Ask Phil: Which loco do I need for an industrial layout?


For my new adventure, a UK small shelf switching layout, I have been thinking about one or two small loco's and about a dozen wagons to get started. Being in the States, there isn't a hobby shop stocking British models, so I need to invest wisely by mail order. Can you suggest some models I should look at? John, Indiana.

For a small shunting layout, my first choice of loco would be the Hornby Peckett - a cracking little model that run like a dream.  The company offer both 0-4-0 and 0-6-0 versions and are as good as each other - I know there is an example of each type on my shelf!

Which you go for will be determined partly by the track you have. If your points (turnouts) have insulated frogs, then I'd suggest the 0-6-0 as the extra wheels should ensure reliable pickup. You might be OK with the 0-4-0, especially if using DCC with a "stay alive" chip, but it's more of a risk.

Another option is the Hattons Barclay, which is available in a wide range of industrial liveries. A nice looking and running model that has proved popular with modellers on RMweb.

If diesels are more your thing, then the Oxford Rail "Janus" is a well-priced and good looking model.

The 6-wheel pickup will be great for typical industrial quality trackwork and a wide variety of liveries are on offer.

We took a proper look at this model when it came out and posted a video here.

Hornby offers a Sentinel 0-4-0 in two versions - with or without outside cranks and con-rods.

Finally, don't forget that many BR locos were sold to industry after their "big railway" days were finished.

Here we have a Bachmann Class 03 diesel and Heljan Class 05, both in industrial guises. The 05 has been fully repainted into the fictitious industrial livery of the layout - not a difficult job and one that really personalises your model. If you go that route, I suggest ordering a set of etched nameplates and calling your latest model after a family member, that always deflects the "Have you bought another train" comments!

One to avoid - the Hornby 0-4-0 based on the "Smokey Joe" chassis.

There's nothing really wrong with Hornby's cheaper 0-4-0 locos. Available in loads of different liveries and body styles, but for a shunting layout, the gearing, originating from Scalextric range, is far too high. Your shelf layout needs locos that can crawl at a walking pace and even the later versions of these models, which enjoy better mechanics, won't offer that. Doing something about this is possible, but it's a huge amount of work. Better start with one of the other models I've mentioned and avoid the frustration.

A few years ago, modelling industrial prototypes involved a lot of kit building, but now, we have plenty of excellent models ready to run straight from the box. I'm sure you'll find something that will look great on your layout.

Do you have a model railway question - send it in and we'll answer it.