Over the last two weeks together with our panel of experts we have been working fIat out examining the final builder’s drawings of the 45XX/4575 locomotive models. The exercise has been a fascinating exploration of all available material to decide how best to configure the versions of these locomotives in our build list. Not surprisingly we have discovered much more information that was previously unknown or perhaps uncertain (at least to me). What we have learned is that these locomotive went through so many changes during their working lives that it is simply impossible to cover every variation even in 170 models.
In our work we have however discovered another important variant that we had omitted from the list. This is the Type 3 locomotive with the 9in wood-packed frame extension, also with a curved front drop-end to the running plate. We will now also build this version. As a consequence we have to reshuffle the whole building programme, reallocating production numbers to the various types.
Reservations have continued to build up strongly and I should advise you that if you want one of the early types of 45XX Types 1 and 2, please consider making a reservation very quickly as they have nearly all gone. We expect to fix the production allocation next week after which it will not be possible to increase production numbers.
With over 100 changes to the prototype that we exhibited at the Bristol Show the production schedule has slipped a few weeks. We feel that this is justified by the huge improvements we are incorporating in all versions of these models. We expect production models to be available in July 2016.
Work on this model continues at a rapid pace, and the builder is now well down the path of manufacturing key components as can be seen in the picture below.
Some of the detail parts are exquisite; here is the double chimney and lubricator:
We are continuing to refine some of the detail of these locomotives and in total have made over 120 changes compared to the earlier 50XX ‘Castle’ made by Masterpiece Models about seven years ago. So our attention to detail has been formidable, as we want to make this model the finest 7mm scale ‘Castle’ ever built.
We expect to have a pre-production locomotive in May for everyone to see, and if all goes to plan production will roll-off the assembly line in the summer, we expect this to be August. So it is a short, very tight programme, but you will have a Masterpiece Models ‘Castle’ available to buy in 2016.
On the sales side demand has been strong with a considerable number of customers opting for the Scale 7 version.
GWR Tender Locomotives
With the pressure on the 45XX/4575 and ‘Castle’ programmes, we also have been working on the drawings for the GWR tender locomotives. Last week we received a detailed technical appraisal from one of our expert panel, which are now being incorporated into the commentary for the builders to amend the drawings. During the last few weeks there has been a steady stream of reservations for all types, with considerable interest in the 47XX, which is selling fast. We have been looking at the preliminary production schedule for these locomotives and current plans are to produce the 47XX and 28XX/38XX first, followed a little later by the 49XX ‘Hall’ and the 68XX ‘Grange’. This is subject to confirmation.
Spare Wheels Sets
In recent weeks I have been approached by a number of modellers who have asked whether we could supply our wheels so that they can be incorporated in kit-built or scratchbuilt locomotives. As an active modeller I am very keen to encourage everyone to build their own models. It would be very sad if the only models that were made all came from manufacturers.
So, to the extent we can, Masterpiece Models would like to support the model builders among you railway modellers. Howeve,r supplying wheels is not an easy exercise and we have to do it in a way that is economic and does not disrupt our own manufacturing programme.
Essentially we would be in a position to supply limited quantities of only those wheels that we use when we undertake an individual locomotive programme. Wheels would have to be ordered at the same time as we order our own requirements and we would only be able to supply full sets – not individual wheels. We would not be willing to take on stock, so if you want the wheels you have to commit to buy them. We could supply both O gauge finescale and Scale 7 wheels. So far most of the interest has been in S7.
Our wheels are mounted on 5 mm diameter axles, which are non-standard with the UK 3/8” size, so they would require special hornblocks. We may also be able to secure some of our own hornblocks to save you having to dismantle wheelsets. This is something we would have to investigate with the builders. Driving axles also have cranks and cams where appropriate for inside valve gear. We would not be able to supply this inside valve gear to you, so you would need to make up your own components for these items.
If you are interested in in the supply of complete wheel sets on this basis please contact me with your requirements.
Pre-owned Masterpiece Models
From time to time we are asked to act as a broker for customers who wish to sell earlier Masterpiece Models. At present we have available two Masterpiece Models ‘Duchesses’ (non streamlined) and an early GWR livery ‘Star’. If anyone is interested in acquiring these models, which are in superb A1 condition, please contact me for further information.
Future Locomotive Programmes
A number of people have asked me about the future locomotive programme beyond the current programme. Our next major (large) steam locomotive will be the LNER/BR A3 on which we are currently working actively. We hope to produce this in the 2017 programme after we have completed the GWR tender locomotives.
For the smaller steam locomotive the plan is to follow on the 45XX/4575 programme with the 57XX pannier. It is possible that we may have this locomotive available at the beginning of 2017 as the builders have already completed a large amount of work on this project.
On the website we have mentioned Project W. A number of people have enquired about the identity of the project. I am now able to reveal that it is the D1000 Class 52 ‘Western’ Diesel Hydraulic locomotive. This iconic diesel locomotive of unique design is probably the most distinguished diesel locomotive ever to have graced the British railways network, and it is a locomotive very dear to my heart.
We have passed detailed plans to the builder who is evaluating what further information he needs to make a Masterpiece Model of a ‘Western’. Some of you may be shocked that Masterpiece Models would contemplate building a diesel locomotive when there are so many steam types that merit building.
It is our belief that the Class 52 'Western' deserves an equal place in history, on the mantelpiece and the layout, as any ‘King’ or ‘Castle’. ‘Westerns’ were simply amazing and a key part of our railway history. I can still hear the roar of the engines coming into Paddington ringing in my ears, although they have long gone. Please do let me know whether the Class 52 is of interest to you.
10 April 2016