have visited the Hamilton
Model Engineers track a couple of times. They have a nice
park location and three interesting routes. I have become a
member which has the benefit of as many free rides as I want!
have just received an email from a guy in Cambridge (New
Zealand not England) that owns a 7¼" gauge railway with
a 1000' mainline run. He has offered to show me round
the line and maybe let me have a drive.
I visited Grant and his Squirrel Valley Railway over the
weekend and what a lovely little line it is. I got to
drive Grant's NZR DA-class loco and also his Sandy River
and Rangeley Lakes 2-6-2. What a beautiful loco.
I am currently investigating engineering firms around
Hamilton, NZ that can provide bearings (for axle boxes) and
laser cutting (for frames).
I obtained a Hercus 9" lathe via TradeMe. I can now start
turning my own wheels.
AutoCAD evening classes
I have just signed-up for evening classes in the use of
AutoCAD. I'd like to start using it to design rolling-stock and
then get the parts laser-cut by a company in Hamilton. This is
the way that Paul Middleton at
on Railways produces his 5" gauge equipment. OK, so a
introductory course it not likely to have me churning out
rolling-stock in five minutes, but it is a piece of software you
need some training on because it is so complex.
I was originally looking to buy an
Atlas 10" lathe on TradeMe, but the seller wanted more for
it than I wanted to spend and I ended up buying a "scruffier" Hercus 9" lathe. Now the
seller of the Atlas has asked if I am still interested in it at
a lower price. I am toying with the idea of buying the Atlas 10"
and selling the Hercus. The Hercus could do with a thorough
clean / restoration, but
do I want to do the work on something I might then sell? The
Atlas also has a vertical milling attachment and a lot more
accessories than the Hercus, making it even more appealing (both
practically and financially). Or,
for the money, I could keep both and set one up for milling and the
other for turning..... Umm.
|Hercus 9" ?
||or Atlas 10" ?
It really is a small world. The father of a friend of Pip's
works for a steel fabrication company in Hamilton. The owner of
the business (also a John) is in to miniature railways, is also
a member of the Hamilton Model Engineers and knows
Grant who owns the SR&RL #24 (see above). He has also told me
that if I ever need to use any of his machinery to let him know
as he'd be happy to help. He is rebuilding a 5" gauge Meyer
articulated at the moment but is also building a 7¼" gauge
I have decided to buy the 10" Atlas lathe. Moving it will be
a problem, but I may be able to borrow an engine hoist from John
at the steel fabrication company.
I have had an offer of the off-cuts from the flame-cutting
machine from a large engineering firm in town. When they make
flanges for pipework, the bit they cut out of the middle of the
"Polo-mint" is scrap; to them anyway. They are around 6" diameter and about 1½"
thick - ideal for wheels. I've also got a supply of off-cuts of
1" diameter steel bar - ideal for axles, so I'm doing pretty
well at the moment.
John from Tube Tech (see above) has not only offered to loan
me his engine hoist to move the Atlas lathe, he's also offered
to help me move it. The guy is almost embarrassingly helpful.
AutoCAD evening classes
I went along to the first class and got drawing almost
straightaway. The course is being run at one of Hamilton's
better boys schools and the instructor is one of their craft
teachers. He seems pretty good but he's said that if anyone
really wants to get "in to" AutoCAD then they should look at the
more in-depth evening classes run at the Polytechnic. So, I
asked them to send me more information as the next course starts
Here's my first drawing. The instructor saw that I was
picking it up and instead of drawing the "AA" logo in 2D, he
showed me how to convert it in to 3D. Then I added the cone
for a bit of fun.
I just downloaded and printed off a beginner's guide to
AutoCAD 2006, it is 374 pages long and fills three smaller A4
ring binders (OK, so I did print it single-sided). This isn't
some cheap-n-cheerful piece of drawing software I can learn in
five minutes; but then I knew that.
John and I managed to get the Atlas 10" lathe back to my workshop
(garage) on Saturday. We needed to use John's engine hoist as it
was too heavy for the two of us to lift. It wasn't too much
trouble, but the height of the garage door was a bit of a
problem as the hoist above the lathe was only a fraction of an
inch clear of the top of the door. But it is in place now so
that's fine. Seeing as we have our house on the market at the
moment, I am not going to get too comfy as we'll need to move it
again soon when the house sells.
