Hands Face Space.PNG

Leyland SME Under Lockdown

During these extraordinary times, it is hoped model engineers are self-isolating in the workshop, making good progress and most importantly, staying safe. Below is a selection of photos submitted by members, to show progress as they sit out the virus until we can meet again and steam can be raised once more! 

Enjoy the updates, and click the images for a larger view

A2 Pacific Blue Peter

John  says this is 4 weeks work to date on various plumbing parts to suit a 31/2" gauge A2 Pacific Blue Peter. Some backhead fittings, plumbing for cold water and steam feeds to injectors, water filter, a tender hand pump and bits. The steam supply valves have the seat face in close proximity to the discharge port such that  few turns of the spindle are necessary to open the valve, all have PTFE stoppers.


Alternate entry single exit non return vale with captive O ring seats, a version of the well proven Trevor Collyer whistle valve adapted in my case to suit the space available and a blowdown valve minus its operating handle.  Our Club storekeeper has repeatedly asked me "what do you do with all these O rings?",  well Geoff now you know......

5" Gauge Britannia Build


Mike says the lockdown has prompted the start of a project he’s been considering for a while, building a 5” gauge Britannia, to the Norman Spinks drawings. The frames were drawn in Fusion 360, and then laser cut from those drawings. The GA tender, to the Les Warnett drawings is being built first, so the front and rear buffer beams are almost complete, a couple of stretchers still to do. The photos show steel brake hangers, produced from 1” dia EN1A and the tender horns in place

I have a part built Britannia and lifting trolley, which will be used on a ‘for parts’ basis to support the construction of my own Brit but, since the pleasure is in the machining and building of these machines, I will still be carrying out much of the work myself, but since the part built has been under the bench for 30+ years, some restoration work is required on the parts used, for example, note the axle box on the tender, which looks newly machined, it actually started out a little tarnished, to say the least! 


Update 25.5.20, the brakes are now fitted and complete, which brings the tender frames to near completion.

Update 26.6.20, the axle boxes are now completed, with Timken covers in place. One or two minor jobs left to complete the frames construction.

Update 5.7.20, the chassis is now painted and complete, with the brake gear all completed, next job is the tender tank

DTI/Scribing Block

Peter's project started as a gift (no good to me do you want it?). As gratefully received the device was, we think part of a gauging unit and consisted of a two-part base, chromed column and vertical cast iron ‘slider’. When checked the base pivot was loose, the column 18.88mm diameter and the slider had no outside reference surface.

A new column was made from a 305mm length of ¾” silver steel. The slider was re-bored to ¾” diameter. A mandrel was made to allow two 30mm diameter reference surfaces to be machined concentric with the bore. One reference face to hold the scriber/DTI and one to carry the adjusting screw nut. A 250mm x 1mm pitch screw was screw cut, along with a 3/8" BSF thread to allow a ball handle to be fitted (made but, not fitted) This was a diversion to make a special steady to prevent barrelling on long small diameter threads

Turning Over Frame for Lilla

Richard says I have now finished building, have modified, and commissioned the lifting and turning over frame and can progress to doing modifications and finishing touches to Lilla.

36xx 2-4-2T


Alan reveals the Loco is a 36xx 2-4-2T, 30 were built between 1900 and 1903, built for fast suburban work. Wheels are 5'2" & 3'8". The last survived until November 1934. Some worked in the London area until ousted by the large prairies. Others around Birmingham and Birkenhead.

The photos show....

  • Brake column and weigh shaft, along with the steps.One of the two radial Axle boxes along with the side control. Crossheads and the

  • front parts of the connecting rod. Awaiting the flame cut blanks yet. You can also see the valve gear.

  • First lot of castings from the foundry, Driving wheels, Cylinder, horns. The horns came from a 3D printed pattern. The leading and trailing pattern has also been 3D printed.

Update 19.5.20....

  • The Connecting rods are now finished.

  • Crank axle parts are all made, but I'll wait until I have the other wheels before finishing machining them all and completing it.

  • The Cylinder block is now machined. Steam chest and glands fitted. The covers and valves are awaiting castings from the foundry.

  • The ports have just been machined, next job is to drill the passages.

  • Motion plate parts screwed together for now

Update 2.6.20....


  • Still a little way to go, but at least it's starting to look like it should be something! Wheels and frames now assembled and the whole thing stands on its building frame. 

