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Moel Fammau

I had just staggered in from shopping with bags full of groceries that needed sanitising before storing away  (a job that I have come to loath during this lock down period but am continuing with now as a precaution), when I caught a snippet of Paul’s conversation.  I heard “Moel Fammau” drift through a cloud of sprayed disinfectant.

Easily distracted from a horrid chore, I peeped around the living room door and found Paul on the phone to PNP’s marketing people.  After Paul had put the phone down I enquired if we were going to Mold.  Paul frowned slightly and then started to laugh.  He went on to explain that Moel Fammau was one of his collection of model locomotives not the actual mountain above Mold near Wrexham which it is in fact named after.

He had purchased Moel Fammau from his “favourite shop” Station Road Steam in 2006.  It turned out that an enquiry had been made about this locomotive and Paul thought that It would be nice if we could do a bit of a write up about it for The PNP Railways website.  He suggested I take a look at The Station Road Steam site in their archive section to find out more about this 7¼” gauge Quarry Hunslet locomotive and its sister engine Pendlewitch.

I am inordinately fond of all small industrial working locomotives and I find the Quarry Hunslet to be a very appealing engine.  The full-size locomotives were primarily built for the slate quarries of North Wales.  They were produced by “The Hunslet Engine Company” in Leeds between 1870 and 1932.  Designed for hard work, in harsh conditions over rough terrain they needed to be relatively light weight, durable and have a short wheelbase.

These locomotives ran almost continuously all year round until the decline of the slate Quarries in the 1960’s.  Even today working Hunslet Locomotives can be found, still earning their living, serving the tourist and leisure industry mostly in North Wales, but also in other areas of Briton and some can be found in Canada and America (sadly these are usually for display purposes only)

Looking at the pictures on the Quarry Hunslet website I can pick out quite a few locomotives that I have enjoyed being pulled behind, I also had the honour, for the cost of a fiver, of driving Margaret a cab less Quarry Hunslet that was running on a short track alongside the Vale of Rheidol Light Railway from Aberystwyth to Devils Bridge.

Oh well! enough cooing over the Loco we must get down to some facts about The Quarry Hunslet.  It is an 0-4-0 narrow gauge (2ft) Locomotive.  Actually the gauge on the working engines was 1ft 10 ½” but now in preserved engines the gauge runs at 1ft 11 5/8” to 24 inches (600mm).

Most of these locomotives were originally constructed without a tender, rather utilising a slate truck or another piece of rolling stock, to carry extra coal for the engine as well tools and rope.  Of course, the Hunslet is a saddle tank engine, its water supply being carried in a tank that rides over the boiler rather like a horse’s saddle.  Personally, I think that this gives the locomotive a very pretty appearance.

The Original Quarry Hunslets were one of “The Hunslet Engine Company’s” most notable designs.  The very first of its type emerged from the Leeds works in 1870 and was called “Dinorwic” after the Slate Quarry that it was built for.  It was an innovative design for its day, its narrow gauge required to cope with the limited, narrow, rugged Welsh terrain.

The locomotive proved to be essential to the development of the slate industry utilising the existing tramways, rolling stock and wagons originally constructed for the antiquated horse drawn method of transportation that had itself developed when pack horse transportation had proved to be too laborious.

It is little wonder that many of these spritely locomotives have been lovingly reproduced in model form.  Looking at The Station Road Steam Archive I found some information on Moel Fammau and a mention of Pendlewitch.

It appears that both these Locomotives were built by John Milner a founder member of the 7¼“ Gauge Society in 1973.  John Milner was by profession an engineer, originally working in the aircraft industry, however in 1973 he made the decision to move into manufacturing miniature locomotives.

In later life he would  claim that his fledgling business “Milner Engineering” in Chester was kept afloat during its first year by a commission he received from a gentleman in Bolton (who later became a President of the 7¼” Gauge Society) for a one third size Model of a Quarry Hunslet.  Drawings and Castings for this reproduction were supplied by Roger Marsh enabling Milner to build the first in a long line of wonderfully crafted miniature Quarry Hunslets.

Moel Fammau the first locomotive produced by Milner and named after that Mountain above Mold was so well received in Bolton, that the gentleman immediately commissioned a second engine to be named Pendlewitch.  Incidentally both these Locomotives stayed in Bolton with the original owner on his private railway until he died 30 years later.

Milner’s great skill and craftsmanship is very apparent in Moel Fammau. The locomotive itself is 55 inches long rising to a height of 33 inches at the top of the cab.  She also sports, uncharacteristically, a 40” tender.  There is a saturated steel boiler having expanded steel tubes and as in  most locomotives it has a fusible plug in fire box (safety precaution allowing water to be dropped onto the fire if the water tank should run low, the screw in soft solder plug melts allowing remaining water to douse the fire in the boiler).

The working pressure is 90 PSI, with twin salter safety valves. The water feed is serviced by twin injectors, and there are mountings on the left-hand motion bracket and a pin on the crosshead for a mechanical pump to be fitted if desired.  Cast Iron Cylinders inside slide Valves actuated by Stephenson’s valve gear with pole reverse in the cab. Drain Cocks are also operated from within the cab.

I am reliably informed that Moel Fammau is probably one of the best-known model Quarry Hunslet locomotives.  Milner Engineering is responsible not least for building a good few dozen of these locomotives themselves,  but they also produced drawings and castings for amateur model engineers to build their own Hunslets probably resulting in at least another few dozen builds.

Moel Fammau is undoubtedly a precise beautiful piece of engineering, presenting a graceful locomotive so why, I ask was, it painted that horrid Calf Scour colour?

And Paul, your choice of colour for the refurbishment of blue lined in black and white is not exactly appealing to me either.  However, it is all a matter of choice.

