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Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Pioneer Models unofficially at Liverpool exhibition

Pioneer Models' Lindsay O'Reilly (the author of this blog) will be at the Liverpool AMRA exhibition this coming weekend on Saturday and Sunday. 
Officially I am there for Ixion Models - look for me and the big Ixion banner at Stand 75, shared with Ixion's other Aussie Director Phil Badger and Phil's other companies Gopher Models and Badgerbits. However, if asked, I will answer questions about the proposed crowdfunded C32. 
There'Lloyds be lots nearby of O scale interest, with Arakoola, the Aus7 Modellers Group, and Model O Kits with their full range of available models including the factory-assembled pilot model of the 36 Class running for your enjoyment. If O scale is your thing, make sure you don't miss this show if you can get there.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Hi friends,
Tonight the Pioneer Models crowdfunding campaign for a brass RTR low-frame 32 Class went live on OzCrowd. 

See all the photos, details, variations and liveries here:

Or, if the link doesn’t work, Google the OzCrowd site and search it for Pioneer Models.

The price is $2495, and we need 80 sign-ups to make it happen. The specifications of the model are:

  • Accurately detailed 1:43.5 scale hand-made brass model with 2mm chassis frames.
  • Fully painted, and lined where appropriate, numbered and ready to run.
  • Four prototypical liveries in a choice of ten numbers, chosen from historical research and photographs.
  • Both front footplate styles will be available: original ‘S’ curved, and later angled version.
  • Wheels to Gauge O Guild finescale profile.
  • Mabuchi 12V DC motor; gearbox ratio will be 1:22 to 1:25.
  • Working leadlight (LED) and front and rear marker lights – white forward, red reverse.
  • DCC ready – this spec is still under development. We are hoping to provide a current ‘best practice’ facility to wire in a 21-pin decoder with sound connections. No designed-in provision for a speaker for DCC sound, but sound can be fitted using after-market suppliers.
  • Wheel material – to be decided. If the axle needs to be insulated, the wheels will be stainless steel die-cast whole. If the wheels need to be insulated, the wheel core will be brass casting with rim to be stainless steel.
  • Opening smokebox and firebox doors.
  • Couplers: prototypical hook and single link coupler fitted to front buffer beam. Provision made for Kadee (and compatible) knuckle coupler draft gear box, to Aus7 Modellers Group height specs, on rear buffer beam.
  • ALTERNATIVELY, a prototypical tender buffer beam with hook drawgear can be fitted, but it must be ordered at the same time as your loco. Email us at if you want the prototypical tender buffer beam on your model.
  • 1 Year factory warranty on parts and assembly.
The campaign is live for 87 days, and closes on December 13th 2015. So there’s plenty of time to consider it, save up, ask for a raise at work or dip into the childrens’ inheritance to get yourself one.

Please read the info on OzCrowd before asking any questions. Then, if you think there's anything that that information doesn't cover, you can contact us via our email address: pioneer, 
or via the OzCrowd site.

Lindsay O’Reilly, for Trevor Hodges and John Birch,

Pioneer Models.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Numbers and Liveries, Prices and Motors

The list of loco numbers and liveries for the Pioneer Models ) scale C32 has been compiled and cross-checked. Each of these locos is chosen because it matches a prototype photo. 

The numbers and names of the maroon and green engines come from a list provided to us by renowned rail historian Ian Dunn, and we publicly acknowledge his invaluable help in this aspect of the model's planning.

We will not be doing unnumbered locos, nor will we be able to accommodate requests for favourite numbers. A list of ten choices in a run of just 100 engines is already a pretty fair selection!

Please note, however, that locos may not be produced if they have no subscribers; so if you want 3333 in plain black, or lined green 3374, and you're thinking you'll just buy it after delivery, beware; that combination may not even exist to be purchased. The only way to guarantee the number and livery of your choice is to subscribe the full amount via the OzCrowd campaign page once that goes "live". 

3265 is, of course, the only preserved low-frame 32 Class, and so the model will depict the loco as it looks now.

The price has been set at $2495.00, at the top end of our expected range. This is due to the volatile exchange rate of the Australian dollar against the US dollar (all payments to China are in USD), then the import duties, taxes and fees had to be added to the GST component, plus the fees levied by the OzCrowd site itself had to be factored in. (They are deducted from this amount; they are not added on to the nominated $2495.00 price.)