Update 16.6.20

  • Wheels are now fully machined, keyed and temporarily on the axles, Rods made up and clamps fixed to the end of the track, as it'll roll very easily at present

  • Rods are fluted, the majority of the 36xxs had these rather than the fish belly types. Looking down from the top, the middle of the rod is thicker than the ends

  • Oil caps are solid, with a dummy cork in place, as the roller bearings are lubricated from inside, down the crank pin

Update 26.6.20

  • Carrying Wheel castings have been done, along with cylinder covers, radial axle boxes & valves. The first picture shows one side of the 3D printed pattern mounted on a plate, whereas the 2nd shows the wheels and cylinder covers. Full size carrying wheels were 3'8" dia. 

  • Additionally, running board brackets, brakes & hangers and the left hand valence clamped in position. Definitely an excuse to open a bottle of something!

Update 18.8.20

  • Pistons made and all the valve gear finally put into the frames. It's pretty tight and I have to drop the front wheel to get at anything, but at least it will all fit. A bit of tidying up to do yet, but the main task was to get things in place and make sure that they clear.

Update 22.9.20

  • Photos show progress on the bunker to date. Plenty more to do yet before it can finally be riveted up

Update 21.10.20

  • The cab front windows all open. Cab has been done along with the bunker doors, which of course open as well.  Still needs a bit of tidying up, but in the meantime, if you know of any good homes for the mentally insane!


Screw Cutting

During the shutdown I have taken the opportunity to get back to screw cutting on the lathe.

All my previous efforts have been using tools that I have ground up myself, but I have now taken the option of using purchased tipped tools which are cheap and plentiful from China.

The process is simple, set up the tool in the tool post at the correct height with the correct tip  55 or 60 deg;  set the lead screw to the correct pitch or TPI set a low spindle speed and with a bit of oil on the job cut the thread a little deeper with each pass until the correct depth according to the chart in the handbook is achieved.

No more fiddling with grinding tools at the correct angle which usually means setting up the Quorn before screw cutting can begin.

The photo shows  some scrap bits of brass and a couple of course threads  ( all half inch ) BSW 55 deg and UNC 60 deg; a fine thread internal and external BSB 55deg and the two tools used with their tips.

Very pleased with the results. I would recommend reading all the data sheets for the tip tools before purchasing since there are many variations of tip style.

Always happy to share my findings if anybody wants to drop me an email.

VW Screw Cutting.JPG

Cutting Long Thin Leadscrews for the Jacobs Gear Hobber & Height Gauge

On the screw cutting theme again, Peter says the Myford travelling steady is fine for plain turning, however, screw cutting leaves grooves in the bronze fingers which are also too wide for the tailstock centre or have to be backed off when cutting up to a shoulder.  My answer is a  purpose made travelling steady that uses end grain oak – ‘V’ notched and angled to control lift/support. I’m experimenting with other material and adding a refinement to the steady for pressure control.

Why use end grain oak....

1) Hard wearing
2) Easy to shape
3) Low cost
4) Once saturated with oil/threading compound. No worries of running dry

5" Gauge Stirling Single

Dave's current project seemingly well under way and has run on air, 5" gauge Stirling Single, nice job too.

DK 5g Stirling Single.jpg

An Original Whistle Miniaturised

Trevor's late father bought the whistle from his regular loco, 61058, when it was scrapped. He says he now has it at home and as the same whistle was fitted to the B2 he thought he'd have a go at copying it in 1" scale.

TC Large whistle.jpg
TC Small Whistle.JPG

Boiler Feed Pump

A very nice piece of work from Vic, with this feed pump and tank, built from bits from the scrap box! The tank lid came from a vacuum cylinder from our bring and buy table a few months ago. Vic says the pump and the tank are part of a larger project for a small stationary boiler to run his little table top engines. The water pump will achieve 160 psi !! 

3" Scale Allchin

Adrian is progressing with his Allchin. The photos show the machining of the cylinder, ready to accept the liner, and some overall views of a very nice peice of work. 

de Winton VBT loco “George Henry”, in 5” gauge

Chris provides some interesting historical detail. The de Winton’s foundry, Caernarfon, fitted out small ocean-going steamships, in which vertical boilers and engines were commonplace.  de Winton’s locos appear as though marine technology has been adapted to locomotive construction. Approximately 60 locos were built, mostly for Welsh slate quarries until 1899, when the business went into liquidation. No official records remain. George Henry, 1877 was the last operable survivor in 1953, but Chalenor, 1877 has since been restored to service.

