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NWR No.301 'Thomas Allen' - Full Story



Here's the full story of the making of NWR No. 301, hero of the Railway Series books and the subsequent TV series. I've combined all the previous blog posts into one.





NWR Name:
Thomas Allen
(Thomas Allen was a real life Manx author, my rationale is that the newly formed NWR wanted to draw on local heroes for names for its locomotives)


Wheel Arrangement


London, Brighton and South Coast Railway (1915)




Purchased by NWR


The loco that became 301 was built in 1915 as LB&SCR No.106, but was requisitioned by the war department to work on the building of National Shipyard (North) No.1 and No.2 in WW1. Originally the whole batch of extended tank versions was to be sent, but this was cancelled when an order was placed for smaller locos more suited to the port environment. ‘Thomas Allen’ had already arrived by this time!
It seems the LBSCR did not want it back at the end of the war (having already built a replacement No.106), so it was sold to the NWR. Apparently the LBSCR thought that it would be in such a state when they got it back that they would effectively be building a new one anyway!




Unsure why I've been putting this one off for a while. It's one I would quite like to get 'right' in this interpretation of fictional locomotives from children's stories.


Anyway, ebay provided me with an old Hornby LBSCR E2 loco a while back, complete with tiny flanges, jerky running, a mismatched smokebox door, and of course, traction bands.


After reading about another chap's 'rebuild' of a similar model, I trawled ebay again for a china-made Hornby 0-6-0 chassis.
Of course, this wasn't really all that hard, with a model aimed at children. I imagine quite a lot end up like this!




Perhaps rather oddly, this is in fact the first 'Thomas' I've ever owned, although I did have a clockwork 'Percy' a long, long time ago.


2009-made so relatively new, am yet to check the running, but firstly, off with that rather play-worn body.


The two chassis side by side.


And trial fitted under the intended recipient. Tank extensions need to be added to bring this one into line with the 2nd batch of locos. This chassis also has the effect of lowering the bodyshell somewhat.




Total spend so far, about £25....


At last we come to the titular character of the television show, and the big star of the books.


I've previously mentioned I salvaged an old Hornby E2 body to butcher into one of the later LBSCR E2 locos, on a china-made 'Thomas' chassis. Since I wished to make a good job of this, I wanted to get my eye in on some other locos first, so I've ended up with 106 'Perseus', 503 'Col. Henry Regaby', 704 'Duke of Gordon', 705 'Westlin' and 805 'Suddery Cathedral', before 301 'Thomas Allen'.
In the meantime, Knuckles had started up Sparkshot Custom Creations, making amazingly accurate 3D printed locos, including the E2 with the larger tanks. It was clear that this was the way to go!
I finally bit the bullet last week and ordered one of the proper E2 bodies in FUD, which arrived yesterday. Unwrapped it to have a look - I had no idea 3D printed models smelled like marzipan!




The detail is exquisite. Here's the body alongside the chassis and the older E2 body. When you compare them it's evident where Hornby adjusted the dimensions - stretching the running plate up, and the body shorter.




As it is, the underside of the boiler fouls the chassis block somewhat.


While SCC makes chassis kits, I wanted to stick with the Hornby one, for a few reasons.
1. I already had it
2. It's cheap
3. I am scared


I got the old razor saw out and managed to hack a chunk out of the chassis


This allows the body to come down a bit.




Now, it is prevented from becoming level as I need to remove material from either the underside of the body, or the top of the chassis. I'm tempted to strip down the chassis to its bare bones, take it to the workshop along with the P2 I'm working on, and use the grinder to chop the sections out. Possibly it may be easier to chop a section out of the body, but I am wary of weakening it too much.


Here it is posed along with the 'Thomas'-derived 0-6-2T NCB loco I made a while back, from the loco that donated its chassis to this project.




Exciting stuff!


As previously mentioned, I'm using the Hornby China-made 'Thomas' chassis for this, partly as it's such a good runner.


As the excellent body from SCC is designed to fit a printed chassis of the correct dimensions, a bit of modification was necessary.


Even with the chunk of chassis removed, the body sat very high. Today I opted to chop a chunk out from under the smokebox, where it will be hidden.






Overall this enabled me to get the body level, but it was still quite tall, as evidenced when placed alongside the vintage E2.




Note the difference in buffer beam height (and please look past where I've clumsily broken one of the front steps!)


It towers over the suburban carriage in this pic.


It becomes evident why Hornby chose to stretch the curve in the running plate in the way they did.




However, Gavin has handily made the cab floor nice and thick (very strong), so after switching the dremel head to a sander I was able to reduce the height at the rear. Chopped a bit more out of the front, too.


Getting closer...




I am satisfied with this - note the buffer beam heights compared to the earlier photo.




Now I just need to finalise the body fixing, clean up the underside, then the fun part can begin!


Bonus couple of pics of 301 coupled up to 106. Quite a size difference!




Made a bit of progress on No.301 (apart from dropping it and snapping the steps off - aaargh clumsiness strikes again!).


The frosted-ness of FUD makes it quite hard to see what you are sanding, so after a good scrubbing (as per Knuckles' tutorials) I gave it a couple of splats of my favourite filler primer and left to dry overnight.
Hopefully this shows there is not too much sanding to be done, and also shows the fidelity of the 3D printed model far more than the 'bare bones' look.


I love having proper liveries on my freelance railway, and by proper I mean having a set style that works across all the locos and stock. It's always great parking up two engines side by side and having them obviously belong to the same company, albeit fictional!


Both No.301 and No.5 are in the initial paint stages while detailing still needs to be carried out.


Final stages of primer here


Then Vauxhall Regatta Blue as per the other NWR stock, with brushed on black details.


A size comparison between Thomas and Percy, Thomas is one of the best runners in the fleet, very smooth and powerful. Not bad for a childrens loco chassis.


I really don't like doing lining but I quite like how this came out. Needs some Klear to seal it in before I can add the dullcote.




  • Like 9


Recommended Comments

  • RMweb Gold

Very nice Corbs, I feel better informed about 3D prints after seeing your pics.


I have to say that the NWR had some very interesting stock!

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  • RMweb Gold

I like that E2 0-6-2T! It reminds me of a hybrid between the E2 and the E4!


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