News Archive for 2020

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All contents (including photos and drawings) - ©  2020 Derek Mackenzie

EarlyJune 2020

      My etchers are now back at work. The T9 etch correction sheet has been checked, but I am waiting for them to check the Adams Radial sheets.

Whilst waiting I have spent a lot of time standardising parts and bringing all my current models up to the latest specifications.

Work has now started on the LSWR M7 - the GA drawings have been ready to go for some time, now I am applying all my standard parts to the model so it is progressing swiftly. Probably the longest time will be taken building the 3D model in SolidWorks.

Work has also started on my GWR 3000 gallon tender to go with the G1MRA Bulldog book. This is primarily a redesign of the etch I produced for one back in 2003. This is being brought up the current specifications using my standard parts and radio control system. The design is changing to make assembly simpler with the option of gluing a lot of it together. This tender will be available separately from the loco so will help customers trying to partly scratch build a wide variety of GWR locos. I will add various GWR locos to go with it later - see my possible build list here.

5th July 2020

      Well it has been a very busy time since the last update, even by my standards. First a whole weekend spent digging out couch grass in the front flower bed (but I notice it is back 2 weeks later!) and trying to cut out a bit of bamboo (Phyllostachys aurea) in the back garden that had escaped over the top of its sunken pot and popped up in 4 places about 1.5 metres away (doing its bit for social separation). The latter was more like a building operation than gardening, involving saws, chisels, club hammer and crowbar. And I have finally got my CNC Mill working again - don’t ask!


On the more important modelling side, my etcher sent back mask layouts for approval. These have been corrected and I should be getting back the final etch sheet for the T9 and 4 initial sheets for the Adams Radial Tank very soon.                                


I am celebrating my 75th birthday today (also 20 years of designing and building G1 locos and 65 years of designing and building models - railways in scales Z to 16mm, aircraft, boats, cars, hovercraft etc)  by starting a new series of GWR tenders. Perhaps starting is not quite an accurate description as I have designed 3 over the last twenty years but, although they got as far as the initial etch, none had gone into production. They were the 3000 gallon Churchward  and the 3500 gallon and 4000 gallon Collett tenders. These are now all being brought up to my current production standards.                                

The 3500 gallon Churchward will follow soon after as it is a simple adaptation of the 3000 gallon. The 2500 gallon tender (for the Dean Goods) should be even easier as it is just the 3000 gallon with 2 feet lost out of the wheelbase.                                 

The 3000 gallon one  will be the first to go into production to go with Tony White's new G1MRA book on building an electrically powered Bulldog, for which I have provided some of the drawings. The initial idea is to provide a range of common tenders that can go with the vast majority of 20th century GWR locos. This should enable builders to make there own loco models and just hitch up to a ready built (or kit form) tender. I will be producing a range of GWR locos later to go with them, covering the late Dean to early Collett periods.                                

It was a little tricky squeezing the contents of the T9 4000 gallon tender into the 3000 gallon GWR one - the only real casualty was the LiPo cell that was reduced from the 18650 to an 18500 to fit within the narrower body.                                

The 2000 gallon tender (for the Dukes) may be a little trickier. It loses another 2' out of the wheelbase compared to the 2500 gallon, but has no water pickup scoop. At least it is the same width as the  2500 & 3000 gallon tenders, so no further problems there. A lot of the parts on the smaller tenders appear to be the same which will make design work quicker. It has taken me about 2 weeks work (120 hours) to create the 3D drawings for the 3000 gallon tender, but I started with the advantage of having previously drawn all the parts up in 2D. I have already done the 2D drawings for the remaining tenders.                                

Between 1884 and 1948 the GWR built 2008 tenders (excluding Hawksworth, absorbed & ROD ones) - the first four types I am building (2500, 3000, 3500 & 4000 gallons) account for 91% of those (301, 397, 649, 481 respectively = 1828).                                

Yes, I know there were variations from Lot to Lot, but I wish you luck in spotting them.                                

I have also already produced fully detailed 2D drawings for another 18 locos - just waiting for the time required to turn them into 3D and design the etches. Naturally, the longer I spend building things for customers the less time there is to carry out this design work.                                

There is also the constraint of paying for the etches (probably the better part of £1000 per loco after all the development stages are completed) and getting the castings made. I will need to sell more locos to pay for it all!                                