 

See more at: https://www.stationroadsteam.com/milner-hunslet-moel-fammau-stock-code-2402/

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A hidden gem in Norfolk.

We were delighted to receive this write up from one of our customers in Norfolk. We are sure that you will enjoy reading it:

 “Although the railway is still very much a work-in-progress, all the PNP parts are fitted, and I attach a few pictures which have particular reference to the trackwork. Most of the re-planting has yet to be completed.

The total length of the line is approximately 600 feet, all in 7.25″ and includes a main loop, passing branch extension, triangular run-round enabling trains to run both clockwise and anti-clockwise on the line, and a two-road engine shed. All trackwork is on the PNP system. The steepest gradient is 1 in 20, the sharpest radius 15 feet, and there are seven sets of points. The line was laid on an existing mature Edwardian woodland garden, with MOT type 1 hardcore and 14mm Montsorrell granite ballast kept in place with boards. The PNP system meant that track could be produced very quickly and easily (using a rail-bender and a custom-made jig). The permanent way and trackwork was all down and operational within six months of starting.

Current motive power is provided by two Station Road Steam built 0-4-0 locomotives: a ‘Feldbahn’ which served as the firm’s demonstrator in Germany; and ‘Tihany’, an early ‘Stafford’ saddle tank with a distinguished history. Rolling stock consists of two driving trucks and a four-seat ride-in carriage by Paul Williamson, plus one three-seat ride-on convertible bogie truck.”

 Please do keep sending us details of your projects. We really do enjoy reading them and seeing your pictures.

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Baltic Tank 4-6-4 Locomotive

 

At the start of this time of self-isolation, I made a foray down to our garage, where some of our locomotives and rolling stock are housed, along with a variety of other bits and bobs. I was just contemplating one of my father’s miniature steam plants that he must have built way back in the late fifties, and just as I was trying to place where the piece of lino that was on its mounting board was from, my other half pointed out a puce green locomotive.

At first glance, to my untrained eye, she looked rather ungainly a long lanky tank engine with quite small wheels, to make it worse it had a funny sort of Tender truck behind it that I later found out was not a natural pairing for this locomotive. “Odd” I thought, but being no oil painting myself I kept quiet, as hubby launched into an explanation of what this 5” gauge locomotive was and why she was special.

Firstly, her size is unusual as this model is a 5” gauge reproduction of a prototype 5’ 6” broad gauge locomotive so a scaling factor of 1:13.2 has been employed to build this model. Normally for models of standard gauge (4’ 8½” ) a scaling factor of 1:12 or (actually 1: 11.3) for the purist using 1 1/16” to represent 1 foot is employed.

I was informed of this before he told me that she was a model of a Baltic tank 4-6-4 locomotive. She is a 3-cylinder tank engine built originally to service The Buenos Aires and Pacific Railway that was in service between 1886 to 1948. These 4-6-4 tank locomotives were designed and built by Robert Stephenson and Co. and this particular type of locomotive was built between 1928 and 1930. This model Baltic tank engine’s number is 2367 and as it worked on an Argentinean Railway you can see that the number plate is reproduced in the Spanish language Ferro Carril De Buenos Aires Al Pacifico.

Apparently, the name of this “Baltic” locomotive tank engine comes from the very first 4-6-4 tender locomotive, a 4-cylinder compound locomotive designed by Gaston du Bousquet for the Chemin de Fer du Nard in France in 1911. The 4-6-4 was designed and built for the Paris to Saint Petersburg express and so was named after the Baltic sea. This model Baltic tank engine is a copy of one designed and built by Robert Stephenson and Company Ltd, Darlington, engineers, as mentioned above. It was awarded a Highly Commended certificate at the 50th Model Engineer Exhibition, also at a Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition sometime later, and bears a plaque attesting to this on the front just below the smokebox.

I was looking at the 4-6-4 wheel arrangement on hubby’s model Baltic tank locomotive which according to my mentor is a fairly good wheel arrangement for passenger tank locomotives. However, more commonly a 4-6-2 arrangement is often employed. The beauty of a tank engine with carrying wheels at each end of the locomotive is that it can run equally well forwards as backwards and hence does not need to be turned on a turntable. The 4-6-4 is well suited to high speed running across flat terrain because this type of engine has fewer driving wheels than carrying wheels, hence a smaller percentage of the engines weight contributes to traction compared to other engines with more numerous driving wheels. The 4-6-4 is therefore more suited to higher speed passenger travel rather than hauling heavy freight or slogging up sustained grades and inclines.

The 4-6-4T, is essentially the tank locomotive equivalent of the 4-6-0 tender Locomotive, but they have water tanks and coal bunker supported by four smaller wheels trailing behind the engine instead of a tender.

Hubby’s model has three cylinders. The external (outside) cylinders valve gears are Walchaert’s, but the internal (inside) valve gear is Stephenson’s link. The inside cylinder drives an internal crank on the middle axle, as do the outside cylinders so they all drive on the same axle. The middle cylinder sits over the front bogie. This front bogie even has a swing-link system, so it is in effect a self-banking bogie. The turbo generator which can be seen on the images is capable of running the front or rear head lamp depending which way the locomotive is heading on the train. Powerful headlamps were necessary on the routes served by these locomotives, owing to the fact that many parts of this railway were unfenced, and obstacles and wildlife had to be detected early on the route.

The model has a non-prototypical four-wheel coal and water tender which when the removable part of the cab and imitation bunker coal is removed, makes driving much more convenient while adding to the distance that can be covered without stopping. All in all, a lovely model acquired from Robin West of View Models on the understanding that some refurbishment is required to bring it back to its former prize-winning condition.