Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

Visit report, Korea: 27 February 2016

The visit was a bit of a whirlwind event with virtually no spare time despite being there over the weekend. Helped by the BA B787 Dreamliner (non-Business Class) flight I was able to walk straight off the aircraft into the factory office for 10 hours of meetings. What a great aircraft it is from a passenger viewpoint!

Austrian 2-8-4

Austrian Railways 2-8-4 express passenger locomotive in Gauge 1 made by our builders

45XX/4575

We spent the next two days reviewing in detail over 100 items of commentary/change on the 45XX/4575 models. The Builders were most helpful and keen to upgrade the detail on the models. Thanks to our expert panel’s copious input, we were able to resolves all but 5 issues. These required additional information that in turn needed extra photos. While I was in Korea my colleague Adrian Knowles very kindly visited Didcot and provide a host of new pictures giving amazing detail of the chassis and body of a 55XX resident there. The builders now have all this information and the changes will be incorporated into the final build.

The 4575 sample model was about 60% complete not yet ready to bring back to the UK. The builders will try to incorporate the agreed changes and have it ready as a painted model at the end of March. So I regret to report that the model will not be available for exhibition at the Kettering Show. As soon as it is ready we will publish photographs on the website.

A key part of the purpose of the visit was to fix the production programme and the number of models to be produced. There has been a huge amount of interest and orders have been steadily flowing in since we received the sample 45XX model. As a consequence of this development and a large amount of interest in a wide range of different variations, we have decided to increase production from 120 to 170 models. The planned split is for 90 45XX models and 80 4575 types. We will put on the website details of the planned production programme including the choice of liveries which will shortly have to fix if we are to meet the target production date of end June 2016 availability. In choosing the schedule we have tried to accommodate the requests we have received from you all as best we can. We hope you will understand at the price we are offering these models for a much upgraded specification, we cannot make 170 completely different individual models.

We will be contacting everyone who has made a reservation to ensure that we are building a locomotive that meets individual essential requirements.

70XX Castle
The second half of the visit was spent on the 70XX Castle and the other GWR Tender engines. We went through in extensive detail a large number of changes that are required for the 70XX compared to the earlier 50XX Masterpiece Model build. This amounted to over 50 changes, a remarkable amount, far exceeding my initial expectations. As the builders are already very knowledgeable on the Castle locomotive, they have a much better understanding of all the changes than expected. On the few early GWR build models in late GWR livery we now will be able to offer the option of the rounded top inside cylinder casings.

On both the Collett 4000 gallon and the 4000 gallon Hawksworth tenders we identified several important detailed changes to make the tenders as accurately as possible. This included fitting extra items and repositioning of some key items to make them as close as possible to the originals.

For the chassis there were many detail changes and significant changes to the mechanical features. We will fit split axles to replace the previous plunger pick up system. Also a new strengthened gear box based on our existing excellent enclosed design will be installed as well as a new (much more expensive high technology) motor. We also agreed to tighten up all clearances on the crankpins/valve gear and the front axle end-float so that models (in both O gauge and Scaleseven) will have better significantly running performance.

50XX Castle chassis

GWR Castle 50XX chassis from the previous Masterpiece Models’ build

Soon we will have to fix the total allocations of O gauge and Scaleseven to the build programme, so customers will need to think through fairly quickly as to which gauge they want as the target is to deliver finished models by the end of July. We plan to fix the Castle production programme within a few weeks. Once this has been done the ability to juggle the progamme to accommodate changes becomes much more difficult. This is the consequence of producing a quick run of superb locomotives within a much shorter time period.

The builders have promised a sample model by the end of April. We have selected a double chimney variant here as this will be the first time that Masterpiece Models has produced this type. As soon as we have the sample we will publish extensive photographs of it on the website.

We would like to thank all of you who have made reservations for the Castles, demand for which has far exceeded our expectations, especially for Scaleseven versions. So if you are interested in a more accurate model, especially if you do not already have an O gauge layout or do not intend to run the locomotives on someone else’s O gauge layout, that is essentially you are a collector, I would urge you seriously to consider a Scaleseven version. We will be able to provide you with a section of S7 hand-built track on which you can place your locomotive on display.

If you are already an O gauge modeller especially if you have a layout then probably the best way forward is to stick to O gauge. Masterpiece Models’ locomotives in O gauge still look very good!

