Steve Johnson Modelmaker
General Motors B121 Class
In 1960, CIÉ required more locomotives to help eliminate steam operation on the railway. The poor performance of the Metropolitan Vickers locomotives caused CIÉ to look elsewhere. A few years earlier, their former CMEE O. V. S. Bullied suggested that the best diesel locomotives could be obtained from the United States. Duly, CIÉ put in and order with the Electromotive Division (EMD) of General Motors for fifteen locomotives. What CIÉ got was a standard export design, modified slightly for Irish use, known as the GL8. These single cab locomotives were powered by the world renowned 8-567CR V8 two stroke diesel of 950bhp. Mounted on two four wheel bogies, the locomotives weighed in at 64 tons. Despite having to be turned at the end of each trip, these locomotives soon made an impression on CIÉ with their trouble free operation and extremely high availability figures. It was the success of these locomotives that caused CIÉ to buy American ever since. In later years, these locomotives were often seen working in pairs with the cabs facing outwards.
Two models have been available over the years one by MTK and the other by MIR. The MTK version was a mixture of etched brass and white metal. I have built two of the MIR versions, which are by far the most convincing looking of the two.
The ones I built were all white metal kits and could be ordered with or without motor bogies. The castings are very clean and a well presented set of instructions cause no problem with construction. As usual, I have added a little extra detail in the form of various handrails, although the main running plate rails are supplied. A reasonable interior is also supplied. The addition of flush glazing and etched brass windscreen wipers (Craftsman or A1) finish the locomotive. The motor bogies supplied are cast white metal frames with white metal sideframes and brake cylinders. They come with Kean Maygib wheels and axles (set to 16.5mm gauge), Romford 20:1 gears and a DS10 motor. I first used the supplied motor bogie which worked without a great deal of problem but have subsequently changed these for the the Athearn chassis. The Athearn chassis is easily converted to EM or P4 gauges.
Later MIR kits had a one piece resin cast body.
Murphy's Models have announced that they will produce a ready to run model of this class in all its variants and liveries from grey onwards. If it is up to the same standard as their previous models, it will be a valuable addition to any Irish layout.