A Pannier of mixed parentage - GWR 1854 PT (1)

I’m building an 1854 Pannier Tank for Farthing in ca. 1919 condition, using a modified Hornby 2721 body, a Bachmann 57xx chassis and various parts from SEF and Brassmasters. Pure it is not. This post summarizes progress to date.


It's a bit of a nostalgia project. I wanted to do something with the old Hornby 2721,  a model I've had a liking for since first seeing it in the magical Hornby 1980 catalogue at the tender age of 11. Note the "X", it was high on my wish list back then. When I finally got one several decades later the running was a disappointment. So it went to sleep in The Big Box of Lost Souls, until I decided to bring it back to life.

The original plan was to make a backdated 2721, but along the way I decided to do the outwardly very similar 1854 PT class instead. The components I'm using match an 1854 PT a bit better, including the plain Bachmann conrods and the absence of visible springs behind the Hornby splashers (a feature of the 2721s).  The 1854s were also a bit more widely dispersed during the period in question. Above, I have plotted the 1921 allocations of the 1854s and 2721s into Google Maps.

So the goal is a pragmatic 1854 PT in ca. 1919 condition, a period I have a growing interest in. Ironically I have yet to find a 1919 photo of an 1854 PT. Instead I'm extrapolating from early 1920s photos (including a couple on the gwr.org.uk pannier page), and drawings in the Finney/Brassmasters kit instructions and Russell's "Pictorial Record of Great Western Engines" Vol 1. Thanks to Brassmasters for making their instructions freely available, I try to repay by purchasing fittings from them. The RCTS "Locomotives of the GWR, Part 5" is a key reference. Jim Champ's book "An Introduction to Great Western Locomotive Development" has also been useful.

Chassis and body

I’m using a Bachmann 57xx/8750 chassis for the project.  Various chassis versions exist, including 32-200 (left) and 31-900 (right). I’m using the former, which is shorter and lower. 

Closer look at the chassis. The weight block has been removed to test the fit. Later it went back on.


The Bachmann chassis and Hornby body. There are various well-known issues with the Hornby 2721. Hornby used a Jinty chassis, and so the splashers don’t line up with the more correctly dimensioned Bachmann chassis. The frames and bunker are also too long, and there’s no daylight under the boiler. The chimney is appealing, but wrong shape.

I disassembled the body and was surprised to see that the tank/boiler top is a separate component, well disguised under the handrail. 


The first job was to get some light under the boiler/panniers. I used a scalpel, scoring repeatedly along the edges of the moulded sides with a used blade, then eventually cutting through with the tip of a sharp new blade.


And there was light. 


Then the interior was cut, carved and hacked about until the chassis was a good fit along the sides and ends. The photo is early on in the process, a good deal of material was removed.


The chassis and modified body. There’s ample room for the Bachmann weight block, so that was re-fitted.

 The backhead was cut away to allow room for the gears. The motor does protrude a bit into the cab, but will disappear behind a new backhead.

From the side.


The Hornby body is too long for both an 1854 and a 2721. This is in fact the 2721 drawing from when that was the aim, but the principle is the same for the 1854.

So I shortened the footplate by about 2,5 mm at each end, doing cut-and-shut.


The center splashers, being out of line, were then attacked along with the toolbox.


The incorrectly positioned toolboxes, half-relief injectors, and very low sandboxes were also chopped off.

 I considered scratch building the replacement splashers as per my Dean Goods rebuild, but wasn’t in the mood. So I dug out a broken old Finecast 1854 that came with an ebay job lot. 

The Finecast splashers were cut off, cleaned up and fitted to the Hornby footplate.  There are no rear splashers on the Hornby body, so these were also fitted. Will fit bands to the front splasher later.

Bunker and Backhead


For the bunker I again turned to the old Finecast 1854…

 …and cleaned up the parts as best I could.

The 1854s and 2721s had the same frame and cab width, so in theory the 1854 bunker should be a direct match, but it was too narrow. I thought the Hornby body must be wrong, but checking the measurements again showed that the Finecast bunker isn’t as wide as it should be. Food for thought!


Anyway, I rebuilt the bunker with styrene panels. Later, plated coal rails were fitted. The original Hornby weight block was filed to suit. Along with the weight block on the Bachmann chassis, the loco now runs quite nicely.

The worm and gears were concealed using an old Bachmann backhead, moved slightly back and with a raised section of cab floor beneath it. I’ve done this before, once the crew are fitted I don't notice it.

Beneath the tanks

The Hornby balance pipe is a blob one each side of the motor block, so I made some new blobs.


New firebox sides and rear tank supports (adapted to allow room for the injectors) were also made. Drawings of 1854 and 2721 PTs show the balance pipe fitted just behind the front splasher, but photos suggest that they were soon relocated to a position nearer the center of the tanks. So that’s what I have done.

Removal of the “skirts” on the Hornby body exposes the Bachmann motor and lets too much light in. Strips of brass sheet were curved, painted and fitted each side to hide the motor.  Testing for shorts showed no problems.


The Hornby tank top isn’t that bad, but the chimney (odd shape), tank fillers (too small) and grab rails (moulded lump) had to go. I'm wondering what the small pipes/cables running along the top are for, and when they were fitted.


The chimney was sawn off, and the tank fillers removed (vertical slices in both directions, followed by a parallel cut along the bottom). The bluetack is for protecting details.


Finney/Brassmasters chimney from the 1854/2721 kit, the rest is from Alan Gibson. 


Dry fit of the Finney chimney and tank fillers. The safety valve cover is so far an RTR item, can’t seem to find the appropriate shape in brass.

Tank vents from bits of filed styrene, seen here with the Alan Gibson tank fillers.


 The front also needed work. As it comes, the Hornby body has a Churchward pressed steel front. I rather like it.

But pre-1920 tank smokebox fronts tended to be plain, so it was all sanded away. Difficult, and it shows. A ring was added to the smokebox door, not quite the dished look but better than nothing. Alan Gibson door darts fitted, and new steps from scrap bits of brass.

 Tank and cab sides

Pannier tanks fitted before ca. 1917 were flush-riveted. After that they were snap head rivetted (1917-1924) and then had welded seams (after 1924).  I decided that my loco was fitted with panniers before 1917, and therefore sanded away the Hornby rivets. That took the shine off her!

 The lower cabsides are too narrow on the Hornby body, so these have been extended. This photo also shows the plated coal rails on the bunker (which is still loose).

After a hiatus the project is now on the move again. I'm making a new cab roof and have started fitting details. More on that later. Thanks to all who helped with info and advice.