It probably won't last, but so far locomotives have been numbered in the order of their arrival on the HLR, which is how they're presented here. (Having said that, No. 7 has just broken the rule!)
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Tin-Tacks was the HLR's first motive power. In July 1999, while travelling to a wedding, a 'fortuitous' visit to PPS Steam Models in Frome (which turned out to be the first of regular visits to Alan Whitaker's emporium!) resulted in the acquisition of, what was then, the newly introduced Roundhouse 0-4-0ST Katie. I had aspired to something like a Jane, but my wife much preferred the look of a rather nice radio controlled Katie sporting a smart maroon livery on a nearby shelf. Who was I to argue?
Tin-Tacks has run like a dream from new. The only problem has been a slightly sticky gas regulator, but an occasional application of silicon grease does the trick. Running more-or-less in 'as new' condition (regular polishing is required as she normally lives in the sitting room), the only additions are some replacement cylinder covers with nice rivet detail, some lining tape (which will soon need replacing or doing properly), a lamp bracket atop the smokebox, and a driver. The latter took a long time to appear, due to the lack of space in the cab because of the RC servos. But I eventually discovered that some of the Cambrian Models people are extremely thin! So a chap with a suit and bowler hat changed his clothes and now enjoys a new career, even if he does still look a bit stiff.
Why Tin-Tacks? The lady of the house (whose grandfather, incidentally, worked in one of the mines on Cockfield Fell - the location of the HLR) grew up in Shildon and once attended the Timothy Hackworth Primary School there. As Hackworth was closely associated with the railway, it seemed appropriate to use the school's old nickname: ‘Tin-Tacks’.
Dill is not owned by the Haggerleases Railway Co. although he does have complete running rights over HLR metals. When my son Tim decided to join in the fun a couple of years ago, he got himself a Punch kit from I.P. Engineering and chose a rather nice blue livery.
The loco is made pretty much according to the instructions, with the addition of four-wheel chain drive, brass handrails, a handbrake stanchion and a driver. The driver originally came from Off the Rails (the man with an oily rag). But he's now lost his rag(?!) and grown some more hair (ginger, like Tim's!). The figures are made from resin, which, although rather brittle, is easy enough to adapt to suit with the use of a little Araldite®.
Incidentally, the dials in the cab are taken from a photograph of Vale of Rheidol loco No. 7, Owain Glyndwr. No real reason; I just happened to have a suitable picture! And the driver is holding a Tyer's No 9 key token (patented by Blackall and Jacobs of the GWR 1912), the yellow colour indicating a 'D' configuration. I'm sure you really wanted to know all that!
And for those who are particularly observant, yes, the axleboxes are upside down. They were the right way up when I stuck them on; I just had the loco upside down at the time! But they show no signs of coming off, so there they'll stay.
I never really anticipated owning more than one steam engine (how many have said that?!), but eventually, Tin-Tacks got rather lonely. (I reasoned that diesels don't count!) So another visit to Alan's emporium saw an I.P. Engineering Jane join the fleet.
Jane is a very basic 0-4-0T, with external firing and oscillating cylinders. But for all that, she runs very well; especially as I got a gas-firing upgrade from Alan. Perhaps not surprisingly, I discovered that Jane improved considerably with running-in. But now that she is, she'll run really slowly and, with regular top-ups, go on for ever, too. All in all, great fun for relatively little outlay.
No. 3 is named after Edward Pease. Pease (a member of a large Quaker dynasty) was one of the founders of the S&DR and was heralded as the 'father of the railways'. He was therefore closely involved in the origins of the Haggerleases Branch (see history). As Jane always reminds me of one of the early George England locomotives, I thought a name associated with the early history of the railway would suit her well.
[Jane is no longer available from I.P. Engineering, but PPS Steam Models now produce Janet. This loco looks very similar to Jane, but has stronger frames, an excellent boiler from Cheddar Models, optional pressure gauge, and some other cosmetic improvements. By all accounts, she runs very well indeed. If you're interested, Keith Brown has produced a review of this loco. There are links to it from both his own Web site, and the PPS site.]
Well, what's to be said? July 2003 marked our Silver wedding anniversary, and look what turned up! For some while I had been appreciating the good looks of the Accucraft Caradoc and Superior locos, and my wife must have cottoned on. What a great present.
Caradoc is an 0-4-0 side tank loco with simulated Stephenson link valve gear. As is normally the case with Accucraft, mine is manually controlled and she has a very pleasing reversing leaver in the right-hand cab doorway. Not so pleasing, are the regulator and gas controls which make her look like the old clockwork Hornby loco I had forty years ago. They had to go!
The real problem, though, turned out to be the gas filler valve which vented so much gas into the atmosphere, I was constantly in fear of blowing up the house. I eventually despaired of Marches Models doing anything about it (though it seems that had I waited just a little longer...) and went to the excellent Mike Ousby for help. A replacement arrived virtually by return of post. Everything is now fine, and the gas supply very controllable. At the same time, Mike also supplied a nice new regulator lever which looks much more the part. With the gas valve fixed, running is brilliant.
No lining as yet, but the distinctly GWR-looking paintwork is crying out for some nice fine orange lines. In fact, with the copper capped chimney and a very stylish safety valve bonnet from Keith Bucklitch, she looks very GWR indeed. So, how do I account for her being so far from home?!
The name The Gaunless derives from the River Gaunless which flows all along the valley where our railway is supposedly located, flows past the church where we were married, and flows on down past the school my wife went to in Bishop Auckland. Seemed appropriate enough!
Tim wanted something a little more powerful than Dill, and wanted radio control as well. A steam engine was a bit beyond his budget, so it was to be ‘steam outline’.
The plan was to produce a narrow gauge version of a Wisbech & Upwell tram (though a little shorter to fit the chassis), which removes the need to model cylinders and valve gear. Hence the allusion to No. 7. But it will be called Barney (after the local name for Barnard Castle), not Toby, and it will never sport a face, I am told!
So, Tim's Christmas present in 2003 was an I.P. Engineering “Deluxe electric chassis” kit and some RC gear for. So far, the chassis is built and the RC working. This has some ex-L&B cowcatchers and buffer beams attached, courtesy Garden Railway Specialists (part no. DG155). Most of the bodywork to go on top is now complete as well. There's still some detailing work to do and the inside to fit out with dummy boiler etc.
Yes, I know that the whole point of tram engines having skirts is to stop people getting mixed up with the motion, but we decided we rather liked the look of the counterbalance weights and connecting rods going round, so decided to leave some openings. Gives it a slightly continental feel!
As always seems to be the case, it seems that even before we've got it finished, there's a glut of interest in tram engines in the magazines and with the trade. I see that John Rogers has just beaten us to it and completed a very nice looking tram made in a similar way. And comercially, I.P. Engineering have had the same idea and brought out their own tram engine based on the same chassis. No doubt ours will be better ;-) But I do see they are selling a nice pair of Toby faces to go with it...
Tony Lee originally bought Baldric from Essel Engineering for his W&LLR so that he could collect errant steam engines from the far end of his long line. Finding that Baldric didn't really have enough ‘umph’ for the job, he thoughtfully passed it on the HLR as something that Tim could mess about with. Thanks Tony!
Other than applying a number ‘5’ to the cab (to pick up the numbering where The Gaunless left off), nothing has been done since Baldric arrived, although Tony has advised that a replacement lead acid battery might be a good idea, as the old one is not holding its charge too well these days.