Exceptional museum quality model locomotives for modellers, enthusiasts and collectors

Super wheels for Masterpiece Models

Ever since it was founded by Michael Brooks 8 years ago, Masterpiece Models has been on a permanent and enduring task to find smart ways of upgrading its models. The launch of ScaleSeven wheels on the Britannias and Clans was a breakthrough enabling modellers to buy top grade models with much more accurate wheelsets for a small premium (since abolished on all current Masterpiece production). 

At the time that we introduced these wheels Michael consulted the late Geoff Holt about this change.  Geoff, one of the finest model makers of our time, quickly replied “the wheels look fine at the front, but what about the back and the sides?”  At that time I was working with Michael on the Britannia and Clan wheels, and we knew that 360 degree machining was a complete non-runner with our builders. We even had a big problem getting the builders to machine the Britannia and Clan wheels sufficiently flat. I told Michael that of course Geoff was right, but it was a bridge too far - we would never get it done in Korea.

Geoff’s comments never left my ears and when I took the helm at Masterpiece Models I thought we should do something about it. It was then that I was introduced to Tony Wall.  Tony rang me one day and said he would like to buy a Masterpiece Models’ locomotive in ScaleSeven. In the course of the conversation Tony said that his company Allendale Components was a UK manufacturer of scale model railway wheels as close as possible replicas of real wheels from the works drawings. His wheels covered 7.5” gauge down to ScaleSeven. He kindly sent me some samples, which when I received them, were as close replicas as possible to the real thing, machined 360 degree brass centres in stainless steel tyres. In short, I was blown away by their perfection. They were exactly what Geoff had said that we needed when we put ScaleSeven wheels on the Britannias and Clans.

When I received the wheels I called Tony immediately. Could he please make sets of wheels for Masterpiece Models’ current and future production? Yes he said, but he was limited in his production capacity and the wheels were not cheap to produce. So we agreed as first step we would make 16 complete sets of later 'Castle' 4-6-0 wheels in ScaleSeven.

SuperWheelsWhat you see here is a complete set of wheels in ScaleSeven for one of our 70XX Castle models. They are machined from solid on both sides and that the first thing that is noticeable is that the spokes are much, much finer that the wheels we use in our standard production. 

Now you will ask how much will it cost to fit these wheels on a 70XX Castle. The answer is they are not cheap. They will, in fact, attract a premium of £600 over the standard wheels and they are only available in ScaleSeven. However, we believe that for the modeller who wants the best they represent a good investment. So what we will do is to offer a limited number of our future locomotives in ScaleSeven for both collectors and modellers alike to give them the opportunity to buy the best for a modest premium.

For the more cost conscious customer we will continue to offer both O gauge and ScaleSeven models with our standard wheels at a lower cost with no premium for ScaleSeven.

We believe that Superwheels will further enhance our current and future models, taking them into a new quality league. It is part of our commitment for continuous improvement in all our models.

John Borkowski
3 September 2016

Guildex, Telford, 3-4 September

We are very much looking forward to meeting you at Guildex this weekend and hopefully you will find our stand interesting. We will have at least one surprise for you, which you can discover on the day by visiting our stand. The plan is to have some plant and machinery to show you, but it all depends on our builder and his baggage arriving safely at London Heathrow on Friday afternoon.

As you will see on this website, there are many exciting new developments so do come and see us and speak to us to discuss anything, whether you have ordered something already or are just thinking about it. By way of example we always happy to discuss the merits of DC, DCC, O Gauge, ScaleSeven and many other model railway and full scale railway topics. We are at Guildex to give you an opportunity to meet us and discuss all your actual model railway interests.

We are constantly striving to improve our models and your input is always vital here. So please give us your views so that we can incorporate them constructively in our future planning. Please tell us your interest in our current and planned models and don’t be afraid to put up your own suggestions for future models. You will also be able to meet our builder Mr Lee when he is not busy looking at other stands. His English is limited, so deep technical conversations may be difficult, but I am sure he will be glad to show you some of the details of his wonderful creations past and present.

Also on display will be a selection of previous Masterpiece Models, as well as our current production. We do occasionally get second hand Masterpiece Models for sale. This year we will have at least one model for sale on behalf of a key customer. If you want a previous Masterpiece Model do come and let us know and we will try to see if we can find one of our past models that meets your wishes.

Our team is looking forward to meeting you at Guildex.

John Borkowski
1 September 2016

Western diesels and 57XX panniers confirmed for production

D1000 old oak common 1964Following a tremendous response from people who have registered their interest in our proposed model of the Class 52 'Western' diesel, we are delighted to be able to tell you that the model has now been confirmed for production. We plan to build models of the entire class, covering the examples built at Swindon and Crewe and incorporating the key modifications made during the life of these charismatic locomotives. We are offering the full gamut of liveries, with additional mini-editions of D1000 Western Enterprise in 'Desert Sand' livery and D1015 Western Champion in Golden Ochre.

