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NWR No.704 'Duke of Gordon' - Full Story





Here's the combined build story for the flagship express locomotive of the North Western Railway, No.704 'Duke of Gordon' (or Gordon for short)








NWR Name:
Duke of Gordon


Wheel Arrangement


North Eastern Railway




Purchased by NWR




So, firstly, the numbering scheme...
I always thought it a bit odd that a railway the size of the NWR would have such a small fleet. In 'The Island of Sodor' book, Wilbert refers to many other locomotives not featured in the stories, but the linear nature of the numbering does help kids with counting and recognition of characters.
I've decided to re-categorise the locos so I can fit more in while retaining the original character numbers.
For my donor loco, I acquired a Hornby railroad 'flying scotsman' unboxed for a very good price. I wished to run an ex-gnr tender, so hunted down the bodyshell from a3 'cameronian' on ebay for about a tenner. Comparing the two, I wanted to have the details included with the a3, as well as the superheater, so decided it would be less effort to replace the banjo dome with a round one, and use the a3 bodyshell. Cutting off and replacing moulded handrails is a bit involved for me at present.
'Gordon' is, in my universe, a prototype a1, the A0. I wanted to use some beefier cylinders, so got hold of some stanier princess examples, again from ebay.
This is my first adventure into proper model modification, so it was with a small amount of trepidation I removed the a1 cylinders.
I wanted to retain the Gresley valve gear (Partially as it's probably biting off more than I can chew to change it at this time), so it required a slot in the cylinder to hold both the piston rod and slide bar thingy.
I removed the back of the cylinders and inserted a piece of plasticard, cut to size. Reattached the cylinder ends and marvelled at how I'd overcome this so easily, put it back on the chassis, looking good, then stuck the body on....
D'oh! Hadn't measured it against the height of the old cylinders!
Hacked apart the original bracket and chose to build a new one up in plasticard, measured against the body for height.
Much better!
Now, I had to re-do the holes for the piston rod and slide bar by moving them down. Fashioned a lower bracket from pieces of scrap plastic.
Hopefully I'll be smoothing out the nasty bits with miliput. Still waiting on a dremel to arrive so I can drill a mounting hole for the bracket to attach to the chassis.
Overall, I'm pretty pleased! Taped in place, everything moves ok so I haven't wrecked it. Needs finishing off which I need a few more tools for.
Next up, need to dremel out the horrid moulded coal from the GNR tender to add something a bit properer!
Got my dremel through the post this week so first set about removing the horrid coal to get my eye in with using it.
Going to be putting in a false floor and layering up some better coal, nice and full!
Removed most of the excess with a file.
Then I turned my attentions to the loco.
I want to use the better detailed A3 body, from a tender drive chassis, so had to remove the underbody section. There must be an easier way to do this but meh.
At first it wouldn't fit, turns out the railroad body's rear cab fitting is slightly further back and some careful grinding was necessary.
It fits!
Unfortunately I made a bit of a cock up with my cylinders. The piston rods would hit the end of the cylinders, so I cut them down ever so slightly, causing one side to fall out of my homemade bracket and jam the motion. Have extended the bracket as a bodge repair for now but these cylinders have been hacked about so much now, they look a bit carp.
I've ordered a replacement set for about £2.50 from ebay. These worked well as a prototype, so hopefully I can do a much neater version now I know the mounting points and mods needed to do a good job. I think a tube (like a straw) will work much better for the piston rod than the bracket, to avoid the chance of it catching.


So... the stanier cylinder conversion mk2 mounted on the gresley stretcher.
Part of the motion was still fouling the cylinder, I don't know what it is but it's mounted rearward on the other side, so I cut it, and re-glued in position. Not the most elegant solution but probably won't show up too much under some weathering.
And mounted on the loco (needs a bit of adjustment)


I purchased a battered A1 bodyshell to use as a donor, removed the dome
Offered up on the A3 bodyshell
Finally bit the bullet today and cut out the banjo dome, then glued a piece of plastic in behind it
Then filled with milliput
And dome milliputted in place. Going to let this all dry before attempting any sanding, smoothing etc


