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I've been trying to find an article entitled "Modelling LNER Class D40", which I had bookmarked. However, when I click on that bookmark, I'm directed to a page which states "RMweb is currently closed to observe the two-minute silence for Armistice Day." See here: http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/page/index.html/_/featured-content/modelling-lner-class-d40-r28

I've tried searching the site for said article, but I can't find it, merely references to it in other threads.

I'm no doubt missing something obvious/simple, so could someone please tell me what I'm doing wrong?


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Sorry; there's a glitch in that module (thanks to Invision) and I didn't even realise you could see that menu (I need to address that) but I have been into the admin side and copied the entry, please excuse the erroneous characters.


This article is a review of the PDK kit for the LNER Class D40. It was submitted to a certain magazine that claims to be “at the heart of the hobby†and rejected after 18 months on the grounds that the photographs are not in the correct “house styleâ€. I hope some readers may find it useful.


For the last thirty years, those wishing to build an LNER D40 class locomotive in 4mm scale have had recourse to the Nucast whitemetal kit. Now PDK Models have produced an etched kit for this locomotive which comes at about three-quarters of the current price of the old kit. Straightaway, some would suggest that, in comparison with whitemetal kits, etched kits are more difficult to build since they cannot be glued but must be soldered and that they lack inherent weight and therefore good traction. But surely the real comparison must be made in terms of prototypical accuracy and the ability to capture the character of the real locomotive. In this respect, I have always felt the Nucast kit to be less than satisfactory since the raising of the splashers by 2mm (presumably to clear overscale wheel flanges) and the resultant displacement of other parts of the superstructure rather distort the graceful lines of this lovely little 4-4-0. The etched bodywork of the PDK kit, on the other hand, seems to be spot on (with state-of-the-art tab and slot design to aid construction). But how accurate is it in other respects? To answer that question, we need to look at the prototype and all of its many variations.

The prototype

The “Little and Good†Great North of Scotland Railway never felt the need for engines larger than the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement and the Classes V and F, combined in LNER D40, were the culmination of the story that had started in 1862. Pickersgill’s thirteen elegant saturated engines of class V were built over the period 1899 to 1915. (In fact five more were ordered but financial cutbacks resulted in these being sold to the SECR as class G where, being non-standard, they survived only until the middle 1920s.) After the First World War, eight new superheated but otherwise almost identical engines were ordered and formed class F. In the 1920s and 30s, a couple of these would have double-headed the royal train for the last part of its journey to Balmoral. Unusually for the GNSR, the superheated locomotives were given names and the very last locomotive to be built at the GNSR’s Inverurie works was number 46 (later 6846 and later still 62274) “Benachieâ€, named after a celebrated Aberdeenshire hill which is surmounted by an iron age fort. A model of 62274 in BR guise is the subject of this article.

By the 1950s, as with most pre-grouping designs, the years had brought a number of general and idiosyncratic modifications. Unfortunately, drawings of the D40 such as Ian Beattie’s in the Railway Modeller of April 1997 show only the original form of the locomotive and even the preserved “Gordon Highlander†has inconsistent details from a jumble of different time periods. Thus, extensive study of photographs is essential for accurate modelling of any particular member of the class. The most important sources of information are listed in the bibliography in my suggested order of usefulness. Here are just a few of the variations you need to look out for.

The superheated engines had 3’9†long smokeboxes rather than the 2’10†of the saturateds but the story is complicated by the fact that, between 1925 and 1930, five saturated engines were given long smokeboxes but with the chimney not so far forward the aim being to soften the blast and reduce coal consumption. The experiment was not deemed successful and these five later reverted to short smokeboxes but with a remnant raised platform in front. Inexplicably, some further engines were converted to long smokebox, 62262 as late as 1951. Starting in 1928, the GNSR smokebox doors with their characteristic D-strap hinge were replaced by the NBR type in an attempt to reduce scorching.



another-of-62274-800x600.jpg62274 at Ballater soon after nationalisation. Scorching of the smokebox door remained a problem. (J L Stevenson/transportreasury.co.uk)

The next complication relates to the frequent boiler swapping among the saturated locomotives since the GNSR diagram 88 and the LNER diagram 88B gave rise to variations in the washout plug/handhole positioning and safety valve spacings. Careful reading of Yeadon’s book will establish the situation for any particular locomotive at any particular point in time. From 1925, Ross pop safety valves replaced the original Ramsbottom type; on the last six boilers the mounting for these was rectangular.

