One of the most exciting projects we have tackled to date at Masterpiece Models is the forthcoming Class 52 ‘Western’ diesel-hydraulic. Without doubt this model will be a technical tour de force, featuring a huge Swiss motor driving all six axles through enclosed gearboxes, working lights for the marker lamps, head code panels, cab and engine room, working fan groups and stereo sound (allowing one engine to be ‘shut down’ for light engine movements etc).
The most challenging aspect, however, has been our determination to capture the complex and elusive body shapes used by designer Misha Black to make these locomotives probably the most distinctive diesels in Britain – if not the world. We were able to perfect the main body shape and louvre detail quite rapidly so the builder has been busy producing the bodies and other components. But, when it came to the cab ends we knew we had more work to do before authorising production.
So much of the character of the ‘Westerns’ comes from the dynamic cab design, which is notoriously difficult to capture in model form. In fact, one of our motivations in producing this model is that we didn’t feel any previous attempt had got it completely right – some were very close, but not quite there. When our builder produced the first pre-production model for assessment we could see immediately that the cab wasn’t quite right; the front windows were too ‘arched’ and the famous ‘widow’s peak’ was not quite right. That wasn’t surprising really as our Korean builder had no experience of the real locomotives and had been working from plans and photographs.
One thing we can say for sure is that no truly accurate drawings of the ‘Western’ cab ends are available. Even comparing photographs of many class members minuscule differences became apparent, suggesting that the originals were fabricated individually by hand, so we went back to the builder with two things: a 3D laser scan of D1015 and full-size tracings we took from D1010 last August. With this information, together with careful measurement of angles across the whole cab, he was able to revise the designs. The poor man was almost tearing his hair out by this stage, but we believe he has cracked the problem now…
Take a look at these photos. This model is our ‘mule’, used solely for perfecting the cab shape, so you can ignore most of the details which are rough and unfinished, but just look at the cab. We think it’s spot-on and as a result we have now authorised production of the cab ends. The long saga of producing this 7mm scale ‘Western’ is finally nearing completion and the finished models will be delivered this year. Thank you to all our patient customers for enduring the wait!