Lastly for today, we have received sample motors from the factory, and these are being evaluated for suitability, especially in relation to designing the loco to be, hopefully, truly DCC and sound ready.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The other liveries

Having posted pictures of the lined green and lined maroon liveries for the 32 Class yesterday, here are representations of the other two liveries. these are the plain black (what I call "service black", because it's the standard livery of NSWGR engines in service), and slightly more interesting black with red footplate edge.

The latter was sometimes called the 'railtour livery', as it was often applied to engines which were specially booked for rail enthusiast tours. However, photo evidence shows in much wider use than that, so we have included it for those who want a change to the unrelieved black of most other NSW locos in everyday service.

Yes, I know these aren't very visually stimulating images compared to the coloured ones, but neither was the appearance of the real thing!

Colour and DCC decisions

Well, the C32 loco project is getting closer to the point where we can put it up on on OzCrowd. We have settled the list of liveries and numbers to be produced, and I'll post these soon. 

Most challenging has been the process of selecting the numbers for the coloured engines. We have been in communication with noted NSW a rail historian about this, and the maroon and green locos have been chosen from information provided by him.

I have had some fun today in Photoshop, attempting to represent the appearance of the lined green locos using a Phil Badger photo of 3265. The number (3266) is actually correct for a green engine, but the "Hunter" nameplate is of course from 3265. The image has been given the thumbs-up by Ian Dunn; what do you think? (Click on the image for a larger version.)

And here's the original photo. Both these liveries will be available on the 7mm scale model.

We have also been discussing amongst ourselves what "DCC ready" actually means. The 8-pin board which the factory have offered to fit is inadequate for all the connections that DCC sound would require. We are asking one of our friends, an O scale DCC and sound guru, whether he could design a circuit for a 21-pin plug that the factory could easily follow. We'll keep you up to date with progress.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Introducing Pioneer Models' O Scale C32 Project

What is the Proposal?
Pioneer Models are proposing to manufacture a ready-to-run, finescale brass model in 1:43.5 O scale of the low frame NSWGR C32 4-6-0 tender locomotive. The prototype and basis for the model will be the preserved locomotive 3265. This version of the 32 Class has not been available in O scale before in RTR form.
This locomotive is to be crowdfunded; that is, it will funded using subscriptions from purchasers who commit to buy the model before it is produced.
The selected crowdfunding site to be utilised is OzCrowd. Find out more about them at .

Who are Pioneer Models?
Pioneer Models is a partnership, formed in August 2015, of John Birch, Trevor Hodges and Lindsay O’Reilly, with the express purpose of investigating the manufacture of a run of painted, ready-to-run brass models of New South Wales Government Railways locomotives in 7mm (1:43.5) O scale.

-       Lindsay is Australian, and the Marketing Director of Ixion Model Railways Ltd, a UK-registered company which has manufactured and sold over 3500 O scale RTR locomotives since 2010, using Chinese firms including the proposed manufacturer of this C32 model. Find out more about Lindsay, and Ixion, at, or use Google to find their Blog and Facebook page.

-       Trevor is a renowned NSW 7mm modeller and enthusiast, and is president of the Australian 7mm scale modelling association. Follow his modelling adventures via his blog at

-       John resides in the United Kingdom, and models NSW railways in Scale 7. He is a vice-president of the UK’s O Gauge association.

Why ‘Pioneer Models’?
The name Pioneer Models was chosen for a number of reasons, but especially because crowdfunding is a new, innovative way to bring locomotives to modellers that would otherwise be impossible without enormous financial reserves. Also, the 32 Class was staple motive power on many of the State’s lightly laid, so-called “pioneer” branchlines. And lastly, because for John and Trevor, this is an adventure into unfamiliar territory (not so for Lindsay), and moving from modeller to manufacturer feels very much like opening up undiscovered country.

What will it cost?
The 7mm C32 will cost between $2250 and $2500. We have the quote for the production run from the factory, and it is fixed until the 31st December 2015. However, the quote is in US dollars, and the falling exchange rate is presently increasing the cost of the loco; only incrementally, but every fall makes it a little more expensive.
We are also still gathering the necessary information about the ancillary costs of importing the locos: shipping costs, port charges, customs duties and agents’ fees, GST, and transport, warehousing and postage if necessary. There are also the crowdfunding site’s fees, and the costs of incorporating Pioneer Models Pty Ltd in Australia if a registered company’s bank account is required.
These costs will all be added together to produce the final, fixed price which will be the OzCrowd subscription price.