By the early 1930s, the tenders had acquired backing plates to the coal rails and a back plate of either slightly less height or half height – which of these can be learned only from a photograph taken from an appropriate angle though, of course, tender swapping complicates the issue. At the same time, the 2’9†tender springs were replaced by 3’6†springs with the massive rubber shock absorbers favoured by the LNER. From time to time wooden or steel tender cabs were fitted to those locomotives involved in extensive tender-first running.

The kit

In my book, the PDK offering is an excellent kit though possibly not for a beginner. So, having said that, I can feel free to nitpick extensively. The very abbreviated instructions offer neither prototype notes nor any bibliography and, although the drawings/model photographs are good, I regard the building notes as somewhat terse even for those adept at constructing etched kits. It is apparently “not cost effective†to produce anything more detailed but, as will be deduced from my earlier comments, “consult a photograph†is a rather simplistic copout for a locomotive class that had acquired so many rebuilding amendments and individual changes by the time of its demise. However, let’s face it, most manufacturers seem to regard production of good detailed instructions as unimportant and so, once again, a disillusioned modeller is left with a sad part-built kit. Is that cost effective?

The chassis

As is usual with PDK, the foldup style of chassis facilitates 00 construction and EM/P4 modellers will have to make some modifications.

The length of footplate ahead of the drivers in the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement always presents two related problems – the body is front-heavy (especially as the boiler is the only place to add weight) and, if the locomotive is to progress smoothly into curves, some guidance from the front bogie is essential. Hanging the front of the tender on the locomotive drawbar to counteract the weight imbalance is sometimes advocated but this makes for considerable tender wobble as the fixed rear axle negotiates pointwork. The compensation fanatics seem blind to the similar bounce as the fixed rear axle of the locomotive falls into crossing flangeways quite apart from the problems of varying distance between coupling rod pins and interference from the brake blocks so I am not keen on that as a solution. Twin beam suspension, provided as an option in the PDK kit, is a little better but now the motor/gearbox must be free to move around in all directions inside the body.

So, for 4-4-0s, I use a system introduced by Horton in the Railway Modeller of July 1964. It mimics the three-point suspension of coaches where, apart from rotation, one bogie is allowed to move in all directions but the other can only rock back and forth thus holding the vehicle vertical. In the case of a 4-4-0 locomotive, the driving wheels are mounted in a rigid sub-chassis that is free to pivot fore and aft and the rest of the weight is transmitted to the track via a pillar onto the unconstrained bogie. Theoretically, because the 4-coupled unit is rigid, current collection via the drivers is not a good as with the other systems but pickups in the tender will ensure adequate supply. Since the PDK kit supplies twin beams, the rigid sub-chassis is easily achieved merely by soldering these to the cross spindle rather than leaving them free. The kit design attaches the brake hangers to the mainframes but I altered this by fixing them to the sub-chassis so that they move with and can therefore be close to the wheels. I used a High Level Road Runner+ 54:1 gearbox and Mashima 1426 motor merely stuck to the sub-chassis with Blutack.

The bogie bearing plate in the kit is provided with a slot for lateral movement which is really necessary in 00 gauge only for radii less than about 2’6â€. Adding a new plate with a round hole of appropriate diameter below the axles ensures that the front of the loco is securely and smoothly guided into curves however much the following train is trying to counteract the change of direction. I have never found bogie wheels that are a good match for the rather slender GNSR version so I had to make do with the Alan Gibson 14mm offering.

