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.
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.
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.
I 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.
We 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.
02 November 2016