By Jon Bryant
The Big-Big/Novo range of battery powered, 0 Gauge model railways was a popular basis for inexpensive 16mm NG locos and rolling stock in the early days of the Association. I bought one of the 0-4-0s and looked around for a suitable prototype. I picked one of the Peckett side tanks that used to work at the British Aluminium Company’s Works at Larne in Northern Ireland. This was actually 3 foot gauge, but, working from photographs, I made a drawing of a 2 foot gauge loco that fitted the chassis. Although it is not a dead scale model, I think the result captures the spirit of the prototype.
I discarded most of the original plastic superstructure, (Well, I added it to my “come in handy” collection – I don’t actually throw things away!) and built metal frames and body to fit the original motor and wheel assembly. These were mainly made from old oil cans. The original crank pins were replaced by pieces of 8 BA studding, which were a tight fit in the existing holes, with sections of brass tube over them and a nut on the end to retain the new coupling and connecting rods, made from aluminium.
Power is provided by two D cells that fit in a battery tube inside the dummy boiler. The smokebox lifts off to give access to the batteries. The regulator in the cab operates a home-made 3-position switch that gives fast, slow and stop with a resistance mounted under the cab. I mounted the original reversing switch in the firebox and arranged for the reversing lever to operate it.
The driver was a Tamiya racing car driver, but I sent him on a retraining course to become an engine driver.
Over the years the loco has run on garden lines and exhibition layouts and gained a few scratches along the way. It is still in working order although the motor and wheel assembly is not the original one.