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Aster’s King George V

A locomotive review by Geoff Spenceley




Description: G.W.R. “KING” CLASS No. 600 – “KING GEORGE V

Scale / Gauge:  1/32, No. 1 Gauge (45 mm)

Total Weight:  6 kg



Length: 664 mm (Engine 412 mm + Tender 239 mm)

Width: 90 mm

Height: 130 mm



Arrangement: 4-6-0, made of stainless steel, insulated both sides

Drivers: Dia. 62 mm, coil spring action

Pilot Truck: Dia. 26 mm

Minimum Radius:  2 meters



Cylinders: 4 Cylinders, Bore 11 mm X Stroke 20 mm

Steam Port: 1.5 mm, Lap 1.4 mm

Valve Gear:  Walschaert's with screw reverser


Boiler Type:  "C" type, Water Capacity: 270 cc at 80% full

Pressure:  3.5 to 4.0 kg/cm2

Fittings:  1 x Safety Valve, Throttle Valve, Blower Valve, Water Gauge, Pressure Gauge, Whistle, Whistle Valve, By-Pass Valve, Water Check Valve


Feed Water Pump:  Axle Driven Pump mounted on the main driver

Pump Ram: 5 mm x Stroke 6 mm 


Lubricator Type:  Roscoe Displacement type located in the smoke box, Capacity 2.6 cc.



Truck Wheels:  Dia. 39 mm, made of stainless steel

Fuel Tank:  Capacity 180 cc of methanol (at 80% full)

Water Tank:  Capacity 200 cc

Feed Water Pump:  Hand Operated Pump mounted in the Water Tank

Pump Ram: 10 x Stroke 16 mm


Alcohol Burner:  3 wick Tube Alcohol Burner




Well, here we go – it’s been awhile since I assembled this fine engine, so my memory is a little rusty on the difficulties encountered – just the enjoyable parts of the assembly are best remembered.  Possibly because this engine, once completed, is such a very fine runner with excellent speed control.


G. J. Churchward, Locomotive Superintendent, and his successor, C. B. Collett, developed the prototype for the great Western Railway.  No. 6000, which Aster has modeled, was named “King George V”  in 1927 when it was sent to the B&O RR Centennial Exposition. 


The assembly of this model is typical of most Aster kits, with the usual filing and fitting.  Reading the instructions thoroughly before assembly will save a great deal of frustration later on!  The assembly of the frame and cylinders went very well and I found no necessity for shims on the rear end of the inside connecting rods or valve eccentric rods as the instructions suggested might be necessary. 


The outside cylinders also assembled easily, although in Section 2 covering this assembly there was an exploded view of the parts showing the #18 and #19 slide bars reversed with the #20 stay bar on the inside of the slide bars.  A fair amount of filing was required on the valve motion, especially on the expansion links in order to ensure that the die blocks moved smoothly.


After assembly of the engine and the valve timing was completed, the two sets of cylinders were air tested individually and then as a unit.  The outside valve motion is controlled by the inside valve spindles through linkage as in the prototype, and Aster has done a great job on this because the outside valve motions were correct despite the short travel required in 1/32 scale.  I really expected some movement to be lost in the linkage – doubting Thomas that I am!  However, it would be wise to keep the linkage well lubricated. 


The engine ran smoothly and well with no binding or rough spots, and I believe it’s worth noting that I attempt to assembly Aster engines in such a way that they need little or no “breaking in”.  For example, if the crossheads bind in slide bars (a common occurrence) it may cause the pistons to cock slightly in the cylinders with resultant scoring of the pistons and cylinder walls.


The trickiest part of the whole assembly was the boiler casing, running boards and cab.  It’s quite a job to reach inside the boiler casing to attach the nuts to the threads of the stanchions.  The threaded ends of the stanchions should also be filed down to ensure that they do not interfere with the installation of the boilers.


There was some difficulty mounting the running boards #17-01 and #17-02 after the boiler and casing had been assembled to the frame (as the instructions stated). I found it much easier to assemble the running boards first.  It was quite a task to obtain a nice close fit between the boiler casing, splashers and cab.  However, with a lot of fiddling and some strong verbal encouragement it was accomplished. 


I was somewhat relieved to find out that others had the same problems, so perhaps I’m not the duffer I thought I might have been!  The space in the cab is very limited and I found it necessary to do a lot of adjusting to the boiler fittings to make them fit the interior of the cab.


It was fun and games attempting to attach the ornamental sashes that fastened to the edges of the running boards.  Adhesive is transferred from patterned papers, as Aster calls them.  I found the kit included two left hand patterns instead of right and left, so I took the easy way out and use epoxy.  So far they haven’t become detached.  The sashes appear to be rivet detail and unless one is stickler on detail or accuracy to the prototypes they could be omitted without spoiling the appearance.


Some kits have questions or difficulties that are common to all those kits, yet it appears there are also problems that are peculiar to an individual kit (especially mine!).  The kits do vary somewhat, as does the expertise of the assemblers, so who knows? 


When the King was completed and track tested, I had one of those pleasant surprises – it ran magnificently!  With steam being admitted to four cylinders, control is excellent and the loco will run successfully at slow speeds.  It is by far the best controlled Aster in my possession.  Steam pressure was just right with the safety valve blowing very short kinglike raspberries every few seconds or so. 


There was some trouble with the pilot truck derailing on the 11-foot radii, and upon examinations I discovered the hex head screws fastening the pilot rear beam were striking part of the frame when negotiating curves.  I exchanged these with flat head screws, which appears to be the solution – no pilot truck derailment since, even if the track is allowed to become a little rough! 


Aster is to be congratulated on this fine model.  It is indeed a King!


This article originally appeared in Issue No. 26 (Vol. 5. No. 2) of Steam in the Garden. Appreciation for permission to reproduce it on SouthernSteamTrains.com is expressed to Geoff Spenceley, author; and to Ron Brown, Publisher / Editor of Steam in the Garden.


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