By Allan Black

My first scratch building began with a plan of the month of a LMS 2F 0-6-0T Dock Tank, it progressed no further than the plasticard frames. For a long time I have been inspired by Guy Williams (famous in 4mm scale for his work at Pendon Museum, Didcot) and have read his books many times taking it all in, never had any funds but aspired to be like him. Later I dabbled in 7mm scale for a few years when I had the money but no real idea of what I wanted to do. I handmade a few locomotive frames to replace those in the kits and when I tasted a top of the line kit, a Malcom Mitchell 2-6-2T GWR small prairie I became despondent as here I had what was hard to improve upon but had mistakes that I was not prepared to accept for the money. Change of circumstance stopped further movement.

After our head-on car accident on 29th January 2011 (over 30 breaks in 22 bones, both feet, hips, right arm, ribs) I was advised to do more model making to help my recovery as I could do it sitting down without toiling on my arms and feet. In April 2012 I became a member of the Facebook group ’16mm Association’ and from this I took out joint Association membership (my partner is also a train fan and model maniac) 2 weeks before the 2012 Peterborough Garden Railway Show. Here I bought most of my materials and wheels the motor and gears were already in my scrap bin. I found my Hunslet plans on the sample pages on the 16mm Association web page and got cracking.

My feet on many occasions prevented me from getting down to the shed, many times I used walking aids. Sometimes I couldn’t do much because of pain levels in the feet or in my right arm (lower right arm smashed, now has 1 x 4 inch plate per bone). Life was made easier when we purchased some bar/draftsman chairs which helped take the weight off my feet. Parts of the bodywork were made from nickel silver sheet material that I had either bought or laying round. Many times I had wondered on my sanity but close and dear friends on Facebook picked me up when I felt down and gave me the support that I had always dreamt of and put faith in me.

The Hunslet has featured many times in photographs on my Facebook page ‘Black’s Railway Workshop’ with many positive comments making me smile when the world felt very lonely. She is powered by a small 18 series 12 volt motor running through a 40:1 ratio gearbox. The wheels are Slaters and the ball race bearings in the axle boxes made her a very smooth runner. To operate her you move the reverser lever forward or backward to suit direction of travel (the reverser is mounted on top of a toggle switch, centre-off), then open the regulator on the backhead to make her move.

The regulator shaft goes through the firebox back sheet and connects with a wiper arm. This wiper arm has a piece of sprung brass against a PCB board with 4 positions/slots. First patch has no connection/off, the second and 3rd patch have 3 resistors to vary the speed of the loco, while the final patch is direct current straight from the batteries to the motor. If I wanted to fit radio gear I would only need to leave the regulator wide open and the reverser set for direction, the regulator would be automatically bypassed. In case of emergency you could then close the regulator and the loco would still stop! To change the AA batteries, lift off the saddle tank, it is the battery holder!!

Closer to the 2013 National Show I quickened up the pace of construction, down the shed nearly 8 hours a day. Finally she was ready for paint so after a test run at Harpenden with the 16mm West Herts Area Group I painted her with Hammerite special primer for brass, copper and nickel silver materials using my airbrush which I had never used in anger. This was followed with matt black enamel on the frames and running plate areas. What I found was that the matt black was very matt, so when I had some Blackberry black from the bodywork I de-matted the running plate and was stunned that it gave the running plate a well used look as it was matt in a few places but not where boots were used.

Once the bodywork was painted in a bubble wrap paint booth I then used a bow-string lining pen and painted on the lines (spent more time cleaning back to the line!), this also was my first time with a lining pen! I then took the completed engine 100 miles north to the 2013 Peterborough Garden Railway show and enter the locomotive into the MOTY (Model of the Year Award) ‘Andrew Neale Challenge Trophy’ for electric powered, steam outline locomotives and I came in first!! I then spent the next few weeks still happier than a Cheshire cat! Yes, I had won a trophy with my first ever steam engine built by hand.

Allan Black