Our Western diesels will be constructed by the same builder who is making such a fabulous job of our GWR/BR 4500/4575 class prairie tanks. While he was in the UK a couple of weeks ago we took the opportunity of visiting the Severn Valley Railway where he was able to see, photograph and measure D1062 Western Courier. This quick, preliminary survey will shortly be augmented by a full laser scan of the actual locomotive, courtesy of owners the Western Locomotive Association who have kindly offered full access to both D1062 and D1013 Western Ranger.

The Class 52 is a large and complex locomotive and we are determined that the Masterpiece Models 7mm scale version will, quite simply, be the best ready-to-run 'Western' ever made. Every deatil of the originals will be faithfully reproduced, with particular attention being paid to the intricate shapes around the cab ends and tumblehome. At present the plans include double traction motors for superlative haulage, working fans and illuminated features. The models will be available in a choice of 7mm finscale or ScaleSeven at no additional cost, as well as 'Maybach' sound as standard!

Clearly this cannot be a cheap exercise; at £3,300 (allowing for the fall in the valiue of Sterling) the price of our Class 52 is comparable to a medium-size steam locomotive model, despite the exchange rate uncertainties introduced by Brexit. You can now reserve the locomotive of your choice HERE for a modest deposit.

57XXThe other top news this month is that we have also confirmed production of our 57XX (and 8750) GWR/BR pannier tanks. Most of the pre-production work has already been completed and a pre-production model will be available to view before the end of this year, with the completed models are expected to be available in Spring 2017.

As the class was ultimately so large (863 engines) we don't intend to produce a model of each. To make make sense of this build it's necessary to restrict the number of variables in the build, although the great majority of variations will be catered for, including:

  • Earlier or later styles of cab
  • With or without steam heating
  • With or without ATC
  • Riveted or flush tanks
  • With or without top feed
  • Polished or painted safety valve bonnets
  • With or without cab shutters and doors
  • With or without additional bunker steps and handrails
  • Smaller/larger whistle shields
  • Brass/cast iron number plates
  • The engines built by outside contractors will carry appropriate builder's plates

For the sake of simplicity we will not build the 97XX condensing engines, neither will we build the 6700-59 series which appeared only with steam bakes and three link couplings. Also excluded are engines 5768 and 5770-78 which had different boilers featuring an external steam pipe running from the dome to the steam fountain. We will not be producing spark-arresting chimneys.

L90 SNOWHowever, due to strong levels of interest we will also include a batch of London Transport panniers in their distinctive Metropolitan dark red livery. These will feature  LT trip-cock apparatus, revised cabs and rainstrips, LT-style lamp brackets, reporting number frames and red-painted coupling rods.


John Borkowski
7 August 2016

Update 28 June 2016

The builders are still working on the final sample models, which are due to be despatched this week. We have also fixed the production programme in line with the announcement we made on June 1 and the locomotives are now being be built at the factory by the builders to that specification. We have now finalised the production programme, which is as follows:

45XX Flat Tanks 110 locomotives

  • 45XX Type 1 15 locomotives
  • 45XX Type 2 15 locomotives
  • 45XX Type 3 35 locomotives
  • 45XX Type 4 45 locomotives

4575 Sloping Tanks 50 Locomotives

If you want a 45XX/4575 locomotive and you have not yet ordered, please do hurry up as there are only two weeks left in which we can change the specification and this is now limited to the livery. After that time we will have a fixed set of engines and liveries.

Total production of the 45XX/4575 is fixed at 160 locomotives, the majority of which have now been sold. There are still some locomotives available in most categories except the very earliest versions of Type 1, which are now sold out. We will be requesting second payments shortly now that we have put the locomotives into production.

70XX 'Castle'
0460We have now fixed the production programme for the 100 locomotives and made one significant change. Due to the high level of interest in 7013 Bristol Castle (Davies and Metcalf (D&M) valveless lubricator double chimney locomotives), we have decided to offer the additional names of all the engines that received the D&M lubrication system with 70XX 4-row superheater boilers and double chimneys. These locomotives have been included in the 100 locomotive production by reducing some of the other names options, although all the engines from 7000 to 7037 will be made.

So in addition to Bristol Castle we can now offer in D&M lubricator/double chimney form:

  • 4087 Cardigan Castle
  • 4088 Dartmouth Castle
  • 5083 Reading Abbey
  • 7014 Caerhays Castle

Interest in the double chimney locomotives has increased in recent weeks and currently they are in a significant lead over the single chimney locomotives in terms of reservations. Whatever your chimney preference there are still some interesting locomotives available for sale, so do contact us for your interest and requirement. As the production programme is now fixed to meet our production target date, we are restricted on choice for the unreserved engines to changes in livery and swapping tenders to a limited extent.


The part-built pre-production models reveal the astounding level of cab detail being incorporated in the 70XX series 'Castles'. Much more still will be included on the finished locomotives.

