Is scratchbuilding of locos becoming a lost and outdated part of our hobby? There are so many good kits on the market these days, covering vast swathes of railway history, that perhaps it’s becoming unnecessary. However, for me personally, it remains the area of most enjoyment and satisfaction (and a little frustration sometimes).
The starting point for any project has to be a reasonable amount of information on basic dimensions. For me, modelling the LBSCR, this is relatively straightforward, since most of the weight diagrams from the Stroudley period onwards have survived. These diagrams show basic dimensions, and are reasonably accurately drawn to scale - certainly good enough for 4mm or 7mm models. There are also the excellent Maskelyne drawings which cover some of the best of the Brighton locos, in his book ‘Locomotives I Have Known’. However, I did note that front elevation of his drawing of an E4 is incorrectly drawn - it’s too narrow at 7’6” instead of 8’6”, so you can’t take these things for granted.
The other essential is a few photographs, ideally of the same loco, but at least the same class, in the same condition, and preferably one from each side.
The following pages are based on my lecture at Scaleforum in 2008. (Sorry it’s taken so long to publish!). The pages are split into:
- Design concepts
- with various photos showing examples
A second series of articles will follow at some point describing scratchbuilding a loco body.