News and Views from the
TYNESIDE SOCIETY of MODEL and EXPERIMENTAL ENGINEERS
Another year is fast approaching its end, and what an odd one it’s been !
Covid-19 shut everything down in March and, apart from a minor respite over the summer, activities at the Club have been severely curtailed. A few stalwarts soldiered on with various projects whilst restrictions were eased, and a few more took full advantage of a limited number of “social” and “running” days, often with several engines in steam.
It wasn’t to last however, and with no prospect of being able to use the Clubhouse as winter approached, all was shut down again.
An up-side has been that members have taken to writing about the things they are doing at home, witness the nine newsletters published since April. As well as helping to keep members in touch, these have also raised the visibility of the Club to the wider engineering community and beyond as they appear on the website and are copied to “Model Engineer” magazine.
Although “tis the season to be jolly ” there will be no festive gathering this year so I hope this slightly bumper issue of IM will provide some small measure of compensation. Oh, and to make sure you read it thoroughly, there‟s a little bit of nonsense thrown in somewhere, just for the fun of it. If you spot it, email me (see “Contacts”) – first in will get an honourable mention in the next IM.
As you all know, our good friend and ex-Chairman Jimmy Stephenson moved up to that great railway above where I have no doubt he will be setting up his workshop and starting loco build number 71.
Our ever energetic Secretary Linda has come up with an idea to name the Signal Box in honour of Jimmy and towards that end we are looking for suitable names that incorporate Jimmy‟s name and, of course, have a railway theme i.e. Jim‟s Station, Jimmy’s Halt etc.
Once chosen we will make up a suitable railway-looking sign to attach to the box. If you have any ideas could you forward them to Linda, and the Committee will choose the most appropriate name.
This will be last Inside Motion before the Christmas holidays so myself and Committee wish you all Seasons Greetings and hopefully a better and more normal New Year where we hope our lives and the Club can get back to full operation.
As mentioned in last month‟s Inside Motion, annual fees will be due at the end of the December. (£35 single members, £45 family membership).
Cheques should be made payable to TSMEE Ltd, posted to Ian Spencer at 39 Briardene Crescent, Kenton Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 4RX.
If you prefer to pay by Bank Transfer please email Linda for the Bank details
ROBEY & Co. of LINCOLN
In the September issue of IM, Mick Jordison detailed his model of a Southworth 6in Duplex Steam Pump made by the firm of Robey & Co. of Lincoln, and I wondered if members were aware that this company also manufactured steam locomotives.
Robey & Co., founded in 1854, was just one of a vast number of firms making steam engines and related items in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Their major products were steam wagons, steam rollers, portable steam engines and all types of vertical and horizontal steam engines. Eventually they also produced winding engines and other mining products. In their catalogue of 1894 “Upwards of 14,000 engines are now at work”, in 1904 it was 21,000.
They also produced a few steam locomotives but information on them is very limited and incomplete. Their first venture into railway locomotives would appear to be a conversion of a traction engine, probably in 1865, which was fitted with buffers and flanged wheels. In 1870, a conventional 0-4-0 locomotive was produced with inside frames and cylinders to be used as the works shunter. A further two locomotives were built to a similar design and all three were probably standard gauge.
It is in the world of narrow gauge that the Robey locomotives become interesting. Far from conventional, the cylinders were placed at the leading end of the extended frames and drove from the crankshaft to the front axle using spur gears. Access to the engine was obtained by lifting a plate over the front frame extension. The engraving above illustrates the layout of one of these narrow gauge saddle tank locomotives with the crankshaft just visible in front of the leading wheels.
The second locomotive illustrated is locomotive 15576 of 1895 supplied to Rose Innes & Co for a 500mm gauge railway. The photograph shows how the drive from the engine was taken through the right hand frame to drive to the front wheels via a gear mounted on the driving axle.
