By Terry Pearce
I was delighted to receive a copy of Andrew Neale’s “Industrial Narrow Gauge Album” with my November SMT, as this is just the sort of book that I scan avidly to give me modelling ideas. So it was no surprise that the lower photo on page 50 of the album caught my eye. This shunter with its Fordson Major tractor drive unit was of about 1929 vintage and had been used in the construction of Holbrook Naval Hospital in Essex.
The photograph suggested that it might even be possible to bury an electric motor in the model crankcase and some bevel gears in the massive back axle. However, I could not find a model of this tractor, the nearest equivalent being a Fordson major E27N of about 1948 vintage of which I already had a Universal Hobbies 1/16 scale model waiting to be part of a lineside tableau. So the tableau was forgotten and the wheels and other bits removed to reduce the model to its basic form. The wheels now form part of a wagon load. This model also had the disadvantage of having a slimmer engine and a sleeker rear axle, so the locomotive chassis was going to have to be internally driven. The Essel Engineering 005 chassis looked just the size to match the slightly oversize tractor, so building commenced.
A simple square section brass tube frame was soldered together to support the rear axle of the tractor and 6BA clearance holes drilled in the side frames of the chassis to attach the frame and the large covers of the tractor to wheelset drives. Close inspection of the photo showed that the left hand drive went to the front axle and the right hand to the rear. The massive multi-height couplers were made up of layers of wide and narrow strips of spruce and bolted into the centre coupler holes in the chassis endplates, and the whole model was ready for painting.
OK, the model is not quite the same as the original, but with 20 years experience Hudsons may not have built the post-war model in quite the same way as the one used at Holbrook.
The engine is drawbar coupled to a guards van containing batteries and R/C equipment, which can either sit on its own Essel Engineering chassis or on a plywood equivalent trailer chassis, giving it considerable flexibility in a range of shunter uses. In addition, the whole unit fits on my 21 inch turntable, so the driver’s head does not need to swivel.
Terry Pearce 4149