The Atlas (Roco built) Plymouth shunter provides a good starting point for a cheap, reliable way to get into O scale modelling. Whether you choose to use it as-is for a US themed layout or perform a rebuild to make a UK style industrial diesel locomotive, with only a little work you can have a good looking and running locomotive for not a lot of money – even today (2021). Several examples were priced in the $40 – $50US range when I checked this evening. If larger scales are your thing, you can modify the loco for large narrow gauge scales, such as SM32. Added to its good looks and ease of kitbashing is its running ability. A small loco it may be, yet a great (if a little noisy) runner is hidden beneath. Don’t write this loco off if you see it. No matter how bad the body is, there is a great loco in there somewhere. This article focuses on the changes made for an O Gauge (7mm UK Scale) standard gauge version.
In the 1980s, Terry Heeley wrote a one-page article in Scale Model Trains magazine, about converting the loco to a more “Anglicised” version. His aim was to make a cheap and easy conversion to get you started in UK outline O gauge. This article got me started down the road of O scale (7mm) modelling. Not being shy I found a local hobby shop in Sydney with four of the units and bought the lot.
Not long after Terry’s article, there was another by Chris Ellis, also in Scale Model Trains magazine. This one a much more in-depth article, covering how to completely “Anglicise” the loco for British industrial outline and essentially refinish and upscale the loco from 1/4″ scale to 7mm scale.
Chris Ellis’ original article contained a wealth of ideas, I wanted to go all out and modify the loco to a rebuilt UK style. Overall the loco is squat. This lack of height causes it to not look out of kilter on a UK-themed layout. The wider US loading gauge, and therefore wider loco body, is negated for English usage as this model was built to the 1/48 (1/4″ American O Scale) so the wider gauge does not cause a problem for us in the larger 7mm to the foot scale.
I’ve split the article into sections so that you can see what I did for the first loco, and for the remaining three, as they differed in the scope and amount of work. Common items such as the mechanism and the electricals, I kept under the main page. The first loco and the remaining three locos at this stage have been forked as they differ radically from one another.