I just won a small petrol engine on TradeMe for half its
retail price, which frankly was too good a deal to pass up. I
can always park it in the back of my workshop until a project
comes up to use it on.
After slaving over a hot PC for several hours, I managed to draw
I don't reckon that's bad for for just two lessons. In case
you're wondering what it is, it is the beginning of a chassis for a
Pip and I spent a very pleasant 10 days in Melbourne and I took
the opportunity to visit the Box Hill and Diamond Valley miniature
I have finished the 6 week "taster" AutoCAD course at Hamilton
Boys High School and I have decided to take this further. I have
therefore signed-up for a 10 week course at the polytechnic. From
this I will receive a formal certificate or qualification. I'm not
fussed about that, but to move on to more CAD work and do 3D, I need
the introductory course at the polytechnic.
||I was invited to see another model engineer not far from me by
John Bremner. Andy used to be a metalwork teacher but is now
retired. His garaged is packed with machinery and he has so many
projects on the go that it makes you dizzy to look at them all. He's
been building a Tinkerbell for nearly 20 years but though he says he
could have it running by the end of the year, he's apparently been
saying that for quite a while. He's also in to 32mm gauge live steam
and knows Grant who owns the SR&RL #24. It really is a small
world in model engineering around here.
Pip and I have been invited down to New Plymouth by a guy who has
a 7¼" gauge line around his garden. We're going down there to stay
on ANZAC weekend (25th-27th
I sold the Hercus lathe for almost what I paid for it, so that's
good. I don't need two lathes so similar and the Atlas is a better
bet for what I want.
Unfortunately we didn't make it to New Plymouth as Ted's wife was
not well. Shame, but there'll be other occasions, especially seeing
as I now work only 4 days per week in the office so I have the
flexibility to take a long weekend pretty much whenever I like.
I am gathering more and more information on
Weymouth Miniature Railway and
Crystal Palace. The detective work
is fun if a little frustrating at times. Miniature railway
locomotives seem to have some interesting and varied lives making it
tricky to pin down accurate information on their movements.
I have identified a potential source of some used aluminium rail
in the UK, and some friends are hiring a container to ship their
goods from the UK to NZ later in the year - the rail wouldn't take
up much space in a corner. Watch this space.
||My AutoCAD beginners course begins at the
local polytechnic this week - which I am really looking forward
The used rail in the UK was sold some time
I am following up on a lead for a 2-8-0
that is for sale in Auckland.
Pip and I went up to Auckland to see a
locomotive that is for sale. Stupidly, I forgot to
take any photos of it, even though I had the camera in the car.
- POEM is unusual in that the builder
(Murray Lane) combined features of several different locos to
build this one. It is vaguely reminiscent of a World War I
American ALCO or Baldwin trench loco, but it is a 2-8-0, not
- POEM is a combined side tank and tender
loco making it more like a sugar-cane loco. There were no
eight-coupled sugar-cane locos in Fiji,
though there were
still a few in Java (as of 2006 and most of those were German-built).
- POEM uses
Allan straight-link valve motion, which was unusual on
full-size locos and even rarer on miniature locomotives.
- POEM will have to be repainted, it
simply doesn't look right to have a blue and purple steam
loco. That said, many of the sugar-cane locos in Java (and
Australia) were painted some fairly garish colours.
POEM is a big loco, probably bigger than
Grant's Sandy River 2-6-2.
She was designed for a railway at Manu Ariki Marae a few miles
north of Taumarunui in the central north island of New Zealand.
She was to be able to haul a load of 54 adults up their 1 in 100
gradient, including a short stretch of 1 in 40 on a bend. Due to
a lack of suitably trained staff at the line they decided not to
buy the loco in the end and Murray retained her for himself. The railway
is still open and now extends to just over 3km (just under 2
miles), or a 25 minute
Murray was originally going to build a model of Palm
Management (P.O.E.M.) railway locomotive #3 but she would've been too small
for the intended use so he changed the design to the
semi-freelance 2-8-0; but he kept the name POEM.
Murray said that POEM has been running
for about five or six years and he has rebuilt those parts that
were not satisfactory, so there is little chance of it
developing a fault that he hasn't already uncovered. For
instance he re-made slide valves as the original phosphor-bronze
ones distorted and he made new cast-iron ones. Murray is a superb engineer and there is no faulting
This is a loco built for hard use and is
not a finescale model. The paintwork is a bit tarnished in places
but the underlying loco is in very good condition. It is up for
sale at a very reasonable price and I am sorely tempted. The
colour would have to go though, it is just too... purple.
