Novemeber 2022 – Re-paint and Re-engine: Merlin Gets a New Look

by Tom Cowlin

Although not seen by the public very often, 0-4-0 Electric ‘Merlin’ has resided at SDLR for around 10 years. Not normally used for passenger services, Merlin is mostly used for P-way trains during the off season at the railway. It can also be seen occasionally shunting in the yard. The loco was built by Roanoke Miniature Engineering. During its operation from 1998 to 2011, Roanoke Engineering built some 65 diesel and steam outline locos. Although not the most elegant looking, they were simple and well built. This really made it a firm favourite with commercial operating railways. Myself, Paul Cowlin and Jerry Chivers bought the loco from the society in 2021.

Merlin has had a number of engine changes throughout the years. Originally built with a Honda petrol engine, it was later converted to take a diesel engine. There was nothing but bad luck with the first diesel engine fitted. This was replaced with a second, but both engines had the tendency to blow up. Once it came into our ownership it was decided to convert it to electric. This makes it simpler to use and drive when used for P-way work. It is also a lot quieter and can be turned on and off when desired. Jerry had an electric motor to hand for the conversion. It was decided to make it 36v as that was all the room we had for batteries. It is controlled by a 4QD controller. Brackets for the motor were designed by me in CAD and waterjet cut out by Sciss waterjet cutting service.

Over the past years of service the paint work on Merlin had taken its toll and was looking rather tired. It was decided during the re-engine of the loco that a repaint would also take place. It was thought that the colour should stay similar to what it was; a dark blue. Ex-Mayor Blue was chosen as the new colour for the loco. It is a little lighter than the original colour. Some observant people may have noticed that originally, and it must be said oddly, Merlin was only lined out on one side and SDLR crests were of different sizes. This was obviously rectified when it came to the repaint. Before I started painting I mocked up some ideas in Photoshop of how the livery could look. The first design was chosen, with the rounded yellow and black lining and the wasp striped front. The repaint started in early April 2022, with the body being sanded and undercoated. The top coat was finished in October and the lettering sign-written throughout November.

A number of cosmetic changes have been carried out. The most notable is the removal of the horizontal grills from the front. We thought this was rather odd to have on as no other diesel seems to have such a thing. At the cab end of the loco, a middle pillar was added to the side windows. This splits up the rather large window and adds a bit more detail. The other thing that we wanted to replace was the chimney. Originally it was a bit of straight pipe, with no other detail to it. This was taken off and replaced with a tapered chimney made by Paul.

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