Other GWR Tender Locomotives
We discussed changes to the detailed drawings already produced by the builders and other key features of the build. The fact that there is a high degree of commonality between these engines and the Saints from an earlier Masterpiece Models build is very helpful to the making these locomotives. Once the Castle programme is underway we will press ahead with these tender engines. A key part of the future decision is whether to build these locomotives as a sequence i.e. following each other or in parallel i.e. running all build programmes simultaneously.

Other Models
We could not resist ending this report with a picture of them superb 8 cylinder vintage Bugatti car chassis made by our builders. Quite simply it is one of the finest models of any item that I have ever seen.

Bugatti

I hope the model shows just how good our builders are at making other models!

John Borkowski

Rapid progress and a trip to Korea

A big vote of thanks to all of your who came to see the Masterpiece Models stand at the Bristol Show. I am very sorry that I did not have a chance to speak with all of you as I have received feedback from several people that they were disappointed not to have been given personal attention. The level of interest was such that I was on my feet continually throughout the show, which was a welcome development. The 45XX pre-production sample was the centre of attention. It created considerable interest and a large number of enquires and reservations. There are numerous detailed changes that have been advised by our panel of technical experts and these will be incorporated on the production models. I would like to record my gratitude to everyone who has helped here.

We will try to arrange for a little more flexibility in 45XX models offered by incorporating some changes that could be made by us in the UK rather than fixing all options at the factory in Korea. This will be limited to a few options not a complete change of specification! I will be discussing how we can accomplish this when I meet the builders in Korea this week.

I will be taking the preproduction 45XX back to Korea to go over the detail body and chassis changes and some more technical changes to the running gear. The model has the split axles that we requested and has eliminated the plunger pick-ups used on previous models. I have set up a test track for O gauge and will be doing the same in Scale7, which goes down to 42 inch radius curves. The pre-production sample has run on the narrowest curve although I feel this is very steep for a model of this quality.

45XX 42inRadius

The photo shows the 45XX pre-production sample on PECO flatbotton Pandrol clip flexi-track at 42 inch radius. On my return from Korea I hope to bring back the 4575 pre-production sample for testing and checking back here in the UK. Then I will endeavour to make contact with everyone who ordered or made provisional reservations for the 45XX/4575 models to check that we are able to produce a model that meets their aspirations.

On the other models I will be reviewing all the drawings and technical details with the builder to ensure that they meet the full Masterpiece Models’ specifications. Since the Bristol Show we have had a strong run of reservations for all locomotives, but especially for the 70XX Castles, and I would urge those of you who have a particular interest in specific names to consider making early reservations as otherwise you may not be able to select the locomotive name and number of first choice.

On the technical side I continue to take a big interest and quite a lot of time looking at developments that will increase the appeal and performance of future Masterpiece Models. In later updates I will be reporting on some of these developments.

Scale 7 or O Gauge
Since the new website was opened on 30 January many of you have contacted me about the Scale 7 option and there seems to be some general confusion about Scale 7.

First I should be clear that Scale 7 is a slightly different track gauge 33mm rather than 31.5 or 32 mm for O gauge finescale. Essentially Scale 7 (or S7 for short) is about making trains, track and everything else as accurately as possible at 1/43.5 of the real thing. So S7 track is wider than O gauge Finescale and the clearances on points and crossings are much tighter. On locomotives and rolling stock the biggest change is in the wheels that are much narrower width tyres with considerably smaller flanges and wider back-to-back spacing. Ideally S7 locomotives would have wider chassis than O gauge finescale with the wheel backs in many cases having very tight clearances with the chassis sides.

For commercial reasons with the current take-up of S7 at Masterpiece Models production, it is not economic to make separate chassis for our S7 locomotive variants. Most O gauge locomotive chassis are acceptable to S7 modellers especially where the wheels are covered by footplates and splashers. Also if we followed strict interpretation of making our chassis widths 1/43.5 of the actual real size for many locomotives such as A3s (on which we are currently working) the S7 locomotives would only be able to travel round very large radius curves, much too large except for huge layouts. So most S7 modellers with large long wheelbase locomotives tend to build the chassis width less than absolute scale. Thus good quality O gauge basic chassis dimensions with S7 wheels fitted are generally acceptable many S7 modellers. Also even S7 chassis dimensions are often slightly less than absolute so that the locomotives can run on practical layouts. Practical solutions are often a compromise – it is just a question of where the line is drawn.

