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Update 2 June 2016

45XX/4575

0407
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.

0390

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.

7007earlyBR

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.

0373

John Borkowski
02 June 2016

Update 6 May 2016

I have just returned from an extended visit with the builders in Korea and this is just a brief update with more to follow later.

The big news is that the 70XX ‘Castle’ will overtake the 45XX and become the first new Masterpiece Models locomotive since I took the business over. We expect the ‘Castle’ to enter production in June and to be complete at the beginning of August. The 45XX/4575 will follow a few weeks later. We hope to have both locomotive types available at Telford with samples of both models here in the UK by the end of May.

I will provide you with a more comprehensive report after the Reading show.

Meanwhile, here are some photos of work in progress in Korea – one of the 70XX ‘Castles’, a Collett 4,000 gallon tender which has undergone many modifications and refinements compared to the tenders that shipped with earlier models, and the very interesting Hawksworth 4,000 gallon tender.

Enjoy!

70XX Castles under construction

7000 drivers side

7000lubricator detail3

70XXchassis

70XXchassis2

70XXchassis4  7013 lubricator system

70XX 'Castles' under construction, with (above right) the special lubricator system on No. 7013.

 

Hawksworth 4,000 gallon tender

HawksworthTender11

 HawksworthTender6  HawksworthTender7

 

Collett 4,000 gallon tender

CollettTender2

CollettTender11 

CollettTender6  CollettTender7

John Borkowski
06 May 2016

Update 25 April 2016

45XX/4575
We finalised the tank rivet patterns for the 6 different model types at the end of last week. Tomorrow Tuesday (26th April) I am travelling out to Korea to finalise the build of all the 6 models. We still have to go over some of the chassis detail on Types 1 and 2, which have completely different brake gear and pull rods than the other later versions as we are determined to get all these details as correct as is possible. The inclusion of the 6th variant, basically a Type 3 extended rear buffer beam with a curved drop plate over the front of the cylinders, makes another interesting model for either the GWR or BR Western region periods. Production will commence next week although the manufacture of components has already been in progress for many weeks.

Reservations continue to flow in every week with Types 1, 4 and 5 (4575) being in high demand. If you want an early type (Types 1 and 2), do please get your reservation in during the next few weeks otherwise you may miss out on these versions, as there are not many slots left.

70XX Castle
As already reported, work on this model continues at a rapid pace, and the builder is now well down the path of manufacturing all the key components. We have also ordered the new motors and work is underway on the revised gearbox design. I plan to go over all the design changes in great detail with the builders so that they are fully incorporated in the finished model.

On the sales side demand continues to be strong with many customers continuing to opt for the Scale 7 version. In general Scale 7 demand has been very much higher than for previous Masterpiece Models’ locomotives.

GWR Tender Locomotives
Sales of all of these locomotive types have been brisk, especially for the 47XX and 28XX 2-8-0 locomotives. I am taking over all the detailed changes to be incorporated in the locomotive drawings for all types. We will be discussing all the changes in detail with the builders to ensure that they are fully incorporated in the locomotives. I will also discuss the production programme with the builders to see how we can best plan the production to meet a realistic timetable.

Spare Wheels Sets
We have had several requests for wheels and we will try to incorporate the requests in the wheel production programme. If anyone else wants wheels, please remember that there may not be much time left to secure additional wheels for the 45XX/4575 and 70XX.

If you are interested in in the supply of complete wheel sets please contact me with your requirements.

Pre-owned Masterpiece Models
At present we still have available one Masterpiece Models Duchess (non streamlined) in LMS livery and an early GWR livery Star. Both models are in O gauge finescale. If anyone is interested in acquiring these models, which are in superb A1 condition, please contact me for further information.

Future Locomotive Programmes
I plan to discuss the A3 and 57XX Pannier locomotives with the builders for the 2017 Programme. Work on the Pannier is already at an advanced stage. So production of this model could proceed quickly.

Class 52 D1000 Western Diesel-Hydraulic
We have had an amazingly positive response from a large number of people for this locomotive. I will discuss it in detail with the builders to determine a realistic retail price and to see if we can proceed with it in 2017. If it is commercially viable we will build it to exceptional standards with great attention to producing exact accurate wheels and full detail.

I will be in Korea from 26 April and back in the UK on 5 May. While there I will try to respond to your requests and enquiries, as best I can, but please do bear in mind that I will be working 12 to 15 hour days while out there.

Future Shows
Just to let you know that we will be exhibiting at the ALSRM show at Reading on Saturday 7th May and also at the Doncaster O Gauge Summer Show on Saturday 4th June. I very much hope to make acquaintance of as many of you as possible at these shows, so do please come and visit us on our stand at both events.

John Borkowski
25 April 2016

Update 10 April 2016

45XX/4575
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.

