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Other Vintage Locos & Motors

  ***** Material in this section most recently updated July 2018 *****


Other Vintage Locos and Motors

  including examples and illustrations for Bassett-Lowke, Leeds, Miller, Super Scale Models, Bond's, and a variety of motor types


***** NB    This section is currently being updated, so there may be errors for subsequent correction   *****


Coverage in this section:


The wide range of vintage models

Bond's locomotives and mechanisms

Some other post-war motors


This section of the website aims to add to what is readily available about particular types of vintage model locos made in the UK before and after World War Two, to complement and supplement the material provided (about Milbro) in other parts of the site. It is hoped to interest some experienced collectors of vintage trains, but especially perhaps to assist in a small way any newcomers to collecting who may be unfamiliar with the companies and products covered.

With these goals in mind, the plan is to provide some illustrations and discussions of models by various makers, including Bassett-Lowke, Leeds, and Bond's, as well as pictures of some of the motors supplied by Bond's. There is then some coverage of other types of motors often found in post-war vintage locos.

Positive responses from readers to this part of the website have led me to expand it by adding two separate sections to parallel this one, with some illustrative material on locos by Douglass Models & Vulcan of Kendal, and by Windsor Models & Exley. The latter section is currently under development, and has not yet been adequately checked, so the material may be subject to correction and additions.

We will not present any examples from Hornby on this website, although of course that company made a huge contribution to UK 0 gauge before and after the second world war. Hornby model locos appear frequently in books and on dedicated websites and can also be observed readily on the sites of traders and on Ebay. Thus it is easy for enthusiasts to find pictures of Hornby engines, such as the very handsome Yorkshire or Bramham Moor 4-4-0s, and to consult intelligent commentaries by experts. At the same time, coverage on this Milbro website is primarily of soldered models rather than of those made using 'tabbed' construction. Like Hornby, Bassett-Lowke also used the 'tabbed' construction method as a way of efficiently creating models in large runs, albeit along with some soldered engines that were generally built in smaller numbers (or were for live steam running). Indeed, Carlson praises the high quality Bassett-Lowke achieved with their 'Flying Scotsman' loco when using the 'tabbed' medium. Noting the link with German practices, he writes, "Since lithographed finished and tabbed construction were the hallmarks of the Nuremberg style, the Bassett-Lowke Pacific could be considered the highest expression of that style" (Carlson, P., Toy Trains: a history, Gollancz, London, 1986, p.148). This tinplate model was indeed an outstanding achievement, and that may be why so many examples seem to turn up that have been enhanced, rebuilt or repainted by enthusiasts or (very occasionally) by other firms. In the short sub-section below on Bassett-Lowke, I hope to include a couple of examples of Bassett-Lowke engines that have been worked on by other firms. 

Although most models referred to below will have been assembled by soldering of metal rather than by tab-construction methods, brief reference will also be made to some kits assembled using adhesive. Locos made using 'Bondaglass' are shown in the part of this site dealing with Douglass Models.


I will not say much about locomotive kits, although they have played very important roles in the development of railway modelling, perhaps especially in recent periods. Today's best kit-built models reach a very high standard, and represent full-sized locomotives in a detailed and accurate way that was very rare in the pre-war years of coarse-scale modelling. Amongst the earlier pioneers of kit production in the post-war years was the Leeds Model Company, but several other makers also produced kits that were widely known during what might be seen as the 'late vintage period' (when 'traditional' coarse-scale hand-built locos remained relatively more important in the 0 gauge scene than today). CCW, for example, seems to have had a substantial impact over a particularly long period, and also took over production of Dawson kits (another pioneer) at the end of the 1960s (see Gauge 0 Guild Gazette, IV, 1, January 1969, p. 18). CCW's impact in the post-war years was not only through conventionally-soldered kits, but also via their white-metal locos which could be assembled using adhesives. To judge from what may be encountered today, their cast white metal kit for an LMS 4F 0-6-0 seems to have been especially popular, and I include pictures below of one of these locos with some of the associated paperwork and an advertisement from 1965 (see Illustrations V22a and V22b). I think the LMS tenders were rather good for their time. Soft-metal components tended to mean heavy engines. Instructions for the 4F stated that the kit would be assembled entirely with adhesive, a tube of which was supplied. It was also apparently intended, however, that cast white metal parts could alternatively be joined by low temperature soldering. I understand that some advertisements for CCW locos in Bassett-Lowke catalogues offered the body kits with a brass boiler and smokebox along with soft metal castings for the rest of the parts, so the company perhaps varied its approach over time. CCW's other kits (in tinplate, brass or nickel silver) could be used to produce models much more in line with the hand-built soldered engines produced by commercial companies.  Several other important contemporary kit-makers provided their own similar product lines. This factor complicates the identification of vintage locos made by commercial firms. Indeed, kits could be used by some producers of models to simplify their task of creating a loco, and evidence may be found of specific cases of that kind. For instance, it has been reported by Alan Cliff that Vulcan of Kendal (see the separate section on Douglass Models and Vulcan of Kendal) produced a small number of 2-6-4 tanks and Stanier Class 5 4-6-0s that were in the main made up from Dawson nickel silver kits (see Model Railway Enthusiast, 6,4, April 1999, pp. 24-25). Today, second-hand tinplate or cast metal kits turn up from time to time on Ebay in unmade form.

As noted above, the discussion of Douglass Models elsewhere will touch on the use of 'Bondaglass', from which the company made loco bodies. The descriptions and instructions Douglass Models provided made clear that this material was glass fibre.  Creating mouldings in that material was (as the firm put it) "something new in model locomotive construction" (from specification and instructions to go with "A4 Boiler Case", undated).


The wide range of vintage models

We  show here various pictures of 0 gauge engines, in hopes of generating some interest, and as a reminder of the great diversity and range of UK-made vintage models that may appear on stalls at train fairs or meetings, at Gauge 0 Guild events, in auction house sales, or on Ebay. I hope to expand coverage later on.


Bassett-Lowke (*Initial version only, and I hope that when time allows this coverage will be improved as well as expanded*)

A great deal has been written about this firm, and its products are widely known amongst 0 gauge enthusiasts. Examples from the standard Bassett-Lowke ranges of the pre- and post-war periods can be seen readily in published literature and at specific places on the internet. Furthermore, some of the loco types that were produced in large numbers may be found fairly frequently in Ebay auctions or on the sales lists of traders. The examples below, therefore, have been chosen to illustrate very briefly some more unusual facets of the firm's 0 gauge locomotive sales, a few details of construction and finish, and the potential of Bassett-Lowke models for adaptation, rebuilding or 'super-detailing'. This could be by enthusiasts, by the company itself, or by other firms and agencies.

