road n rail 75 web - Preserved Railway Stocklist
MAXITRAK OWNERS’ CLUB
Welcome to new members
These are the new members up to 10th May 2014
Mr A Gully
Mr R Morley
Mr A Hodge
Mr P Marden
Mr R Jackson
Mr B Byford
Mr A Bird
Mr T Trotman
Mr M Gough
Mr P Poyser
Should you wish to obtain further details of any member please contact the Secretary
On the front cover:
This issue features an article from new MOC member Tony Bird on the rebuilding of
his 30 year old ‘Dixie’. The cover photo show his son enjoying a test run at the Cardiff
MES when the loco had been ‘brought back to life’ after a period of over 10 years. The
article covers the first steaming and subsequent ‘improvements’.
Road ‘n’ Rail
Publication dates:Road ‘n’ Rail is usually published four times a year, in Winter, Spring, Summer and
Contributions:Contributions in the form of articles, photographs and letters are most welcome and
should be sent to the Editor, details on the opposite page. Inclusion or publication of
an article however does not constitute agreement or endorsement of the author’s view
the Maxitrak Owners Club
© The Maxitrak Owners Club
Southern Federation of Model
In this issue
Welcome to new members
2014 rally programme
A view from the Chair
An alternative battery for a 5”
2014 Boiler Test Day
Visit to Norwich 7th June
Visit to Sutton Coldfield 5th Jul
Visit to Leatherhead 2nd August
MOC AGM 2014
Invitation to Worthing 17th Aug
Restoring a 30 year old Dixie
More about Hudsons
Great Western memories
Factory news Spring 2014
This edition has come out a bit later than I would have liked, partly because I
wanted to include some Hudson information following a visit to Amberley
Chalk Pits Museum. As will be seen from my report on page 17 we had a most
memorable visit and I was able to have my ‘driver for a fiver’ at the controls of
a two foot version of one of these machines. Perhaps we can persuade Andy
and Alex to bring the latest factory 7¼” version to one of the MOC rallies to let
us have a test drive!
I’m delighted that our 2014 visit programme is soon to get underway at the same
venues as last year - I hope that members old and new will be able to join us.
Whilst it is nice to bring a loco or traction engine this is not essential - many
MOC members find that it is a good opportunity to meet other Maxitrak owners,
find out how they are getting on with their models and get some feed-back.
Daphne and I are planning to be at Norwich, Sutton Coldfield and Leatherhead
with our Forney or Opal plus the Planet so hope to see many other MOC
members along the way..
This issue of RnR includes a most interesting article for Tony Bird - perhaps like
other MOC members he has obtained a ‘well used’ Maxitrak loco, in this case
over 30 years old, and has sought to make a number of ‘improvements’ to his
Dixie. Good engineers can always make ‘improvements’ to a well sorted design
and Tony’s work proves the point - many Dixie owners will have found that
their loco just runs and runs but there is is always scope to make it even better!
Please keep the articles rolling in - after all, feed back between Club members
helps us all not only enjoy our hobby but also make an occasional improvement
to add our own personality to a ‘standard’ product. .
2014 Rally programme
At the AGM last September it was agreed that our 2014 Rally programme would
follow the same format as recent years with visits to Norwich, Sutton Coldfield,
Leatherhead and Worthing. All dates are now confirmed so I hope you will be
able to join us.
As reported in the last issue of Road n Rail it was agreed to move the date of the
AGM from the third Saturday in September and hold the 2014 AGM at Leatherhead during our visit there at the beginning of August.
A view from the Chair
Once again the running season is upon us and we are all busy getting engines
ready, we recently held the annual boiler test day at the Maxitrak factory. A big
thanks to Andy for all he does for us.
It was good to see some ‘old’ faces and some new with their engines, one three
inch traction engine is up for sale and if you are interested call Andy at the
factory for details or see the web site.
As you will see in my report on the boiler test day the only boiler that failed was
my Maid of Kent boiler, this was due to me over heating the Loctite when I
soldered in a new bush. I have built the cab and running plates for my Maid of
Kent and once the boiler is tested then I can start piping up and, who knows, it
may even run this year.
My GP 15 engine is seen regularly at our Leatherhead track on public running
days, I have at last stopped my Polly engine bouncing along the track I think it
was muck in the axle pump.
