Modelling Notes:
Golden Arrow Productions Leader Kit
by Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt

Golden Arrow Productions usually sell the Leader in ready to run form, however they will supply in kit form if requested. Mine came with the body all ready finished in primer as it was taken off the production line for the R-T-R version.
Reasonable instructions are supplied including hand drawn exploded diagrams (which is more than you get with most Golden Arrow kits) along with very brief historical and simplistic livery advice, which implied that the Leader had black and red lining from when it first went on trial, but this was not strictly true as I have detailed in the section headed livery notes below.
I have checked the kit against a dimensional drawing and have found it to be pretty accurate, although some careful adjustment of the bogie mounting points is required to reduce the height by approximately 1mm to be correct.

Kit, as supplied:

  • The kit is a mixture of cast resin items and white metal castings.
  • Cast resin components comprise of: one piece body, driving cab interiors (different for each end), fireman's cab interior, ashpan assembly.
  • Cast white metal components comprise of: body detailing parts such as:
    driver's seats, fireman's window, steam reversing unit, smokebox dart, whistles and tank vents;
    power bogie components include: main block, pivot frames, side frames, motion covers, buffer beams, buffers and detailing items such as steps, steam generator, reversing shafts, steam and vacuum pipes and ladders.
  • Also included are screws and glazing.

The body required very little cleaning up, especially as it was supplied to me already primed. Care must be taken around the window openings, especially the front windows. Body fittings including cab interiors c/w cast white metal seats, whistles (one each end), tank fillers, fireman's cab interior, fireman's cab window, firebox rear, and handrails (0.45mm brass wire) were simply glued in placed after drilling locating hole as required. I added lamp irons to the ends using my time honoured method of cut down Bambi® staples. Roxey™ Southern head code discs complete the look.

The power bogie assemblies are fixed into the body by screws, self tapping screws are supplied in the kit for this purpose. I, however, choose to drill and tap the cast resin body and glued in 8 BA studs (simply made from screws with the head cut off and the thread carefully cleaned with a die) and held the bogies on with nuts, rather than stress the resin with the self tapping screws. This also makes it slightly easier to fit the bogies to the body and removes the fear of the thread stripping in the cast resin body.
The ashpan resin casting is screwed to the body. This is fitted after the power bogies as the pickup wire between the bogies is located in a slot in the underside of the body and held in place by the ashpan.

I will put a driver and a second man in the cab (the driver was never alone during the tests) of the number two end - see running note below, and the fireman gasping for cold air with his head out of the window of the central fireman's cab.

Vacuum formed flush glazing is also supplied but as that leaves slightly rounded corners I prefer to cut individual windows from clear plastic and hold into place with a tiny drop of PVA glue (which glues totally clear) giving a good flush effect.


Power Bogies:
Golden Arrow do point out in the instructions that it was designed to be sold as a ready to run model and built on a jig rather than for home assembly. White metal parts make up the power bogies. I have used Markits™ wheels and axles. The bogie baseplate casting required some work with the file to make it fit correctly and give clearance for the drive gears.

The power bogie is designed to use a LH19 double ended motor with 40:1 worm and gear drive to two of the axles on the bogie. The Ready to Run version is supplied with one powered and one trailing bogie (which is made from identical parts - just doesn't have a motor fitted). I decided to make two identical powered versions.

The LH19 motor is sandwiched between castings and packing must be used under the motor to ensure the correct meshing of the gears. This is a little time consuming to get right by trial and error. I used the time honoured approach and placed tissue paper between the worms and the gears to give the clearance that is required and then packed with plasticard to suit. The top white metal casting that holds the motor in place is also the bogie pivot point. I had to file this thinner to ensure that the body sat at the right height on the bogies and used low melt solder to fix into position, to ensure I could easily remove it if I need to replace the motor.

The bogies are designed so that power is collected from opposite sides at each bogie with a single wire between the two, I added additional wire wiper pick ups to each bogie (allowing them to be independent units, useful when testing) and ran a pair of wires between them.