With the outside frames, the opportunity has been taken to combine the outside spur gear and the outside crank. There is also another feature which is not so obvious. Look at the saddle which is divided to contain water in the front main part with a smaller tank to supply refined petroleum for the burner.
Next is a 16mm scale model of PERLA using a twin cylinder double acting oscillating engine located as the prototype at the front extension of the frames. Drive is then through 2:1 spur gears outside the frame, the axle gear also acting as the crank. Access to the engine is through a front cover as per the full size locomotive.
The next photograph shows a model of locomotive 15903, the last of the geared saddle tank engines and originally to be supplied to British Gold Fields SA. The eventual destination is unknown. The cover over the engine and the forward/reverse lever along with the extended front frame are clearly visible. Notice the roof held up by four pillars, typical of locomotives destined for hot countries.
The final photograph shows a later model based on the same locomotive 15903. Here the opportunity has been taken to add a front cab sheet. In such small models it is difficult to construct and retain the cab roof square. By adding a front cab sheet the roof can be mounted square and firm. Remember that full size locomotives are not lifted by the roof and swung about to be deposited in a carrying box.
So this is a brief look at the locomotive output of a lesser known British locomotive builder. The output was small and records are incomplete, but they were at least original even if they were not a commercial success.
The Industrial Locomotive No. 50 and No. 51, Summer and Autumn 1988. Some notes on Robey Locomotives by Frank Jux.
Some Early ROBEY STEAM ENGINES by P.J.M. Southworth.
Robey – Cat 76 – Engraving – courtesy of the Robey Trust
[The three models were all built by Peter – Ed]
“Oh ! – not another one …”
Those words were spoken by the Domestic Manager when she caught me working at the drawing board, calculator and ruler in hand. Quickly followed by “and what do you intend to do with the three already in the workshop that you never run ?”. Her next observation was nearer the mark she noted that I could not lift the “Sweet Pea” locomotive I had just finished building, and hoped that the next one would not be as heavy and therefore more manageable.
The newly-completed “Sweet Pea” is the sixth locomotive I have built over the last fifty-five years and quite a change from the others that had followed mainly traditional near-scale models.
The first was started in my late teens and was a simple tank locomotive to the LBSC P.V.Baker design. This was followed by a Derby 4F to Don Young‟s design which steamed well and had a greater pulling capacity. Wanting more pulling power I built a Hunslet quarry locomotive called “Charles” with my friend Sid Bennet who designed the model and is now marketed by Blackgates Engineering. This loco. was built to prove the design and, because it is a narrow-gauge locomotive running on 3½” gauge, proved to be a very powerful engine and also rather heavy.
The West Riding Small Locomotive Society, which was my club at this time, was just completing a ground-level 7¼” gauge track so I decided that this was the way to go and started looking for a good design to build. Martin Evans‟ Black Five design really caught my eye, but the cost of castings and materials was out of the question with a young family to finance. I eventually decided on a 7 ¼” gauge “Tich” to Kennon‟s design. This locomotive was a joy to build although the boiler was the biggest I had built and proved to be a challenge with my limited propane equipment. The engine proved to be a very free steamer and had amazing pulling power, but it was too heavy to move about.
Looking again for a smaller locomotive, easily transportable and with a good track performance record, I decided on another LBSC design in the guise of the Atlantic called “Maisie*. This engine has also found to be free-steaming but a bit fiddly to construct with its Stephenson‟s valve-gear and other eccentrics squeezed between the frames.
Having watched on many occasions the locomotives on the superb TSMEE ground-level track my thoughts again turned to a loco. to run on this track and, with weight again in mind, decided on the “Sweet Pea” design. It‟s basically a very simple engine with a very simple Hackworth valve-gear and a simple marine-type boiler compared to a traditional locomotive boiler with its multitude of stays. The engine is now complete and awaits its boiler testing and trial run when things get back to normal. But it is, again, heavier than I thought and the hydraulic lifting table is my saviour.