I am on holiday in north Yorkshire before the Norwich rally but intend to drive
home that way so that I can attend.
We have changed the AGM to the Leatherhead rally so we can get more people
involved. We were unfortunate enough to get flooded at Leatherhead over the
Christmas period but as luck would have it we did not suffer too much and no
track was affected.
I look forward to seeing you at the various rallies this year.
An alternative battery for the 5” Planet loco
I bought a 5 inch gauge planet locomotive last year and obtained an MK
Battery for it. The model number of which is MU-1 SLDM 12 V 34 AH / 20
HR. This is a sealed unit and it is an extremely neat fit in the locomotive body
and because of the size there is no danger of the battery shorting on the metal
top. It also is very suitable to fit the spade connectors to the terminals without
any alteration. It is a little bit more costly than the lead acid car battery which
was recommended by Maxitrak but is certainly worth the difference because of
the difficulties experienced with a car battery. I thought this information might
be useful to fellow members or to people contemplating buying one of these
Planet locomotives like mine which is a pleasure to run and maintain.
Colin Duerden Membership No. 977.
2014 Boiler test day
Boiler test day was again on the Saturday before Easter on the 12th April and the
weather was much kinder to us this year, if you remember last year it was
snowing. This year it was nice and sunny and we tested a total of 12 boilers.
The range of engines was from 3” scale traction engines to 1” scale ploughing
engines and both 5” and 7¼” gauge railway locomotives. Some of the engines
have not been run for several years and some were brand new only being a few
One engine, an old Swallow, came needing repairs to be carried out and its
smoke box full of ash. We don’t mind waiting for people to get ready but, as we
have asked previously, please have your engine ready.
Next year we are going to hold boiler test day two weeks before Easter so we
can all have time to get grounds ready for the first steam up over the Easter
I took my Maid of Kent boiler down to be tested, Andy started to pump it up and
water poured out of the blower tube. I had previously silver soldered in a new
blow down bush, in so doing I must have weaken the Loctite I had put around
the valve. This is a bit embarrassing for me as I could have tested it on my own
rig first so that I knew it would pass. All has now been put right I will try again
at my club.
It is really nice to see all the people with their engines and to have a chat with
you all. I can undertake any boiler steam tests at the rallies so just let me know
so I bring the right equipment (and the paperwork!). I won’t be able to do a
hydraulic test at away rallies but will be able to do them at the Leatherhead rally.
More photos from the Boiler Test Day at Staplehurst on Saturday April 12th
- Visit to the Norwich SME (now confirmed)
- Visit to Sutton Coldfield SME
- MOC Rally and AGM at Leatherhead
- Visit to Worthing & District SME (now confirmed)
September 20th - Southern Federation Rally, Leeds SMEE
Visit to the Norwich & District SME, Saturday 7th June
This will be our sixth visit to the Norwich Club track in Eaton Park - a superb
5” and 7¼” ground level track of getting on for ½ mile. The facilities are first
class with a superb covered station - ideal if an unplanned rain shower tries to
thwart our enjoyment.
As with our other visits we are made most welcome, it is an excellent opportunity to run on a well built track that is perhaps longer than we have at home. The
setting is magnificent and everyone is so friendly and helpful. For MOC
members who have not yet ventured away from ‘home territory’ fear not - you
will be be most welcome at any of our events - whatever your model, road or
Please let me know if you would like to join us.
The Norwich Club site is very easy to find, on my previous visits I have
approached Norwich from the A11, turning left onto the Ring Road I followed
the A140 for just over ½ mile before turning left into South Park Avenue. The
Club entrance is on the right hand side. For visitors not travelling by car, there
is a very good bus service, route number 25, from the rail station which drops
you off just by the Club entrance to Eaton Park.
Their web site is www.ndsme.co.uk - take a look for some photos of our visit
there back in June 2011.
Visit to Sutton Coldfield Saturday 5th July
Following the success of our first visit to the excellent facilities at Sutton
Coldfield last year (on what must have been one of the hottest days of the year)
SCMES invite all Maxitrak owners, friends and families to their club at Little
Hay near Sutton Coldfield to take part in the 2014 Maxitrak Rally on Saturday
5th July between 10:00 and 16:00. You do not have to have a loco to attend –
everyone will be made equally welcome!
