Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

The best 'Battle of Britain' of all..?

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The team at Masterpiece Models spends most of the time fully focused on current build projects, several of which are reaching their final stages with others now in development. It therefore provides a very pleasant interlude when a model from one of the earlier Masterpiece builds comes our way and we have the chance to look at it again with fresh eyes.

Just such an occasion cropped up this week when a customer who is downsizing asked if we – or anyone else we knew – might be interested in his Bulleid unrebuilt 'Battle of Britain' light pacific. But this wasn't just any BoB – it was 34066 'Spitfire', possibly the greatest of them all.

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It's easy to forget just how impressive these models were, but we spent a most enjoyable afternoon photographing it in a variety of settings. As well as all the usual Masterpiece Models features, the Bulleid Pacifics incorporated working electric lamps and they really come to life after dark. We had a bit of fun with this – with all lamps blazing, even though we couldn't pretend it was working a Royal Train, it had distinct echoes of the English part of the 'Night Ferry' Victoria - Paris sleeper.

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Unsurprisingly this model was snapped up by a collector, but it does make the point that it's worth keeping an eye on our 'Pre-Owned Models' page where gems like this occasionally become available.

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Class 52 'Western' crew figures

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In what we believe is an 'industry first', we have commissioned crew figures for our forthcoming Class 52 'Western' diesel-hydraulic from Alan Buttler of Modelu.

We have long admired the work Alan has done in bringing new levels of realism to models of the human form in a variety of scales, but these are the first to be made using an entirely new technique in which colour is applied as an integral part of the 3D printing process. That means they don't have to be painted which avoids overly harsh or unrealistic colours, or clogging detail with poor brush work, to say nothing of saving an enormous amount of time.

Like all Modelu figures, the files for 3D printing are laser scanned from life. Now, however, the actual colours are recorded at the same time. Pigments are introduced at the printing-out stage which colours the surface of the figures in a remarkably accurate way. Because the 3D print comes direct from the scanned CAD data, all the subtlties of light falling on creases in fabric, dirt on shoes etc, are faithfully reproduced.

We took the decision to fit crews in the Western because the cabs are so 'glassy' that the interiors are highly visible. Also, as these models will be highly complex with wiring for headcode boxes, marker lights, cab interior lighting, working fans and other features, we don't recommend that they should be dismantled by the customer, so unless otherwise requested in advance, all the models will be supplied with a driver and second man installed at one end, the other end remaining empty for posing in shed scenes etc.

CLICK HERE for a short video showing the crews being trial-fitted to a pre-production rough sample of the Class 52 control desk.

These crew figures represent an absoulte step-change in the representation of people for our models. Thank you Alan for all your hard work – watch this space for news of more figures for our locomotives..!

To view the full Modelu range, CLICK HERE.

Class52 crew 2

Update 20 November 2020

Class 52 Western Diesel
The Western diesel hydraulics are now in the process of being painted and final assembly has started. We have been working on providing crew for the models. The crew are being sourced and made in the UK. The plan is to ship the crew to Korea next week. We have also been working on the headcodes. We hope to have the models into the UK in January.

Last month Bryan Robertson our sound engineer re-recorded the sound on the decoders to have the effect of two engine starting. This provides a fascinating sound of the second engine on start-up. This required a complete rewrite of the sound chip and replacement of the earlier decoders that I took out to Korea at the end of 2019.

Western painting

Halls and Modified Halls
The bodies are now being detailed by the builders incorporating the changes requested by Bob Meanley. When this work is finished they will go to the paintshop. The chassis have already been painted.

28XX/38XX
The changes requested by Bob Meanley have been sent to the builders to be incorporated into the build. The chassis frames have been painted. The production samples have been returned to Korea.

LBSCR/GNR Atlantics
We have been working on an upgrade programme for the Ivatt and Marsh Atlantics. The objective is to present the builders in the near future with a modified design specification representing a major improvement of the models.

Meanwhile we are requesting those of you who made expressions of interest to confirm the models that you want as soon as possible. There is limited availability of all models, especially the LNER/GNR locomotives. If reservations continue at the current rate there will very few if any engines left. This is not a build with many extra spare locomotives. As soon as the final build order is fixed there will be no flexibility to switch locomotive type nor increase production for extra models. So, if you want an Atlantic I strongly advise you to make a reservation as soon as possible.

John Borkowski/20 November 2020

Update 29 September 2020

Unfortunately the website went down for a short period yesterday, but we are now back online as normal. Thank you very much to all who phoned and emailed us about the problem. Your actions enabled us to fix it more quickly.

Since we last updated the website a month ago much work has been done on finalising changes to the current builds, as well as working on the ‘Atlantics’. The return of more Covid-19 restrictions has prevented me from meeting up with my colleagues to conduct normal work and we are also behind on preparation of a number of orders. We ask you to continue to be patient with us as we are doing our best in the very difficult Covid-19 situation.