John Borkowski
28 June 2016



Update 2 June 2016


The builders are still working on the final sample models, which are due in the next two weeks. We have a part-finished 4575 model (above), which will be available for view at Doncaster. The 45XX/4575 programme has become far more complex than originally planned as the variations in configuration of these locomotives over their working lives is enormous.

We have now finalised the production programme, which is as follows:

45XX Flat Tanks: 110 locomotives

• 45XX Type 1 Earliest Wolverhampton built engines in GWR green, 8 locomotives
(Short chassis, small low bunker, no top feed, short smokebox, tapered cast iron chimney, square drop plate footplate)

• 45XX Type 1 Earliest Swindon built engines in GWR green, 7 locomotives
(Short chassis, small low bunker, no top feed, short smokebox, parallel cast iron chimney, square drop plate footplate)

• 45XX Type 2 Modified Type 1 engines in GWR green, 15 locomotives
(Short chassis, small taller bunker, top feed, extended smokebox, parallel cast iron chimney, square drop plate foot plate)

• 45XX Type 3 Modified Type 1 or 2 engines with long chassis and packed rear buffer beam, tall extended bunker, top feed, extended smokebox, tapered cast iron chimney. 35 locomotives

Type 3.1A1 GWR green square drop plate, no ATC, 5 locomotives

Type 3.1A2 GWR green square drop plate, ATC, 5 locomotives

Type 3.1B BR Black square drop plate, ATC, locomotives

Type 3.1C BR green square drop plate, ATC, side handrails, 10 locomotives

Type 3.2A GWR green curved drop plate, ATC, locomotives

Type 3.2B BR green curved drop plate, ATC, locomotives

• 45XX Type 4 Locomotives curved drop plate footplate, long chassis, tall extended bunker, extended smokebox, top feed, tapered cast iron chimney. 45 locomotives

Type 4A1 GWR green, no ATC, locomotives

Type 4A2 GWR green, ATC, 1locomotives

Type 4B BR black, ATC, locomotives

Type 4C BR green, ATC, 20 locomotives

4575 Sloping Tanks: 50 Locomotives

Type 5A GWR green, 25 locomotives

Type 5B BR Black, 10 locomotives

Type 5C1 BR green, 10 locomotives

Type 5C2 BR green with side hand rails 5 locomotives

Total production of the 45XX/4575 is planned as 160 locomotives.

70XX 'Castles'
We now have the 70XX Castle samples here in the UK, which arrived late last week from Korea. There is a complete single chimney locomotive, the new Hawksworth tender, a heavily modified Collett 4000 gallon tender and a partially-built double chimney locomotive body representing the “odd man out” 7013 Bristol Castle. Bristol Castle has the earlier 4073 type cab and the Davies and Metcalf mechanical lubricator together with the lubricator oil tank (reservoir) on the right had side of the smokebox. It is quite a beast with its imposing double chimney and intricate lubrication pipework. It has that presence of power that only a Castle with a double chimney has on an enthusiast’s eye.


For those of you who don’t like Castles with double chimneys, there is always the single chimney locomotive to fall back on. But do give the double chimney models a chance as they do grow on you, especially if you are lucky enough to see a real preserved locomotive such as 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe. Please note that there are still a number of modifications to be made before these models finally go into production, including the correct spring settings for the tenders which are currently riding too high.

0367Tenders are often a difficult topic with individuals often having very strong opinions for or against particular designs. As a boy owning a Hornby Dublo Bristol Castle, I always favoured the Collett 4000 gallon tender over the Hawksworth variant. I now have been pouring over the two sample tenders continually swapping them over behind the single chimney Castle sample model. After much thought I have come to the conclusion that it is dead heat and that I like the Hawksworth tender behind a Castle just as much as the Collett version. We are offering customers the opportunity to take up two tenders with their Castle locomotive. So far there are only a few takers, but I would urge those who select individual Castle locomotives that swapped tenders during their particular era of interest to consider the option of a second tender.

We have been approached by two customers who want their 70XX Castles to be in the 1948 condition, just after nationalisation, which is basically GWR livery but with BRITISH RAILWAYS on the tender. This is an interesting combination as it allows many more 70XX models to be in what is virtually GWR livery with all the early features. So if you are a GWR buff and your 70XX never had GWR livery with Great Western on the tender, do think about the 1948 BRITISH RAILWAYS option.


We are very impressed with the sample models that represent a major step forward both in terms of detail and technology improvement on our earlier models. It has a new drive chain (completely new gearbox and motor) as well as split axles that eliminate conventional or plunger pick-ups that are frequently a cause of electrical conductivity problems. The new technology means a huge improvement in running performance. So all you modellers with layouts both O gauge and S7 should really be able to appreciate the changes.

The builders are now pressing me to start full-scale production, but before we do this we are having the sample models extensively checked our by our panel of experts. We will then go back with the inevitable list of changes and corrections to incorporate into the production models.

The Castles will also be on display at the O Gauge Doncaster Show on Saturday (June 4th). We look forward to seeing everyone there.


John Borkowski
02 June 2016