Sunday, May 14, 2017

Scratch-Building Duncan | 16mm Scale

The old Scot who could Rock 'N' Roll ... on the rails and rather reckless that is! This narrow gauge industrial locomotive of the Skarloey Railway was a highly anticipated project that's now completed and ready for mixed traffic on the railway.

Duncan has a unique design as an Andrew Barclay locomotive, with his characteristic features that look similar to his German Orenstein & Koppel cousins, fitted brass pipes and extended tubing, large cab with low windows, and a tall funnel that could get him stuck in low clearances!

An appealing industrial loco, Duncan is an engine that has been on my list to make into a scratch-built model, sporting features that originate from original illustrations in the Railway Series books, the Thomas and Friends show from season 5, and his prototype.

 This has been a fun and challenging project, and below are photographs taken of his construction:


 These measured drawings served as a guide for me to make the parts for construction, getting the proportions right, the right measurements, and variations on Duncan's design.


On the workbench, I always start with the cab when building steam locomotives, and get the cab interior and details done first. With balsa controls like the throttle and brakes, I make the brass pipes with Darice Craft Designer's 16 gauge wire, with strips of thin paper to glue for facets, and covered with metallic sharpies that match with the pipe color.

Next, I build the boiler and smoke box as a shell that covers snugly over the custom Lego Power Functions chassis, made from heavy weight card and glued as well as taped in place for the cylindar parts. The running plate that extends to the front buffers, constructed from balsa.

This part was a fun challenge as it supports Duncan's smokebox. It's made from chipboard cardstock. I like this material a lot because it's thicker for some parts that require it's strength and thickness, but what I like most of all is its ability to bend easily for the curved edges of parts like this. The funnel is paper card rolled for his tall funnel and glued in place.

More chipboard was used for the roof and smoothly painted black. Rivets are craft gems spray painted in primer to be glued in place, and here are naturally blended to the body shell with paint.

Duncan has modified wooden buffer mounts here in addition to metal supports, and lamp irons made from balsa for replaceable headlamps! Door handles are also made from bent craft wire.

Now begins another challenge, hand-making and mounting those extra details on the side. Here are brass craft wire pipes, a sand pipe from the dome, and a brake crankshaft made from wire and balsa, mounted on his boiler housing and extending from his cab.

The axels over his wheels are made from balsa or cut chipboard. Each piece is cut and glued in place by hand and weathered.

Buffers actually work and can be sprung. Here before painting, pre-rolled strips of card paper are glued on balsa supports with rivets and mold extensions from more chipboard. Craft wire couplers and chains will be mounted on a hole that will be drilled into the buffer housing later.


Nearing completion, Duncan and all the assembled parts have been weathered using acrylics from Plaid FolkArt, Apple Barrel, and Deco Art's Americana. Duncan's red cylinder supports and wrapped steam pipes from his dome are actually made from salvaged electric copper wire encased in plastic, which have been cut, primed and glued into place for painting.

Here are his finished buffer details, with worn buffer caps, and sporting his working coupler and chain for pulling.

Name and number place are printed designs from Adobe Illustrator, mounted on the cab and boiler, showing manufacturer and the name of his previous working home at a wartime airplane factory.

As a well-tank engine, Duncan's water is stored in a container mounted between his chassis and driving wheels, so like his prototype, his filling cap extends from each of his sides for a water crane hose to be lowered at water stops!

Ready to join the Skarloey Railway fleet, Duncan is ready to roll. As the tallest member, he stands out from the others with his large cab and tall funnel. Here Duncan has his custom LEGO Power Functions chassis to stand together with Rusty and Rheneas for this shot.


While temperamental and stubborn, Duncan can pull any load and has the determination to prove valuable for the railway. He is fun to operate, and a charming addition to these scratch-builds.

Happy Modelling!


  1. Hi there! Could you tell me, what your e-mail address is? Becausu I would like to send you some pictures about one of my models, and they are too big to fit in a comment section. (mine address is: Thanks: Gergely Tatai from Hungary

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  3. cool.thanks to you ,I will make a 3D model of Duncan myself thanks for the idea and great work

  4. I will say...Duncan looks fantastic.Excellent job

  5. Duncan looks so sweet and cute