As per last years event, the whole site will be yours for the day – although usual
conditions regarding current boiler certificates obviously apply for anyone
bringing a steam powered model along. Full details of the society including
location, track plans and numerous photos can be found on their website –
SCMES will again be putting on refreshments throughout the day and look
forward to meeting you at Balleny Green on Saturday 5 July. They will do their
best to ensure that your visit is as enjoyable and fun as it can be!
If anyone has any queries before the Rally, you are welcome to contact SCMES.
It would also be really useful if you could let SCMES know beforehand if you
are planning to attend to ensure that they can get everything ready for you to
have as good a day as possible!
Visit to Leatherhead Saturday 2nd August
Once again we have been invited to our Chairman’s home track of the Surrey
Society of Model Engineers, back to our traditional date of the first Saturday in
The ground level track extension increases the length of the running line by
some 320 metres,There are now 3 possible ground level loops to choose from
as well as the raised track.
There is a large field where the road locos can run and the SSME club members
will be putting on food and tea/coffee in the amenity block, so come along and
enjoy yourselves. The post code for sat nav users is KT22 9AA and the Club
web site is www.ssme.co.uk which also gives directions to the Mill Lane site.
I understand from Trevor that the winter floods that affected the Thames basin
impacted the Leatherhead site but all is now back to normal.
MOC 2014 AGM
As announced in the last issue of Road n Rail, it was decided at the 2013 AGM
that we would combine our visit to Leatherhead, one of our best attended
meetings, with the 2014 AGM. It is planned to start the AGM around 12:00
In the traditions of all good Clubs and Societies, the formalities of the AGM are
kept brief - so this is no excuse for not having an enjoyable day at Leatherhead.
The agenda is limited to the usual Officer’s reports and the Treasurer summarises the financial position. Offers to join the committee are extended for anyone
who would like to take a more active part in the running of the Owner’s Club.
Most communications are done by e-mail so it is not particularly onerous.
Invitation to the Worthing Club on Sunday 17th August
The Worthing & District Society of Model Engineers have again invited us back
for another Maxitrak day at their track in Worthing.
The site is called Field Place which is in the Durrington area of Worthing close
to Durrington railway station. The track has 2½, 3½, & 5 inch gauges but no 7¼
inch. Traction engines and lorry’s can use the grass area outside the track if dry.
The Club web site is www.wdsme.org, the post code for satnav users is BN13
Restoring a 30 year old Dixie
Our Maxitrak Dixie, No.029 built in 1984, was bought a little over four years
ago and was purchased because, for its size, it is comparatively light. We have
two other 5” gauge tank engines which the author, along with his father, built
many years ago; they use the usual steel frames and brass tanks so are quite
heavy. With advancing years moving them about has become a bit of a chore.
Most of the time when playing trains the locomotive is only required to pull a
couple of adults or an adult and two children which ‘Dixie’ manages very well.
‘Dixie’ is now 30 years old; it was possibly a part machined kit as the important
parts are well made and other parts, like the brake gear, less so. Before I became
‘Dixie’s owner she had spent about 10 years uncovered in a damp wooden shed,
despite this poor storage she was in fair condition with no major rust. At some
time she had met with an accident that removed part of the front buffer beam
and marked the right hand cylinder.
The photo above left shows the loco as first bought whilst on the right the loco
has been ‘brought back to life’ for its first steaming.
‘Dixie’ was taken apart and cleaned up; its general moving parts were in
reasonably good condition the only major problem being its boiler. When the
boiler was tested a couple of the stays in the firebox were found to be leaking;
this might have been caused by water which was still in the boiler freezing
during a cold winter. No longer having access to suitable brazing kit the boiler
was sent to Maxitrak for repair and testing which they did; charging only a
modest amount and returned it with a new boiler certificate.
Like most full size and model 0-4-0’s ‘Dixie’ has a lot of overhang at the
footplate and tends to be tail heavy. We have had this problem before on other
model locomotives where there is a lot more weight on one axle than the other
which reduces the locomotive’s adhesion. So, as the front buffer beam was
broken, both sides of it were cut off and a steel buffer beam with a set of heavy
dumb buffers was fitted to increasing the weight at the front which improved the
locomotive’s traction. This was one of the alterations made by the author to the
locomotive before it was run again for the first time in many years.