With an all-up weight of around 1 ton, I
am going to have to get a trailer specifically to move it. Where
to put it is also a bit of an issue at the moment as our current
house is far from ideal, but seeing as we'll be moving soon I am
not worrying about that.
I have decided to buy the loco in
John Bremner has offered to help me
collect the loco using his ute (pickup) and then help me build a
trailer for it. I got quotes for a trailer capable of handling
1.25 tons (with brakes) and they both turned out to be around
NZ$5000. John has all the equipment necessary to build me a
trailer and can get the parts (wheels, hubs, brakes, ball-hitch,
etc.). The end result will be much better as it'll be exactly
what I need rather than a compromise; and hopefully it'll be
Pip and I went back to Auckland for a
seminar so we stopped off en-route to take some photos of POEM.
For more photos, see the
Locomotives page. There is a also a tender to go behind POEM
which is not visible in this photo.
As an idea, I will probably repaint POEM in the same scheme
as VICTORY on the
Bredgar & Wormshill Light Railway
||My wife and I are
moving to Raglan in July. We are moving in to a rental whilst we look for a suitable
piece of land that will "work" for both of us.
John Bremner and I went up to Auckland to
collect POEM on 14th June.
John had organised a (large) trailer where the deck
was as near as we could get it to the height Murray had told us
the trolleys were built to - the idea being we could just roll
the loco and tender on to the trailer. Well, it didn't quite
work like that. Murray had made a mistake and told us 800mm when
it should've been 600mm. This meant that the trailer was a good
150mm or 6" different in height to the track on the trolley.
This wouldn't have been so bad except that POEM weighs in at
around half a ton. After much scratching of heads, and much
jacking and blocking of the trolleys we got the trailer level
enough to roll POEM and her tender on to the deck.
This was the first time I had seen
loco and tender together.
down along with the two trolleys and the passenger carriage we came
the easy bit - pulling the trailer out of Murray's drive. Well,
that didn't quite go according to plan either. The trailer was
very wide and long and when we pushed it back in to the garage
by hand we pushed the drawbar over to get in round the slight
corner. This is fine, but when you have a pickup truck hitched
to it you cannot drag the whole lot back over the other way. Suffice it to say that for what should've
been a fairly routine job, it took us 3½ hours to load
John with the grin
that says "see, we got it out of there in the end!"
The journey back to Hamilton was
uneventful and we took her to John's workshop which will be her
temporary home for a while. John has the benefit of a 1 ton
crane in his workshop which made unloading a lot easier - once
you figure out where to put the strops (ropes). This photo shows POEM hanging in thin air on John's one ton hoist
- which was a bit un-nerving.
PS. I know there are no
photos of me, I was behind the camera!
Mid-winter steam-up at Grant Alexander's Squirrel Valley
- 21st & 22nd June 2008
This was POEM's first outing since I bought
her in June 2008. I had her for only one week before Grant
Alexander's mid-winter steam-up at his railway.
Grant let me borrow his trailer as in the week
since I'd bought POEM John Bremner and I had not had the chance to
build my own. Grant's loco is big but even so POEM was a very tight
squeeze - we reckon there was about 3-4mm gap down either side! John
and I will definitely make my trailer a bit bigger to make life
easier. My car performed well with over 1 ton on the towbar and the
half-hour journey from the workshop to Grant's line was uneventful.
Unloading at Grant's track was fairly easy as
the ramp is the right height for his trailer (obviously) and the
loco and tender were soon on the track. This was the first time I'd
seen POEM on rails and she looked great. John and I both through
that all the effort to get her from Auckland was well worth it. Next
job... raise steam.
John had cut enough bits of wood to fill a 1
gallon ice-cream carton - well that disappeared in the firebox with
room to spare, so we rustled up some more. Once this was alight we
threw a shovel full of coal on top and after a while the pressure
started to rise. Note to self for next time - cut lots of firewood.
We noticed a few leaks but POEM seemed to be in good order.
