The tram engine
Built by Dad about 1985 (the exact date is lost in the mists of time), the chassis is to a design for an 0-4-0PH with tender called "Geraldine", which started life as a project by ICI apprentices in Widnes. Later drawn by Les Hough, with parts marketed by Arnie Bimpson, she was one of the first of many similar designs. Indeed, Roanoke (see later) and others make similar designs commercially. It features 0.5" thick flame-cut frames, and buffer beams, with ball bearing axleboxes, and uses a Honda GX160 (5.5HP) for power, coupled to an Eaton model 7 transmission. She was simple to build, and also very simple to drive (our 7-year old can do it easily). It is chain-driven, with chains linking the wheels as well. The original design uses fly-cranks and coupling rods - these look nice at low speeds but are a lot of work, and simply disappear into a blur at speed.
The body is wooden, and has seen many revisions in its lifetime - I made the roof removable to make fuelling and routine maintenance easier. She has a battery to power the light and horns, but no means of re-charging it on board - Dad tried an alternator but it's nicer to have all 5HP on tap, when all you need to do is recharge every 8 running hours or so. She also has a vacuum reservoir, controls and gauge (but no exhauster) from when she was based at Eastleigh Lakeside.
She is a most reliable performer, simple to drive, relatively simple to move about, but that is her downfall - you run out of adhesive weight before you run out of power. Thus, one person can easily lift her back on the track if she derails, but she can only safely manage one loaded coach round Swanley (where the gradients are quite steep). We have taken two round, but a dog running in front down the bank illustrated just how low on adhesive weight she was - she just slid onwards, horn blaring until the dog decided to move…..
Resting in the back garden with the L&B wagon, 3/9/2001
For more photos of this locomotive, click here
The goods wagon
The body was built by me in June/July 2001, on a Roanoke chassis (see later). As the vehicles were intended for use at school fete's etc., I feel that 'ride in' vehicles are a must - young children just don't realize how dangerous large lumps of moving metal are, they're too busy having a good time - so 'ride in' is the safest for them. It is based loosely on the bogie open wagons built for the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway, appropriate since Roanoke are based in Bratton Fleming. I had intende d to make the body all out of wood, but, while building it, Dad passed on some wisdom that they'd learnt the hard way at Eastleigh Lakeside with plywood bodies - that the top edges would fare much better with a steel covering. Also, steel corner bracing would help since they were to be used on a portable track, so might get the odd corner bash in transport. We decided on 25x25x3mm angle for the top bracing, and 40x40x3mm for the corners. Soon after this, I saw some wagons they'd built at the Moors Valley Ra ilway - they looked great. They had end stanchions, side strapping, the lot. That was it - Dad was already getting steel for the sides and ends, so I got him to get some more for the end stanchions. The prototype side strapping is flat, so I decided to make this from wood. In the end, the only detail missing is the detail of the door hinges and reinforcing. I painted it dark brown, something like the prototype colour, and picked out all the strapping etc. in black (unprototypical, but looks good). All the l ettering is done by hand (my hand). While on holiday on the Isle of Wight we visited the IOWSR, and I took some photographs of their Southern goods stock. When I got home, I sized these photos to get the lettering correct size, then printed them out. These were used as stencils for the lettering on the side. Personally, I think its looks great, but I'm biased, aren't I ??
The passenger coach
Built at the same time as the goods wagon, again, on a Roanoke chassis. Our eldest daughter said she'd like a 'first class' coach, preferably such that only children could get into it. She said she'd like a vehicle with a roof and doors, like a 'proper' coach. Now, because everything fits into our Ford Galaxy for moving, the roof would have to be removable. Thus, we built the bottom half first. It has four seats, which are a bit close together for adults, but fine for children. Indeed, it's re ally meant to seat 4 children in comfort, but we've often had 8 in it, whereas the wagon, with its longitudinal seat, usually carries 5 or 6. The design is based on two compartments of a Lynton and Barnstaple coach, so it'll need lettering and numbering in Southern Railway style. Hopefully, we'll get it completed (i.e. the upper sides, roof and doors) over the winter - watch this space for progress.
The two chassis came from Roanoke - they are excellent. The standard of workmanship is first class, and, being used the way they are, they'll last me a lifetime. Add to this the fact that they were very reasonably priced, and a visit to their web site is a must. (I have no connection to this firm at all, apart from being a satisfied customer). The only problem I have had with them so far is that the springs were too strong and too long for the bodies I'd put on them. However, I have so far been unable to source replacements with a lower spring rate, so I ground 0.5" off each of them. This means that, at least, the axleboxes do move in the horns, just not very far. If anyone can get me 16x1" long springs, with a 17mm inside diameter, and a spring rate of about 200 lbs/in, for a reasonable price, I'd love to hear from them.