By Graham Swales
I have always admired the photos of the “MOTM” and within SMT as they show the best that 16mm narrow gauge can offer. I do confess though that at times I feel somewhat overawed by the quality and standards that “others” work to….
The Oaksey Light Railway (based in my garden just South of Cirencester) has been under construction for a number of years and has recently been moved to the front garden of our cottage. (The back garden where it used to reside is now an extension to the cottage!) A previous dabbler in 16mm in the late 70’s and early 80’s, I started again around 6 years ago following the “classic” route of building a Dave Watkins Idris.
A second Loco was required, and being a life long fan of Quarry Hunslets the back issues of SMT covering the Dave Watkins inspired / Keith Bucklitch designed “Wild Rose Too” were ordered, together with drawings of the gas boiler alternative, the original having been fitted with a meths burner.
The loco was built basically to the drawings as published, except where alternative materials were available. The cab was fitted to satisfy my wife, Chris, who has her own ideas what a locomotive should look like! A Roundhouse regulator and displacement lubricator was fitted to save time towards the first steaming. The loco – known as “Strumble” was run for a number of years manually controlled, which perhaps explains the dents, bent roof, twisted and scraped buffer beams and general air of “use”.
“Strumble” has subsequently been fitted with a miniature RC servo to control the regulator and tows a covered goods wagon carrying the receiver and battery pack. No effort was made to hide the servo or linkage as it was all rather experimental. It does work though and the absence of direction control, as the chassis is slip eccentric, is not a great problem as “Strumble” generally potters around the continuous circuit of the OLR with a rake of Binnie skips and slate wagons. When needed much heavier loads are well within capacity. As one friend commented – it runs like a sewing machine – not I may add through my metalworking abilities – more that it has been run to the point of nearly being worn out!
For anyone interested in building a small quarry Hunslet I can do no more than suggest getting hold of the back numbers and getting started. You will end up with a diminutive loco (approx. 8″ x 5″ x 4″) which captures the essence of the real thing. With a bit more care it will be possible to hide the displacement lubricator and regulator away which would certainly improve appearances, and I am sure other more skilled (and less impatient) workers will add a great deal more detail.
So for anyone out there worrying about the “quality of their building skills” – worry not. If “Strumble” can make it to MOTM there is hope for everyone!