I have my own 3D SLA printer now so that has taken a large lump out of the development costs for the castings.

A page for the tenders and prices have been added on 12/07/2020. Click here.

I must admit I prefer designing things to building them - unfortunately real life does not have an undo button. Come to think of it, Solidworks’ undo button does not work well sometimes either.                            

17th July 2020

         The LSWR M7 design is progressing well - the mechanical design is now complete. See the webpage here for 3D images of the current position. Just the bodywork etches left to do. The 2D design has been ready for some years, now just need to turn it into 3D.

 Still waiting for some prototype etches to turn up for the T9 and the Adams Radial Tank, so I will continue with the M7 design until then. Then on to the Bulldog.              

10th September 2020

            A hectic few months - much development work going on whilst waiting for trial etches to arrive. The LSWR M7 design is now complete. See the webpage here for 3D images of the current position.

          The prototype etches for the T9 and the Adams Radial Tank turned up today, plus 2 production 3F etches. Cashflow problems have prevented me ordering more, but once these as sold (I already have one order for a kit - the other will be RtR) I will have the resources to order more.        

19th September 2020

            Added more details to the LMS 3F, LSWR T9, M7 & Adams Radial tank pages.

9th October 2020

            I am getting requests for electric versions of my locos and for some of the older types. As a result I have decided to add these into the available options.

For the electric versions, expect a price about half that of the steam version - prices are very much dependant on what motor, gearbox & battery you specify, or decide to provide yourself. For the the earlier locos, please be aware that they are not quite up to the standard of the the current ones in either the etch assembly or the assembly instructions. They will, however, be upgraded to the latest mechanical specification wherever possible. They may take a little longer to supply as I do not keep stocks of the etches or castings.

           I am still working on assembling the LSWR Adams Radial Tank which also involves completing the instructions. Easier said than than done as it involves wrestling with the bugs in Solidworks to get it all to work.

           The radio control system is delaying other locos as I have still have to get that finished & tested. 24 hour days are just too short!

GWR double framed 4-4-0s

27th October 2020

            GWR double framed 4-4-0s added to the build list and the price list. Well, most of them - from Dukes to Dukedogs, via Armstrongs, Bulldogs, Badmintons, Atbaras & Cities (eventually).

2nd November 2020

            My carriage designs are evolving with new technologies - see the Coach Construction page.

2nd December 2020

           I am putting more effort into coach production. I have now worked out a way to produce top quality highly detailed kits for a reasonable price.

New technology (3D resin printing, laser cut & engraved ply) have made this a lot easier and (finally) profitable. Expect a good range of coaches to match my locos in 2021 at affordable prices. £400 for a bogie coach (£415 with ball-raced axles), half that for 4-wheelers & 2/3 that for 6-wheelers,.

6th December 2020

Disaster (hopefully temporary) - just became a Covid Mask victim. Those of you who wear glasses will know the problem - you go from the cold outside into a warm shop and your glasses instantly & totally fog up. Left the shop, turned right before I had taken the mask off and walked straight into a 3 foot tall sign outside the next-door cafe. Sign went over and I followed. Picked myself up and noticed my right thumb was sticking out at a strange angle. Went to the hospital, where after 2 X-rays the nurse said "Ooh that looks interesting!" The result was a serious dislocation, the top 2 bones of the thumb being displaced outwards and pulled

down by the muscles below, fortunately not a fracture. 2 nurses tried  to pull the thumb back into place with no effect. Then 2 male nurses with more force, but similar non-result. One was a hand specialist who said that the thumb is always the most difficult to get back in place.

The first nurse then called the orthopaedic department. Some half an hour later somebody turned up from there who managed with a lot more force and manipulation to put the bones back into place. 2 more X-rays to confirm they were in the right place. Then an instruction not to use my thumb for the next 3 days. It more or less works as normal now but there is a lot of swelling and bruising from all the effort to get it back in place.

My thanks to all the NHS staff involved at PRU near Bromley. They were excellent.


Just what I needed when I am in the middle of trying to get a DEE loco ready for a German customer before Brexit kicks in without a deal. It is now ready for a steam test, having run successfully (but stiffly) on air.