As owners of Maxitak Dixie’s will know the cylinders are of a somewhat
unusual construction, instead of the cylinder steam and exhaust ports being in
the cylinder casting they are in the bottom of the steam chest casting and line up
with slots cast in the cylinders. When the steam chest and cylinder are bolted
together they sandwich the steam and exhaust pipes between them. The sealing
is done using Loctite which is smeared on the mating faces and around the steam
and exhaust pipes before bolting the steam chest onto the cylinder. In practice
both cylinders have to be done at the same time and it isn’t easy, first the
cylinders are bolted to the chassis with the common steam and exhaust pipes
loose between the frames. The Loctite is applied to the top face of both the
cylinders and around the steam and exhaust pipes, the steam chests are then
bolted down. This assembly system must speed up manufacture, which might
be OK on a model stationary steam engine which is rarely used but on model
steam locomotive that might travel many miles during a year so needing regular
maintenance it is a bit of a pain. Before the cylinders were being taken off it was
found that both the steam and exhaust pipes were loose in the cylinders. So on
assembly some clamps were made that held the pipes so they couldn’t move in
Also to help assembly a union was fitted in the main steam pipe and the exhaust
valve operating rod was also cut and a joining piece made. A drain valve
connected to the balance pipe of the saddle tank was made and fitted inside the
chassis to make it easier to empty the tank.
At sometime a previous owner had modified a
few parts on ‘Dixie’. A hinged lid was fitted to
the top of the saddle tank to ease access to the
hand pump. The by-pass pipe was fed to the top
of the saddle tank so the water when flowing was
visible. Finally the reversing linkage was altered
perhaps to improve its geometry but you have to
select reverse to go forward! Which is a little
The photo on the left shows the bypass pipe
return to the saddle tank.
‘Dixie’ is a very simple model which, as built, doesn't have drain cocks but
instead it has a valve that can direct the exhaust downwards to get rid of any
condensed water after it has passed through the cylinders. This is only partially
effective as a lot of condensing water still comes out of the chimney when
starting. To try and reduce the condensing the steam pipe was lagged with some
cotton string, which took some time to fit as it was done without removing the
steam pipe from the model.
At the end of the running season a couple of years after its first rebuild the
packing on ‘Dixie's cylinders had started to allow steam to pass the pistons. As
the packing had looked OK it hadn’t been replaced during the first rebuild, so it
had been in place for many years. As the pistons had to be removed to fit new
packing it was decided to fit drain cocks. This was done without removing the
cylinders from the chassis so not to disturb the Loctite joint between the steam
chest and the cylinder.
First the leading axle was removed from the chassis and the rear covers removed
from the cylinders and the pistons extracted. The holes for the drain cocks were
drilled with a hand held electric drill; the holes drilled were then tapped. New
packing was fitted to the pistons and new gaskets were made and fitted to the
rear cylinder covers.
The photo above left shows the holes
for the cylinder drain cocks being
tapped. Above right are the simple
components of the automatic drain
cocks which are shown in the photo
bottom left fitted to the cylinders.
Many loco owners have found these to
be simple and effective, avoiding any
complicated operating linkage.
The drawing for some automatic drain cocks have been found on the Internet
and it was decided to try fitting them instead of using the more conventional
lever operated drain cocks. These automatic drain cocks are very simple consisting of a loose ball that will allow water to vent through a hole but will seal the
hole when the steam arrives. It relies on what is known as the Bernoulli’s
principle to work.
‘Dixie’ has an external steam pipe about 15" long and with no superheat has
always been a 'wet' steamer so it took nearly a minute for all the drain cocks to
seal after starting from cold. In subsequent steaming with hot cylinders it took
about 5 seconds for the drain cocks to seal
At this time a new ash pan and grate were made and fitted. The original grate
tended to hold the ash and choke the fire so the new grate instead of having a
flat bottom is slightly inclined so the cooled ash moves slowly off the grate.
There was a bit of a problem with the smoke box door being difficult to remove
for cleaning the tubes; a previous owner had broken it in two places trying to
lever it off rather than putting a rod through the fire box door through the tubes
to push it off. So the smoke box door was slackened off a bit and secured with
two shouldered screws.