70XX Castle
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.

70XX parts 1

Some of the detail parts are exquisite; here is the double chimney and lubricator:

D chimney 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.

Project W
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.


John Borkowski
10 April 2016

Post-Kettering update

It was very good to meet so many of you at the Kettering Show two weeks ago. It was great to renew acquaintance with those I had met before as well as meeting others for the first time. I very much enjoyed the conversation and all the questions that you all posed about Masterpiece Models, about the different tack gauges and aspirations for future models. Several of you were also able to clarify your requirements for our current range of models.

It was the first time that I had visited Kettering and the weather was bitterly cold, so perhaps attendance was a little lower than expected. Our stand was pretty busy all day and I only had about 20 minutes free to look around at other stands. So the layouts never really got a proper look from me, which was a mistake.

In addition to our new models there was a lot of interest on the models on display mainly Michael Brooks’ lovely Bulleid Pacifics, which from a customer viewpoint sadly have all been sold. I took expressions of interest from several of you for past MM models. If we do find suitable examples we will get in touch with you to see if we can meet your individual needs.

We also had identical locomotives in both O gauge and Scale7, so that customers could look at the differences. Most customers could tell the difference both in terms of the track and also the locomotive wheels, and most preferred the S7 versions as stand alone models. However it is for you to decide individually what gauge best suits your needs.

What happens if you do not have a computer or email address and you want to buy or enquire about a Masterpiece Models locomotive?

This problem has been posed to us by a number of customers who don’t have access to email. We have already taken a number of orders by telephone and letter and we are trying to improve the quality of our service for those who do not use (or do not want to use) Information Technology Systems (computers and email).

The easiest way is to contact us by phone on our landline or on our mobile phone. It is better to use the landline 01737 242073 (or +44 1737 242073 if you live abroad outside the UK) as it is generally cheaper and has a better messaging system. Please leave your name and contact details plus a short message on the nature of your enquiry if we are out. We can then ring you or send you the information you requested. Providing you give us sufficient contact details including a telephone number and/or postal address we can respond to your request.

I have to admit that it is not as easy to work around telephone and paper as is by email, but it is still possible to communicate using these channels, even if it takes more time and effort. We have taken at least three orders in recent weeks by letter, so it is possible to work this way. So for those of you who do not do email, please do contact us by telephone or letter.

45XX/4575 Customers: What do I have to do to confirm my reservation?

We have had a large number of prior reservations made before I took the helm of Masterpiece Models, and many of you have already paid deposits. We have now reached the stage where we have finally specified what we are going to build.

When Michael Brooks first offered the 45XX/4575, there were 19 different versions of the locomotive on offer. For 120 models that were initially planned for production, this worked out at an average of just over 6 models per series, which was clearly going to be uneconomic. So we have had to go through a difficult process of rationalising to reduce complexity and the number of different types. This has been a very difficult exercise as necessarily there are some variations that will not be made.

I appreciate that everyone who has expressed an interest or made a reservation will want to be able to check out what specification is available, and whether it meets their desired locomotive requirement. So I propose to email the specification to everyone who has made a reservation before I took over at Masterpiece Models, so that the necessary checks can be carried out.

Essentially we are offering 4 types of 45XX and 1 type of 4575 in 3 basic paint schemes: Great Western Green, BR Black and BR Lined Green. We will be able to adjust the labelling on Great Western to 'Great Western', 'GWR' Shirtbutton or 'Great <Shields> Western', and on BR versions with the totem or the Lion over the Wheel. We also expect to be able to change chimneys, buffers and safety valve types. So this arrangement should give us some flexibility to offer additional variations.

The 45XX models that are being offered comprise:

Type1
Type 1: The very early engines short square drop footplate, short smokebox, no struts and flat (small lipped low) bunker

 

Type2
Type 2: Early engines short square drop footplate, longer smokebox with struts short flared higher rear bunker

 

Type3
Type 3: Early engines in later life with short square footplate, longer smokebox with struts, extended higher rear bunker and packed wooden rear buffer beam

 

Type4
Type 4: Later engines with curved long footplate, longer smokebox with struts, extended higher rear bunker

For the 45XX, beyond the selectable items, the difference is primarily in the paint livery.

To try to cover the costs of all these variants we have had to increase the production from 120 to 170 models. Shortly we will have to commit to production and this means that we will not be able to change the mix once this commitment has been made.

What we need from you is confirmation that you still want to take out a reservation and which locomotive type best fits your needs. If you decide that none of the available locomotives are acceptable to you, then we would be willing to cancel your reservation and refund your deposit (if you made one). However, before you cancel, do remember that you have been offered a much higher specification locomotive than was originally promised still at the original price and that this model is unlikely to be re-offered by Masterpiece Models for a long time, if ever again.

John Borkowski
20 March 2016