Having made a couple of locomotives from an assortment of bought in and scratch built components (mainly from ‘Plastikard’) they have proved to be reasonably successful. I should state the obvious at this stage they are battery powered, radio controlled and have the luxury of sound which, in my opinion, does cross the divide between live steam and electric propulsion. It does however add to the overall cost.

Construction of the Dean Goods is relatively simple, inexpensive and most importantly fairly quick to make.
The latter benefit ensures progress is rapid, thus reducing the possibility of this becoming another unfinished project!

Not having a workshop does not preclude the builder from making this type of model. I’m not saying the kitchen table should be used, but only simple hand tools that most of us possess are all that are required.


Probably one of William Dean’s greatest achievements during his reign as Chief Engineer on the GWR, the Dean Goods has always appealed to enthusiasts, but would appear to me not the most popular prototype for Gauge 1 models.

Its simplicity and style harks back to early locomotive design, having a touch of elegance with its display of brass work, but displaying no creature comforts for the driver and fireman.

Between 1883 and 1898, 280 locomotives of this class were built having the common 0-6-0 wheel arrangement, inside cylinders, and it was the first GW engine to feature inside frames. These engines were to take an active role in both World Wars abroad and at home. They carried armaments, equipment, supplies and men. For the majority of us (of a certain age) they are best remembered for the sterling work they carried out on so many branch lines, hauling both passenger and goods trains. It is surprising how few have survived to work on preserved railways. They were of course a basic work horse and do not exude the glamour of the crack express locomotives.

However, there is a splendid example in the STEAM collection at Swindon.


The construction of this model is illustrated by a few annotated photographs rather than detailed instruction.

Photo 1

Photo 1 – I always purchase the frames for both the engine and tender. Without the appropriate equipment I find it difficult to create the accuracy required for these items. This also applies to the connecting rods, which have to be carefully drilled out to fit the crank pins. I make the holes in the connecting rods a loose fit on the pins. I know they should be a nice running fit but I find if they are too accurate it creates tight spots when assembled to the wheels sets. As can be seen the chassis is made up from various pieces of scrap brass. I rely heavily on the use of brass angle and 10BA nuts and bolts to hold the assembly together, even if it is subsequently soldered. Top hat bushes have been soldered in. These are opened up with a tapered hand reamer to allow the axle to rotate freely. On this 6 coupled set up the centre bearings are made particularly loose to allow some up and down movement. The holes are filed out oval in the vertical plane.

     Lets go loco                    Lets go loco

Photos 2 & 3 – The chassis is assembled and checked for free running. Careful observation of these photos shows where the footplate has been ‘carved’ away to give the clearances required for the connecting rod bosses and the crank pins. Buffers have been soldered in place. At this stage of the construction I usually take the assembly apart and paint all the components prior to final assembly and fitting the motor and gearbox.

Photo 4Photo 4 – Most of the superstructure of the locomotive and tender is made from Slater’s Plastikard, which is adequately supported creating a very rigid structure. A dummy footplate is cut out first and placed over the brass footplate and checked to ensure clearance for the wheels. This will ultimately be bolted down to the chassis and whole assembly will be removable.

I use mainly 1 and 2mm styrene sheet (Plastikard) for all the construction. This would be rather thicker than the boiler plate used on the original engine. However, the last thing we want is a flimsy structure! The photo illustrates quite graphically the construction of the fire box. Styrene formers (3 in this case) are first made to the profile of the fire box and glued together with spacers between to create a skeleton to support the outer casing. This outer casing or wrapper is the most difficult part to form of the whole body.

A piece of styrene sheet is cut, such as when wrapped round the skeleton, is approximately to size, but always cut larger than necessary, since the excess can be trimmed when all glued together. Then, very carefully, the styrene is scored with a series of parallel cuts, about 2-3mm apart. On no account should the scoring cut through the sheet. Once this is done the styrene is carefully folded over the fire box skeleton and one side bonded and held by hand until dry enough to hold its shape. Cramp in the fingers usually dictates how long this is! This is left overnight to cure before attempting to wrap the rest of the styrene over the frames. Again, I find it best to hold by hand as mechanical devices always seem inadequate to hold these complex shapes together.

When dry the fire box is offered up to the footplate/splashers assembly and carved to create a snug fit. The fire box can then be sanded using very coarse Wet & Dry or aluminium oxide paper. All the cut grooves are then filled with modelling filler, allowed to dry thoroughly prior to sanding to shape using coarse and then fine abrasive paper. The fire box is then bonded to the styrene footplate.

Photo 5Photo 5 – This shows the part completed superstructure with the cab fitted and the ‘plastic drainpipe’ boiler tried on for size.

Photo 6Photo 6 – Now it’s starting to look like an engine! Boiler and smoke box are fitted along with safety valve, dome (just placed on), chimney, and smoke box door glued in place. The smoke box rivets have been added. These are small-headed pins.

Photo 7Photo 7 – All the details are in place and the whole assembly is cleaned up using fine Wet & Dry paper and fibre brush. It is washed in lukewarm water and lightly scrubbed using CIF as the mildly abrasive cleaning agent. It is now ready for painting.

Photo 8Photo 8 – Halfords Grey Primer is now used as the base coat. I always think this is the most exciting stage. Any slight blemishes are lightly sanded down.

Photo 9Photo 9 – This shows the Satin Green top coat having just been sprayed and if you look carefully reveals a whole load of dust on the surface! However hard I try to avoid contamination, dust always seems to appear from somewhere!

Photo 10Photo 10 – This shows the tender chassis completed ready to accept the styrene body. The dummy outer frames, also made from styrene, have the white metal axle boxes glued on and this sub-assembly becomes a part of the tender body.

Photo 11

Photo 11 – The tender complete. The coal load is made from real coal glued onto a styrene sub-frame which is completely removable, exposing all the electronics for radio control, speaker for sound and battery pack.

Photo 12 – The Main Feature – showcasing the finished locomotive

John Mileson 2016 


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