After ‘Dixie’s fourth running season she started to lose a little power and
develop a blowing noise which might have been the piston packing leaking
again or possibly the Loctite joint between the steam and exhaust passageways
failing. So it was decided to take the cylinders apart and solder the steam chest
to the cylinder and fit screw in unions to accommodate the steam and exhaust
pipes. While the cylinders were apart the opportunity to fit ‘O’ rings to the
pistons would be taken When doing a fairly major job there are often smaller
jobs encountered on the way which were dealt with as they arose.
First of these small jobs was a leaking
union on the lubricator (photo right) and a
new oil pipe was made. A cylinder cover
was removed to see if an ‘O’ ring would fit,
which thankfully it did as it would have
meant either soft packing again or the making and fitting of piston rings. After removing the boiler from the chassis it was
difficult to remove the copper exhaust pipe
from the blow down valve so a brass exhaust pipe with a hexagonal end was
made. Another small job was to restrict the large movement of the swivelling
front axle; this was achieved using washers placed under the plumber block
With these small jobs finished a start was made on the cylinders. The first
cylinder was removed from the frames but showed no sign of having leaked the second cylinder however did. The steam chest castings were soldered to the
cylinder castings with Comsol which melts at around 300ºC. The first cylinders
steam passageways didn’t line up with the slots in the steam chest very well; the
second cylinder was better so the slots were milled deeper to improve the steam
distribution. The cylinders were then lapped and then boiled in a washing soda
solution to remove the remains of ‘Bakers Fluid’, the flux that was used with the
solder. The steam and exhaust holes in the side of the now soldered together
cylinder were threaded to take a union.
As the pistons were wide enough it was decided not to make new ones but fit
two ‘0’ rings on each end of the original - see the photo below.
The pistons and both the finished
cylinders were assembled, the
steam pipe unions and their nuts
were made (the original steam
pipes were shortened so they fitted
between the frames). After the
holes were made bigger in the
frames for the unions, the cylinders
were fitted to the frames and the
unions sealed to the steam pipes
using PTFE tape. The remaining
parts of the chassis were assembled
and the chassis run on air.
The original boiler lagging was some cork sheet under the saddle tank, more for
a fit rather than insulation. So it was decided to lag and clad the boiler - to this
end some brass sheet for the cladding, Kawool for the lagging and some brass
strip for the boiler banding was purchased. The Kawool came as 12” square
tiles that were cut to size and held to the boiler using masking tape.
The brass sheet for the boiler
barrel cladding and the fire
box wrapper were cut to
size; the holes drilled to clear
the boiler bushed were
drilled using a step drill.
Boiler bands were made up
to hold the brass sheet cladding over the lagging.
The lagging and cladding came to about 3 to 4mm thick as it had to go between
the boiler and the saddle tank, its thinness was just as well as the front cab
supports now only just clear the clad boiler.
The photo above left shows the barrel cladding fitted , above right shows the
finished clad boiler - (and magnificent it looks too, Ed).
The last job to be done was to make and
fit a right angle union for the blower
pipe where it enters the smoke box
which makes it easier to take apart, see
the photo on the left.
At the time of writing this article ‘Dixie’ still has to be steam tested before the
beginning of the running season, hopefully she will be OK.
The finished loco ready for a steam
More about Hudsons and a visit to Amberley
In the last issue of Road n Rail I gave an account of the history of these
interesting diesel locos built in Leeds, I even managed a visit to the Armley
Mills museum in Leeds to get some photos of two of the survivors. Further
research revealed that one of the ‘Go-Go’ tractors was now at Statfold Barn and
a search of my files revealed a photo of the said loco. I found that 4 Hudson
survivors are now at Amberley Chalk Pits Museum and that they would be
holding an ‘Industrial Locos’ day on Sunday 27th April - plans were made to
attend the event.
After a short ride behind one of the battery-electric locos up to the intermediate
station at Betchworth Hall we immediately caught sight of the nearby ‘Driver
for a fiver’ event - one of the locos being used was a Hudson!, The other a 1937
O & K ‘The Major’. My driving instructor offered a drive of either loco, saying
that the O & K loco was easier to drive. Undeterred I headed for the Hudson.
