Dick Kerr Copyright Jonathon Clay

MM16 Dick Kerr

The Dick Kerr Petrol Electric Locomotive

Scale = 4mm to the foot (1:76.2)

Gauge = 9mm (009)

History

These locomotives were ordered by the War Department in November 1916 for use on the 60cm railways being built for transporting munitions and other supplies on the western front. As built they were intended to be able to run powered by a 45hp petrol engine linked to generator and motor unit and also by picking, via trolley poles, traction current from overhead wires.

The locomotives were ordered in two batches to speed up deliveries. One hundred were ordered from Dick Kerr Ltd and another hundred from British Westinghouse. There must have been a change of mind here, as all the supplies to construct the overhead trolley wires were cancelled. It makes you wonder quite why they even considered the notion in the first place due to the vulnerability of the wires and poles. The outcome of this cancellation left the locos with only parts of the trolley pole when delivered.

There was also the facility to use the locos as mobile generators supplying 500 volts, and could therefore be used to power up one or two of the unpowered vans of the mobile workshop train or a mobile sawmill. They were a popular loco but had one fault that the drivers disliked and that was the slow speed. They had been fitted with very low gearing to presumably increase their haulage power but in a crisis no speed to get you out of trouble.

The Dick Kerr and the British Westinghouse locos were practically identical internally but very different externally. The British Westinghouse will also form the subject of a kit from Meridian Models.

Colour

Colour is a difficult subject and the experts will give you many and varied schemes. I believe all the internal combustion locos were painted green. Now when the Mosely Trust's protected Simplex was restored some original paint was found. Basing the new paint on this, the locomotive was repainted.

I was fortunate to get a swatch of it as we were going to repaint the one at Leighton Buzzard and I matched it to Phoenix Precision Paints P76 Southern Railway Maunsell Light Olive which I have used on all the WW1 internal combustion locos on my Willesden Junction layout. Strangely when this colour is weathered with a dark wash it dries looking like Humbrol slate grey.

Bibliography

Light railways of the First World War by WJK Davies, The Light Track From Arras by T. R. Heritage… Plateway Press

Narrow Gauge at War and Narrow Gauge at War part 2 by Keith Taylorson… Plateway Press

All these contain photographs which may be useful. Please be aware that the photographs in plate 55 of W.J.K. Davies’ book are of prototypes and differ from the production machines in a number of respects.

One of the surviving Dick Kerrs in France
One of the surviving Dick Kerrs in France - © Alex Duckworth.
Dick Kerr Meridian kit MM16 unpainted
Dick Kerr Meridian kit MM16 unpainted - © Alex Duckworth..
Dick Kerr Meridian kit MM16 painted
Dick Kerr Meridian kit MM16 painted - © Alex Duckworth.

We are always looking for photographs of our kits built by you - please email to us and we may feature them on this website!

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