Special order 0 gauge models sometimes seem to have been commissioned from outside sub-contractors, and we begin with one of these.   



Illustration V1  This model of an East Anglian loco is described in Fuller's book as Bassett-Lowke's 'last special order' (see Fuller, R., 'The Bassett Lowke Story', New Cavendish Books, London, 1984, pp.102-103). I am grateful to the Bassett-Lowke Society Newsletter for publishing a short piece I wrote about this engine; in 24, 2, May 2014, pp. 13-15. Although at that time I was uncertain about the sub-contractor who had made the model, I now believe it to have been Beeson.

Further pictures of this M & GN tank are included in the separate section of this site dealing with Beeson's coarse-scale 0 gauge locos, and a second possible B/L special order locomotive can be seen there (although it is an undocumented model).









Illustrations V2a-V2e   The Bassett-Lowke name was carried forward at one stage in the post-war years under the banner of another independent company concerned with railway models.  These pictures show a live steam 0 gauge loco from that period that can sit comfortably alongside the semi-scale electric models of Mills, Leeds or Bonds. This model was made in the later years of post-war 'vintage' trains production, by the company Steam Age, which incorporated Bassett-Lowke Railways. The item was described in its accompanying documentation as a 'smart high pressure live steam locomotive and tender'. Along with advice on steaming, the purchaser was told that the minimum track radius would be five feet. It looks from the details given that the company had its 'works' in Urmston.

This model has survived amazingly well, with most of its pleasing paintwork still in place, despite evidence of running. At the time these photos were taken, one of the nameplates and a piece of platework from the front were missing, but the loco now belongs to someone very expert on live steam operation who is capable of fully restoring it. 


Quite a few Bassett-Lowke engines seem to have been rebuilt or altered, sometimes by their owners but occasionally by another firm or organisation to a professional standard. The GWR loco below is an example of the latter.



 Illustration V3  Simon Goodyear identified this GWR Castle model as a rebuild of a Bassett-Lowke mogul, and he indicated that he understands it is likely to be one of several 'conversions' used at a particular signalling training facility. Since this picture was taken, repairs and improvements have been completed on the body and mechanism. The present owner informs me that the loco runs at a very slow speed that would have been entirely appropriate for staff training operations.






  Illustrations V4a-V4d  These pictures are of a professionally-enhanced Bassett-Lowke Flying Scotsman soon after I had acquired it.  I am advised that the conversion to two-rail electric running and the added detailing were most likely the work of Bond's.  I hope to show later some pictures of it after restoration (which is not yet completed). This was one of three B/L engines that had been similarly converted to two-rail for a specific layout, but only the Scotsman had been given added detail. The Bassett Flying Scotsman seems to have been quite often a target for enhancement, renaming, rebuilding, or conversion to two-rail, but the other examples I have seen have not come near to this one for quality and sure-footedness.


Leeds Model Company

Like Bassett-Lowke, this firm is well known amongst enthusiasts and had a long period of involvement with 0 gauge, running up into the 1960s. Its products and history have been very effectively charted and explained by David Peacock in his book 'The Leeds Model Company, 1912-2012: The First One Hundred Years'  (D.Peacock, 2011). Associated with that enterprise (and more generally with the longstanding promotion of interest in the Leeds company) is the Leeds Stedman Trust, which has an excellent website. Given what is already available from these sources, the aim below is simply to illustrate a few Leeds engines and some of their features, drawing on examples of standard items complemented by more unusual ones. Leeds models were generally made of tinplate, and the company produced not only its standard ranges but also some special order engines.    



Illustration V10  Comparison of the Leeds Mogul and County 4-4-0 bodies. The latter loco was produced for Bassett-Lowke, and it has been reported that Leeds Model Company used the production of the County as the basis for offering the mogul in their own list. The two are indeed very similar, although the 2-6-0 in this picture has been altered in minor ways by a previous owner. The distinctive LMC firebox shape is evident, as well as the 'drop-down' section along the boiler in front of the firebox, where the boiler is in effect joined to the metal below. Something of this kind was a characteristic feature of many vintage models where the mechanisms were large, but later LMC mechanisms did not necessarily always need concealing in this way. Even master modellers making very expensive locos might offer models with this feature. An example of a Beeson model with a "much extended firebox casing which in fact encloses the electric motor" can be found in Hamilton Ellis, Model Railways 1838-1939 (George Allen & Unwin, London, 1962), Plate XXIII.



Illustration V11a  A Leeds Sam Fay loco. These are excellent tinplate models that seem to have been produced over quite a long period, and were convincing representations of GCR/LNER prototypes. Like the Leeds 4-4-0 Directors, these 4-6-0 engines offered attractive targets for alteration and (in later years) repainting. This one has the earlier type of brass-framed Leeds mechanism (which I think is desirable), and despite the model's age much of the original green paint on the loco has survived. I am informed that the R.F.Stedman trade mark near the front of the model (see below) indicates it was produced between September 1928 and September 1932. The tender has suffered some poor repainting in a couple of places, and damage to some of its axle-box covers (but these can be replaced easily with correct items that are in better shape).








Illustrations V11b-V11e  Some more photos of the Leeds Sam Fay. As can be seen here the rear tender axle-box needs to be replaced !


The more expensive LMC locos hand-built in smaller batches between the World Wars are highly regarded today. Some very high quality super-detailed engines were built, alongside an impressive standard range of locos available to order in the catalogues. The pictures below are of an example from that standard range, a GWR Castle that probably dates from the 1920s. It has had its mechanism and front bogie changed and suffered some damage, but most original features can still be seen. As regards Leeds loco cylinders, usual points of identification are that these are of soft metal and often bolted on from above. For the Castle (and Star), however, a different method of fixing was adopted by the firm. 










 Illustrations V12a-V12f  Examples of features of a Leeds GWR Castle model. In the 1920s the Leeds Model Company introduced a range of engines that were very close to being scale models, albeit for coarse-scale 3-rail running. Some of these seem scarce today (having probably been made in relatively small numbers). Super-detailed models were also available, and are even rarer. The pictures here show selected details from a loco in the 'ordinary' (rather than super-detailed) range. It is a nice model, although it has suffered some minor damage and alteration and has a modern mechanism (which has been removed for these illustrations). The front bogie is also unlikely to be original.

Although my Castle photographs have not come out very well, it can be seen that the cylinder in the fourth picture down (V12d) is bolted (via two bolts) onto the fixed tinplate frames from its inner side, which may look unexpected for a Leeds engine. This type of cylinder unit is shown clearly in contemporary catalogues as having been designed specifically for the Leeds Castles and Stars, and its presence is thus fully consistent with this being a Leeds model.



Illustration V13  LMC G4, rebuilt and with added detail.

