior detail. As with all Masterpiece Models there’s working inside motion too, typifying the levels of detail which are rare in ready-to-run models. You won’t have to take our word for it much longer. John will be bringing a number of production models back from Korea and hopefully we will have some actually for sale at Bristol. The bulk quantity of models will be air-freighted in mid-January and as soon as they have cleared customs we will commence delivery to customers.

If you have a 45XX or ‘Castle’ reserved and are hoping to collect it at the Bristol show, please check this website again in the days before. Delivery will depend on how many models John can carry with him and how long customs take to clear the rest. If your model doesn’t make it to Bristol we will ensure you get it within a week or two. Once again we apologise for the delay to your trains, but the wait will be worth it!

It’s also possible that we will have a surprise at Bristol…

Update Post-Reading Show and Our Christmas Message

First, I would like to thank all of you who visited our stand at the Reading show on December 10. It was great to see old friends and to make new acquaintances and to be able to find out what interested you in terms of model locomotives. Thank you all for your time and trouble coming to see us.

Although the website has been relative quiet recently, a great deal has been happening on all the models that we have been involved. This note is to update you on what we are doing or have done on all our various programmes at Masterpiece Models. 

Both the programmes for Castle and the 45XX/4575 tank locomotives have been subject to a further delay and our target to get the locomotives into the UK in time for Christmas simply could not be met.  The painter that we use has had to move premises to a new site. This meant that we effectively lost 3 weeks of painting time. We have used this time to carry out further refinements and to make corrections and improvement to the locomotives. Key components including the new motors have now been ordered for all the GWR tender locomotives.

On Superwheels we have been very encouraged by the response for their demand to be fitted on the ‘Castles’ and we would like to offer these wheels as an option on all our future models. They will be limited in production and available in Scale7 only as they are absolute replicas of the real things.  As they are expensive to produce, we will try to keep the cost down as much as we can as we would like as wide a customer base as possible to select them for their locomotives. They are the simply the best and their fitting really enhances the look and value of our models. If you want the best then opt for a Masterpiece with Superwheels every time!

We have certainly been busy and we have learnt that producing new locomotives designs to our very high specifications within 12 months is not practical unless we make all models within a build identical. By the nature of our offering, which is to provide a range of some diversity, we need more time to complete our programmes. For this reason we are now building-in more time for the completion of future locomotive programmes.

It is great sadness that recently I heard of the death of Paul Hatherley.  Paul had worked closely with Michael Brooks on a number of Masterpiece Models locomotives and visited SJ Models in Korea on one occasion to see the manufacturing. We offer condolences to Paul’s family especially his son Christopher.

As we head towards the end of the year I would like to thank everyone who has made contact with me at Masterpiece Models since I took the helm. Thanks go out to our suppliers who have been very helpful to us over 2016. I would also like to pay a special vote of thanks to those closely involved with the management and operations of Masterpiece Models, especially Adrian Knowles, Bob Meanley, Bryan Robertson, Veronica de Vries, Sebastiaan Schippers, Kevin Regan and Ros Borkowski, all of whom have worked so very hard with me to keep Masterpiece Models on course. Without their help and involvement we would not have made the progress that we achieved in 2016.

We also need to thank the Builders who have had to work very hard to accommodate the changes and the improvements in technical specification that we have made throughout the year. I am sure you will all appreciate the fruits of their hard work when the models are completed and delivered to you.

Finally I would like to wish everyone a very Happy and Peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year 2017.

John Borkowski
20 December 2016

For updates on the models in our current programme, please click these links:

45XX/4575 2-6-2T

70XX 'Castle 4-6-0

47XX 2-8-0

68XX 'Grange' 4-6-0

49XX 'Hall 4-6-0

28XX/2884/38XX 2-8-0

57XX/8750 0-6-0 Pannier Tank

Class 52 'Western' Diesel Hydraulic

Standard Class 5 4-6-0

LMS/BR Rebuilt 7P 4-6-0s

BR 9F 2-10-0

LNER B17 4-6-0

Scanning a Masterpiece


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.

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

7024 2

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