By Steve Acton

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

The Prototype

Edward Thomas is a Kerr Stuart locomotive built in 1921 for the Corris Railway at a gauge of 2’3”. The Corris originally wanted to order a 4th Falcon for the line, but by the time the order had been placed, the company had ceased producing steam locomotives. She ran for around 27 years alongside number 3 the remaining Falcon cannibalised from No 1. The locomotive was bought as a Tattoo class from Kerr Stuart using drawings from some of Falcons old locomotive designs. This was modified and anglicised to suit the Corris’s needs.

When the loco first went into use it was very unpopular with the crew as it was very light and had a tendency to slip on wet rails.  This problem was partially solved by fitting splashers over the sides of the saddle tank as over filling caused the wheels and valve gear to become damp, making the traction even worse.

When the Corris finally closed, No 4’s firebox had been condemned and she was left under a tarpaulin behind Machynlleth Station along with No 3. The locos didn’t see the light of day again, until 1951 when members of the Talyllyn Railway uncovered them with the mind for preserving them. The motive power was badly needed as the preservation society only had ‘Dolgoch’ in a working condition.

No 4 was taken straight into the works and stripped down to repair the firebox and inspect the boiler, which was repaired at Hunslet. The loco was soon named ‘Edward Thomas’ after the lines former manager, and kept its running number (the running number never changed all the way through its working life and through ownership by Corris, GWR, BR and the Talyllyn)

The Talyllyn put the loco into revenue in 1952; they were in such desperate need of motive power that the loco didn’t even acquire buffers until around 1958. This is also the date the loco received a giesel ejector chimney, this was designed to make coal burning more efficient. The experiment was a failure and the chimney was removed in 1969.

Fullsize - Edward Thomas

In 1975 Edward Thomas started its major overhaul; this included extending the frames at the rear to give 6 inches of extra space in the cab. This is the form we see Edward Thomas in today, apart from the Westinghouse pump which was fitted in the mid 90’s to all the locomotives on the Talyllyn.

The Model

As a modeller of the Talyllyn Railway and having already modelled ‘Tom Rolt’, ‘Sir Haydn’, ‘Douglas’ under construction and ‘Dolgoch’ on order from Finescale.  ‘Edward Thomas’ or ‘Talyllyn’ were the next Locos on the wishlist.  My fascination with Hackworth valve gear was the deciding factor.

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

The Criteria

  • A model of near scale to go with the rest of the fleet
  • A model with good running characteristics, as the small size meant it would have to be manual (getting too old for chasing runaway locomotives).

The project was speeded along the way by gentle persuasion and a box of suggested Roundhouse parts from our Exchange editor Ian Shields (yes, he wanted one!)

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

A set of Roundhouse Hackworth valve gear and matching cylinders were purchased to hopefully satisfy the running characteristics.  Frames were cut and the valve gear linkages shortened with fingers crossed that the change in geometry  would not upset the timing too much.  Also it remained to be seen if the very short wheel base would run in 16mm scale.  A temporary boiler was strapped to the chassis, a sprung pony truck was installed to correct the balance.  The chassis was duly tested at the Butterely Garden Railway, as this line has many types of track, so is a good test track, and with a few tweaks the chassis ran exceptionally well.

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

The next problem was to get all the rest of the parts into such a small cab. As the loco was to have a small boiler (due to the locos size)  it was decided a water gauge and filler system was required.  It didn’t seem to matter how I arranged things, there was always one item that wouldn’t go into the cab.  Eventually I decided to fit the reverser under the cab floor, a design I quite like, and it works really well, as I used the Roundhouse lever so it matches the valve gear.

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

The gas tank, boiler and burner were supplied by Finescale engineering, as was the water filler valve, which sits under the saddetank filler and goes directly into the boiler.  I was so pleased with the project I decided to go for real rivets for detail (nearly drove me mad, but I think it was worth it in the end).

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

All that remained was to add the deep bronze green paint and the extra bit of magic supplied by Geoff Munday.

Steve Acton - Edward Thomas

All in all I think it turned out to be a nice loco, which wags it tail, just like the real thing!!

Steve Acton