Cuneo's first collaboration with the Friends was in 1979 when he painted Duchess of Hamilton climbing Beattock. Richard Lucraft marketed the limited edition signed full sized prints and donated 10% of the proceeds to the first Duchess Appeal. This was followed by a similar arrangement in 1985 for the Friends’ Mallard appeal and the painting captured Mallard in full steam during her record breaking run in 1938. Then in 1989, Cuneo also supported the second Duchess of Hamilton
Appeal and came to York to depict her in the Museum's South Yard.
He recounts this in the following text which was printed on the back of a final series of smaller limited edition prints launched by Richard Lucraft in 1992.
“The first time I ever clapped eyes on the Duchess was when I was escorted from inside the York Railway Museum to the length of track on which my ‘model’ had been placed – and there, dazzling in the bright morning sun –the Duchess of Hamilton. What a sight. A commanding portrait in gleaming maroon and burnished steel, and huge with it. The smoke-box door was ajar and on impulse I climbed onto the buffer beam, pulled the door open and stepped into the smoke-box. I could stand, full length with my head just touching the top of the box. A massive engine, this. I explored the roomy cab, its sliding windows and upholstered seats. Instinctively, I found myself comparing the high degree of luxury with that found on locomotives of my railway, the Great Western.