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.
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.
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.
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.
16 February 2016