Like illustration V3 above, V13 shows a rebuilt, refinished and detailed version of a commercially-built loco. It is an LMC G4 tank loco that has been altered and given a superb dark blue Great Eastern coat of paint and added detailing. The main parts of the job were originally done to a very good standard, although some of the detailing may have been done later and is less impressive. The loco has also suffered deterioration since then. Alteration and rebuilding work was on offer from various model railway firms and contractors over long periods.  In the 1930s, for example, Windsor Models would "undertake conversions of mass production models, with addition of scale detail, etc." ( 1932 catalogue). After the war, Douglass Models sold some very interesting rebuilds of Bassett-Lowke engines, and some other firms could provide conversion and modification services in 0 or 00 gauge, sometimes alongside newbuild work (for instance EAMES of Reading). At the same time, when made, mainstream commercial products were sometimes given additional detail to meet a special order. It is possible that LMC themselves may have produced the paintwork of the above loco, to meet a request (and the flaking paint is not out of line with what is sometimes found with LMC engines). Even if this is correct, however, some of the additional detailing may not have been done in their factory. I replaced the deficient motor, driving wheels and coupling rods from this loco, and the model then passed to someone who has put further work in hand on the body. I especially like the Leeds LNER G4, which is not a common model, but in my view this conversion did it proper justice. 

There is an interesting point of convergence between this model and one featured in the catalogues of R.M.Evans and Co in the late 1940s and early 1950s. In both cases the condenser pipes differ between the two sides of the loco (and one has a U-bend in it). I do not know whether this was ever true for the full-sized locos. See the website section on Beeson for discussion of R.M.Evans.

The next image shows for comparison what the bodywork of a standard LMC G4 loco looks like. The wheels on this particular example (like the one above) are not LMC ones.




Illustration V14  Standard version of LMC G4.




Illustrations V15a and V15b   Leeds components were often used to good effect in the construction or detailing of models built by enthusiasts or other firms. I am advised that a number of the parts used to build this model seem to have come from The Leeds Model Company, and it is interesting to compare it with a Leeds Pickersgill in particular. The loco shown here came from the collection of a well-known enthusiast (Phil Johnson) whose layout and engines were featured heavily by the Model Railway Constructor in the 1970s, and it was referred to therein as an ex-NER J26 (see in particular 42, 495, July 1975, pp. 256-261). If (as seems to be the case) Leeds Pickersgill parts have been used, that might explain the slightly undersized look that the boiler of this model has.  The loco is well-built; so that although it may have been constructed by its owner it could equally well have been commissioned from a professional builder.  One possibility is that it was made as a special order by Leeds, using a Pickersgill as the basis for the locomotive itself. 







Illustrations V16a-V16d  Four photos of a vintage model of an LNER K3, built in 'Leeds style' (or by the company itself).  This model seems to have similarities to two special order locos that have been written about by the leading authority on the Leeds Model Company, David Peacock. I obtained the above engine some years ago from someone who had bought it from the collection of a wealthy businessman who was by then in his nineties. The narrative supplied to my informant had been that the K3 had been commissioned before the war, and then sent later for respraying into BR livery (apparently at the Leeds factory). It had originally been clockwork (and had clearly had two different clockwork motors over the years), but had been converted to electric running when refinished. From the point of view of the history of 0 gauge, the loco is interesting in having been built with a slightly over-scale boiler, perhaps in order to accommodate what probably would have been a very powerful clockwork mechanism. Even though the aim was often to reproduce a prototype convincingly, quite a few vintage model engines are a little larger than their modern equivalents would be, since mechanisms were often massive by today's standards. The model shown above seems to have been professionally made, and the person who gave me its history had been told that it had been built by Leeds before the war. At this distance of time that might be hard to verify, but some features (including the tender) clearly suggest a very strong Leeds connection (see below for additional comment). 

For his very interesting article referring to two K3s made by the Leeds Model Company, see 'The restoration of "Wooloomooloo" ', by David Peacock, in the Newsletter of the Bassett-Lowke Society, 25, 1, February 2015, pp.18-19. One of the locos referred to therein had been featured by its then owner in earlier journal articles in the Model Railway News, in April 1936, May 1937, and April 1950 (Rush, F.N.,'The construction of a 7mm scale LNER 2-6-0 locomotive' [12, 136, pp. 87-89, attributed incorrectly to F.M.Bush]; 'A 7mm scale LNER 2-6-0 locomotive' [13, 149, pp.122-123]; and 'Some 7mm scale LNER models and a steam roller' [26, 304, pp. 74-76]. It seems that Mr Rush initially commissioned the loco and tender bodywork from Leeds but did much of the remainder of the work himself. Interestingly, it appears that he supplied his own drawing for the firm to work from, making allowances for 'departures from exact scale reduction' to cater for a large Bassett-Lowke clockwork mechanism.  The loco shown in my illustrations seems to have something in common with the version of Mr Rush's engine shown in his 1950 piece, and it is conceivable that the building of the former (or an order for its construction placed with a retailer, perhaps Leeds) might have been inspired by the Rush model.  


The shift towards fine scale and super-detailing

Even before World War Two, some enthusiasts commissioned high quality models that were closer in appearance to the prototypes than most of the standard locos offered by the various 0 gauge retailers. From the 1940s onwards the demand for accurate representation of the 'real thing' seems gradually to have become more important. More was expected in terms of rivet detail and other features, and as time passed expectations probably rose still further as to what could be done (with attention turning more frequently to internal detailing, etc.). I cannot date the model shown below, but it does not seem to have been made in the most recent era. It is a very high quality hand-built loco, made in nickel silver to two-rail finescale standards, and the representation of many facets of the full-sized engine is first-rate. At the same time, a few specific details have been left out, including two steps and some of the rivets. The pictures show very well in my view the 'direction of travel' that had been taking place since the 1940s for 'top end' models (in terms of cost and expertise). This did not mean the disappearance of plainer engines, but expectations shifted gradually on what constituted a good model.




Illustrations V20a and V20b  The 'direction of travel' for master modellers after the war.  These pictures and the two below show detail from a 2-rail fine scale loco most likely made in the post-war years between the 1940s and 1970s. The model in some respects comes close to Beeson's standards, but it was most likely made by another exceptionally good builder. This engine is a hand-built nickel silver SR (Urie) King Arthur type 4-6-0, which either never had paint or was stripped at some point by its then owner. I am grateful to Ray Renwick for permission to show these informative photos, which he took in 2016. From the 1940s onwards it seems there was increased interest amongst some modellers and enthusiasts in the achievement of fuller representation of the features and details of the full-sized prototypes. This model shows what could be done by a first class maker, probably before the era of today's super-detailed kits and high-standard batch-produced commercial models (although it would have been very expensive). For comparisons with the 'real thing' see Swift, P., 'Locomotives in detail 4: Maunsell 4-6-0 King Arthur Class', Ian Allen, Hersham, 2005, pp. 76 and 37 (and for this reference too, thanks again to Ray Renwick). Locos with this level of detail could be commercially built before 1940, but that seems to have been very rare.