Next came the great moment when POEM moved off
under her own steam. OK, so she's 13 years old and has run before,
but there is something special about running you new loco for the
first time. For some reason the reverser was stuck in dead-centre
and didn't want to move. It had moved fine when cold but now with 80
psi of steam on the valves the reverser wouldn't budge. Much
scratching of heads and John gave me a nudge and then... POEM
erupted like a geyser and leapt forward. I put her back in neutral
and everyone said "ah, the regulator works backwards to normal". The
regulator had been wide open and the steam chests were full of steam
at 80 psi - which is why the reverser wouldn't budge. That
embarrassing incident over (and caught on Grant's video camera to be
shown for ever more to remind me), the rest of the day went great!
It was supposed to rain but stayed fine all day and I may have
caught the sun a bit.
There were a few other locos there too. A very
nice PHANTOM built by Dennis Collins in only 10 months! Robert
Patterson's particularly nice NZR Hunslet Dsa class diesel and
Grant's battery-electric "diesel" was running. He didn't get his SR&RL's
2-6-2 out as he was too busy being the host. There were also a
number of people there running their G-scale live steam (Grant has
G-scale and 7¼" gauge in his garden).
One interesting problem later on was how to
drop the fire. John managed to hook one of the grate segments out
but we were both expecting to be able to just drop the whole grate
out the bottom - it doesn't work like that.
We got loaded up easily enough and took POEM
back to John's workshop in Hamilton and whilst cleaning her up we
looked back at a great day which both of us really enjoyed. So I
wonder where we are off to next?
PS. That's me driving with Pip on the carriage.
CLICK HERE for more
||John and I spent an hour or so discussing our
discoveries so far on POEM.
- There is some quite bad surface rust under the flare on
the tender sides. This will need to be rubbed down and
- John made up a replacement bracket for the regulator
that swaps the pivot and actuating rod holes around thus
making the regulator work the "correct" way.
- After a quick chat with John he made up a new headlight
bracket to mount it on top of the smokebox.
- The chimney looks slightly too short to my eyes.
- Both John and I agree that the cab sides are too low.
We're looking at options to raise the floor of the cab to
the tops of the frame - about 70mm. This should make the
proportions about right for the Baldwin/ALCO originals.
Not much going on at present. My wife and I just moved house
so we've had more than enough to do, therefore POEM and other
railway activities have taken a back-seat for a while. However,
I have been talking to John concerning the design of POEM's
John and I have started having regular workshop evenings.
This way we'll make some definite progress on jobs - not just
First up, I am modifying the brass valves on POEM's backhead.
As Murray made them they get too hot to touch so I am making up
wire surrounds (like those on the gauge-glass blowdown valves).
John is making a new bracket to mount the headlight on top of
the smokebox and he has also remounted the regulator so that it
operates the "correct" way.
POEM's new headlight bracket is done and I have turned down
all of the brass valves. We just need to finish fitting the
coiled wire grips.
We managed to get the cap and base off of
the chimney tube. I am going to raise the chimney by 35mm to be
more in-line with the top of the cab - it is a bit "dumpy" at
We took the cab off and will make a start
to raise the footplate. This will help raise all the pipe work
up off the ground too and make the whole loco look more
The chimney is done. We've actually cut
the tube longer than originally planned; the proportions of the
chimney look so much better. Once the cab is back on we can
re-assess the height of the chimney and if necessary trim a bit
off of the top; taking the brass cap off is easy enough.
Checking with prototype photos, the chimney should be higher
than the top of the cab by about the diameter of the chimney
Interestingly, John took one of the side
tanks off and POEM looks rather nice as a tender loco!
POEM's new, higher chimney and relocated
headlight. Notice in the
photos above that the base of the brass cap is roughly level
with the top of the dome.
We all think the proportions look much
better now, but once the cab is back on we can always trim a bit
off of the barrel to lower it if we need to.
Without side tank
John and Grant are contemplating the new footplate - which has
been raised at the sides
Bremner performing somewhat "brutal" engineering on POEM's cab - I
didn't have the nerve to do it myself and John does this sort of
thing all the time, so "leave it to the experts" I say!
This is POEM's cab tested-fitted back on (compare the shot below
to see how much of the cab has been pruned away). We need to
re-fit all of the pipework, injectors etc. under the cab, but a
strip down and re-paint is going to be next.
Having seen how
it's worked out, we'll probably
trim about 20mm out of the barrel of the chimney.