The 2 cylinder McLaren diesel was ‘thumping away’ nicely so I was shown the
foot operated clutch pedal, the two gearbox selectors - one for forward, neutral
and reverse, the other for low or high speed ratio, a substantial throttle lever and
a large brake wheel. Depressing the clutch, I engaged the low speed ratio, set the
direction to forward and released the clutch whilst releasing the brake. With a
bit more throttle off we went to the end of our dedicated track. It must have been
a rising gradient at the limit of the track as stopping before engaging reverse was
quite straightforward. Coming back to the bay in front of the engine shed was a
different matter, however - after disengaging the drive I had to wind on the
brake handle to arrest our movement. I must have done alright because, after
stopping, I was asked ‘would you like another go?’ - naturally I said yes!
After this memorable driving
experience we continued to explore the rest of the site starting
with another short ride on the
rest of the ‘main line’ up to the
terminus beside the Electricity
Hall, this time hauled by a
modern Baguley Drury loco,
being built for a Royal Navy
depot in 1980.
Walking back through the
Conservation Hall we were
able to inspect the Hudson
1932 ‘Go-Go’ tractor with
disguise for the ‘Standard’ Fordson petrol/paraffin tractor upon which it was
Back in the yard there was plenty of activity with trains of wagons being shunted
back and forth. We caught sight of a notice for a conducted shed tour so decided
to join the party. A basic machine shop enables the volunteers to maintain their
varied fleet of locos and rolling stock. One of the sidings between the sheds
contained an interesting Planet loco, built as recently as 1953 for a sewage
works in Bradford, see the photo below left.
The photo above right shows another of the museum Hudsons, built in 1937 it
is double heading with an O & K loco , also built in 1937.
Nearby the Road Machines contractors monorail was operating - this hauls side
tipper wagon to transfer spoil into an awaiting 2ft gauge wagon. It runs automatically to each end of the line, stopping when it reaches a control lever. The
monorail is of very simple light construction making it suitable for building sites.
In the photo below left one can see the monorail system and in the background
is yet another Hudson, this time with a low profile cab. On the right is one of the
battery electric locos pulling a Wickham carriage, built in 1943 for the MOD.
Elsewhere, in the Factory News article, Andy tells us that the latest version of the factory Hudson has been
completed. Alex has sent me some
photos of the finished model and it
certainly looks very smart.
Having seen the chassis under construction it is very robust using commercial ‘take-up’ bearing for the
sprung axles. The drive from the Eaton hydrostat to the axles is by a heavy
duty chain, the engine is a 5hp Honda
with electric start so it should be capable of some serious hard work. The Eaton
hydrostat, widely used on garden tractors is ideal for this application with a
constant speed input and variable output in forward or reverse by a simple lever.
Looking at the photo above left the driver control for the speed is by his (or her)
right hand with the parking brake by the left hand. The engine throttle is on the
panel below the seat.
As all the driver’s weight is above the driving wheels it should be capable of
handling some heavy loads - I have a similar outfit using a Chinese diesel engine
and over the last seven or eight years has put in over 500 miles of reliable
service. My loco can easily handle four eight foot carriages but, with such a
heavy load, train braking becomes an issue - braking the loco is fine but the
weight of the train pushes you on!
Looking at the exhibitions I see that four other manufacturers are offering a
similar product, one is based on 2hp electric drive (although you can fit your
own I/c engine and drive), another has a petrol engine fitted but it is not a Honda
whilst the other two are similar but with a sit in tender
Great Western memories
Maxitrak makes a large range of models including road and rail, steam and
diesel. This means a wide range of interest and knowledge has to be maintained
to support the company and its products. I like to think that if it moves on rails
or is driven by steam I am interested however, by rights I really should be a ‘died
in the wool’ Great Western Railway enthusiast! This is because both my grand
parents lived at either end of Brunel’s seven foot gauge “bulk road”. My mum’s
parents were in Ealing just out of Paddington on the main line whilst my dad’s
dad lived in Bristol at the other end of the line.
It seems incredible now but from the age of eight I used to be put on a train in
the Medway towns by my mum and travel up to Charing Cross, walk to the
Embankment station and get on a Circle line train to Paddington, and then get a
main line train from Paddingon to Bristol where I would be met by my granddad
on the platform at Temple Meads station. I did this for a number of years each
summer, spending a week or so with my granddad, taking my train spotting
book along with me. My granddad was not a railway enthusiast, preferring cars.