Current Build
Class 52 Western Diesel

The Western production sample is being shipped back to Korea this week together with new reference material for the builder to replace what was lost in the factory fire earlier this year. We are also sending new British outline O gauge and Scale 7 track to replace track lost in the fire so that the builder can test the models in conditions as close as possible to the UK.

We have carried out extensive layout tests to assess the tightest radius that the production locomotives could negotiate. They were just able to negotiate 5 feet 6 inch (1.676 metres) radius curves at moderate speed, but that was close to the absolute limit for an O gauge locomotive. We think the Scale 7 performance would be similar, but it might need a slightly larger radius. It might be best to plan for 5 feet 9 inches (1.753 metres) in Scale 7 as the brake gear will be factionally wider on these versions.

We have finalised the Western painting schedule to accommodate customer preferences. We are making at least 135 engines and it is simply amazing how many people have reserved engines with the same names and numbers. The livery selection has been adjusted to reflect the numbers of each livery that have been reserved.

There are 3 engines in maroon with the early yellow small buffer beams with no names allocated. If you want one of these locomotives you can choose from 10 engine names/numbers:

D1001 Western Pathfinder
D1005 Western Venturer
D1006 Western Stalwart
D1007 Western Talisman
D1008 Western Harrier
D1009 Western Invader
D1039 Western King
D1040 Western Queen
D1041 Western Prince
D1042 Western Princess

All the other locomotives have liveries and names allocated. So, if you have not yet reserved an engine, your choice may be limited to what we have left. Everyone who has made a reservation (even if you have not yet made a payment) will be able to receive the engine of their choice. Fortunately we still have a very good choice, except for D1015 Western Champion in Golden Ochre livery, for which only one engine is left. The following names are sold out:

D1012 Western Firebrand
D1018 Western Buccaneer
D1026 Western Centurion
D1031 Western Rifleman
D1045 Western Viscount
D1072 Western Glory

The number of models in each livery in our final production schedule is:
Desert Sand, red buffer beams: 6
Green, small yellow ends: 19
Maroon, small yellow buffer beams: 4
Maroon, small yellow ends: 62
Blue, full yellow ends: 41
Golden Ochre small yellow ends: 3

This split has been based on current orders and the level of interest shown thus far in each livery. It is now too late to add any other livery combinations.

Crews and Headcodes:
Based on our initial discussions with the builder we had expected that the cab interiors and headcode panels would be user-accessible. However, the intricacy of the build, combined with complex wiring for the cab, headcode and marker lighting, makes this virtually impossible. Once the models have been assembled in the factory, any attempt to dismantle the cab by the customer would be highly likely to result in damage.

However, many customers have said they would like to have crew in the cabs as the large windows make the interior very visible, so how are we going to accommodate this? Having considered all the options, we have decided to factory-fit a driver and second man in one end, with no crew in the other end. This means that depending on how it’s positioned, the model can still look authentic whether running at the head of a train, or stationary in a MPD. We are planning to commission special laser-scanned figures from Modelu. Study of many photographs shows that drivers seldom wore their uniform caps while driving – the part of the uniform that really differentiated the pre and post-1967 appearance – so we will have the same figures in locos of all periods – a driver in jacket and tie but no cap and a second man in shirt sleeves, no tie. The Modelu figures will be hand painted to a high standard before fitting.

Regrettably the addition of crew figures will incur extra costs. Normally we would have tried to absorb this within the price of the model, but we have already suffered a large cost overrun on this build due to the factory fire and devaluation of the pound. Regrettably, therefore, we will have to pass on the cost of the two painted and fitted figures, so the price of each model will be increased by £50 + vat (subject to final estimates from Model U and the builders in Korea).

The headcode boxes present a similar problem as all the cab fittings and partitioning need to be removed for access which, as noted, could easily result in damage to the internal wiring. With this in mind we have decided to pre-fit suitable headcodes with fairly universal appeal.

Although the Westerns were often used on freight, parcels and – in latter years china clay workings etc – they were primarily express passenger locos and were thus most often seen displaying a headcode starting with 1. The second character was a letter denoting the destination, ‘A’ being an up train bound for London Paddington, and ‘C’ being a down train for points west between Plymouth and Penzance etc. Some of the letters, such as V, M and S were used to indicate an inter-regional workings. The final two numerals are the number of the train from the working timetable, which told the signalman exactly which train it was.

On that basis we will fit 1A48 to one end (the ‘up’ Cornish Riviera Express), and 1C88 to the other end (the ‘down’ Golden Hind). To serve more intrepid customers who would prefer a different headcode, we will supply a sheet of headcode characters and numerals on a translucent material with each loco so they can fit their own – on the understanding that this will be STRICTLY at their own risk!

