2-8-4 NKP Berkshire

Waiting to unload

Probably about twenty five years ago I contacted Jim Kredier in the US about buying the locomotive he had designed and was selling castings and drawings for. Unfortunately this went nowhere for reasons I cannot remember, but it was always the one commercial model I wanted to build. It did have one good outcome though as I decided to learn CAD and ultimately start on the 25NC.

Covers off


When I was discussing things with Jim he introduced me to the one guy in the UK who was building a Berkshire from his castings. I met him and his wife at a show in Halifax and for a number of years we kept in touch very infrequently. Often when I needed some design advice or a clue from what Jim had done with his design. Then after computer failures and loss of contact details I heard no more from him. Jim however, I kept in touch with, and he has given me useful advice over many years as I have worked out the wrinkles of the 25 design.

Ready to unload

So fast forward to 2014 I was in New Zealand on Holiday, Jim dropped me an email giving me the sad news that the builder had passed away. Would I assist his widow to dispose of the loco and clean out the workshop, of course I would. I also idly said I would be interested in the loco myself although given how long it had been since I saw it. I thought it would be so far on I could not give the widow a fair offer to reflect the work done so would have to pass up the opportunity.


When I got back to the UK I went down to see his widow and see just what was involved in cleaning out the workshop and loco. To my surprise and concern the loco was not that much farther on than when I had seen it so many years ago. I felt I could make a fair offer for it, but it was far more work than I really wanted to take on. So I made my excesses and left to ponder what I should do. Eventually I consigned common sense to a hole in the back garden made an offer and the loco was mine. Helped I believe in no small part by Jim who had been lobbying on my behalf. As it became pretty clear that both Jim and the window thought I was a safe pair of hands to look after the locomotive as someone who was familiar with the type and had been burning a candle for one for a long long time.


As it turned out buying the locomotive was the easy part. The owner died of cancer, after my own brush with the big C in 2010 I was just over two years on. A landmark in cancer terms as your probably not out of the woods but at least in the thick brush. five years is when you can tick the box for been there done that and got the tee shirt. While I don't give much thought to my own problem at two years you do wonder why your here and others didn't make it, it all seems so bloody random.

Tender parts

So cleaning out the workshop has been a very difficult experience which I would not repeat. It all hit home hard when I saw the boiler certificate dated 1994. Twenty years on I was opening drawers sorting drawings, reading his notes and it felt like I was trampling over someone's dreams as I think all model engineers are dreamers at heart. We all really want to be in the cab in the drivers seat with a hand on the throttle and a clear road ahead. Jim put it into contexts when he said we are all really just custodians of the project. I will be the third builder on this one. Jim did a lot of work on the chassis then the previous owner and now me.

Front view

So you might be thinking how the hell do I complete two engine's like this well the answer is I cannot at least not on my own. My main focus is getting the 25 done. But even that I now realize is unrealistic if I think I will be making every nut and bolt, and I don't want to leave it half finished while I am planted in a pine box. The good news is this year will see the last big expenditure on the 25 with the pattern for the tender truck. So my plan is to get the cheque book out as and when funds are available and subcontract the outstanding work on the Berkshire. With my involvement being only assembly and testing.

Rear left


Tender in the background


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