I am pleased that a number of customers have opted for Scaleseven variants, which always look just a little more wonderful. If you are someone who wants to have your models purely as showcase model(s), I would urge you to seriously consider S7 as there is no extra charge for new S7 Masterpiece Model versions. If you later decide that you want to run your S7 model, there are a number of superb S7 layouts in the UK and at least one in the Netherlands. You could consider joining the S7 Group, which is a very friendly and helpful group. Many S7 modellers with layouts allow other S7 enthusiasts to run their models. I am in the course of building my second S7 layout, which will be a five parallel track 20 metre long end-to-end layout loosely modelled on Brentwood Bank on the GER. When it is in running condition, I hope to make it open to S7 modellers including customers who buy S7 Masterpiece Models.

I have to declare an interest here, as I am also Chairman of the Scale7 group. For many years I modelled in S7 before joining the S7 Group. Not joining earlier was a big mistake as I missed out on many years of meeting numerous friends and enthusiasts who have subsequently helped me.

If you already have a large number of O gauge models, and perhaps an O gauge layout, then moving to S7 is clearly probably not a sensible move, unless you are prepared for an expensive and time-consuming process! O Gauge Finescale models still look superb and do have the advantage of being able to be run on numerous layouts. Joining the O Gauge Guild is also a great idea as this gives you the opportunity of meeting many experts and enthusiasts working in 7mm scale railway and scenic modelling. I am also a member of the O Gauge Guild.

Other Developments
On the sales and marketing front I am pleased to say that we will be attending both the Kettering and Doncaster O gauge Guild Shows as well as Guildex at Telford. Attending these events will I hope enable more of you in other parts of the UK to come to see our stand and give you a chance to say hello to us to discuss your interests and requirements.

Tomorrow I set of for Korea on British Airways supporting my old employer. The return is flight is towards the end of next week. While I am away I will not be able to acknowledge any reservations or answer any correspondence, so I hope everyone will understand and await my return. Looking forward to giving you an update on my visit to the builders in Korea in due course.

Michael Brooks
Bristol was Michael Brooks’ last trade show in charge at Masterpiece Models and I would like pay tribute to him and to thank him for agreeing to provide on-going support and advice to us at Masterpiece Models. We will invite him to make future contributions on this website.

John Borkowski
16 February 2016

Update before the Bristol show

Since the Reading show we have been very busy both on the 45XX/4575 and the major locomotive programmes.The builders have prepared detailed drawings of the tank engines and a first set of the CAD drawings for the 28XX/38XX and 47XX 2-8-0 tender locomotives as well as the 49XX Hall and 68XX Granges.

On the larger engine types the Hall, Grange, 28XX/38XX and 47XX, the builder is now studying the drawings and photographs that we provided and has already started on the input for the CAD drawings. We supplemented comprehensive published information with a series of detailed photographs taken on site at Didcot and on the Severn Valley Railway to assist the builders with various details. The photos also covered the 45XX/4575 types. We also visited the sites to measure up the dimensions of the actual locomotives around the some of the details to check these against the works drawings.

We are increasing the choice of tenders for the GWR tender locomotives. So in addition to the Churchward 3500 gallon tender and the Collet 4000 gallon tender, we are now committed to offer the Collet 3500 gallon tender and the Hawksworth 4000 gallon tender. Furthermore for those who order early there will be the opportunity to order 2 or more tenders for a chosen locomotive. For example if a customer wants to choose a Grange and would like to order 6844, it ran with at least 3 different tender types including the Churchward 3500 gallon, the Collet 3500 gallon and finally with the Hawksworth 4000 gallon tender. Bearing in mind the frequent tender changes with the Granges and Halls, customers might want to have two or more tender types to run or put behind their locomotives. Similarly there were also tender type swaps with some of the 28XX/38XX freight engines even some with the Collet 4000 gallon since preservation. We think that offering this option of extra tenders gives customers the opportunity to vary their chosen models. We hope that you like this idea!

Complementing the tender engines, which will take some time to produce, we have also commissioned 100 70XX Castles with either Collet or Hawksworth 4000 gallon tenders for earlier delivery. We will cover every engine from 7000 Viscount Portal to 7037 Swindon. We will produce all engines except for the original 4082 Windsor Castle in early form when it first switched identity with 7013 Bristol Castle. However, we will do 7013 in its original single chimney form and 7013 (ex 4082) in its final double chimney form. All other 70XX locomotives in double chimney form will also be made. The popular names will be offered in several examples so that more of these particular models are available for individual customers. We are offering these models at £3,100 or £3,700 with two tenders.