Illustrations V20c and V20d  Note the brass fittings and rivet detail. It seems that not all features of the protoype were modelled in this example, although some things have been lost during the loco's use. The right-hand side of the cab has also been pushed a little out of shape by a previous owner, and some damage has been done to one of the engine's main hand-rails (although not visible here). This loco is at present being restored and painted, and will be named Camelot.



Kit-built engines have been very important for many 0 gauge enthusiasts and modellers over a long period, but they lie rather outside the scope of this website. Their development over time probably parallelled in some ways the shift towards greater detail and fuller representation that we touched on above for scratchbuilt/handbuilt loco models. The LMS loco shown below probably exemplifies quite well what could be offered in terms of quality and ease of assembly in the mid-twentieth century decades. When kits were not of soft metal parts but of tinplate or nickel, a skilled modeller might sometimes create in this period a high standard loco not very different from a scratchbuilt engine.  Some tinplate kit models seem to have a strong section of brass running along under the footplate edge, rather like a larger version of the supporting sections used under the footplate by Windsor Models and on occasion by other makers.



Illustrations V22a and V22b  Although kit-built engines lie a little beyond the scope of this website, it is important to acknowledge their role after World War Two. The pictures show a CCW white metal kit-built model of a 4F tender loco in LMS livery (see discussion of Kits above). The left-hand paperwork on the first image is part of the instructions provided for builders, and I have also photographed a CCW advertisement for their 4F and 3F locos. (I apologise if any copyright has been breached here, but if so I hope that no harm has been done, given that these documents are probably both around fifty years old.)   


Bernard Miller/Miller Swan (I hope to add more to this section when time permits)

I have been advised that Miller is generally regarded not only as an outstanding modeller, but also as one of the key UK pioneers in developments towards fine scale modelling. The example shown below does not seem to have been made for finescale, although it has undergone some changes since it was built. As well as making locos, the firm of Miller Swan would undertake the painting of engines for customers, and what seems to be an example appears in our section on Exley locos.

bernardmiller7th attemptj83four


 bernardmiller4th attemptj83eight



Illustrations V24a, V24b and V24c   Miller NBR 0-6-0 tank loco.  Two pictures of the loco and one of the weight from inside the front end of the body. I had great difficulty in faithfully capturing the lovely colour of the paint when taking the pictures, and the engine actually looks a a little lighter than in my two larger photos. Note the excellence of the detailing and paintwork.

When I first handled this tinplate model I thought it might be by Beeson, but have been advised by someone with expert knowledge that it was probably made by Bernard Miller, another master maker who seems to be regarded as one of the key pioneers of fine scale modelling. The third picture shows the large lead weight (with a brass wrapper or collar) that fits inside the front of the boiler; the engine was heavily weighted when made.

When examined from underneath, this engine is a reminder of how even some of the most finely made vintage models have sometimes been treated without much regard for protection or preservation. The loco appears to have been built originally for clockwork running, but then converted with a new chassis and electric motor. Unfortunately, much damage was done to the underside of the model, presumably in association with making the change to electricity. It looks as if metal was casually torn out, and the replacement frames and motor are not very attractive. The smokebox has also been repainted or 'touched in', and the chimney repositioned (slightly out of alignment), perhaps after some kind of damage or displacement that is now invisible. Despite all this, I think that the loco body remains an impressive combination of artistry and engineering skill.


 Super Scale Models

 I do not have much information about this company, and have not so far seen any catalogue. A report by S. Sutcliffe in the Model Railway News in 1950 described and showed a GWR Saint made by this firm and fitted with a Hornby clockwork mechanism. That loco was made of brass and copper and its tender was of tinplate. It had a "set of cab fittings", including controls for the mechanism (instead of the more usual "protruding wires and knobs") (see S. Sutcliffe, "A collection of '0' gauge locomotives, No.2", 26, 304, April, p. 76).  The firm also seems to have been involved in producing narrow gauge items, and a report in the Model Railway News in 1950 indicates that this part of their production was taken over by Douglass Models (26, 303, March, p. 51).







Illustrations V25a-V25d   A 3-rail Lord Nelson which I understand was one of a small batch made by Super Scale Models of Halifax. This is high quality post-war production, rather in the traditions of the hand-built models made by Mills and Bonds before the war. The body is partly made of tinplate, and the coupling rods seem to be of steel. It can be noted that not only are the cylinders attached to the full-length frames, but so too are the front steps.  The maker's own plate has been fixed to the underside of the body. The type of motor unit seen in this loco is rarely found in UK vintage engines, but I am informed it is a Pittman. It looks rather tall to fit into an 0 gauge model.


Bond's locomotives and mechanisms

Bonds locomotives and motors have a high reputation amongst 0 gauge model railway enthusiasts. I do not have any expert knowledge on this company's products, and what is said here is open to subsequent correction. It may be useful, however, to consider the contributions made by Bonds alongside Mills, especially as there seems to be very little available in model railway books apart from a valuable section in Hammond's Guide. Thus I hope present coverage will provide some introductory material that may be of interest. There is a very useful historical commentary on Bonds by Martin Bloxsom in the Bassett-Lowke Society Newsletter of May 2014 (24, 2, 26-27).

As far as 0 gauge models are concerned, the most widely-known and numerous of Bonds engines are the 'Bonzone' saddle tanks, the Hunslet Diesel Shunter, and the LMS 'Jinty' tank loco. For excellent images see  the  Bond's  section at  the binnsroad website. Hammond's Guide gives production periods of 1927-1956, 1932-1940, and 1938-1960, respectively, for these three items (although end dates appear tentative for the first two). I have no information on what mechanisms went into these models over time, although where wheels were small then specific designs might have been necessary.


Illustration V30  Bonds Diesel Shunter. Many thanks to the owner of this loco for providing the picture. The 1936-1937 catalogue gave a price of 42 shillings and 6 pence for this model. I understand that versions may be found in several colours.



Illustration V31  An example of the Bonzone saddle tank. Thanks to the same enthusiast for the use of this picture.