He had a green and cream Hillman Minx which we used to go on picnics and
sea-side trips usually with a big rice pudding packed in the boot on top of picnic
tables and chairs. On one occasion he gave me a talk on the inadvisability of
buying a full size traction engine (not that I was ever likely to do so).
My other granddad was also an interesting character, he was a railway enthusiast
and bought me my first Ian Allen train spotting book. Many hours were spent at
Ealing Broadway filling in numbers. We also went to transport museums, either
the Science Museum in South Kensington or the National Railway Museum
which at that time was still at Clapham and included the London Transport
For some reason he was always known by the nick-name ‘Krangle’, and was
really the embodiment of a Victorian gentleman. As a child he had a day off
school to see the last broad gauge train leave Paddington. He held a season ticket
from west London into the city of London for over sixty years, from age ten
going to school and then to work as an accountant in the City until he retired in
his seventies. This was only broken for four years during the first war when he
served in Palestine. I have been researching this time recently, and have some
interesting information due to items written in an in-house magazine published
by his accountancy firm for those serving in the First World War.
He joined the Gordon Highlanders in 1914 and was due to leave for the western
front when he contracted appendicitis. This was a serious illness at the time and
meant travelling to a military hospital in Scotland for an operation. He writes in
the magazine about the short-coming of the Highland railway, always being two
to three hours late and taking five hours to do seventy miles. This illness
probably saved his life as he subsequently writes about his old company having
a “horrible cutting up” leaving the trench 140 strong, with only five of his old
platoon coming back unwounded. Once recovered from his operation he got a
commission to the Hampshire regiment and spent the rest of the war in Palestine
fighting Turkish forces. He left us a long and detailed account of several battles
including the third battle of Gaza in 1915. He mentions trench railways supporting guns in this battle, like those used on the Western Front.
I have sent details of his first war exploits to the BBC Antiques Road Show, and
Paul Atterbury is putting him in a book of 100 First War stories to be published
soon, my wife and I went to a road show last year with a suitcase full of artefacts
to photograph for the book. He should be in it under his proper name Geoffrey
He also won a silver medal at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm as a cox in the
rowing fours, the family celebrated this in 2012 with a steam boat trip on the
A vivid childhood memory was coming up the steps from the Underground in to
Paddington and catching the sight and smell of steam locomotives at work. There
would be the main line engines, Kings and Castles, with incoming trains and
Pannier tank locos working coaching stock. I was always impressed by expresses
leaving the platform being given a good shove from the back by the Pannier tank
engine which would then stop at the far end of the platform waiting it’s road back
to the carriage sidings.
Looking at some history on the 9400 class Pannier tank I saw that this was one
of the jobs they were used for. I could not resist getting out the old spotters book
to see how many of the class were seen, it turns out over thirty are marked as
‘copped’. A great pity that only two survive now as they were a modern powerful
locomotive at the time. Further investigation showed I saw all but six Kings,
about half the Castles and a good selection of other types including Halls and
Granges but no Manors, I suppose they did not get to Paddington very often. I
also did not see any of the big 2-8-0 4200 class, one of which is being built from
standard parts at the moment. One small class I did see was the 1500 class
pannier tank, known as Speedy in 5” gauge. These were also used extensively on
Paddington carriage duty which probably accounts for me seeing six out of the
My granddad ‘Krangle’ also never forgave Churchward for cutting up the last
broad gauge locomotives supposedly preserved in the early 1900’s with this I
can only say I agree!
Factory news Spring 2014
The ¾” scale Allchin traction engines arrived a little while ago and have been
going out of the door at a rate of knots to new owners, to such an extent that we
only have a few of the black colour option left. I have one of these engines in
pieces in my workshop, it is hoped it will emerge soon having metamorphosed
into 3½” gauge chain drive Aveling rail traction engine!
We are also getting through the 9400 class pannier tank locos, with about half
the batch left. This is now a well proven design sharing cylinder and valve gear
with both the SE&CR R1 and the Midland 4F, some 45 locos in total. One thing
I do now is to put a sticker on the cylinder lubrication point to reinforce the fact
that it needs oiling after a run. Failure to do this leads to corrosion in the bore
which wears the O rings or seizes the piston valves. This is particularly important when the engine is new, after a few runs the oil gets into the pores of the
metal and resists corrosion far better. This is easily over looked if you are used
to bronze cylinders but is vital with cast iron.
