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Modelling the infamous Southern Bulleid Pacifics in Z

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I'm sure many of you have a favourite locomotive type that as modellers you keep coming back to, or collect perhaps a little bit too much?


Having spent all day today on a Z gauge painting and lining marathon on some models of these I thought I might share with you my own long standing relationship with the Southern railway's Merchant Navies and West Country class 4-6-2s. Forgive me if it starts out as a bit of a ramble but it will give you an idea why I find these idiosyncratic machines so fascinating. Designed by the maverick Southern Railway engineer O.V Bulleid and introduced in 1941,the Merchant Navies with their air smoothed casing, BFB wheels, chain driven valve gear and thermic syphons in the boiler were a massive culture shock to the railwaymen of the Southern. The valve gear ran in an oil bath which was prone to leaking and they had a habit of slipping quite badly but the boiler was a free steaming brute  that generated immense sustained power. They became affectionately known as 'Spamcans' for the obvious reason. In 1945 a lighter version the 'West Country/Battle of Britain' class was introduced.



British railways had little time for many of the features of this fleet and began an extensive rebuilding program with conventional valve gear and the removal of the streamlininglarge.819133763_35027Tawvalley.jpg.a036e6999221088cc7dc6025e7983081.jpg


As a Yorkshire lad born and bred we lived nowhere near the home ground of these machines that principally worked the lines south of London from Kent all the way to Cornwall so I never got to see many until we went of a family camping holiday to the New Forest in 1965 . My mother's famous words to my dad " I hope there are no railways involved this time?"  were followed by a trail of steam coming out of a cutting behind the camp site



Remarkably no les than twenty Light Pacifics have survived, ten streamlined and ten rebuilt, and eleven Merchant Navys. This was due to the Woodhams, Barry Island scrapyard concentrating on cutting wagons and leaving the steam locos intact for preservation groups to acquire them.




To be continued




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When I visited Woodhams every loco had been reserved 




Now in the U.K these two classes of locos have always been well represented in model form. Triang, later Triang-Hornby, made them in both 00 gauge and TT way back in the 1960s and Kitmaster (absorbed by Airfix) did an injected moulded 00 construction kit at a very reasonable price. Wrenn models, who carried on making the original Hornby Dublo metal loco models, introduced new tooling of a rebuilt Bulleid Pacific. Grafar and Dapol have both produced N scale versions.


Airfix kits were everywhere back in those days. Most newsagents and every model shop used to stock them and the Bulleid Pacific kit represented Battle of Britain class 'Biggin Hill' So one of my first ever kitbashing projects as a youngster was to motorise one with a old Triang Princess class 4-6-2 chassis. To represent the BFB wheels you had to go to a guy called Albert Goodall who did etched BFB overlays to glue onto the front of the wheels to hide the spokes. He also did the nameplates as well. For those British members of this forum who will remember this I had to send a Postal order for the right amount. Back in those days, long before credit cards or paypal it was a sort of prepaid cheque issued by the local post office, Another time, long gone!

It ran for years and is seen her in the company of some 00 locos I built afterwards. Some kitbashed Triang but mainly white metal kits. How crude these look compared to modern 00large.1287224615_00-H0(2).jpg.90d5203fc53a56797e9f3794ee6ce46a.jpg




In a rare shot of my bedroom ( Yes really) when as a teenager and I still lived with the folks is the wall of British 00, American H0 and to the left the start of my ascent into 0 gauge. on the bench is a Rivarossi IHB 0-8-0 kit under construction and on the shelves you can see two of the motorised 00 Airfix Spamcans complete with nameplates.




I never got around to doing one in 0 but jump forward a few years and I scratchbuilt 34074 '46 Squadron' in gauge 1.




more soon

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It is only recently that British Z has emerged as a viable thing with the advent of 3D printing but there has been the possibility of motorising some of the Atlas edition static models produced by D'agostini. One such is the 'Green Arrow' set with a Bulleid Pacific in original Southern malachite green and a couple of Pullmans. Numbered as 21C110 in the Southern's strange numbering system it has the headboard and ceremonial Gold arrows attached to it. It became 34010 'Sidmouth' after nationalisation. It is nicely moulded and you can pick them up on ebay quite cheaply and motorise them with the Marklin Bavarian pacific chassis. There is loads of room inside the air smoothed casing to add additional weight to improve traction. The only disadvantage is that as yet there is no obvious way of representing the unique wheel centres.