Covid-19
The virus is back with a vengeance, so do please follow the Government guidelines and regulations and please keep safe.

John Borkowski
29 September 2020

Update 27 August 2020

It is some time since we last updated the website. Despite the global impact of Covid-19, much has been going on at Masterpiece Models and we have been extremely busy preparing and delivering locomotives to customers, as well as working on the current builds of the Western Diesel, 28XX/38XX 2-8-0 tender engines, as well as Halls and Modified Halls.

Current Build – Class 52 Western Diesel

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As we are unable to visit Korea at present we asked the builder to send over a sample Western Diesel pulled from the current production run so that we could check it for details as well as finalising the design and fitment of the sound and lighting. Following our assessment of the previous pre-production model all the necessary changes have been made to ensure the cab shape, roof and front windscreens are correct. The whole locomotive now looks spot-on! The underbody detail is also simply wonderful and all six axles are driven by the largest, most powerful Swiss motor that we have used in a model to date. The model has been approved by our technical experts Bob Meanley, Adrian Knowles and Bryan Robertson, all of whom are passionate about Westerns. Please note that the windscreen wipers in the photos will be replaced with better ones parked in the correct position, while the 'Bardic' lamp brackets (which were bent in transit) will only be applied to late period blue models.

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Unfortunately, the shipper UPS managed to drop the package and the Western was badly damaged on one end. We managed to partly repair the damage and the locomotive has now been fitted with lighting and sound. Our sound engineer Bryan Robertson has performed heroically reconfiguring the decoder and fitting lighting in the headcode boxes, side lamps, cabs and engine room. The locomotive now sounds and looks superb. We have separated the electrical circuits to the fans so that it is possible to run the locomotive with only one set fans working and then start up the second engine to make the second set of fans operating. We think the electronics take this model into a new league as far as British outline 7mm scale diesel locomotives are concerned.

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Bryan carried out running tests of the locomotive and we can confirm that it will operate on 6ft (1.83m) radius curves. It may be possible to go slightly tighter but this would need to checked.

In Korea work continues to prepare components for painting

If you have not yet made a reservation and you want a Western in a special livery other than:
• Green with small yellow ends
• Maroon with small yellow ends
• Blue with full yellow ends
Please contact me as soon as possible as otherwise it will be too late.


Current Build – 28XX/38XX 2-8-0 Freight Locomotives

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We also shipped over three samples of 28XX/38XX from South Korea for checking by our technical expert Bob Meanley. He has identified a few minor changes that will be requested to be carried out by the builders.

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We have discovered a major issue with the six 28XX square frame locomotives ordered with no top feed. We have been investigating as many sources of material as we can find. Very little has been written and what is in the public domain is not accurate or very helpful. Thanks to the goodwill of one of our key suppliers we have managed to access some private papers with crucial information.

We now believe that no non-top feed locomotives with the No 1 boilers were ever painted in GWR plain green. After 1918 when the engines were in GWR plain green, it appears that all engines had top feed already fitted. So, we have a dilemma. Either we cancel all the build of non-top feed engines, or we try to make them as accurate as possible. This means that the non-top feed engines would have to be painted in GWR lined green with lining on the tender body and chassis, as well as polished fittings on both the engine and tender. The tender needs to be changed to the Churchward flush-riveted short-fender version with the garter arms. The only engines that we can build were numbered from 2820 to 2829 and were delivered in 1907. So, we can only provide engines with these numbers as earlier engines were delivered with Dean tenders and later engines were fitted with top feed. As a result of all this we have decided to offer the non-top feed engines only in the lined green 1907 configuration.

Unfortunately, this work will incur both an additional cost and delay production of these six engines as new tender bodies need to be made. The locomotive bodies will also need some changes and new modified tender chassis for these engines will now have to be built.

The existing tenders that have been completed are all Churchward 3,500 gallon long-fender snap riveted versions. None of these tenders ran with the lined green non-top feed engines. We plan to increase the price by £200 for these six models engines which only partially covers the additional production cost. Thus the current price will rise to £3,500 for these six locomotives. The top feed plain green GWR and black engines will remain at £3,300. Buyers who do not wish to pay the extra cost can elect to take plain green or black top feed engines at £3,300.

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There are still some 28XX models, both BR and GWR square frame and curved frame available, but there are very few unreserved 38XX engines left. So, I you want a 38XX please let me know as soon as possible, especially GWR engines; if several engines are required this requires a reshuffle of the build. There is very little time left to undertake this change.

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Current Build – Collett Hall and Hawksworth Modified Hall
We shipped over two samples of the Hall and Modified Hall for checking by our technical expert Bob Meanley. He has identified a few minor changes which will be requested to be carried out by the builders.