I have been informed that the body of the diesel loco shown above is of tinplate, and that the 'Bonzone' saddle tank belonging to the same enthusiast is also made of that metal. In June 2016 I was able to examine closely three Bonds LMS 'Jinty' models, and found all these too to be made of tinplate. One of them is shown below; its body and steps are of tinplate but the buffer beams are of brass (and are slightly thicker). In the light of these findings, I have had to revise tentatively my previous expectation that Bonds generally built their locos in brass. It seems possible that the catalogued cheaper standard small models were in fact generally made in tinplate, perhaps for reasons of economy. Nonetheless, they were relatively well detailed for their period, and the Jinty had a machined brass dome and chimney. In the 1930s the firm described this LMS steam engine as having many items "never seen before on a production model", including "a smokebox door that has correct dummy clamping dogs", "hinges and number plate fitted", and "side water tanks that are correctly made with sunk top plates and projecting top edging" (Bond's Model and Experimental Engineering Handbook, 1936-7 2nd Edition, p. 56A). As is noted again below, the bodies of most Bonds scale model locos built to order were in contrast generally made from "heavy gauge brass sheet" (p. 64 of the same catalogue).

As was perhaps rather the custom when some pre-war retailers described their better models, Bonds deployed the term 'super detail' when referring to the Jinty, although it would not be seen as such alongside today's super-detailed 0 gauge engines. Certainly, however, the three small 'standard' engines that formed the relatively inexpensive range seem to have been sturdy, functional and very well-designed models. They were hard to fault in 'value for money' terms, and the fact that a Jinty often turns up as a 2-rail engine testifies to their longevity as desirable running items.



Illustration V32   An example of the standard LMS (tinplate) 0-6-0 tank loco produced by Bonds over a long period, although (as often occurs) the model has undergone some minor change and restoration. The chassis seems to have been replaced with one containing a later (and very good) Bonds mechanism of the enclosed integral gearbox type, while the transfers have been renewed. It has also been converted to 2-rail and given more modern wheels, although it could fairly easily be put back into 3-rail form. 

As well as providing these locomotives, the company also sold models made by other firms (and identified as such), and built some locos in response to requests. Hammond's Guide indicates that the Bonds catalogued special order locos range was offered from 1935 onwards, which means that these particular models were available for a shorter period than the Milbro ones in the pre-war years. They were also rather expensive, although a couple of the 0 gauge prices undercut those of Mills. The catalogued Bonds LNER pacific, for instance, was priced at £19 10s in 1936-1937, as against £22 5s for a Mills one in the same catalogue years. In any event, locos from this Bonds series seem very scarce. Unlike Milbro, however, Bonds continued to be known for its model locomotive production through the post-war years up until the 1970s, although most of the company's business was apparently nothing to do with model railways. Martin Bloxsom's article shows some examples of locos made by the company. In the post-war years there was also some outsourcing, including contract arrangements with Vulcan of Kendal to supply J39 0-6-0 tender locos and some B1 4-6-0s.

One question of interest for present purposes concerns differences between pre- and post-war Bonds locos. After World War Two, materials gradually shifted in model-making generally, with more use of nickel silver, but equally important was the ongoing development of motors and mechanisms. Many post-war coarse-scale models (not just those of the company itself) contain Bonds motors of modern design, so identification and verification of a Bonds loco might sometimes be more difficult than with items made before the war.


I have not tried to assemble here any systematic list of the motors and mechanisms offered by Bonds in different periods (and there will be many enthusiasts who know a great deal more about that history than I do), but there do seem to have been several changes over time as far as mechanisms for 0 gauge were concerned. For present purposes I will start by illustrating the very successful type available in the later years. Discussion then goes on to refer to the 'Standard' and 'Super' mechanisms that were available at the time when the company produced its pre-war scale model locos range. This is followed by tentative comments on the post-war use of the term 'Super' mechanism.   



Illustration V33  Examples of the familiar types of motors and gearbox available during the later stages of production, and popular with O gauge enthusiasts. As most readers will probably already know, a Bonds unit of this kind often represented the 'motor of choice' when models were being built or up-dated and re-engineered. 



Illustration V34  A leaflet advising on the fitting of a Bonds motor, to assist locomotive builders or owners.


When its pre-war scale locomotives range was developed, the firm had some highly distinctive mechanisms available for its 0 gauge models. The 'New Standard Electric Mechanism' was described in the 1936-1937 catalogue as including a 'special form of skew gear', and had adjustable ball races for the main driving axle. The next picture shows what I take to be one of these mechanisms, in Bond's six-wheel frames, in case some readers may not have seen one.  As it is without its centre pair of wheels in this photograph, the way the brushes are held can be seen reasonably well. Standard versions similar to this one turn up occasionally in four- or six-wheel forms. I have found that when the wheels are of the heavy pressed-on type they can present problems for anyone hoping to remove them without specialised equipment! The illustration of this six-wheel mechanism is followed below by a picture of a similar one which carries a Bond's logo. Unfortunately, finding that one of these motors has a Bond's logo does not mean that the loco it sits in was made by the firm itself!

The Bond's designs of this period contrast in a number of ways with the mechanisms being used by Milbro (see our section on Milbro locomotives). Until the mid-1930s, Mills mechanisms were themselves linked with the brass-framed motors that had been developed by Leeds in its earlier production period. An example of a Leeds mechanism with brass frames is shown in Illustration V36 below. When Milbro's later mechanism was introduced, the motor unit was very compact, and could be used without the construction of the kind of rectangular framing needed in earlier mechanisms like that shown in V36.

BONDSearly Mech1

Illustration V35a  An example of one of the pre-war types of mechanisms made by Bonds. Not all of these motors have survived in reasonable running order, and some may prove a challenge without the help of someone with good electrical knowledge and skills.



Illustration V35b  Some of these motors carry the firm's name. This one drives the mechanism in what seems to be a scratch-built model created by someone with excellent engineering skills. Unlike the motor shown above, this one runs superbly, and seems very capable of powering what is a large and heavy LNER 2-8-0.



Illustration V36  For contrast. These Leeds mechanisms seem to have been widely used, and the link with what Mills made for Milbro engines up until the mid-1930s is clear. In this example there are steel wheels rather than LMC soft metal ones, but the slotted centre nut is much the same as it would be if LMC wheels were put on.



Illustration V37  The Bonds mechanism as set up for a four-coupled loco. This motor still runs quite well despite its age. The frames appear to have been shaped to fit a specific model, either by the company or by a purchaser, and the wheels are of the pressed-on type. One of the pick-up 'spoons' has been lost, and replaced rather crudely. It can be seen that the coupling rods are very plain (and they are also fairly thin). This was probably largely a matter of price, although it is possible that higher quality original ones may have been removed by an owner.



Illustration V38  This Bonds mechanism is a variant of that shown in V15, and the brass frames run the full length of the model. I am not sure that this attractive engine is necessarily a Bonds loco, but it has been very robustly built in brass, and perhaps could be described at least as 'in the style of Bonds'.


