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Newsletter January 2012

Captain Howey

This large loco is built up on our standard 7 1/4" gauge power bogies.

I am not sure if I volenteered or was pressganged in to a team charged with building a battery electric locomotive for the Chingford club.

For me it was a chance to experiment with a whole range of new building processes and designs with out incurring the material charge. I thank the club for having a bit of faith in the company and I think the results speak for themselves.

Below left - The brass name plates were made by myself with help from Steve of "Mint Condition" who cut and stuck the vinyl onto the brass allowing me to then etch the plates. Steve also did the front lining and provided a stone chip protection film to the cab roof.

Below - Ron Manning took great time in finishing off the timber bodywork and building all the controls on the dashboard. The loco has 4 batteries and two built in battery chargers. It also has two horns - one at each end - hence the two red buttons.

Left - Ron Manning has always liked drivers in cabs. After a long search he opted to use a doll dressed in a guards uniform. The effect is great but don't look too closely if you see the loco. The doll had to be cut in half as he is pearched on a bulkhead over two of the traction batteries.

This shot also shows the great lengths of detailing that Ron went to - working vacuum pipe, custom buffers and marker board brackets.

Techinical Details

  • Power - 8 x 150w motors (two per axle)
  • 4 x 85amp hour batteries (can run 2 pairs or individual pairs)
  • Control - iDrive 120amp
  • 2 x automatic battery chargers - built in to rear with 240v trailing lead
  • Alarm if loco turned on and rear door open (charging lead out)
  • Vacuum pump for train brakes
  • Electric parking brake - worked by iDrive unit
  • Induction ammeter.
  • Top speed - Plenty



7 1/4" Gauge AGM - Swindon

This years Seven and a Quarter Gauge Society's AGM was hosted by Swindon Club. I only stayed Friday and Saturday but it was a lovely meet. Not only did I have a small trade stand I also managed to get my 7 1/4" gauge tram out on what is a very interesting track.

Ron Manning in the turntable pit Temporary Storage marquee
Sorry for the bad pictures but I forgot my camera so only had my phone. I also just got busy having a good time and forgot to take pictures.

I finally got my tram on the track for my allotted time and suddenly I got a fan club who wanted a drive. It was a very interesting track and the driving I did was very enjoyable. I didn't have time to fit a proper horn so as a rush job I wired in a klaxon, just in case the club insisted on a horn.

I left the engine to go and man my stall and I kept hearing the horn for at least a couple of hours afterwards.

Finally when it was dark I took my trolley and went on a hunt to find out where it had been left. Big thanks to Mike of Station Road Steam for helping me as we had to lift it from the middle of the marquee.


All change at the workshop.

With our work load ever increasing it became clear that the paint shop was becoming a bottle neck. For those of you who visited the workshop you may recall the Boxford lathe in the porch area. This has now been moved in to the main workshop area where the old small paint shop was.


Left - the cleared area of the porch. A long term leak showed itself up so with help from the land lords son (below left) we had a go at patching the tin gutter.

Despite mine and Criags best effort, pulling up the old felt in the gutter we made it a lot worst. At times the unit next door ended up with 1" of water in it. luckily the unit I am in isa couple of inches higher.

A big thanks to Barry who took on the challenge of building the new paint shop front wall. Work included new lights, extraction and insulation to the roof space. In all it took over two weeks.

Left - The start of clearing some floor space. The idea of a big reshuffle is to increase the paint shop size and capacity aswell as create a larger floor space near the front doors. This is to allow access for pallet delivery and eventually an area where we could work on larger locos.

We had a look at bigger units locally but being inside the M25 means there is no escape from large rent and high rates. For a unit 1/3 bigger would mean rates and rent of over �1000 a month.

What was really annoying was having had half term then two weeks of rearranging I then went down with a bad bug which knocked me out for the best part of a week.

So apologies to those who received their orders late but I do hope that in future we will be better placed to have more items as off the shelf.

The first two weeks of December we welcomed Romeo to the workshop on a work experience placement. As part of his placement we worked on his own Charlatan loco which he bought off ebay.

We can't have been too bad as he came in for a couple of days in the holidays to carry on the work on the engine.

I am always for safety and I am riled by people who quote "health and safety gone mad" when they just want to ignore good practice and common sense. Similarly it infuriates me when people are too lazy to actually manage risk. It was a battle to get the placement agency to actually let Romeo use tools.

At one point it was sand paper and observation. They even listed battery drills as a prohibited tool.

I like the Health and Safety Excecutives statement -

"Those who create the risk are often best placed to deal with the risk"

Hercules Number 100

In December we sold Hercules number 100.


Launched in 2003 the loco has found homes all over the world. As I write the bogies and chassis are with the customer in Austraila while the body is in the workshop waiting for its final detailing and painting to be carried out. On the Friday before Christmas I got a message from the customer. Feed back was good but he had a problem which we don't tend to get here in the UK. -

"Unfortunately my trials today were interrupted by a 6ft Juvenile Brown snake….one of the quickest and deadliest snakes we have in this country….he was only about 2 metres from the front of the loco basking in the sun on the track. I stopped luckily, and he slithered off quickly in to the grass. It put the wind up me and I then went home :( "

Number 100 is the 4th Hercules to go to Australia and I am glad it has found a good home. With the success of the "traveller" option all Hercules will be going out with the plugs fitted as standard.

Custom Crossing

We have offered this service for a few years now and only a few people have taken up the service. After a visit to the The Blatchington Branch Garden Railway I photographed the trackwork where the proposed crossing was to be. Using the photograph I traced the angles and using a given radius I draw up the crossing. The top bottom track is straight while the left right is on a radius.

Photograph taken on my tablet. - yes my feet The finished crossing

For more details go to Martin's website. The Blatchington Branch Garden Railway

Railway Exhibitions

Once again the portable railway attended 3 local model railway exhibitions. Low collections on two really means we can't justify lending over �2k of equipment to collect under �20 for the Hospice. It has always been a strange situation as we slip between trader and exhibitor. That said a big thanks to the Chelmsford Model Railway Club who welcome us with open arms and provide us with a cooked lunch. Their good location and well organised exhibition always seems to make their exhibition stand out from others. Hope to see you there this October.

Out of the three shows Chelmsford was once again the most popular. This year Drena helped me run the track with Derek Wheddon helping in the morning. It was a rush to pack it all way, put it in the garage before picking up a Hercules and riding truck from the workshop on route for the 10pm ferry from Portsmouth for a week on the Isle of Wight. Couldn't let the picture above left go with out mention. I just liked the idea of a paint shop on a model railway. Will be interesting to see how much they have painted by next year.


I shouldn't have to apologise for putting up prices. We have worked hard this years to try and improve productivity. Loco sales are now at a rate where we can justify production runs. Even after all this there comes a point where the material costs go up and you are left with no choice. This year for example Dulux paint has gone up 12%, laser cut steel 15%, brake calipers 20%, plywood 25% etc. We are only a small company but world commodity prices and exchange rates all take there toll. After finishing this page I will be updating the prices with a 6% increase.

Don't forget Alexandra Palace 20-22nd January. An expensive outing for us but it is our home show. If you are attending do come across and say hello. From previous experience I know I can get tied up talking to someone and seem to ignore others. Please if anyone knows how to best to deal with this do let me know. I don't wish to cut anyone off but then to see people, who wanted to talk, walk off is upsetting. If there is an answer to this problem do let me know. Alternatively 07757 321851. Should be in my pocket and could be the polite interuption!

All the best for now.


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