I first came across the Class 20 locomotive as a flat pack kit in 2006 when I saw it assembled on Model Engineering products stand at the London show at Wembley and it appealed to me then. I had recently joined as a member of Pinewood (Wokingham) which has a 7 ľ track. I established that the completed engine would fit in my car; my home was nearly 30 miles from Pinewood so I decided to build a Class 20. I had built a 5Ē class 31 from a part Compass house kit previously in 2000 so I roughly knew what I was in for and I also knew Robin Neighbour (Mep) from previous dealings with another club. I ordered the kit in September and specified that the bogies and main frame to be pre welded (my welding has to de desired) it was ready after 2 months so I picked it up from Robinís premises in Bexhill in November 2006. I was fortunate at that time I had heated workshop as we had numerous outbuildings so I could work over winter months in relative comfort.
†The first thing you do when something like this arrives is to try and make sense of where all the bits go, luckily a guide manual was available for a similar type of locomotive of Mepís (class15), but being a model engineer of some sort we know best so off I set using the manual only when I got stuck but to be honest experience and gut feeling way is the best as there were no obvious challenging things to look out for. The first thing after sorting out the parts was to get some primer on the majority of the steelwork which did not require panels to be fitted even though I had a heated workshop. †I then decided to do the working parts first so set about assembling the bogies. The method of motor mounting was the same as the class 31 so not a problem, the only thing I did not do was put a spacer in between the axle boxes and the end of the bearing shaft. I subsequently did this when one of the wheels came loose from the Loctite which held the wheels to the axle (This is quite a common problem and the spacer which is slightly narrower than the gap stops the wheel from opening out and possible derailment or worse). The other thing to make sure is that you place the motor such as the wires are in the upper position well away from the track also the wires are not long enough to always connect into the terminal block. Bogies assembled now you have to take most apart in order to paint the assemblies, painting must never be rushed. I used Halfords Gloss Black spray paint and gave them several coats they looked the part, in between the paint drying I turned my attention to the chassis which by the way is heavy as it is 10mm steel. Make sure that you put holes big enough to get at the bogie fixing bolts from the top of the engine you never know when you have to take off a bogie also drill the holes that you require for the electrics (my case din plugs) other than that nothing much to do on the chassis. Sides next this is 3mm steel laser cut with openings for the metal panels to be fitted (care is needed as lots of different panels and the side layouts are different). The panels are stuck on using a quick setting Loctite, care is again needed also speed (I lightly marked the sides for squareness) also donít prime this before you stick on the panels. When completed prime and put to one side and at some convenient time. Drill holes for the handrail fixing and any stiffening bars that you want to put on, I use angle to fix to the base of the loco. Next thing is to decide where to put the two control units, I decided to place by the cab end. Fit these and make sure that you can get them off easily, I made a sub- unit of ply wood to span the loco for holding the batteries and assembled the controllers on that. At this stage you can do all the wiring associated with controller functions since the board is removable. I then decided to finish spray paint the chassis and sides to your choice of locomotive livery. I made a big mistake here; I researched the loco and I looked black on the internet photographs so I painted everything accordingly only to prove wrong upon closer inspection as it was maroon.† After I cooled down I then decided to model in Railfreight Grey (just like my class31) but I decided to hand paint as I found mixing the paint for spraying difficult. Next problem getting the paint, gloss was not available any more after I bought the paint it was not the same colour as I expected even though it was the same code number. I was assured by a well-known paint specialist that it was the same, I was not happy about this, I painted anyway it was a blue based colour. (This was repainted about 1 year later after the same paint supplier same coded paint was the right colour). I hand painted all the upper parts of the locomotive and it has proved to be very successful ( incidentally never spray paint over a hand painted surface the aerosol bites into the surface and bubbles). Apart from modifying the buffers and drilling light fitting holes and making front and rear code boxes the next task is to tackle the cab and roof, on the first loco the both were flat sheet metal. I invested in a cheap set of 2ft rolls as I had access at that time to a bender and guillotine. The actual roof of the body and cab was no problem and I decided to make it in 3 sections, however the cab roof is tapered and the radius is not the same at all points, tricky but a good old hammer and block soon knocked it into shape. The end result was seen on the Pinewood track early April 2007. Since then I have used tis locomotive extensively for public running and other use without any major problems.
The next chapter came in late 2009 when we moved to Chesterfield so my base club had changed but as many of you know I still come and run at Pinewood when I can. I first ran my loco here in February 2010 and was greeted with where is the other one! The real 20s ran and still do around this area and normally went in pairs. At the Harrogate show that year I met Robin Neighbour (Mep) by chance and we had a long chat, I like Robin he has no airs and graces and is a nice friendly person, I also had a chat with Parkside who make the controllers. The net result I placed an order for a another kit with special twisted leads for double heading, I had by then decided to buy new controllers for the 1st loco as the inclines here† are steep and I needed the braking facility. I was lucky as Parkside stated they would match both sets of controllers for double heading even though one is 60Amp and the other is 100Amp, (the difference being that the motors are 1hp each bogie as opposed to 2x250 watts on the 1st loco). I duly collected the bits in July and apart from different motors which are chain driven and the loco roof which is fibreglass everything is more or less the same. I spent some time in assembling the bogies as I was aware of problems in another class 20 of attachment of the gear sprocket on the axle coming loose. I ran each bogie in on the bench for at least 3 hours before I drilled into the axle shaft for a decent hold by the grub screws I have since Loctited them in.† It took me a lot longer to build this 2nd loco as I donít now have the benefit of a heated workshop so not much got done over winter of 2010/2011. The 2nd loco rolled out on for the first run in April11 at Chesterfield and we double headed a little later June11. The first public run I did was at Pinewood in July and was very successful. The combination of both locos not only looks the part but the pulling power is quite spectacular. A couple of other things are I have digital sound systems fitted to both locos and connections for coupling for both ends and different light combinations I have also modified all my hand control units to be the same after all I have 4 locos now. Next project probably a heavy freight with the same drive system and double heading capability as the 2nd 20 but will have a touch of local connections to Chesterfield, hopefully completed by the end of 2012.