The Bond's 'Super' mechanisms before and after World War Two

The pre-war Bonds 'Super Electric Mechanisms' (see Illustrations V39, V43 and V44) may perhaps have represented a high point of the firm's mechanism design in the early and mid-1930s, but seem very rare today. They were apparently built individually to suit customers' own requirements. The 1931-1932 catalogue description for them was twenty-one lines long, and the price for gauge 0 was £4 10s. The company offered these mechanisms in six-wheel form, but I have not seen any picture of a four-wheel version. Unfortunately, I do not have an array of the Bonds catalogues for the late 1930s, but if there was a four-wheel version then it must have been difficult to construct. In any event, in the absence of further information it seems most likely that a mechanism like that in V37 or V38 would have served instead as the most probable pre-war power unit for some of Bonds smaller tender and tank locomotives.


Illustration V39  The super mechanism as catalogued at the time of the pre-war locomotives range.


It appears that a transition to new mechanisms took place after the war, but I do not know whether the pre-war Super Mechanism remained available during the 1940s. It is worth noting, however, that Martin Bloxsom's article indicates that the company's original premises were 'bombed out' in World War Two. Unfortunately, Bonds 1950 catalogue confusingly shows what looks like an old picture of a motor of the type shown in V37 above, while simultaneously referring to a 'New' Super Electric Mechanism. Bonds Model Railway News advertising of the same period includes a drawing of a Bonds new '0' motor unit (e.g. in February 1950, at ii), but points out that the new redesigned motor unit differed from the illustration. The new Super Electric Mechanism was eventually referred to alongside an appropriate new photograph, showing a motor that included the 'Alcomax 2 magnet of new design'  (for instance in the 1956-1957 catalogue, 15). This post-war type of mechanism seems to have remained available for a long period, and apparently survived into the 1970s, even though a range of the types of motors shown above in Illustration V33 had by then also been developed. The 1972 catalogue seems to include the same photograph as that shown in 1950s and 1960s catalogues (although this observation is based on a very slim sample of catalogues). Using the terms 'Super Electric Mechanism' and 'Supermec', the 1972 text states that these 'Supermecs' are 'made to order only' (p. 83; cf also pp. 18-19 for the other advanced motors). Illustration V40 shows parts of catalogue pages side by side from 1964 and 1972. The 1964 one shows one of the firm's LMS tank engines, and the excellent motor bogie, as well as the six-coupled mechanism. As far as I can tell, the motor shown in Illustration V41d is of the type featured on both these pages. 



 Illustration V40  This comparison of pages from 1964 and 1972 shows continuity as far as availability of the post-war 6-wheel 'Super' mechanism was concerned.

The page on the left includes two very well-regarded other products; the motor bogie and the LMS 'Jinty' tank loco (see above). The term 'super' was also applied to the bogie. Motor bogies were advertised as being available in 6-wheeled as well as 4-wheeled forms. I assume that the bogie shown below is by Bond's, although perhaps an earlier version than the one pictured above (which looks to have enclosed gear boxes). I have no detailed knowledge of these products, but they are very impressive.  






Illustrations V41a, V41b and V41c  An excellent motor bogie that seems to be by Bond's. I do not know when this was made.





  Illustrations V41d and V41e   I think the motor in the upper picture here is a 'super' mechanism of the standard post-war type. The commutator is located at the rear, and the brushes are contained in tubes rather than located externally as on the pre-war mecanisms. The mechanisms I have had of this type have run very impressively.

The lower picture (V41e) shows what seems to be a 'transition' super mechanism. It is very well engineered, and similar to the one shown above it, but it has arrangements for the brushes that reflect pre-war practice.


The new Bonds motors of the post-war years were compact and well engineered, and achieved widespread use. Some principles had been carried forward from the 1930s, but as far as I can tell there was no return to the old types of magnet, or to the kind of large and open gear train that had been incorporated into the pre-war Super Mechanism. This may be important when it comes to trying to determine the production period of a specific Bonds scale model loco.


Pre-war Bonds locomotives from the catalogued scale model range or linked to it.

The pre-war locomotives in the catalogued 'scale model' range were available in various scales from 4mm up to the larger sizes, with 'scale steam' being an option for those above 0 gauge. Those items listed by the firm would most likely have been supplemented by specific orders from customers for individual models of additional engines. According to the catalogues, brass was the material used for the super-structures (except for the steam locos in larger scales). This seems to have contrasted with practice for the three small standard models referred to above in this section of our website (and which I suggest would generally have been built in tinplate).

I believe that the pacific loco shown now is an 0 gauge model sold by Bonds in the late 1930s as an item from their scale model range. I assume that it was built in the firm's own workshop. The loco and tender appear to be made of brass. 


Illustration V42a  Pre-war Bonds pacific Papyrus (see further pictures below).

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it seems reasonable to assume that the larger engines in this range in scales 0 and 1 would normally have used the 1930s Super Mechanism. My guess is that while the Bonds workshop would certainly have assembled frames and mechanisms for its own products, staff might also have provided either mechanism parts or complete mechanisms for use if a loco job was contracted out. In any event, as deployed in the loco shown here, the super mechanism is built directly into the frames. The catalogue description of the range explains that the mechanisms were specially built for each locomotive. With Papyrus the full-length side-frames (with their integral mechanism components) parallel what Mills had been doing since 1930/31. The idea of this style of construction was not Milbro's alone, but Bonds engineers may have felt the same about the advantages from the point of view of maintenance and construction. I have no way of knowing for certain whether the approach illustrated below was typical of Bonds catalogued loco models in general when a pre-war mechanism was inserted, but for the moment I am inclined to suggest that it would have been. Interestingly, the wheels on Papyrus appear to be pressed on. 


Illustration V42b  Another full-length picture of LNER pacific Papyrus. I believe this engine to have been made in the second half of the 1930s. It is a beautiful locomotive, and its paint finish has lasted well, albeit with some nasty damage to the metal at one point above the boiler. The previous owner had converted it to two-rail running, and made some amendments inside the loco and below the tender. Despite this, he retained the original frames and mechanism, as can be seen below.



Illustration V43  This shows the chassis and built-in mechanism of the loco. I have put alongside it a 'freestanding' 1930s Bonds 'Super Electric Mechanism', so that the viewer can see at once what has been done. The 'achilles heel' of these impressive pre-war motors was probably the system for the brushes. It seems odd that the designers of a motor with ball races and sophisticated gearing should have come up with such an under-developed and potentially precarious arrangement for holding things in position. An interesting feature of the motor and its gear train is that for this pacific it connects to the axle of the front driving wheels. This contrasts with what I would expect for a Milbro 4-6-0 or 4-6-2.



Illustration V44  From a different angle. The wheels on the front mechanism are not original, but its origin is confirmed by the stamped name of the company on one of the frames.



Illustration V45  Loco side view.



Illustration V46  Front end details.



Illustration V47  Nameplate, wheels and motion. I am informed that conversion of vintage locos to two-rail running could mean altering the wheels by cutting through spokes; perhaps that was done for this engine. 