Why Crowd Funding?
Hand-built brass locomotives are expensive, both to manufacture, and to buy. Despite the lower costs of labour in the People’s Republic of China, these are still intricate and complex items to design, make and assemble. This run of just 100 C32 Class locomotives will cost over $200,000 Australian dollars to bring to market. Whilst the partners in Pioneer Models are enthusiasts, we are not millionaires. None of us has the reserves to bankroll the production run, and so this relatively new and innovative funding model is being trialled for the first time in Australia for an O scale locomotive.
Crowdfunding has already been tried in Australian railway modelling, notably by Phil Badger via the Kickstarter site. Through his company, Gopher Models, he hoped to produce first an injection-moulded mass-produced RTR AD60 Beyer, Garratt 4-8-4+4-8-4 in N scale. When this campaign was unsuccessful, he proposed a NSW 45 Class diesel in N scale. Whilst this campaign was also ultimately unsuccessful, much was learnt in the process. Phil is the Technical Director of Ixion Model Railways Ltd, and is a technical adviser to this C32 project.
Crowdfunding has been successful in funding models in the UK, and also in the USA, where both the production runs, and the number of potential purchasers, are considerably greater than exist in Australia.
However, Pioneer Models believes that there is a ready market for 100 RTR 32 Class locos in Australia; the challenge lies in persuading purchasers to commit the full purchase price BEFORE the production run has commenced. Be assured of this, however: If the project is fully subscribed, this locomotive will be produced. No if’s, no buts. We – the three partners in the enterprise – stake our reputations on it.

What is crowdfunding?
We can do little better than quote the Wikipedia listing:
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet. Crowdfunding is a form of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.
The crowdfunding model is fuelled by three types of actors: the project initiator who proposes the idea and/or project to be funded; individuals or groups who support the idea; and a moderating organization (the "platform") that brings the parties together to launch the idea.
In 2013, the crowdfunding industry grew to be over $5.1 billion worldwide.

How does the C32 crowdfunding campaign work?
Pioneer Models will launch an “All Or Nothing” funding campaign on OzCrowd, and advertise and post the link in as many locations as possible. If a visitor to the campaign site wishes to sign up to the project, they select their choice of livery and locomotive number, and complete the OzCrowd commitment process. This includes giving credit card details, BUT NO MONEY CHANGES HANDS AND THE CARD IS NOT DEBITED.
In an “all or nothing” campaign, a target funding amount is set, and a period of time is nominated to raise the funds. If at the end of that period – usually 90 days – the project is fully funded, all the registered credit cards are debited, the money collected by Pioneer Models, and we immediately sign the contracts and commence the production process with the factory in China.
If the project is not fully funded, it is closed down, all financial records erased, and no money changes hands. We simply shrug, say “We tried”, and walk away having lost nothing but the time taken to propose the project.

What liveries and numbers are being produced?
Locomotive numbers are still being confirmed, but these will be the four liveries offered:
1.     Plain black, with red buffer beams – called “service black” for simplicity.
2.     Black, with red buffer beams and lining to the footplate edge of loco and tender; the so-called “railtour livery”.
3.     Fully lined maroon with etched brass nameplates, as carried by 3265 in preservation and other locos in the 1930s.
4.     Fully lined green, as carried by the express passenger C32s in the 1930s.

Will extra models be produced?
Yes, but only sufficient for spare parts and exchanges, and a very small number (probably no more than ten) to sell to modellers and collectors who were not aware of the project, or missed the OzCrowd subscription deadline. If you want one, do not expect to be able to purchase one  - especially in your choice of livery and number) – after the models arrive in Australia. The only way to be guaranteed a 7mm C32 is to subscribe to this campaign whilst it is “live” on OzCrowd.

Who will make the locomotives?
The Pioneer Models NSWGR C32 4-6-0 locomotive will be manufactured by Bowande, the leading Chinese manufacturer of RTR brass models. They have made thousand of models for the UK and USA markets in HO, O and G scales, including live steam and electric models.
In the Australian market, Bowande have manufactured the 7mm scale model of NSWGR No.1021, the diminutive 0-4-0 Manning Wardle saddle tank produced for Ixion Models. They have also been the provider of models of the Victorian DERM and the NSW ‘Tin Hare’ railmotors, and NSW 44 Class, 49 Class and 45 Class diesel-electric locos.

What happens now?
Having announced the intention to produce the model, Pioneer Models is gathering the final details on costs and charges needed to set the purchase price of the locomotive. These will be posted here on our Blog. If you view and Follow this, all regular updates on the loco’s production will be posted there.

These pages will also contain the link to the OzCrowd campaign when it “goes live”.

If you have any feedback or queries, email us on