By Steve Pickthall
Mcvites no 1 was an answer to an urgent motive power crisis on the nascent FBCR line in Norfolk. Terry, then aged 13, had bought a Mamod kit from our near neighbours at Brandbright (what did he start?) and some track, which we had laid, but the Mamod was being a typical Mamod in its reliability, so when Terry saw an advert for the Atlas 0-6-0 O gauge switcher locos in Garden Rail saying “easily Kit bashed for 16 mm”, he bought one.
Initially used straight out of the box on 12 volt rail power the chassis proved well up to work in the garden and one Saturday whilst watching the incongruous sight of an American outline standard Gauge loco pulling a Mamod coach and brake van, along with an early Brandbright Ashbury coach, I decided to see if the Atlas was “easily kit bashed”.
Terry did not want the original body modifying (he still has it!). and I had never built a loco body, but having experience of soldering and some training in Tin bashing in my apprentice days, I looked for suitable material and “borrowed” my wife`s sewing tin. Tin snips, pliers, hand drill and an old soldering iron heated by a blowlamp were the only tools used and like Topsy, it just grew over the afternoon (what drawings? ) working its first train, with wet paint, the same evening. The radiator grille is part of an (old?) sieve again borrowed from the kitchen, the nameplate on the bonnet is from a redundant stereo cartridge, the exhaust pipe is copper tube and copper pipe fittings.
After a short while being track powered (via a car battery in the shrubbery and a OO H&M controller) conversion to battery power took place; 9.6 volts worth of Nicads were located in the Mamod brake van .Control is via a reversing switch and a two position speed controller using an RS components voltage regulator to drop the voltage to 5 volts for the slow speed. Extension levers were soldered to the miniature toggle switches to represent control levers.
It was made to represent a small industrial 2 foot gauge diesel “bodged “ together by a railway short of funds (prototypical for the FBCR at the time).
It works well, running at scale speeds for passenger and freight services with at least 2 hours run time now from modern AA cells. I did not expect it to be still working reliably with very little attention over 20 years later, after working on 3 railways, and now 3 generations of driver.
Why Mcvites no 1? The sewing tin I borrowed was a biscuit tin.