Mid November 2019

       Well it has been a long time since the last update. Blame it on too much development work going on.

The good news is that a lot of etches are about to go to the etcher. The corrected LSWR T9, GWR 14XX and the entirely new LSWR O415 (Adams Radial tank). This means that by next spring I should have four different locos on offer - those 3 plus the LMS 3F. Coach designs for all 4 are continuing - they have got as far as the prototype GA drawings, but now need converting to etches.

Background work on the Ransomes & Rapier 45 ton breakdown crane continues. It looks likely that the gears will end up being 3D printed in production - possibly even 3D printed Stainless Steel/Bronze - I will look into the possibilities.

Another thing that I got involved with is the prototype drawings for Tony White's new G1MRA book on building an electrically powered GWR Bulldog. This mostly involved updating some drawings I did over a decade ago. It has prompted me to revisit the design I did back in 2003 for a GWR City class loco. This got as far as being etched, but never put into production as it was a rather expensive museum quality model rather than a practical one. I will (finally) assemble my original etch and revise it for practicality and bring it up to my current standard production methods. The Bulldog is just a variation on the City class, as are all the other GWR inside cylinder 4-4-0s (except for the 3521 class which were a very odd bunch). 9 classes with 28 variations, depending upon how you count them. It is my intention to put them all (except the 3521s) into production, along with suitable coaches. The biggest problem is just deciding what is common to those 28 variations so I do not keep designing the same thing over and over again. The main differences were the boilers (9 different types), curly or straight frames in 3 different depths, wheel sizes and wheelbases. I did all the research (and most of the GA drawings) for this almost 20 years ago, so it is just a case of pulling it all together to create the etches.

April 2020

       Well it has been a long time since the last update, again. Blame it on too much development work going on.

I have repeated the news for November above because it is very much an ongoing situation.

The differences are -

         More work has been done on the crane and it is possible that the gears may end up as purely cosmetic, with each function (travel, slew, lift jib and lift load) being driven by an independent electric motor. This removes the loads on the gears and the complexity of selecting the function via dog clutches, leaving the problem of making the cylinders move. More work has been done on the CAD drawings but not got as far as the 3D versions.

         The locos all got delayed by upgrading them all to the same specification and trying to find something to fill the spare spaces on the Adams Radial Tank etches. I finally settled on filling the spaces with wagon parts. All the etches are now with the etchers but may be delayed by the Covid-19 panic. I am filling in the time building some of the parts needed for production and, as usual, yet more design work on future projects. The bugs in Solidworks are really beginning to piss me off and wasting ludicrous amounts of time. I must get round to trying Fusion 360 instead.

        Some LSWR & SR wagon kits may be available later this year.

Mid April 2020

       This must be the quickest news update yet.

      Now that I have acquired my own rollers, I have decided to to pre-roll the boiler cladding for all kits. Additionally, for non-black boilers only, I am offering an optional service of etch priming and spraying the boiler in the final colour. With my transfer system the boiler is usually the only area (other than vermilion for buffer beams and inside the frames) that will require spraying a colour other than black. This service will save you the cost of buying paint just for the boiler. Priced normally at £20 this will be reduced to £15 if I am in the process of spraying other boilers the same colour.

      Please note that I am NOT offering to paint oddly coloured frames (e.g. some LSWR & SECR locos, amongst others) as those are best painted after assembly.

Late April 2020

       This must be the quickest news update yet - even quicker than the last!

      I have a determination (or policy, call it what you will) to continually develop and improve my loco designs. The latest improvement is to increase the water capacity of all single flue (poker burner type) boilers by fitting functional domes and taking the steam from the dome. This enables the full tube space to be filled with water giving a longer duration of run. There is neither the space for a pump on these locos nor space in the tanks for water. Where there is a separate safety valve, this is also fed from the dome to prevent spraying boiling water if the valve lifts. Additionally on these boilers the regulator is moved to below the footplate enabling a scale backhead to be fitted for better appearance. The steam drier tube previously fitted in the smokebox with these boilers has been replaced with a superheater tube fitted through the flue. All locos are now fitted with a radio controlled secondary valve on the burner so that it may be turned down, saving water and fuel and enabling an idling mode.

Early May 2020

      New page added to website - Design process and current status as at May 2020

See News Page here for current news