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Unfinished Project Club

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Dhu Varren

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As a long standing member of the ‘Unfinished Projects Club’, I have to announce the virtual completion of my second oldest unfinished project. Just need to work up to fit glazing.

Like the Phoenix, not the CDR Shunter, my MIR Class 071/111 has risen from the ashes.

Way back in 1990, I splashed out on an MIR Class 071/111 kit. At that time it was a whitemetal kit, and I have to say I was bitterly disappointed with the quality of the castings. It reminded me of MTK kits.

In an attempt to improve the appearance, I cut out all the grills and ventilators which were very inconsistent in their quality and positioning. The intention was to replace them with something better. Then kit was then assembled and a chassis built out of brass, using the bogies provided and powered by a nine pole aircraft instrument motor. Disappointed with the result so far, the loco was consigned to the ‘unfinished project’ box, where it lay for twenty two years with the odd trip to exhibitions for display on the ‘how not to do it’ stand. (incidently not my longest unfinished project. My 80 Class DEMU is about nine months older, but for very different reasons).

Early in 2014, with four Murphy 071/111s on the layout, I decided it was time to do something with the MIR loco. Consideration was given to melting it down for use as ballast weight, but refurbishment was the final decision. The chassis was replaced with a heavily modified Athearn SD40 chassis & bogies with a Hornby flywheel motor secured with silicon, but the bogies still did not look right as the body sat too high. This was subsequently replaced with a scratchbuilt brass chassis with Athearn SD9 bogies and a Hornby flywheel motor, much better. Again, the body sat too high, so 1.5mm was removed from the end skirts, and the body lowered. A great improvement.

The underframe details utilised bits from the MIR kit with the fuel tank fabricated from plasticard. The original steps were ridiculously small, so they were consigned to the junk box, and new steps fabricated from Hornby metal ladders and bits of plasticard. The gaping holes in the body were filled with plasticard scribed with ventilators, and the radiator grilles, both top and sides, covered with fine wire mesh from a Tesco tea strainer, a bargain at 50p. The top grilles were fitted direct to the body using superglue applied after fitting, which disperses by capillary action. The side grilles used the same method onto plasticard which was then cut and filed to fit the hole.

Extra detail was fitted using any suitable material. The horns were replaced with finer brass ones. The buffers were replaced with Hornby Class 50 ones. Wire handrails and the bodyside ladder were made up and fitted. Lights were all drilled out, and suitable LEDS fitted. Chunks of the end skirts were removed, as per the Murphy locos, and small tension lock couplings fitted to the bogies. A sound decoder and speaker were also fitted, and the loco tested. There were some minor issues with clearances inside the body due to lack of space in the narrow body, but they have all been resolved and the loco is now a good powerful runner. Well it would be powerful with all that weight.

It was decided that since the loco would not match the Murphy Models 071/111s in quality, it should be painted in a totally different colour to any of the other 071/111s, so that direct comparisons would be less likely. NIR light blue was chosen as I did not have any 111s in this colour . The loco was to be number 113 as I already had 111 (in dark blue) and 112 which then kept things simple for DCC, as I could use 8113 with the full number to differentiate between the two.

The loco was then primed with Halfords gray primer. Once the primed loco was inspected for any flaws and rectification carried out, it received it’s coat of NIR light blue, with black underframe, and decals applied. The loco will never in a million years match the quality of the Murphy Models 071/111, but at least I have the satisfaction of having built this one to a reasonable standard.


The original chassis with driveshaft removed. It was intended to be a double bogie drive, but never got beyond the experimental single bogie drive.


IMG_1994 Correction.jpg


Chassis number two with driveshafts removed.


IMG_1995 Correction.jpg


Body with holes with original chassis.




Body prior to painting.


DSC01879 Correction.jpg


Finally completed (less glazing). :banana:


IMG_1993 Correction.jpg



IMG_1991 Correction.jpg

IMG_1992 Correction.jpg

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That build must give you a great feeling of satisfaction, especially after a long period of inactivity. The intervening 21 years have obviously increased your modelling skills to a level to produce a ‘silk purse out of a sow’s ear’.

Maybe I’m being unfair on MIR whose early models where welcomed as a desirable model to have. Their resin body kit was a further advancement while Paddy Murphy has taken things to a different level altogether.

I marvel at your skill at adapting chassis, motors and drives to end up with a smooth running model that looks the part. It looks at home amongst your other models.

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It looks like a lot of work went into the original chassis, it looks like it would have been really smooth riding and a powerful puller with double reduction gearing and drive to each bogie. I tried the same principal with a couple of diesel shunters great runners but sounded like coffee grinders.


The MIR GM diesels were quite good in comparison with other resin and whitemetal kits of that era, locos built with a combination of an Athearn drive and whitemetal body could pull any train.

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I can certainly relate to an unfinished projects thread. About 10-12 years ago I stumbled across a collection of unfinished TMD (pre-SSM) loco kits at an exhibition in the UK. The locos were mainly GNR, but included part built J15 and a un-built MGWR E Class or J26. The original builder worked in P4 and had got stuck at the stage of building a free running chassis before giving up with the majority of the kits.


I managed to get 4 of the locos running to a reasonable standard 2 in OO 2 in 21mm within year, but still have not finished the J15 or the Midland tank while the list of unfinished projects seems to get longer and longer.

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