We are making progress. All of the pipework on the righthand
side is back on. It looks a lot neater and is up out of the way
of the track. we're now working on the lefthand side. After that
it is a bit of a tidy up and we take the boiler cladding off to
go for painting along with the side tanks, cab and tender body.
I'll get the chassis steam-cleaned and then we can go around and
touch-up the black. I am not prepared to strip the whole loco
down to do a bare-metal repaint, it doesn't need it and it is a
heck of a lot of work.
I dismantled the
tender ready for painting and turned up some cases for the two
vacuum gauges - they were cheap and "plasticy", now they have
My search continues for a suitable piece of land
on which to build a railway. I have found an old quarry but
it would require quite a lot of earthwork to build there. We'll just
have to wait and see, something will come up.
I got an email from
that my Eaton hydrostatic transmission has been serviced and is
ready to ship, so hopefully I'll have it here in a few weeks time.
POEM is nearly all back together. I have stripped
most of the gold lining from the loco and tender ready for
repainting and John B. has nearly got all of the pipework back on.
She is on-schedule to be ready for the summer running season.
Things have slowed down a bit as John B. has to
move his workshop to new premises so the next week or so we are busy
doing other things.
I just won/bought a set of plans and notes for a
5" gauge Orenstein and Koppel rack locomotive. OK, wrong scale/gauge
but interesting nonetheless.
John Bremner and I visited the
Model Engineers for their steam up on the 9th.
POEM wasn't ready (due to delays as a result of having to move
John's workshop) so we went as spectators.
drawings for the Orenstein & Koppel rack loco have arrived
and surprise-surprise, they are for the 7¼" gauge version! Not sure if
I want to undertake this as a "first build" so I might look for
something a bit simpler, but they were too good an offer to pass up
at the price.
Plans are also available for an adhesion-only
0-6-0 which uses a lot of the same parts. I may see if I can track
these down as it'd be an easier build than a rack loco.
Size-wise these locos are about the same size as a
I received an email earlier in the year suggesting
that someone in New Zealand has patterns for the castings. I emailed
the sender but
so far have not had a reply.
There are apparently two Koppels in New Zealand;
one rack loco and one adhesion-only 0-6-0. I am trying to track them
Bremner and I keep getting recurring ideas about building a Garratt.
We reckon that if we put CAD and laser-profile-cutting to good use
we can cut down on the amount of work involved. One good thing is
that there is only one boiler to make, but there are two under
frames and twice as many wheels as normal.
Pip and I are off to Perth for the 2009 convention of
the Australian Association of Live Steamers (AALS). It is being held at the
Castledare Miniature Railway from 9th to 12th April 2009 (i.e. Easter).
After much searching and negotiation, we have put in
an offer on a piece of land. We actually made an offer
on it in September but the vendor took it off the market
at the last minute. It came back on the market and
hopefully our offer will be accepted this time; we'll know in the
next few days.
It is a small gully section and the
usable space for the railway is around 1½ acres.
It will require some earthworks and at least one bridge,
but it'll make a really interesting track.
petrol engine and hydrostatic transmission have arrived.
Well, I say "arrived", customs have hold of them at the moment
whilst I try and explain what they are and the fact that
they are mine and I have had them for 20 years!
Good news. I just had the New Zealand Customs
Service on the phone and after a short debate
and me explaining that they were 20 years old
and for my private use, they have released them
without me having to pay duty or tax on them -
which is good news.
We have encountered a major stumbling-block in
our land purchase. We've gone back to the vendor
to discuss options but unless they "give a
little", it looks like this particular section
of land is a non-starter.
My petrol engine and
hydraulic transmission have actually arrived,
so I can start working on designs for my new
petrol-hydraulic loco in the New Year.
received an email from a guy who has found out
Alan Keef hold the drawings for all Simplex
models, including the 40hp armoured versions
from World War I. Jordan is also thinking of
making one so perhaps we can collaborate on the
I have always had a soft spot for the classic V-tippers that were
built in the thousands for industrial use all over the world. They
are also very practical for construction purposes on a railway.
I have been working on-and-off on some CAD drawings to build some from profile-cut
steel and I got the steel for the prototypes back from the profile
cutters just before Christmas. I now have the "fun" of
welding up what is quite a complex shape for the
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