A bit more miliputting and sanding on the boiler top, methinks needs some paint and fine grain sandpaper to get it properly smooth.
Also added a personal touch that's bound to annoy some people.... I like it.
After a lot of persuasion and adjustment (and filing and glue and miliput) the cylinders now sit evenly on each side as well.
Current state:


A few pics from No.704. I've used filler primer to help blend in the area of filler, and the new dome. A few cracks/dimples were filled with blobs of paint (The yellow spots shown in the photos).
The filler primer is in the process of being sanded back to blend with the original paint. An overall coat or two of primer will be required before final spraying. I might send this loco to the same chap who is doing the 'Green 5'. Livery will be based on BR Express Passenger Blue with the same N W lettering on the tender.
As for the tender, the edges of the coal bunker need fillering in and flattening, and the coal itself needs adding.
It's getting there...
Apologies for the darkness of the pics, the desk lamp bulb has gone - not blown, but literally gone. I don't know where it is!


One of the last few jobs to do on 704 was to sort a way of filling the tender with coal whilst retaining the old loco drive weight.
I'd been thinking about this one for a while, and today decided to try it out. The idea was to get a bumpy, but not uniformly so, pattern for how the coal sits, without needing to cut the top of the tender weight off in order to fit a flat 'false bunker'.
Piece of black material cut to size and draped over the weight
Before being glued to the body
Done! Needs smearing with some PVA, then will sprinkle some suitable coal on, probably woodland scenics as I have a bag of that to hand (But alas no PVA!)
After the coal is added, it's just the smokebox door handle to be added, then it's off to the paintshop.
EDIT - Also cut some front frames to shape and fitted into place - these had been cut away during the cylinder conversion.


Finally bought some PVA, spread it on the material and added some woodland scenics coal. Rather pleased with how it turned out.
That's it! Ready to be packed up and sent off for paint.


Super duper! No.704 arrived at my work today, and was unwrapped as soon as I got home. Really please with how it's come out. There's a few things I may still tweak/change/add - needs detailing parts, might change the height of the cylinders as they look too low to me, and I'm on the fence about the N W on the tender - might get changed for a smaller font, but on the whole, I'm pleased as punch. This was my first ever attempt at modifying an RTR loco, and I think it's ended up really nicely.
Painting/lining/weathering was done by David Penman of Custom Models - http://custommodels.org/
Have some pics!
and with his new stablemate
EDIT: In fact it didn't take long for me to take the circular saw and dremel to the model - cylinders removed, measured and re-glued! Also re-fitted a stray front step - had to file down the underside of the bufferbeam a bit. One thing that is missing is the reversing lever, think it might be at the bottom of the spares box...
Looking much better now, amazing how a little change can make such a difference.


704 came out onto the layout for a little run today. Still has tension locks fitted which need replacing with Kadees before it can haul stock, but I took the opportunity to pose it with the other two blue locos, 705 and 805.
What's in a name?
I thought it would be nice to justify some of the names and liveries of the NWR fleet. I'll talk about 503's history in another post, but this came to light today.
Upon investigating the origins of the name 'Gordon', I found out about the Scottish Clan of that name, so thought, maybe 'Clan Gordon' or 'Duke of Gordon' would be an appropriate name for the NWR's flagship express loco. It was then that I saw, another name for the Duke of Gordon is 'Cock O'The North'.
From wikipedia: "For his notable contributions Alexander Gordon, 1st Earl of Huntly was styled Cock o' the North, a designation which has ever since been accorded to the heads of clan Gordon"
So, in this universe, what with 704's Gresley origins, and Sir Nigel using that name on the first member of the LNER P2 class in 1934, the name 'Duke of Gordon: Cock O'The North' was given to the experimental A0, and after that non-standard loco's sale to the NWR, the name was re-used in a shortened form on the P2. However, the name 'Duke of Gordon' stayed with the A0, thus, it is known locally as 'Gordon'.


Finally got around to adding a brake hose and front coupling (both GBL parts) to 704 'Duke of Gordon'


Front end looks a lot more acceptable now.




Finally added a kadee to the tender (had to drill out the tension lock mount and chemical metal the kadee in)

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  • RMweb Gold

Just need to build one of SCC's FR Sharp Stewart 4-4-0 kits now, to act as a banker....

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