Steve Johnson    Modelmaker




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General Motors 201 Class

201 'River Shannon' before naming

The Prototype

In 1994, Iarnród Éireann took delivery of the first of 32 new locomotives. These General Motors JT42HCW type were built in London, Ontario, Canada. They are fitted with the 12-710G3B engine producing 3,200bhp. Unusually for IÉ, all the locomotives were intended to carry names, those of Irish rivers. The nameplates are positioned above the cab side windows, with one Gaelic and one English plate per side. However, some locomotives have not had all the plates fitted. The livery applied to these locomotives is a radical departure from previous versions, the familiar Golden Brown has given way to a brighter more orange shade. These locomotives also supply what is known as Head End Power (HEP), that is an electrical supply for carriage heating and lighting. The two silver coloured HEP sockets can been seen just below the square buffers. Two of the locomotives, numbers 208 and 209 were delivered to NIR as their 208 Class. Another two of the IÉ batch, numbers 206 and 207, were specially repainted into the new 'Enterprise' livery of grey and dark green. These run the Dublin-Belfast 'Enterprise' trains with a dedicated rake of De Dietrich stock. Since then, a variety of liveries have been applied.

210 'River Erne'

The Model

Two models of this locomotive have been available, one from MTK (IRL7) and one from MIR, I have not seen the MTK version but believe it was an etched brass body. A third was reported to be available from Mark's Models, but despite ordering one, it never turned up. So, I have built the MIR version. This is a one piece resin bodyshell designed to fit on a modified Athearn SD45 chassis. The MIR kit comes complete with everything but the chassis, this includes etched brass grilles, paint, transfers, white metal fittings, Flushglaze windows, nameplates and colour painting diagram. One does have to specify which livery and nameplates that are required.

The resin casting is very clean and sharp, unlike what has been offered previously by other manufacturers. I decided that I would like to be able to see through the grilles, so removed the parts of the resin body behind they fit. This meant that I then had to make some radiator elements to go below the roof grille. There is a slight error in the moulding at the front. The flat section of the cab front is too deep, resulting in the buffers being at a too lower level. This may not bother some modellers, but I decided to correct this by carefully filing away the rebate until the correct depth had been achieved. There are also some small filler pipes at the front bottom of the cab sides. These are not present on the model so I carefully made a rectangular hole and inserted a small piece of brass wire to represent the pipe. At the No.1 end there is a small aluminium coloured cab vent grilles, to produce these I raided my parts bin and used a small section of Craftsman Class 37 nose grille cut to shape. Other items such as handrails can be made from 0.33mm brass wire.

One item missing from the kit are the HEP sockets, so I have made my own from bits of plasticard and wire. The buffers, MU socket and the various hoses can now be fitted. Having done this, a general tidy up of the body is all that is required before painting. One point to remember here, I found it best not to fit the headlights, marker lights and vacuum hoses at this stage. It is easier to apply the transfers first and then fit these items after. The first of my two models, No.210 'River Erne', is finished in the IÉ orange livery, the second, No.206 'River Liffey' is in 'Enterprise' livery but runs on a 21mm gauge chassis.

 Having painted the model, the transfers can be applied. These are the waterslide type which assist with positioning. You get both the yellow and black shaped stripes, which have to be carefully applied so that they line up on both the roof, cab sides and cab fronts. It is best to let these cure overnight before applying the rest. The numbers and Iarnród Éireann text on the cab sides are put on top of the yellow lining. The large IÉ logo is positioned centrally on the bodyside. The cab front numbers go just below the front windows. Nameplates can now be applied and the model varnished. When dry, the Flushglaze can be inserted, this might be a tight fit so some careful filing may be necessary to make a tight fit. No interior detail is provided, so I made my own from bits of plasticard and wire. The windscreen wipers are quite distinctive and are not provided in the kit and are not available elsewhere. So, the only thing to do is make your own. I did this by using the fine flat brass sections from various frets I had for other models. The wipers are of the pantograph type, so you will need two arms and one wiper per window.

The chassis and underframe need some attention. As mentioned, the model is intended to fit on the Athearn SD45 suitably lengthened. You also need to fit the various fuel tanks, air tanks and battery boxes. At the time I built my kit, these were not available, so I made my own. MIR now offer this underframe detail.

Other Models

Lima was the first company to offer a ready to run 201 Class model. It followed Lima's usual practice of a reasonable, but not highly accurate, body moulding sitting on top of a lightweight chassis driven by a 'pancake' motor at one end, weighted down with a piece of sawn off steel bar! It did however, have working headlights!

Murphy's Models have also produced a 201 Class and it is an excellent model. Built to the same standards as the company's B141/B181 offerings, it features a highly accurate and detailed body. This is mounted on a heavy chassis with a central can motor driving through flywheels to the gear towers offering twelve wheel drive and pick ups. Working lights are fitted and provision is made for DCC as well as sound.