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As previously reported we increased the number of Collett Halls to 54 locomotives with a few slots left, both GWR and BR. These are mainly 49XX and 69XX types (BR).

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Production of Hawksworth Modified Halls has been increased from 15 to 24, so there are a few extra slots. Half the Modified Halls will be fitted with mechanical lubricators which provide interesting extra detail. Please note that the cylinder covers and chimney in the photos of the Modified Hall are not the correct type as the loco was not complete when the picture were taken and these items were simply fitted to give it a more finished appearance. The correct items will be fitted to all Modified Halls delivered to customers.

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Witherslack Hall is proving to be the most popular locomotive name followed by Wolf Hall and Lady Margaret Hall.


Possible Future Build – Brighton and GNR/LNER Atlantics
We continue to receive requests to build these locomotives, but we have not still received quite enough requests to proceed with the build. So, if you want a model of one of these locomotives and you still have not made a reservation or expression of interest, please contact us urgently as we still need more support to proceed with the project. If this project proceeds it will have to start from scratch with a complete redesign of the locomotive chassis to make the wheelbase as accurate as possible. The Scale 7 models will have the full scale sized wheels, but the O gauge versions will be forced to have reduced diameter (worn) driving wheel tyres as otherwise the flanges will touch each other and short circuit.

We are very keen to make these models and the current plan (subject to sufficient reservations) will be to make about 90 models (expected to be 55 Southern H1s/H2s and 35 GNR/LNER Atlantics). The cost will be probably around £3,300, but could be more due to the smaller volume and any currency and duty/VAT changes post the final UK departure from the EU Transition Period on 31 December 2020.


Models in Stock – Small Prairie Tank 45XX/4575
A recent flurry of sales has exhausted our stock of O gauge models. We have several 45XX/4575 sold but still due for delivery. We also have one 45XX and one 4575 awaiting conversion to O gauge (both sold). So, the remaining stock is down to two Scale7 BR 4575 (sloping tank) locomotives in BR lined green with the earlier lion-over-wheel emblem. When these are gone we will have run out of all stock. There are no more spare O gauge wheel sets, so no further conversions other than the two that are booked are now possible. Please note that there are no more models available at the factory or our warehouse, so when these last two Scale7 models are gone, sadly they have all gone.


Models in Stock – Pannier Tank 57XX/8750
We have a good stock of 57XX especially in Great Western liveries (green and plain black). We have a few BR riveted 57XX engines left and two London Transport 57XXs in the very attractive LT red. We can now only supply LT engines in O gauge.

8750s are available in GWR (green and black), BR mostly back feed engines and two top feed locomotives in the attractive BR lined black as used on empty stock working at Paddington etc. We are down to our last Scale 7 locomotive: one 8750 chassis.


Models in Stock – 70XX Castles
We can still offer a double chimney 70XX Castle with the mechanical lubricator in the forward or standard position (behind the RHS steam pipe). There is a good choice of single chimney 70XX Castles in most configurations and BR liveries. We can no longer offer 7005 Sir Edward Elgar as the set of nameplates was recently sold on a single chimney engine. Sadly, no more full sets of plates are available for this engine. Very few Scale 7 gauge locomotives are now available.


Models in Stock – 47XX 2-8-0 Tender Engines
A reasonable choice of GWR plain green engines is available, but choice of BR types is now more limited. Some BR plain black engines remain, but BR lined black 4702 now all now sold. Very limited choice of Scale 7 locomotives now left.


Models in Stock – 68XX 4-6-0 Grange Tender Engines
All GWR plain green engines now sold except one model in S7. All BR lined black engines now sold. We have a few BR plain black engines and a good choice of BR lined green engines available including some in Scale 7. Many great Grange names are still available. Please check on the phone or email with your request.


Covid-19 - Impact on Korea and the UK
The Covid-19 Virus has again spread back into the Seoul area in Korea which includes Incheon where our models are built. New measures have been imposed by the Government to control the new outbreaks. This has further slowed down our production in Korea. Travel to Korea (with flights and travel insurance still unavailable) is not possible despite the fact that I urgently need to go there. We now also have quarantine issues at both ends, so no visit has been possible this year. We expect the restrictions on travel to continue for long haul flights for the rest of 2020. So, an alternative plan to get the builds completed is essential.

Covid-19 has made activity here in the UK also very difficult. Both my UK engineer (Colin Dowling) and I are still in isolation. Since our last report we managed only one short meeting to prepare three locomotives. This limitation makes business activity very difficult, as all preparation has to be undertaken by me. We have despatched a number of locomotives to customers in the UK and elsewhere and more deliveries are expected to take place next month.

I hope that you are all well and are continuing to take all necessary precautions to avoid catching this dreadful disease. Please continue to be careful and look after yourselves and anyone you meet by following the rules that are in force.

John Borkowski  27 August 2020.