Fitted with a Marklin Bavarian chassis. The tender is running on a miled brass chassis with Fox valley 36" wheels




Next I decided to do a simple repaint of the Atlas one in British rail Brunswick green and retain the Golden arrow paraphernalia. I say simple because the orange/black/orange lining is in straight lines only. I have had to make a big compromise with the nameplates as there are obviously no Z scale nameplates avaiable at present so I have used N ones which I know are too big but look O.K to me. This one had a milled brass tender chassis made and again runs on FVM wheels. Finished as 35017 Belgian marine. The arrow is moulded so shallow that it was a real pain to repaint gold again




More tomorrow



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You're right, it is amazing the difference the BFB wheels make to the overall appearance. The Bulleid Pacifics are my favourite loco type (the West Countries probably win out in account of their names!). You've done a great job there...I wonder how many of these in Z gauge are knocking around?

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Beautiful, Kevin!


PE/laser cut discs should work for the BFB wheels, too. I was hoping that there would be someboxpok discs from the various 01.5 Reko models, but to no avail - all modelmakers kept the spoked wheels...

But at least the forward bogie wheels look already more like BFB wheels than like spoked wheels! 🤣

An outside frame for the trailing axle would be nice, too.

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Although the Atlas editions Bulleids are fairly plentiful Ivan Industries introduced a 3D printed unrebuilt one on Shapeways which again was easily fitted with the Marklin chassis




test fit on the chassis before cleaning up and painting


Like the Atlas one there is bags of room for extra weight. The tender takes Marklin wheelsets and has had some slabs of brass added to increase mass


Now I rushed the paint job on this one as I wanted to run it at Zedex that year and was never really satisfied with the finish. Because the sides taper inwards towards the top there are some fine layer lines which I did not sand out . The paint really highlights them on this shot of it running on Shastalarge.1159741222_Merchantnavy.jpg.71b58921aa2066b9a0a5e8743142cedd.jpg


So it was rubbed it down and refinished with Hycote Rover  Brooklands Green added more weight to the tender and fisihed it as 34018 'Axminster'




back with the Atlas body the next one had the Arrows and the headboard carefully cut away and i wanted to finish this as a Battle of Britain named one. There are some really evocative names to choose from but the obvious one was 34066 'Spitfire'




The trailing truck is a white metal one but I'm going to cast some in resin at some stage



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recently Ivan introduced a 3D print of the rebuilt Merchant Navy. This is one of the best prints I've ever seen and just needed some cleaning up on the underside of the boiler. he has modified the tender to represent the cut down sides British Rail did to improve the rearwards vision. it is seen here with Charly McGuiness's newly introduced Class 158 DMU and his Class 76 DC Woodhead electric




I've done something slightly different with the rebuilt Merchant Navy. On that family holiday in the 1960s we found a rather tatty 34056 'Croydon' relegated to putting together a ballast train at Templecombe. Fortunate to still have its namplates intact when this picture was taken




You'll have noticed by now on some of the pictures the distinctive head code discs. These two, one above the other indicate it is a ballast train or through goods.


Here is the guide to the Soutern region headcodes at the time




I'm still deciding if it is feasible to add the discs but here is the rebuilt Merchant Navy 35020 'Bibby Line' on a goods train. Still needs top coat of lacquer and all four locos need the cab glazing adding last job





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Probably the loco I am most connected to is 'Taw Valley'

Some notable encounters include February 1994 when it was due through on an excursion. I rang my mate Tony and said I'll meet you at the 'Dore junction' a real ale pub situated in the former Dore and Totley station and noted for a very nice pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord pale ale. It was snowing a little bit and the forecast wasn't great so I sent the darkroom staff home and closed the office and went to play trains. And it kept on snowing and there was no sign of the train. But we stuck with it as it snowed even more and the normal passenger service trains started getting disrupted.





The other event that sticks in my mind, apart from a footplate ride on it on the main line was photographing it being prepped in the Haworth yard of the Keighley and Worth valley in 1992

Cleaning out the smokebox through the distinctive oval door




it was then switched over to one of the other tracks and as it was reversing there was an almighty clang. They had managed to run over the stop blocks and there followed a parade of what seemed like everybody crouching down to look at it and offer an opinion




One of my most treasured posessions. In the 1960s the railway author Doug Doherty asked my dad is he could use some of his photos for a book called 'Railscene Sheffield'. Dad wasn't interested in money so Doug gave him the West Country Class scroll which was a British Rail cast replacement one (Solid backed not hollow) and came off 34018 'Axminster'. It has now passed down to me. Original condition and unrestored





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it took some finding but I knew I had posted a video of 35005 'Canadian Pacific' on youtube



Shot back in 1999



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