We have also studied the existing drive train in the larger models as more advanced motors are now available offering better performance for no increase in size. We are looking to carry out some layout trials in some existing Masterpiece Models using a modified drive train before we make any final changes here.

In early January 2016 we received the preliminary sample of the 45XX from the builders. Since its arrival it has been studied very carefully by our team of experts who have provided me with a long list of comments and changes to take back to the builder. Everyone has been very kind and helpful to me and I am very grateful for all the technical input and advice. The model will be on display at the Bristol O gauge Show on Sunday 31 January for everyone who attends to see. In February I am returning to Korea and expect to pick up the first sample model of the 4575 to bring back to the UK.

I am sorry that our communication by web has been somewhat limited since I took the helm at Masterpiece Models. Essentially the old website was not adequate for our needs and needed renewing, which of course takes time. The new website will display the full offering of the 2016 locomotive programme including the 45XX/4575 and all the GWR tender engines: the 70XX Castle, the 28XX/38XX and 47Xx 2-8-0s and the Grange and Halls. You will be able to reserve the models as available and see what is available for reservation at a given time. We will also put future builds on the web including the A3s, the Rebuilt Royal Scots/Rebuilt Patriots/Rebuilt Jubilees, B17s, 57XX Panniers and BR9Fs.

We will build all these models in due course, but I hope that you will all understand that there is a limit to how many locomotive programmes can be managed at the same time! Once again I would like to thank many of you who have made contact with me and have let me have their views on Masterpiece Models and offered kind goodwill messages. I have tried to answer everyone individually as quickly as I can.

John Borkowski
26 January 2016

Masterpiece Models 2016 programme

For 2016 our programme for the year has been fixed for production of the following locomotive types either in O Gauge or Scale 7 (Scale 7 will be available at no extra cost):

Tank Engines:

• 45XX/4575 2-6-2 Tank Locomotives we will produce a programme of 120 models

Tender Engines:

• 28XX/38XX 2-8-0 tender locomotives both Churchward and Collett versions
• 47XX 2-8-0 tender locomotives
• 49XX Hall class 4-6-0 tender locomotives (original Halls only)
• 68XX Grange class 4-6-0 tender locomotives.

On the tender locomotives we will offer 4 tender types:

• Churchward 3500 gallon type
• Collett 3500 gallon intermediate type
• Collett 4000 gallon type
• Hawksworth 4000 gallon 8’ 6” wide type

On the tender locomotives we will produce a minimum of 40 locomotives of each type.

MASTERPIECE LIMITED EDITION 'CASTLE'

We are conscious that there is a time gap in our limited edition models until the A3 comes along which will not be before 2017. To make up for this wait we have decided to make a limited run of the 7000 series of late Castles in both GWR and BR configurations including double chimney variants where applicable. We will also offer a choice of the Collet 4000 gallon tender or the Hawksworth 8ft wide 4,000 gallon tender. We will make a maximum of 100 models, which will be individually named with a few additional options for the likely popular names such as 7007 Great Western and 7029 Clun Castle. We intend to offer customers extra tenders (at extra cost), for example if they want both the Collett and the Hawksworth tenders as these were frequently switched around at different times.

The objective will be to offer customers completed models ahead of the Masterpiece Models tender locomotive programme. These ‘Castles’ will have modified gearboxes and motor units different from the earlier 5000 series that was previously produced by Masterpiece Models. The options available under this run will be limited as the objective is to enable customers to obtain the models without long delays and the modifications that were carried out on these Castles were less radical than on some of the earlier series.

Scale 7
Following a number of requests from Scale 7 modellers we have decide to abolish the price premium on Scale 7 for future Masterpiece Models. Please note that this change does not apply to existing models such as the Rebuilt Bulleid Pacifics (West Country/ Battle of Britain and Merchant Navy locomotives).

We hope this change on future models will encourage customers who do not intend to run their Masterpiece Models locomotives on layouts to have an open mind and to consider more seriously the Scale 7 option. It also makes the models more attractive to traditional Scale 7 modellers who previously had to pay higher prices for their Masterpiece Models.

Initial Deposits
We have decided to increase the initial deposit on all future large locomotives to £250. This is in line charges made by our competitors. It will also help fund the higher level of research and development that we are putting in to produce increasingly more technically advanced models.

John Borkowski
06 December 2015