I bought the model as a crate of parts: chassis, certified boiler, engine unit, bunker, water tank, and miscellaneous fittings.  It differs from what I have built previously and is something of a challenge, in remedying design and construction errors. For example, as drawn, the axles passed through bushed holes in the chassis. In consequence, it would be necessary to dismantle the entire locomotive in order to remove one axle, so I fitted conventional axle boxes instead. The front axle boxes are not free to move.

The last outstanding error is in the wing plates supporting the engine, which are too short, so the expansion links strike the boiler. It will be time-consuming to extend the wing plates and move the boiler backwards, as many components are affected.

Progress to date: principal components fitted to rolling chassis, valve gear made, awaiting setting.

Still to make: steam circuit, water feed, lubrication, finishing.

When the loco is complete, it may be difficult to fire. The grate is 5¾” diameter, but the space available for a firing shovel between the boiler and the bunker is 4”. The loco is fired by dropping coal into a chute, from which it slides down onto the fire. The grate slopes downwards from the fire-hole door, to aid coal distribution. The loco has no springing, so perhaps vibration will help to distribute the fuel. We shall see.

Progress on the Climax Logging Loco

Peter writes, I have at last picked up courage to return to the Climax Loco after many false starts. It is only after the false starts that I realised that the process in the Book is slightly out- making the easy bits first, then they don’t fit. Up to this time it appears to my simple mind that all the key dimensions are based on the ‘cross box’ which becomes the crank case assembly.

Attempt one. Make the four pieces of the box and silver solder together as per the book. The book specifies 6mm brass plate I did not see the small print and made the bits from BMS with a machining allowance. The bits twisted badly -scrap!

Attempt two. Remake the parts in steel tenon the corners and fix with M2.5 cap head screws. All went well until a cheap plug tap (will not mention company name) broke into two pieces - more scrap! The next project will be an EDM machine.


Finally, all parts are tapped M2.5 x 8mm, temporary M2.5 fitted. The M2.5 cap head have arrived, bits c/bored, datum faces machined and work now starts on the bearing cap location slots. The two shafts have to cross and clear each other within 0.1mm .... I sense more scrap!

A Compact Brazing Hearth

Mike says, One of the things I have wanted for some time is a proper brazing hearth, however, due to space constraints in the workshop,  and the fact most of my brazing jobs are quite small, I didn’t want a permanent floor standing affair. Some months ago, I spotted a set of around 30 fire bricks on Ebay, for a reasonable rate, so I placed my order. They measure 9 x 4 x 1 inches.

Lockdown has been the catalyst that sparked the motivation to move this project to the next stage, ie, make a hearth! The bricks are quite soft, corners and edges are fairly easily knocked off, so the steel angle frame provides good protection, making my spare supply last some years, hopefully. I welded angle underneath to lift the whole thing up and provide an air gap to the underside, so the surface it is stood on won’t be damaged by the heat, but I’ll keep an eye on that. Perhaps a modification with longer legs will be added at a later date, if necessary.

 What you’re looking at is the concept of a small and compact brazing hearth, I’m still not offering master classes in welding!

Lickey Banker

James is building his adaptation of the "Lickey Banker" in 71/4" gauge. The older hands will recognise that for some the best way to learn is to try something yourself and how we envy James his youth and bravery as he allows us in on his learning curve.

A Look Back at Past Projects

Chris and Sally from Egremont have been reminiscing!


I was just going through some old photo files and I came across some old photos of locos I designed and built many years ago.   A nostalgic look down memory lane!

 Darj an 0-4-0 + 0-4-0,  Sophie 0-4-0,  Isabel 0-4-0, Oliver 0-4-0 and  an Afrikarn 0-4-0 + 0-4-0 with Roundhouse Cylinders & Valve gear.  All the others had Oscillating Cylinders. I built over 100 of the Darj and around 28 of the Afrikarn and over 30 of the Isabel's.

Producing a Press Brake

Mike says sheet metal working is something I am not tooled up for, so I have made some efforts to address this for the Britannia build. I decided to produce a small press brake, to be operated in my 10T press. It is mostly built from materials lying around the workshop; I only had to purchase the springs and the base plate, so I’ve produced this for around £30 as compared to a similar item on ebay for well in excess of £300!


I will slice the forming tool as required, as jobs come up and a future project may be to buy a tougher steel for that job, however, it works a treat as it is!