We have been building a sit in Hudson locomotive in 7¼” gauge for some time,
this is now finished and looks resplendent in a very bright red and black livery
(christened Routemaster red). This engine is very robustly built and is intended
for every day commercial use with an electric start 5hp Honda engine, hydraulic
gear box and heavy duty chain drive. (There is another Hudson article on page
17 together with a photo of the latest factory model)
Another batch of Alice locomotives is on order for later this year, as an ever
popular starter steam loco in 5” gauge. We have been out of stock of this engine
for a little while so we expect them to be greeted with enthusiasm when they
We are also expecting more Planet diesels and 5” gauge rolling stock, the Planet
diesels now come with a four motor setup giving a useful increase in power. I
have run my Planet with this setup for a while now, and can haul two riding cars
full of grand children on my steeply graded garden railway. I do use two
batteries though so as not to “cane” the one in the engine. The only limit is
adhesion rather than power.
Things are progressing on the main line diesel front, with chassis arriving for
more class 20’s, class 73’s and a new design, class 25. The body moulding for
this new loco is taking shape, this can be a long and painful process but time
spent here benefits every engine produced from the mould. This is shown in the
quality of the existing main line diesel designs so the new class 25 should be a
good stable mate with all the others. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for
photos of the finished model.
The new web site for Maidstone Engineering is now running well, this is
combined with sales on Ebay and Amazon giving us a good online presence for
both models and materials. Many thanks go to Alex who has spent a great
number of long hours of trial and tribulation setting this up.
We now have the large 7 ¼” gauge American Forney in stock. These have come
as a kit without boilers and will be provided with our own copper TIG welded
boilers in kit or ready to run form as required. We recently delivered the first
Forney to come in the modified 2-4-0 with tender version which I must say is a
most comfortable engine to drive
I am enjoying semi retirement, having put a rebuilt engine in my Austin Seven
and an unleaded head and up rated brakes on my Morris Minor. I am also off to
Australia for a month shortly, to see friends and relations and as much steam as
I can get away with!
New designs have not been forgotten and I have had the opportunity to work on
a number of new projects, these are on the drawing board (or these days in the
computer) ready for future production.
One good news item is the safe return of six stolen locomotives. Our suspicion
was aroused when we received a phone call asking for spare parts for a Showman’s Burrell, this was followed with a sample of the part required. From
CCTV we saw how badly the stolen models were handled so were on the
lookout for requests to repair them. We also reckoned that they must have at
least two Showman’s locos in order to give the sample piece so, with suspicions
raised, we contacted the police. They organised a raid and recovered six of the
models along with about a ton of tobacco and some cannabis, a result! There
were four Burrells and two steam lorries, they have a few bumps and scratches
and have had any names, boiler plates or canopies removed so they do require
some work. They were only about half the total engines we have lost, and did
not include the prototype Case, but as there were at least one engine from each
robbery we know they were all taken by the same gang. Just to confirm this did
not include any other unidentified models, much as we would like to get models
back for other people who have suffered the same experience.
¾” scale Allchin traction engine
The prototype for this model is an agricultural traction engine built by
Allchin in their well known “Globe” steam works, Northampton, England.
This engine has typical Victorian characteristics of the period, with a
short smokebox, straight back tender, smaller front wheels and “dumpy”
This sort of engine would be in general agricultural use, particularly
working threshing machines and other equipment with a belt drive off the
flywheel. There was a choice of power, this being the 7 nominal horse
power version built in 1893.
The model is built to the following dimensions
Length: 314mm, Height: 214mm, Width: 140mm, Weight: 3.5kg
Single flue gas burner with tender tank, displacement lubricator, Stephenson link valve gear with reversing lever, Piston valve, Single speed three
shaft transmission with neutral
Optional extras include: Lining and Globe works lettering transfer set,
Name plate set, Number plate set, Lamp set, Rubber tyres for wheels,
Scale shovel, bucket and hose set, Wooden footplate to go over lubricator
10/11 Larkstore Park, Lodge Road, Staplehurst, Kent TN12 0QY
Tel: +44(0) 1580 893030 Fax: +44(0) 1580 891505
Email: [email protected] Web site: www.maxitrak.com