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Newsletter December 2009

7 1/4" Gauge

Over the years we have only paid for a couple of advertisements in magazines. To tie in with the launch of a 7.25" gauge Hercules we paid for a small advert in the 7 1/4" Gauge Society's magazine. Whether it was a jinx or not but the day the deadline passed was about the time we found out that there would be no more Fasco motors - see below.

The aim of the new loco is to use as many parts as we can from the 5" gauge version but by narrowing the bogie frames the wheels go on the outside of the frames. What you will get is a reasonably powered loco but one that doesn't have to live on the track. The bogies and chassis weigh in at around 35kg but by taking the bogies off not part weighs more than 12kg.

Although the wheels are cut from 4" blanks, they are to 7.25" gauge profiles. Having finally welded up a set of new frames, the new motor mounts fit snuggly between the frames. This engine will never be a big hauler but it should make a change to have a portable loco that isn't just a 0-4-0 or 0-6-0. As nearly all the parts are the same as the 5" gauge version the price will be the same..

Motor Problems

Having had a fantastic summer with Ride on Railways we were just getting through the back orders when we hit a brick wall with the locos. Over the years we have used over 600 12v Fasco motors with only one notable failure which was burnt out by having power applied when parked. Trying to keep ahead, I ordered another box of motors in advance of loco orders. A month later the bad news came back - No more Fasco motors. We had already seen the motor manufacture change from Fasco to Von Weisse but this was a bit of a shock

Production has been moved/sold to Mexico and the chance of these motors being manufactured in the next year or so is highly unlikely.

Fasco motors in Trojan wheelsetsFasco motor

A supply issue in 2006 lead to an enquiry with a UK motor manufacturer. They actually made me four samples which were probably a better motor and performed really well in my Captain Howey loco. I requested a quotation and was quoted 67 per motor but needed to buy at least 500.

The hunt was now on for a suitable replacement motor. Having searched the internet I narrowed the choice down to four potential motors. Having purchased four of each it was soon clear that two motor types were not powerful or fast enough. The final two required new motor mount designs with one of them requiring a semi cradle configuration.

With the motors installed we then tested them separately under a Hercules chassis.

After the initial bench tests the bogies were taken to our line so they could be tested on a line with a reasonable load (4 adults) at various speeds. Not wanting to pick a motor which may not be suitable, the engine was driven pretty hard with rapid acceleration and deceleration.

While both motor types performed well one became noticeably warmer under heavy loading and was rejected. The remaining type was then selected for further testing.

Despite all the tests we could carried out on the Middleton Garden Railway there was one we couldn't do - TOP SPEED.

New Hercules at Chingford Armed with the borrowed "Bobby " body we took the new loco to Chingford club track for a bit of testing. The raised track is currently under going maintenance and the ground track had a rather large heap of soil over one point, but there was enough track to give the loco a thorough testing.

After clearing some of the track of leaves we carried our several runs including a couple where I opened up the loco to full power. Plenty of wheel slippage occurred due to the leaves but we were achieving some top speeds which were comparable with the old Fasco motors.

Despite running at high speed and low speed for some time,the motors failed to show any sign of any warming up.

My best estimate is that the loco could achieve around 10mph, but with the motors appearing to be under worked there could be the potential for using a 15 tooth spur gear on the motor rather than the 12t we were using.

Having just placed an order for 50 motors we are now up and running again. The only major problem is that I will have to re do all the kit instruction pages as the motors have a totally new mounting bracket. For those who hated putting drilling a pin down the spur gear on the motor will be relieved to find out that the new motors have a flat on to which you can use a grub screw to fix the gear on.

Workshop News


Having lost a good few weeks with design and testing motors I have finally started Hunslet no.3 Although the 12v motor supply has stopped, there are a few 24v ones. The disadvantage is the loss of top speed but with the Hunslet this isn't too much of an issue.

That said I am going to give this one a major test before fitting all the cranks and con rods.

Once this one is finished I need to start on number 4.

Having been asked by several people for a long seat raised truck, I gave up trying to work out how to support the seat in the centre. As a trial I ordered up three raised trucks with a straight chassis rather than the well wagon style.

The first two will soon be going to Holland, but if anyone would like one I can do these on special order. No real price increase, just have to wait for a 5mm steel order.

We are now supplying our bearing version locos with new smaller Delrin alxe boxes. They were designed to accept axle ends directly but we can modify them to accept 6000z ball race bearings. The clip in Timken covers just adds to the character.

The main advantage for us is the saving of having to stock two different styles of side frames.

Following on from the success of the bogie kits, we now supply all bogies to this design. While there weren't any problems with the old design, the new one offers better performance of tighter curves. We have also added two holes on the cross plate which allows you to put a couple drops of oil to lubricate between the plate and nylon spacer block.
With so much work on the books we have been employing Barry (pictured left) on a part time basis. Barry has quite a pedigree in 5" gauge having scratch built a Western and the German loco pictured left.

With his input we are slowly getting up to date with the orders. It is our intention to be able to finally get some ready made stock on the shelves.



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - from Paul, Drena, David & Barry.

Look out early next year for new locos - 5" and 7.25"



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