So, “what next” you might ask, as this locomotive building seems to be an obsession ! As a young boy, my village had a very large eight-road ex-GNR motive power depot (Ardsley 56B) which had about seventy locomotives ranging from A3s down to J50s, but my favourite ones were the Riddles WD Austerity 2-8-0 heavy freight locomotives. Having always had an urge to construct one, I think it will be my final loco. but, apart from Clarkson‟s 2-10-0 and LBSC‟s “Austere Ada” there are not any commercial designs available. My initial thoughts were to build it to 5” gauge, but then the Domestic Manager‟s comments rang in my ears regarding weight, so that idea was abandoned. Downsizing to “Austere Ada” in 2½” gauge was not really a contender bearing in mind it would only pull a driver and, of course, TSMEE does not have that gauge anyway.
So, it looks like 3½” gauge, and that is what‟s on the drawing board now. My initial basic drawings gave me the dimensions of components such as wheel diameters. Looking through the Blackgates list of wheel patterns it dawned on me that the Martin Evans Euston wheels were the size I required, but, of course, to the wrong design being spoked rather than boxpok pattern. Knowing that the Riddles Austerities were based heavily on the LMS 8F freight loco. design, I compared my basic general arrangement drawing with the Euston design, and they were almost identical. So, apart from having to make patterns for the driving wheels and having them cast, I can utilise commercially-available castings for most of the chassis and motion which will be a considerable help and reduce construction time.
Finally – do I have worries about the final weight of the loco ? Not really, but the Domestic Manager may not be too pleased !
The New Project – Background and Progress
The V1 was a 2-6-2 tank locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley in 1930. It had 3 cylinders, with derived motion to drive the middle cylinder. The V3 was introduced in 1939, and was the same locomotive, but with a higher boiler pressure. The classes were used on suburban passenger duties and were concentrated in three main areas – Glasgow, Edinburgh and the north-east of England. Locally, examples were allocated to sheds including Gateshead, Heaton, Blaydon , and Middlesborough. After their passenger duties on Tyneside were largely taken over by diesel multiple units, they were retained for working parcels traffic and empty stock trains from Newcastle Central to the carriage sidings. Their last regular passenger duties were the boat trains to the Tyne Commissioners‟ Quay. The last V3‟s were withdrawn in 1963.
About 5 years ago, when I was still fully occupied with the construction of the V2, I was offered a part-built Martin Evans “Enterprise”. “Enterprise” is a 5” gauge model, based on the V1 or V3.
I always had a particular soft spot for the prototype. Also, I had driven an “Enterprise” built by my good friend Geoff Routledge in the Carlisle Society, and had been very impressed by its excellent performance, so I decided to investigate further. What I found was a rolling chassis, fully machined cylinders, and a commercially built boiler.
Taking on another‟s project has clearly a risk element, but the workmanship seemed to be to a very high standard, so I decided to accept. The “Enterprise” came back to Gosforth, then went into the loft for four years while I finished the V2.
I have now been working on the V3 for about a year. My initial assessment of the workmanship proved to be correct, and I have found little to criticize in what I inherited. In fact, the axle-boxes may even be a little too tight in the horn-blocks, and may need easing. During the year, I have made coupling and connecting rods, valve gear, brake gear and some plate-work.
Crunch time came last month. I timed the valves and coupled a compressor to the cylinders, and I was pleasantly surprised when the chassis sprang into life. I am pleased to say that there are no stiff spots, and it notches up in both forward and back gears. I find the derived motion fascinating to watch, and am only sorry that it will be hidden when the loco is finished.
This is the first tank locomotive I have built. I had always thought that a tank loco. would be less work than a tender loco, but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that two tanks and a bunker are nearly as much work as a tender.
How long will it take to complete ? That depends on the length of the lockdown, but perhaps another year.
Whilst finishing off “Princess Victoria” it became clear I needed a small amount of chequer-plate to complete the buffer steps.