Illustration V48a  The tender.



Illustration V48b  Tender front view.



Illustration V48c  The tender's paintwork is still in good condition.


Another excellent Bond's loco that may have been made before the war is shown below. It is a 3-rail LMS 8F.  




Illustrations V49a, V49b and V49c   I am grateful to a previous owner of this model for permission to use his excellent photographs here. They appeared on Ebay when the loco was auctioned in 2017. I do not know what the mechanism of this engine is like, but the narrative from an earlier owner apparently suggested that the model was sold by Bond's just before the second world war. If that is correct, then the loco might well contain something similar to the mechanism of Papyrus shown above.


Some other post-war motors

Having included some of the 'modern' Bonds motors in the previous section, I will try to show now a few of the other motors that came into use for UK 0 gauge models at various points after the second World War; Leakey, Pittman, Read Maxwell, Rocket Precision and Romford. I will not attempt to cover post-war Leeds or Bassett-Lowke mechanisms, as these are probably very well known already, but will refer briefly to Vic Reader's contribution. I should add that the main aim is just to help identification for anyone uncertain about a motor they have come across, as I do not have sufficient knowledge to comment effectively on technical matters of construction or performance.

0 gauge vintage enthusiasts sometimes refer to Leakey (or Leakey & Lee) motors, and suggest that specific mechanisms from this supplier should be viewed as direct successors to the post-war Bonds designs. Martin Bloxsom writes authoritatively that these motors - both large and small versions - "were essentially developments of the earlier Bonds ones which were discontinued once manufacturing stopped in 1974 ... " (see "More on Bonds models", Newsletter of the Bassett-Lowke Society, 24, 2, May 2014, p. 26). Indeed, it is possible to mistake a Leakey 'Double L' motor with an integral gearbox for a Bonds one when looking hastily at the underneath of a locomotive. The illustrations below show a 'Double L' mechanism of this type (and comparison can be made with our earlier illustrations of Bonds motors). The example below is accompanied by some explanatory documentation, including reference to a motor bogie. 'Double L' integral gearboxes seem to have been made not only in metal (as in my example), but also in plastic. I do not know the precise period during which Leakey mechanisms were produced, but the dates on the documents below are much more recent than the production periods of most of the other motors referred to in this sub-section. I have seen a Leakey motor of a different kind and more moden style, but have no data on the range produced. Martin Bloxsom indicates that Denis Leakey had previously worked for Bonds, and produced the 'Double L' motors in collaboration with Mr Lee.






Illustrations V50a, V50b, V50c, V50d and V50e  The 'Double L' mechanism is sometimes seen as a successor of (or development from) the popular post-war Bonds mechanisms with their integral gearboxes.  


It seems that the American Pittman motors were distributed in the UK primarily through the Pritchard Patent Product Co Ltd, and the picture below is an extract from a descriptive leaflet on which that firm are stated to be the 'sole sales concessionaires for the British Isles'.



 Illustration V51a  Seven of the motors in the Pittman range. These were used by model railway loco makers and enthusiasts working in a variety of scales, and Pittman offered others especially for use in scale cars and boats.



Illustration V51b  One of the largest standard Pittman motors suitable for 0 gauge model locos, the DC 91, which has 7 poles. The length of the whole unit here is 83mm, although I have had another one with a longer shaft than on this example.

Pittman motors seem to have been well received, and mentions of their use in locos by Exley, by Foster for Exley, and by Beeson for Exley, can be found in the model railway press in 1951 and 1955. I also know of an authenticated 1950s 'Director' model from the retailer Tyldesley and Holbrook which has a Pittman motor.  They can sometimes be found in locos which started out with different motors when first made. Unfortunately, a change of mechanism can often make identification of a model's origins more uncertain, and in some cases interior metal-work may have been cut and altered ruthlessly to take one of the larger Pittman units. (Clearly, though, the change had been thought worthwhile, in order to get more power and perhaps reliability in contrast with an older motor.) There usually seems to be a worm gear arrangement with Pittman motors put into UK model locos. The style and design of these motors diverged sharply from the traditional horseshoe magnet motors of the pre-war years (see also footnote 1, below).



Illustration V51c  A smaller Pittman motor could often be fitted between the frames of an 0 gauge loco, as on this Castle. Although perhaps good enough at the time the loco was built, this motor has deteriorated and needs replacing (unlike most of the Read-Maxwell ones I have had; see below).


Read Maxwell motors seem to have appeared in the UK model railway press from around 1950, and (like the Pitmans) they also represented a break with the past. They were especially neat in design, with good arrangements for housing the brushes, and offered modellers something that might be fitted comfortably within or on top of the frames. The motors were apparently well-regarded for their power (as were the Pittmans), and I would guess that anyone collecting locos from the earlier post-war decades is likely to encounter a model with a Read Maxwell mechanism sooner or later. Some professional makers certainly made use of them when appropriate; for example the firm Cherrys (Surrey) Ltd (see 'Trade Topics', The Model Railway News, 26, 308, August 1950, p. 149). As various new motors came into use after the war, builders would have taken account of the specific motor designs when planning a chassis and frames, but adaptation may have been patchy. I have a brass LNER tank loco that was clearly professionally built in or shortly after the late 1940s, and had been fitted with a Read Maxwell motor. Strangely, the design for accommodating this looked back to the past, with the motor unit itself contained fully within a raised rectangular section of the brass frames, reminiscent of the pre-1935 Mills mechanisms shown in the Locomotives section of this website, or of the pre-war Bonds pacific chassis illustrated earlier in the present section. Such a strategy seems unlikely to have been really necessary for a Read Maxwell, especially as there was in this particular case only a simple worm and gear system for driving the loco. Perhaps this model was made by Bonds or Mills personnel, still under the influence of their earlier chassis designs (and the model certainly was in line with Bonds practice in some other ways); or maybe the client specified a late change of motor from what had originally been planned. Unfortunately, without further evidence any such conclusion would of course be rather speculative. In any event, the Read Maxwell motors had a considerable impact in these years, and offered a versatile alternative to the main pre-war options. The Windsor Models 0-6-2 GWR tank loco shown in our separate section on Windsor Models was given a Read Maxwell motor when someone converted it from clockwork.

As far as I can tell, only a minority of Read Maxwell motors seem to carry the company name, whether in full or in the form of letters. The first picture below, however, shows one that does have the full name, and I am very grateful to George Coop for permission to display this. Thanks are also due to Pieter Penhall for sending me very infomative communications about these motors and their history, and for letting me see some extensive material he has gathered about them. Pieter has been carrying out systematic research into the history of the Read Maxwell or RM motors and their production, and has pointed to the important role of John Hart and Rob Dettmar in that history. His research is ongoing. Readers who are familiar with recently-made models that capture much of the style, quality and feeling of the vintage era will probably already know of impresssive work by Pieter which involves the production of locos (including a very attractive Cock O' the North). His website is very well worth visiting; at the Fitzroy Locoworks. Pieter's research on motors has recently revealed that there was a Read Maxwell Gauge 1 motor as well as the Gauge 0 ones illustrated here.