Bogie Leader


This kit gives, with a little care (and patience with the bogies), a good model and captures the imposing looks of the original well. The cast components were on the whole clean, and fitted together well. The power bogie construction could do with improvement to make it simpler to assemble but as already stated Golden Arrow do point out in the instructions that it was designed to be sold as a ready to run model and built on a jig rather than for home assembly. Golden Arrow do suggest an outline for a different drive arrangement if a larger motor is preferred, however I went for the option of motorising both bogies.

The instructions sheet included hand drawn exploded diagrams, gave a brief paragraph on the history and, as mentioned, simplistic livery advice, but did in fact recommend referring to the Kevin Robertson Book "Leader - Steam's Last Chance"
Don't expect fancy packaging with a Golden Arrow kit! I ordered this kit along with a W Class body kit and the Maunsell 350hp shunter kit and they all came loosely packed in what appeared to be the first box they had to hand. I must confess however that as I don't keep stock in individual boxes this did not worry me, but I thought I would mention it.


Livery notes:
Although the Leader was painted in light grey throughout its short life there were slight changes to lining and insignia. I have tried to put some dates together as below:

Bogie Leader

21 June 1949. Introduced in silvery light grey, no lining or insignia. Cast number plate on front of each end.
28 June 1949. While at Eastleigh 36001 was repainted outdoors in matt light grey, British Railways lion on wheel insignia and number added to centre of each side.
Between 15 & 22 July 1949. Whilst at Brighton, British Railways insignias and numbers painted out leaving a rectangle of a slightly different colour light grey (I guess not so silvery and matt). Numbers applied to each end of both sides just behind the door (note the cast number plate on each end was also retained). Black and red lining applied in 3 panels to each end and 4 panels to each side.

March 1951 project abandoned and 36001 scrapped along with 36002 which was virtually complete and 36003/4 which were in progress.

It is also worth noting that from the limited photographs available it would appear that it was never cleaned!

The instruction sheet was very simple and lacked any prototype backgrounds or history.

Prototype running notes:
It is worth remembering that the Leader never ran in public service and only on test trains from, firstly, Brighton 'til February 1950 and from Eastleigh after April 1950.
It only generally ran with the Number two end leading as the number one end cab was considered uncomfortable due to the heat of smokebox located at the back of the cab.
During the trials from April 1950, originating from Eastleigh, the Leader ran with the ex-LNER Dynamometer car (the one used for Mallard's record breaking run) and at this time a circular hole was cut in the end of the number 1 cab to allow the monitoring cables to be run between the Leader and the Dynamometer car. I believe that Bill Bedford does etched sides for the dynamometer car.

I would recommend the following books on the leader: Leader - Steam's Last Chance; Robertson, Kevin; Alan Sutton Publishing
Leader and Southern Experimental Steam; Robertson, Kevin; Alan Sutton Publishing; 1990; 0-86299-743-7
Leader the Full Story (the above two books combined); Robertson, Kevin; Alan Sutton Publishing; 1995;
Bullied Locomotives; Haresnape, Brian; Ian Allen; 1985; 0-7110-1539-2

Leader alongside an M7. The intention was that the new locos would have the same route availability as the older ones.

General notes on working with cast resin:
Cast resin is by nature quite a soft medium and files / drills quickly and easily with very little effort. I would suggest avoiding self-tapping screws and ensure that you use the correct tapping drill for the thread that you require otherwise threads can be easily stripped. Also avoid over-tightening screws.

Prior to painting clean the resin body thoroughly and I then suggest the use of a plastic primer. I use an aerosol version from Halfords.

It is a common practice with white metal or brass kits, once a model body is washed prior to painting gently heat the body, in an oven, to ensure it is totally dry first and also to give a warm surface for the paint to adhere to. I must note here that extreme care must be taken with cast resign bodies with this practice otherwise warping could occur.

all photographs are copyright Graham R 'Muz' Muspratt.

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This page was last updated 31 December 2007

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