Years ago when I first purchased my Myford Super 7 it came with lots of bits and pieces including some nice scale mild steel chequer-plate which I have used up over the years on a “Rob Roy” and later on 46205 where I ran out.
I am not keen on the aluminium chequer plate available these days but have used it on the “Princess” footplate/tender access although it would not have looked right for the buffer anti-slip plate. As I only needed a small area of plate I came up with the following made from 1/32″ copper.
The former was made from 5/8″ square mild steel because there were only the two small plates to make in copper – obviously it would be better with hardened steel if you needed to make a lot more.
The grooves were cut with a 0.025″ slitting saw to a depth of 0.025″ with the former set over in the vice to 45 degrees. The slitting saw was lowered by 0.050″ for each groove to give an even separation. Obviously you can change the angle, widths and depth to give a different pattern to whatever you require, within reason. The grooves were then filed with a good triangular needle file to help the former penetrate the annealed copper.
Place the former and backing plate in the vice with the copper sandwiched between and squeeze together as hard as you can, releasing a bit then tightening again to get good penetration. Take the copper out, turn it 90 degrees and repeat, hopefully you should get a good defined pattern.
Obviously the larger the area of chequer-plate needed, the more pressure is required.
A Steam Launch
The Launch build has been on the back-burner for a few years. Covid and the completion of my Six-Couple Koppel prompted the restart of the project.
The 5½” diameter x 10” long boiler tube was given to me by Stu Davidson as it was destined for the scrap bin as an off-cut. I decided to make a twin-burner boiler with horizontal fire tubes in which are angled smaller water tubes to increase the efficiency. It is fitted with twin gas burners from Macc Steam.
The engine, a Stuart Turner Double 10, believe it or not I made as an apprentice in the shipyard over 50 years ago. However, when I decided to make the launch I obviously needed to add reversing gear. I managed to acquire the last un-machined set of parts from Polly Model Engineering. Two displacement lubricators are fitted.
I also had a steam pump – originally, I had fitted it to my Wren, but found it incapable of supplying enough water for a large engine. An internal water tank in the forward section allows the steam pump and hand pump to draw water from here instead of the lake. A condenser is fitted as required to ensure the lake is not polluted.
The four-foot hull also came from Stu‟s hoard (at a price !). The four-blade brass propeller from Prop Shop completes the installation.
As many people know I‟m not a woodworking expert, so I purchased the DVD set by Keith Appleton called “Building a Steam Launch” in which he describes the construction of the superstructure. By following this, the final model turned out reasonably well considering I hate wood & cannot knock a nail in square !
The model is radio controlled – again a learning curve, but a successful outcome eventually !
Due to circumstances at the lake and the shutdown of the Club, the boat has not yet been tested on the water. The plant has run successfully on compressed air. Hopefully this situation will be resolved in 2021 !
The great Radio Telescope at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire rotates horizontally on two concentric circles of railway line 352 ft in diameter. When first built, the non-powered wheels it rolled on were those salvaged from the front bogies of scrapped ex-GWR “Castle” Class locomotives.
Whilst Sir Humphry Davy is widely credited with the invention of the Mine Safety Lamp, he was actually beaten to it by a month by George Stephenson, who had been conducting his own experiments at Killingworth Colliery. There, he had demonstrated a working device at a known fire-damp-affected coal-face in the company of two independent witnesses and a canary called Trevor.
Thanks as ever to those contributors who have made this issue possible. With us now plunging into the “silly season” it might be too much to ask for material to kick off the New Year in January, but hope springs eternal ! Meanwhile, whether you are a “Ho ho ho” or a “Humbug”, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas doing whatever makes your life buzz. Do find a moment, though, to remember and perhaps raise a glass to Absent Friends.
As to a Happy New Year – only time will tell …..
Keep safe, keep well and keep busy.
- Newsletter Editor – Mike Maguire – email@example.com
- Club Secretary – Linda Nicholls – firstname.lastname@example.org – 01 670 816072
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