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LTM 51 in 1:43.5


The history of the LTM 51 is closely intertwined with the line it ran on, so first a few words on the line.
Read More on this Garratt in this English translation of a contemporary Dutch article on the then novel locomotive.

The genesis of this project

The journey to the building of a model of the LTM 51 is a story spanning more than 40 years and the fact that this project is now on my website is the result of a highly unlikely chain of events in 2019 and 2020. A beautiful story.

Here I am standing in front of my locomotive cabinet with that particular issue of De Modelbouwer, that I still have in my proud posession after over fourty years.

In 1974 I bought the September issue of De Modelbouwer (The model builder, but you may have guessed that). I was 16 years old when I read the article of one mr. J.J.G. Koopmans, then unknown to me. When I saw the drawing of the Garratt I immediately knew: "I want to build that one". Initially not much same of it. I did flirt which some scratch building but nothing really got completed. Then I flirted with the opposite sex, studied, got married and faded away from the hobby. But I never forgot the LTM 51.


When I picked up modelling again in 2003/2004 I formulated building LTM 51 as my ultimate dream and goal. Premise of all my building activities was: step by step learning all techniques and acquiring all tools to be able to build this loco from scratch one day. From scratch as I was well aware that there would little in the way of commercially available kits apart from the odd detail part. I published my dream on this website.


In the years that followed I became aware that a certain Harry Kaffa had produced etches in the 1980s to build RTR models in 1:87. An unknown number of etches came on the market as an "etch only" scratch building aid. I never succeeded to locate any of them, let alone persuade the owner to sell it. Finding it proved to be a needle in a haystack. I have sought long and wide on trade shows and on the internet but never found a set or a completed model. To me it became the holy grail of model building: everybody states it exists, but no one ever actually saw it. In the meantime I worked on other models and acquired both my skills and my tools.


In the summer of 2019 I received an email from a fellow model builder, a complete stranger to me. He had read my dream and resolve to build the LTM 51 on my website. He had two Kaffa etch sets and offered me one for sale. I was dumbfounded. I had to reread the email and pinch myself to check if I had understood it correctly. And he was even living quite close to me. We agreed on a very reasonable price very quickly and a few days later I was at his table for a nice chat with a cuppa with the etches in front of me. Receiving them was almost a sacred moment. It was so unlikely 1. that such etches were still there after thirty plus years 2. that a builder had two sets 3. that he found me and 4. that he was willing to sell one set to me. My amazement was endless. But the story got even more unlikely. Watch this....


On that day, literally that very same day, a certain Frits was doing research for one of his models he was developing in 1:43.5. He was at the archives of the NVBS (Dutch Society of Railway and Tramway enthusisasts). One of its members raised the LTM Garratt in the conversation. "Garratt? Never heard of!". "Yeah sure, take a look", and Frits was referred to my website. So someone had already spotted my website. That evening I received a mail from Frits. A few days later we met and had a joyful talk with all the stories. He soon started developing his own version in 1:43.5 with two friends and the rest is history. He kindly offered me the opportunity to acquire one set of etches. I collected that set on the evening of 17 November 2020 at Ed's place.


A wonderful story of coincidence in which my website fulfilled a crucial role on decisive moments. All hardship and energy that had gone into setting up and maintaing this website paid off in just one single day.