By Keith Skillicorn
Steamcraft’s Linda was conceived by David Taylor to expand his range of live steam locomotives in 16mm scale. The first was Mountaineer from the Ffestiniog, an ugly but powerful machine. Though it was quite popular with the G scale fraternity at the time.
Linda was a little different however. Quite near scale, but with chunky rods & valve gear. Linda sported a top specification for the time. This included a water gauge glass, water pump, with bypass valve, pressure gauge, mechanical lubricator, gas-fired boiler & slip eccentric reversing.
When given a dry rail she would pull a realistic load on level track; 8 or 9 bogie coaches on a good day.
There were shortcomings however, for instance the gas burner was actually a small blowlamp attached to the tender & was exceptionally noisy by today’s standards. Some of the detailing was either glued or soft soldered on & was prone to fall off if things got too hot!
Given the alternatives at the time Linda was good value, at just over £300 she was priced about the same as an Archangel Sgt Murphy which although a good runner only had a single cylinder & none of the goodies that made Linda a “drivers” locomotive.
Alan Appleton had the prototype Loco, which was painted a light green colour. Alan’s engine however disappeared when Steamcraft went bust. The receivers took everything in David’s workshop including Alan’s loco. Fortunately numbers 2 & 3 survive in good condition & were painted in British racing green. Both were lined out by Frank Howell. These two are still run on a fairly regular basis & one of them can be seen in the pictures.
The other loco is slightly later (seen on the left & below) & sports a different arrangement for pumping water & has a different design of cylinders. You can detach the pump from the crosshead & pump manually if things get a little desperate. A good thing when the water has disappeared below the bottom nut!
Time has passed & opinion is divided whether they were/are actually a good machine to own & run. My personal experience says that they are OK if you got a “good one”, but I have heard nightmare stories of engines that never ran properly, or set fire to themselves. These seemed to be the ones built from “kits” although not exclusively. Then as now you paid your money & took your choice.