 Illustration V52  Thanks are due to George Coop for permission to show this photograph.



Illustration V53 This has a shorter version of the title.



Illustration V54  Two small RM motors, and a larger one attached to a gearbox.



Illustration V55  This shows a similar motor mounted vertically. The brass frames and mechanism seem to have been professionally assembled, and the pickup carries the stamped letters 'MBK'. The adaptability of Read Maxwell motors was clearly advantageous. In this case the positioning chosen for the motor might have enabled it to fit more readily within the body of a specific loco. It is a 3-pole motor.

For anyone identifying a motor that appears to be of the RM type, it seems that stamped serial or identification numbers are generally clearly visible. The number of poles may vary; three on smaller motors, and perhaps five or eight on larger ones. Some motors may have an extended shaft at the rear suitable for taking a flywheel (see Illustration V54 above), but others do not (as in V53). Some contemporary advertising referred to a chassis on offer that incorporated the Read Maxwell motor, and this chassis was apparently of high quality. For locos with outside cylinders it was recommended that these should be attached to the chassis, a design feature for which Mills had been one of the pioneers before the war. Furthermore, Mills motors from the mid-1930s onwards, late Bonds motors, and the Read Maxwell ones shown above house the brushes and their springs within 'tubes' or round holes that pass through a solid block. This type of arrangement contrasts sharply with the Pittmans and Romfords. The Mills, RM and Bonds patterns give greater stability and protection. I do not know whether Milbro independently came up with this idea as a design solution, or whether it may have been developed initially elsewhere (and perhaps outside the model railways field). 


Vic Reader   I have been advised that the mechanism shown below is by Reader. It is rather like an improved version of a post-war Bassett Lowke mechanism, with distinctive arrangements for the brushes. Reader also seems to have adapted and rebuilt existing Bassett-Lowke motors, as I have an example that has been put into an Exley locomotive that belonged to him.



Illustration V56  A Reader mechanism, developed from post-war Bassett-Lowke practice.


Rocket Precision  For the excellent information and photographs used in this sub-section, I am very grateful once again to Pieter Penhall (who helped me also on Read Maxwell motors as was noted above). The catalogue cover below refers both to Scaloh products and to Rocket Precision. Pieter informs me that Rocket Precision was an incorporated company that may have undertaken war work, and seems still to have been in operation some decades later.  Rocket motors were apparently produced with the invovement of W.S.Norris (who was well known in model railway circles). Scaloh was a brand name used in connection with model railway parts and 0 gauge track products (including 'dead scale' nickel silver 0 gauge track pioneered after World War Two). Rocket Precision advertised their products in the model railway press; a 1950 advertisement for example mentions jig drilled frames and steel coupling rods, and what was referred to as their 'Scaloh Mechanism', available as Type A or Type B at six-and-a-half guineas (Model Railway News, January, 26, 301, p. ii). Two months later the company used the term 'Rocket Scaloh' when referring to their products, including what was now described as the 'Rocket Scaloh Mechanism'. One important feature of the Rocket mechanisms was that they were more readily compatible with sprung driving axles than the more traditional mechanisms of the 1930s. The narrow gear train fitted in its entirety between the loco frames as a separate moving unit (cf the Exley mechanisms shown in our separate section on Exley locos).




 Illustrations V57a, V57b and V57c  Catalogue cover, and extracts referring to the Rocket Mechanism.







 Illustrations V58a, V58b and V58c  A nice example of the motor unit. Thanks again to Pieter for these images; he indicates that this is the 'Type B', which has a larger (longer) armature and magnet. 


Peter notes that there is a brass leaf coming out from one end of the unit, and that this is actually the mount - "essentially a large leaf spring" - that attached the entire motor and gear train assembly to the loco frames. He also draws attention to the incorporation of some standard Bassett-Lowke motor parts. We can add that the brass section which is bolted at each side onto the magnet (and has a cut-out rectangle on each side) looks a little like something inspired by a part used on the standard late Mills motor units. The magnet shown above seems to have stamped identifiers similar to those seen on some other commercial motors (such as the SLS20 found on some late Milbro motors). 


Romford motors are probably better known today than the Read Maxwells and Rocket Precisions, and there were several types. The important London model railways retailer Walkers & Holtzapffel (W & H) referred in catalogues to Romford Model Ltd. as an associate company of theirs, and W & H catalogues present the motors and sometimes also their component parts. Examples are shown below.




romfordmotorcat5 001


Illustrations V59a,V59b and V59c  Extracts from W & H catalogues (undated). The top picture shows what I take to be an early version of the 0 gauge motor, and the second indicates the commitment to providing for several gauges. Some other catalogue entries refer also to TT motors. 

Milbro eventually catalogued both an 0 gauge Romford motor and several 00 gauge versions, including an 00 motor bogie unit. The 0 gauge version was described as extremely robust and powerful, and was apparently designed to 'require very little space' in a loco, although the length of the whole unit was in fact quite considerable. The brushes were referred to as 'instantly detachable', and they do indeed come off readily (sometimes perhaps when not desired!). The unit depended on a worm gear arrangement, and can sometimes be identified when looking at the underneath of a model by the long brass section that encloses the gear (and turns towards the viewer at the end furthest from the motor). The version shown in the next illustration is one that seems to be fairly common today.


Illustration V60  The later type of the motor for 0 gauge, as presented in a Mills catalogue. 


What I think is the earlier version of the 0 gauge Romford mechanism has something in common with Milbro's own motors, since the horseshoe-type magnets appear very similar. This may well not be accidental, and could suggest either use of the same component supplier or even perhaps a direct link with Mills Brothers' own stock of parts. The Milbro motors may well have been discontinued at about the same time as the Romford ones made their appearance, or not long after, although I have no precise dates. If anyone has any historical information on this, please let me know. 





Illustrations V61a and V61b  The first picture here sets what I take to be an early type of Romford motor alongside a late Milbro one. The 'horseshoe magnets' are actually the same size as well as shape. The second illustration shows the company name and serial number.

 As can be seen from the catalogue extracts above, the later Romford motors have a different (rectangular) appearance for the magnet sections, in line with developments in post-war practice affecting 0 gauge motor designs generally.





(1)  Thanks to Pieter Penhall for alerting me to the availablity of very good coverage of Pittmans on the internet, at (consulted by the present writer in November and December 2015).