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5" Gauge Loco Project

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Stuart sladdin16/01/2022 18:51:25
2 forum posts

Hi chaps, I would like to take on a 5" gauge loco project and this will be my first loco. I have a reasonable workshop with a super 7b and a Warco Super Major mill been making small project, tools and accessories for many years.

What would be a good first loco to build ?

I thought maybe a simplex or similar tank engine. Any advice would be welcomed and if anyone has or knows of a part built project that would also be of interest.

Clive Brown 116/01/2022 20:05:52
825 forum posts
41 photos

Simplex has been the choice of first loco. for many people, me included over 30 years ago.. It's a good model, straightfrward with not too many fiddley bits, decent looking and a good runner on the track. There are one or two drawing errors, or were!, but nothing too disastrous. The construction manual might be available if you look.

Be prepared to put in 1000+ hours.

There's also Super Simplex, of which I know little.

The website "Model Engineering Clearing House" has a Simplex section.

Just looked at MECH webpage, it doesn't seem very active of late.

Edited By Clive Brown 1 on 16/01/2022 20:12:07

Former Member16/01/2022 20:16:37
1085 forum posts

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Simon Collier16/01/2022 20:37:46
461 forum posts
63 photos

I also suggest a Simplex. A capable, good looking loco, powerful but easy to handle, with good valve gear design. Lots of information available and builders groups online. It has a proper locomotive boiler, not that horrible thing on Sweet Pea. Do look on MECH, as suggested above as there is a Simplex thread and much more loco stuff.

Former Member16/01/2022 20:50:34
1085 forum posts

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Redsetter16/01/2022 21:39:40
203 forum posts
3 photos

Bear in mind that 5 inch gauge locos are heavy and a Simplex or a Sweet Pea is a 2 person lift. Don't neglect the smaller and simpler designs - Rail Motor, Scamp, or Dougal come to mind. And think whether you want something for serious passenger hauling, or just a little engine to play trains with.

Former Member16/01/2022 21:58:23
1085 forum posts

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Simon Collier17/01/2022 08:30:15
461 forum posts
63 photos

Quite right br, it is a personal bias and unhelpful to the OP.

Former Member17/01/2022 08:42:01
1085 forum posts

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Speedy Builder517/01/2022 08:46:19
2613 forum posts
212 photos

Stuart, besides the basic equipment, you will need end mills, lathe tools, drills, taps, dies, gas torch for silver soldering, possibly needle files, nice sharp files for brass, possibly a gauge and pump for home water boiler hydraulic testing, stuff for painting etc etc, the list goes on. Add to that list, chunks of metal, tubes, fittings, nuts and bolts, rivets etc. Don't be surprised if that lot adds up to more than the price of a lathe or mill.

I have just about completed a SPEEDY 5" loco using a Boxford and Warco Major mill. I had to replace the milling vice with an ARC Euro one (I like it) and purchase a low cost rotary table. Although I am retired, its taken me about 10 years to complete - there always seems something else that takes priority !


Buffer17/01/2022 13:54:54
338 forum posts
153 photos

Stuart Here are a few things to ask yourself. How old are you? Do you have enough life left to take on a loco and finish it as they take a normal person a long time? Are you more interested in getting one done quickly and simply to get pleasure from driving or are you more interested in the build? How much time can you spend on it? How much money can you spend on it? Can you transport store and move a large loco or only a small one? Are you planning on building the boiler? Do you have a track where you can drive it or would a traction engine be better? Is there a club near you to get advice and help?

I think you really do need to think about these sort of things as well as the workshop equipment and type.

Obviously a tender loco generally has more work, more cost, more weight and needs more space than a smaller tank engine. I was told (like br above) to choose something that you really want in order to keep the enthusiasm up. It sounds like you have some experience with the tools and that starting a nice scale model wouldn't be a problem for you if that's what you really want to end up with. If you want to make a simplex or something else to learn on then personally I would say that it is not a necessary step as there is plenty of easy metal bashing on say a 5 inch tender or a front 4 wheel bogie. When you have done this you would be quite competent to tackle most things, in my opinion. And if you get stuck then advice from a club, websites, youtube etc would probably get you unstuck.

For myself I built two small stuart turner steam engines then took on a mainline loco with tender. I haven't finished it yet but progress is good. In hindsight I perhaps should have built a traction engine so I can drive it around the garden and take it up the road!

Former Member17/01/2022 15:16:50
1085 forum posts

[This posting has been removed]

Stuart sladdin21/01/2022 20:59:04
2 forum posts

Thank you all very much for your advice. I intend visiting two societies quite local to me Tyneside Society of Model Engineers and also Sunderland Model Engineering Society with the intention of joining one. I also think a visit to a few shows when possible would be worthwhile. I have thought about taking on a part built project if a suitable thing became available. What are your thoughts about purchasing a part built project ?

Clive Brown 121/01/2022 21:52:13
825 forum posts
41 photos

Caution is needed in purchasing a part built project. You could also be purchasing a lot of errors and poor workmanship. Any such venture needs care and as much knowledge as possible of th project's pedigree.

Be particularly careful if a boiler is involved.

That aside however, it could be a very acceptable time and cost saver if many of the necessary castings are included.


Edited By Clive Brown 1 on 21/01/2022 21:53:07

Dave Smith 1421/01/2022 22:59:40
213 forum posts
43 photos

4 Years into my Aspinall class 27 build, I have a complete tender, chassis running on air, smoke box and all plate finished and a most of the boiler parts made but not assembled. Nothing is final painted yet. So what is my advice at this point. Do your research and built what you want to, which is what I did. A 4-6-2 Pacific is no more difficult to build than my Aspinall just a few more parts to make. Laser cut anything you can, you can break complex parts into layers which can be silver soldered together. Only use castings where you have too, for a lot of items it is easier, quicker and a lot cheaper to hog from bar. I bought a complete set of casting (in a sale) but the quality was very poor and the tender axle box castings were not fit for purpose and binned. Boiler, your choice I am making mine. Oh and enjoy the process it can be very frustrating at times but ultimately very stimulating.

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