By Neil Ramsay

Clogher Valley Atkinson Walker Steam Tractor Number 8

15mm Scale for 45mm track

During the last years of the Clogher Valley Railway  – a 3 foot gauge (mostly) roadside tramway in  Counties  Tyrone, Armagh and Fermanagh, efforts were made to reduce costs to meet road competition. Apart from the introduction of a diesel railcar and railtruck, the company also trialled a geared steam loco supplied in 1929 – on approval –by the Preston firm of Atkinson Walker.

The trials were not successful – and to cut a long story short – the loco was left unpaid for, still in works grey, and little used until 1932, when it was bought by Henry Forbes of The County Donegal Railway. Converted into a diesel loco it went on to survive in its new form as ‘Pheonix’ until preservation. She is now located in the Ulster Folk and Transport museum at Cultra near Belfast.

The idea of making a live steam version of Number 8 was really triggered by the availability of a 15mm scale etched brass body kit for Pheonix  from Allen Doherty of Worsley Works.  I thought  modifying  Pheonix back to its CVR  form looked relatively straight forward – but was delighted to find that Allen already had the artwork and was happy to produce the 15mm scale etch for No8 in its original shape.

My good friend and fellow 15mm scale Irish modeller , professional loco builder John Campbell, offered  to assemble the etch and  build the works for me – leaving me with just a few exterior details to fabricate and to make patterns for the axlebox and chain guard assemblies, which were cast by John in whitemetal

I think John really got into building this quirky little loco. Our original plan was to try and find a second hand Osmotor or similar and to install a simple reduction gear drive – but we couldn’t find anything suitable.

John soon made his own little oscillating engine using 2 PPS  ‘supermamod’  type cylinders, and went on to build the thing as much like the original as possible, with Delrin chain drive to both axles via a bevel  gear driven cross shaft . It was quite a squeeze to fit it all in the constricted cab.

As the oscillators and gears were likely to require a lot of steam, John built a multi-tube vertical boiler fired by a ceramic gas burner. This is a great steam producer, but needs regular water top ups, so there is a nice big water gauge and Enots filler.

You can see the general layout above – the reversing handle is clearly visible on the top of the engine – the gas valve is in the bottom R/H of the cab, with the displacement lubricator (draining through the cab floor) on the opposite side. The regulator is in the cab doorway, just above one of the two drive chains. John made the sole bars from old brass curtain rod, which looks just like the real thing.

For practical purposes the steam engine and boiler are somewhat over scale, but the overall visual impression is of an accurate scale model. She runs for about 30 minutes on one gas tank, with  2 or 3 water top ups. Maximum speed is about a scale 15mph or so, with fine control from the conventional steam regulator. The burner is absolutely silent – it is actually a problem to check if it is alight.

The grey livery is a little bit drab – I think John will be building himself one in CDR red and cream, which will look a lot better, but I’m a bit of a rivet counter, so I wanted the ‘right’ colour!

At present I have only one CVR vehicle (a butter van) in my stock – so I will be building a couple of CVR coaches and a brake van, hopefully later this year. In the meantime she will haul my Cavan and Leitrim coaches which are very similar. She can also run alongside CVR railcar No1 – which I built by modifying  Johns etched brass kit of CDR number 10 (another smart 2nd hand purchase by the Donegal management!). There is a short video of her on my line on Youtube if you want to see her running.

Further Information

The full story of this loco can be read in Edward Patterson – The Clogher Valley Railway – recently reprinted by Colourpoint books

Worsley Works Website

Neil Ramsay