The body

As a generalisation one can say that, whilst the Nucast kit seems aimed at a pre-grouping model, the PDK emphasis is more towards the later era. For example, the smokebox door is the NBR type and the tender coal rails are etched integrally with the backing plates i.e. as running post 1930. Why, then, are we given a Ramsbottom safety valve casting as well as Ross pops? Both long and short smokeboxes can be modelled but the difference in lengths is only 2mm whereas the prototype difference is almost 1 foot. In common with other Crownline/PDK kits, the boiler etch does present some problems. Although supplied pre-rolled, the unnecessary holes for chimney, dome etc. introduce asymmetric weakening making it difficult to achieve a good round cross-section. Moreover, a great deal of under-boiler filing is necessary to give clearance for the 00 gauge wheel spacing that is designed into the kit; I have had the same problem with other kits from PDK. The precise positioning given in the instructions for the washout plugs/handholes takes no account of the differences between diagram 88 and LNER 88B saturated boilers.

I could not bring myself to use the buffers supplied (Kean-Maygib sprung GNR parallel!) but replaced them with the correct but unsprung Nucast version. Likewise for the puny 2’9†tender spring/axlebox castings – a relic of Crownline Glen, J36 etc. kits – I substituted slightly altered ABS LNER short spring-hanger 3’6†types. I used a turned brass smokebox door dart rather than the whitemetal blob supplied. I thought a Hornby ex-A3 plastic ejector pipe looked better than the wire that came in the kit but decided to live with the incorrect boiler backplate, which is barely visible. Incidentally, nobody ever seems to ask how our burly driver and shovel-wielding fireman are to pirouette around in the absurdly narrow floor space resulting from 00 gauge cab splashers. I certainly did not want to exacerbate their problems by adding a reversing lever which would in any case be almost invisible in forward gear (though an exposed D41 cab might demand it). The whitemetal whistle seems absurdly fragile; I will probably replace it with a turned brass type from some source. As an afterthought (and missing from the first of the photographs appearing below) I concocted works plates from etched shed plates to go on the splashers.

A number of more or less important components are omitted from the kit – Westinghouse connection pipes, Westinghouse exhaust pipe (low down on the right hand side of the smokebox), carriage heating pipes, valance vacuum pipe, lubricators (behind the splashers), small tender toolbox, lamp brackets, balance weights. None of these is inordinately difficult to find or make up but most need to be present – latter day D40s had bufferbeams as cluttered as many diesels.

As far as the tender is concerned, the brake pull rods seem to be so far inboard as to be invisible so that’s the way I modelled them. On grounds of fragility, I made no attempt at the rather prominent fire iron brackets on the right hand side. The DCC chip is located in the tender where there is plenty of room even though this means that there are four wires running between loco and tender. I suppose it would be a bit cheeky to expect a tender cab in the kit!

For the record, I used Halfords grey primer and matt black sprays with Modelmaster transfers and nameplates followed by some Phoenix weathering. The 61C shedplate and “Keith†on the bufferbeam fix the time period as January 1952-July 54. The tender has a heap of real coal.

This picture shows the finished model against a background of the eponymous Benachie.






“Benachie†running light with Benachie as a backdrop


And here it is trundling through the Springtime snow of upper Deeside; the leading vehicle is a short Gresley full brake (Diagram 154, E70289) which frequented the lines around Aberdeen in the early 50s.



Benachie trundling through the Springtime snow of upper Deeside

As ever, PDK are always most helpful over any queries. Despite all my criticisms above, I think this is an excellent kit from that master of etch design, Paul Hill. The lines of the lovely little locomotive are beautifully captured and I, for one, look forward to the upcoming D41 kit.


Discussions with fellow members of the Great North of Scotland Railway Association were very useful. http://www.gnsra.org.uk/

I am also most grateful to Janet and Barry Hoper of the Transport Treasury for help, advice and coffee as I searched through their invaluable collection of photographs. http://www.transporttreasury.co.uk/



  • W.B. Yeadon, “Register of LNER Locomotivesâ€, Vol. 44, Book Law Publications.
  • Hugh Gordon, “Great North of Scotland Locomotivesâ€, Irwell Press Ltd.
  • RCTS, “Locomotives of the LNERâ€, Part 4, RCTS
  • “Great North of Scotland Railway Locomotivesâ€, Locomotives Illustrated No. 109 (1996), RAS Publishing.
  • “Great North of Scotland 4-4-0s†in “Steam Daysâ€, June 1999, Redgauntlet Publications.



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