By Harvey Watkins

Single Fairlie by Jon Watkins

I was already running an Archangel “Snowdon Ranger” and was so impressed by the performance and running qualities of the articulated engine that I dearly wanted one based upon “Taliesin”, in my view the best looking Fairlie.

I couldn’t afford a special build so there was nothing for it but to knuckle down and make one. The design was based upon “Taliesin” as first built and would be my second steam loco, the first being the Glyn Valley Tram loco “Sir Jasper” that appears in one of the photos. The idea was to follow the conventional wisdom of the day, for a pot-boiler. I didn’t have the courage to leap into internal firing at that time.

A top-hatted driver, by Maureen, came straight off the Christmas cake. He looks a bit yellow about the gills these days, but he has been standing in meths fumes for thirty years. Maureen, my late wife was a potter by trade, and produced a number of figures, some given away with the locos I built.

Single Fairlie

The boiler is a simple tube rolled from half-hard copper sheet, over the household rolling pin, as I recall. At the time of building, Fairlie pattern wheel castings, in chilled cast iron, were available from the trade, but everything else, with the exception of the pressure gauge, had to be handmade.

Single Fairlie

When running, the loco operates for about an hour on one boiler of water. During this time she consumes three tanks of spirit. After a run the boiler is refilled, as it cools down, by means of a vacuum tap in the backhead.

The spirit filler is hidden under a removable coal load in the bunker, so is reasonably unobtrusive.

Single Fairlie

“Frank Lloyd Wright” dates from the Black and White days of garden railways, well, 1976-77 anyway. 100 years after the original “Taliesin” locomotive first ran on the Ffestiniog. She is named in memory of the American architect who was so proud of his Welsh roots that he called his house “Taliesin” in honour of the Welsh poet.

Single Fairlie

Nothing complex here. Very basic detailing, as befits a beginner. Play it safe, my motto, and make haste slowly.

Single Fairlie

The slip-eccentric valve-gear and steam-chests are squeezed between the frames. Cylinders are 9/16 bore by 3/4 stroke. The footplate shape was bent over the edge of the workbench and tried against a scale drawing. Then the tank sides were cut to suit.

Harvey Watkins