GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (1)

I’m building a GWR 1854 class saddle tank in 1900s condition, using a modified and detailed South Eastern Finecast body kit on a Bachmann 8750 chassis.

I bought the kit part-assembled, but a bath in hot water dissolved the glue and allowed me to break it down into its main components.

The Bachmann chassis I'm using is the version for the 8750 model, seen here on the right (my loco ref was 32-200, I think the recent 57xx model also uses this chassis). Note that older versions of this chassis (seen on the left, my loco ref was 31-900) are higher and the chassis block is longer, so is less ideal for conversions.

I wanted to avoid modifying the chassis more than strictly necessary, so that it could be replaced easily in case of a failure. The only chassis modification was therefore to remove a section off the front to allow the kit to fit over it.

The body castings require more work. The locating lugs on the side frames and buffer beams were removed, and about 1 mm was filed off the central section of the footplate and splashers each side to clear the motor. Plastikard was used front and rear to get the correct ride height.

The body and chassis assembled. The  two front splashers are 0.5 mm too far out. However with careful positioning of the body it is barely discernable, so after mulling it over I decided to accept it.

 The tank sides fit neatly over the motor.

The two tank halves were the most work intensive parts of the kit. The “skirts” need to be cut away…

...allowing daylight under the boiler…

 …followed by much filing and filling to get the two halves to fit together.

 The motor intrudes slightly into the cab, so the backhead was moved 1 mm forward and a center section of the floor raised slightly.

I replaced the main SEF white metal boiler fittings with parts from Alan Gibson.

Other details were scratchbuilt from bits and bobs. The tank steps were later redone enitrely in brass with tabs to secure them. The footplate steps need filing to the correct straight shape as seen here.

Liftings rings, made from soft wire wrapped around a brush handle and squeezed to shape with pliers.

Coal rails made from wire, and fire iron hooks bent to shape from flat brass strip. The early lamp brackets are from the Broad Gauge Society, and the buffers are Alan Gibson.

While the main build was fairly quick, the detailing has been time consuming.

So here she is, almost ready for a good scrub and then some primer.


  1. Thanks Iain, it's time there was a new loco in the Farthing stable.

  2. There was a time when ingenious conversions such as this were common place in the likes of the 'Railway Modeller' and other magazines. Taking an old model and improving it in such a manner is hugely satisfying and I take my hat off to you Mikkel for showing what can be done, your new addition is truly excellent.

  3. Thanks very much Geoff. Yes this sort of thing is a bit old school, but I like it and it saves me building a chassis which is something I still struggle with. Perhaps this kind of conversion will come back into vogue in a new form, what with the 3D printing and laser/printer cutting providing interesting opportunities for doing loco bodies.

  4. Wills kits, the progenitors of SEF, we're designed to fit onto the limited range of RTR chassis available when they were introduced, the Triang jinty being a particular favourite! That was the old school: you have simply brought the process up to date.
    As Geoff says, there was a time when this sort of thing was fairly commonplace in the Railway Modeller, but they seem to have no real interest in modelling of this form anymore, preferring to follow the market than to lead it.

    That's a lovely piece of workmanship, and you are well on the way to creating a beautiful engine.


  5. Thanks Simon, yes that Jinty chassis must have served underneath loco bodies from every major loco company that ever existed in Britain!

    I'm compiling a list of the current six-coupled RTR models out there with wheel sizes, wheelbases etc - I'll post it in due course in case it's of any use to others.

  6. Mikkel,
    Just discovered your "outside RMweb" blog while searching for your take on GWR Red. I don't remember seeing your 1854 described within RMweb so this episode is a real bonus for me. You've made a lovely job on her, she's really looking the part. I look forward to seeing more of her on Edwardian Farthing.
    Kind regards,

  7. Hi Ian, nice to "meet" you here!

    During the building of this one I have more than once come across your own 1854 on the web, so it all goes in circles :-)

    My 1854 is now in primer and I'm mulling over how to do the outer coat. In the past I have brush painted my locos with fairly good results (ie no brush marks), but I'm thinking of spraying it on this time. Just need to find a brand with the right early GWR colour here in Denmark, as these things usually cannot be sent by mail!

    all the best

  8. Thanks Ray! She's in primer now, but I'm having trouble finding an acrylic spray in the right shade of grey.

  9. If/when you find one you think is right please let us know. I have one of these kits tucked away somewhere and I didn't really think about a RTR chassis for it. Excellent idea.

  10. I will. I know that some proffessional loco painters use enamel Landrover Deep Bronze Green - but I prefer acrylics and haven't found anything right for that shade yet.


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