A ubiquitous British diesel

This week I hauled out the airbrush and weathered up this 7mm scale Dapol Class 08. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Why do I have this?

Well, I grew up with British-inspired models in 7mm (0 scale) – specifically, the Big Big Trains from Tri-ang, which were sold at local department stores at Christmastime. The star of the show was the Blue Flier – an impressive (for the time) locomotive fashioned on the Beyer Peacock “Hymek” diesel hydraulic, with a set of Mk2 coaches, all in a British Railways-inspired blue scheme.

The Big-Big Train catalogue did not include a Class 08, it probably should have – it would’ve been an ideal model for this range of battery-powered toys. Its boxy outline would’ve been perfect for containing a block of D cells.

In any case, later on I ran into many Class 08s in 4mm (00 scale) on friends’ layouts. The Class 08 was based on an LMS design, built between 1953 and 1962. For British Railways, they became one of the largest fleets of locomotives with about 1,000 examples on the rails. For some reason, railfans applied the nickname “Gronk” to Class 08s, as well a Class 09 and Class 13 diesel switchers (sorry: “shunters” in UK parlance).

I always liked the look of the Class 08, even though I never owned one in 4mm. The design expresses the sort of “low-speed grunt” that was essential in a diesel shunter. And the siderods added a wonderful bit of animation as model locomotives waddled down a track.

Their compact size, ubiquity, and long life have made the Class 08 popular subjects for models. Many manufacturers have produced them over the years – including Rovex, Tri-ang, Hornby, Lima, and Bachmann in 4mm… Graham Farish in N scale… and Dapol in 7mm.

My example is a Dapol plastic/diecast hybrid in 7mm. I fitted it with a Loksound 5 decoder loaded with the appropriate Class 08 sounds, with a big speaker in its own enclosure located behind the front grille. This was the easiest DCC installation I’ve ever done: A roof panel (above the hand rail on the side of the locomotive) pops off to reveal a standard DCC plug. Literally, I required no tools to do this upgrade once I’d soldered the two wires from the decoder to the speaker.

While my primary interest in 7mm scale is the Great Western Railway in the Edwardian era, I could not resist adding one of these to my collection as a reminder of my Big-Big Trains, and of those 4mm models that everyone but me seemed to own.

At some point, I’ll fit it with a crew. And then think about something for it to shove about on a layout…

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

8 thoughts on “Gronk!

  1. I have no idea where or when the moronic “Gronk” came into being. As I am just young enough not to remember the pre-TOPS numbering scheme, to me these were simply shunters, or 08s. We used to have 4 of them around town, mostly just sat there warbling away. Not sure if there are any now: train engines (and crews) tend to do what shunting is required.
    I think older people referred to them as “350s”, due to their original (nominal) power rating.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pure butch dieselpunk. Elements of it are clearly mid-century industrial, but the side rods and buffers connect this subject (in my mind, anyway) to the railroads of previous century. The color and abstract logo add to the cross-generational mix of visual queues. But the actual size and bulk are confounding. How big is the 7mm scale model, and how does the prototype compare in bulk to say, one of our North American twin hoppers or 40’ box cars?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. As someone who grew up in the 80’s watching Thomas the tank engine, this is Diesel – a bad guy. He would like to see your steam locos scrapped. Beware. ha!

    Liked by 1 person

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