Popsicle Dixie from a Frateschi U20C


Always admired the Popsicle liveried Dxs, this one (above) Dx2626,
a Phase II departing Wellington on the Palmerston North "Oil Train" in the late 1970s.
Photo by Ken Devlin via the KiwiBonds site.



The Popsicles looked even better at the head of the stainless steel coaches on the Silver Star Express. . .


Dx 2608, a Phase 1 (above) as seen on the beautiful Silver Star Express near Auckland, 1970s.
Probably a staged shot, as the Generator Car is normally hauled directly behind the locomotive
and spoils the "proper" look!
- NZR Publicity Deptartment photo. Click on image for a larger version.




This is what it should look like (above), and is my favourite Dx Popsicle Silver Star colour photo.
Dx2616, a Phase 2, arriving at Welington some time between 1975 and June 1979.
Love the perfect colouring and colour saturation, and the reflection of the Dx's rear on the front
of the generator car. Very very yummy.
Thank you Joe Wallace, he has many nice photos on Flickr in his Jokertrekker photostream
Again, click on the photo for a larger image.



Modelling the NZR Dx in OO
Technically I could just JUST squeeze a Dx into my modelling era, the first batch being delivered to NZR in 1972. So I'll have to make a really clean Phase I then! And after recently having the opportunity of picking up a blank (black) bodied Frateshi U20C, this will be another project to add to the list.

The Frateschi "Dx" is another of their look-alikes that's reasonably close, more phase II than phase I, and with a bit of work you can make it look even better, and capture that proper look of our own NZR Dixie.


What needs doing then?
I want to do a phase I and so far, looking at a 4mm (OO) scale drawing of a Phase I Dx (numbers 2600 to 2614), and without being TOO picky, have spotted the Frateschi "Dx" differs as follows:


Bogie wheel centres slightly off - i.e. uneven wheel spacing where the inboard axles (those closest to the fuel
tank) are 3mm further away from the centre axles than are the outboard axles. Only slightly noticeable if you know to look!

Wonder if they were trying to model another Dixie characteristic in the fact that the bogie bolster pivots are a bit (scale 1.3mm) "outboard" of the centre axles' centres?

Bogie wheelbase total (outboard axle centre to inboard axle centre) is 3mm too big.

The bogie frames need the outboard ends trimmed off and the inboard ends need that "tail".

Bogie centres measurement is about 10mm too short - needs to be lengthened.

The fuel tank needs some shaping, and shortening by 4mm and then an added air tank.

The footplate skirt looks too deep, and sand boxes (and pipes if you are keen!) are needed on all four corners.

And speaking of which, the footplate ends need squaring off at the headstock, and given a slight taper in planform
- see photos for reference.


The long hood is perfect in height, but the cab and nose need lowering 2mm or so, and the nose itself also needs narrowing 2 or 3mm, oh, and lengthening approx 2mm so it's flush with the headstock. This too-high cab and nose is the one thing that stands out as not being "right".

The nose also needs the handbrake housing on its port side.

There needs to be a slight waist immediately behind the cab a la Da, where the longhood narrows to be same width
as the narrower nose. And if you wanna get even pickier, the cab is maybe 1mm too short in length.

As a result of these cab changes, the windows will need fettling.

On top of all that the body needs lengthening by 15mm to match the increased bogie centres mentioned above - looks like somewhere along the long hood. Will have to study more and work that one out. It really does need this to get the real front and rear overhang characteristic of our Dx.

Side panels and vents need fiddling if you're a rivet counter; probably a bit even if you are not!.

And a nicer headstock wouldn't go amiss, and the moulded-on hand grabs on the long hood sides and ends can be removed and replaced with wire. Likewise the supplied plastic handrails are far too thick and should be replaced.


In summary


Frateschi U20C straight out of the box, showing why it's not exactly an NZR Dx Phase 1.
Click on image for a more detailed view.


So biggest differences then really are the cab and nose area and the fuel tank re-sizing to make way for an air tank. Oh, and sand boxes. Just sorting that lot would go a long way for a start.



Another photo from Ken Devlin via the KiwiBonds site showing clearly the lower cab and nose
on Phase I Popsicle Dxs 2612 and 2602 at Westfield some time between 1972 and 1980-ish.
The lighting also shows very well the waist (narrowing of the long hood)
immediately aft of the cab on the loco closest to camera.





  • My most precious book - Pictorial Railways of New Zealand by Ken and Bill Cousins.
  • If you were a member of the Yahoo nz-railchat group, there were photos of others bashing this model into shape under photo albums "12mm" and "Rays HOn31/2 models". Somewhere else now?
  • Ken Devlin's photos via the KiwiBonds site
  • Kiwi xyz photostream on Flickr
  • Jokertrekker photostream, N.Z. Railways, North Island collection on Flickr
  • Re-scaled drawing of a Dx Phase 1 from "NZR Locomotives & Railcars 1980" by T. A. McGavin (p.25)
  • Keith Norgrove's workings to make a Zambian U20C, running on 14mm (correct 3' 6" in OO scale) track.




More to follow.