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A beginners locomotive

which locomotive for a beginner

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Vincent Shaw-Morton26/04/2010 19:42:03
17 forum posts
15 photos
Hi Everyone, I'm a  novice with model engineering, although I am steadily gaining experience.
Currently I am on the Polly course with SMEE, (which I can thoroughly recommend) and am also currently putting a workshop together.
Anyway I joined my local club(s) Chichester and Worthing only around six months ago, and I am spending the rest of this year completing the Polly course and continuing to put my workshop together.
My background is not engineering btw.
Anyway my question is this. What would be a good first locomotive to build?
The thing that has been impressed upon me more than anything else is to pick a project that will keep my interest, but this of course leads on to levels of compelxity.
Practically speaking I was thinking of a Simplex. Now I know it might not be considered a beginnners model, but it struck me that it is a well documented model that has been built many times over, and that I am likely to find other builders out there who I can chat to if I get stuck.
But; from the 'I like the look of this loco' point of view, I have always loved the look of Victorian locomotives.
However all the models I haver considered so far have inside, rather than outside cylinders, which of course involves crank axles.
Now to cut a long story short (too late!)
Would one of these inside cylinder 'early' locomotives be a foolish first model to attempt, and what level of complexity does an inside cylinder add?
many thanks for reading this ramble
Chris26/04/2010 20:56:55
87 forum posts
13 photos
Hi Vincent, I am thoroughly enjoying building the Northumbrian being serialised in ME at the moment. The instruction are good and the couple of problems I have had have been quickly sorted by members of this site. My only regret is that it is not in 5" as some of the parts are pretty small and the end product will only pull myself (hopefully). A further advantage is that the whole cost is only about £300 / £350 so buying those odd 'replacement castings' doesn't hurt too much.
David Clark 127/04/2010 08:13:26
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles
Hi There
In Model Engineer 4378 we are starting a 3 1/2in. gauge Darjeeling Himilayan 0-4-0 saddle tank locomotive.
Perhaps you would consider this.
I think many people will build this locomotive.
It will be on display at Harrogate.
regards David
macmarch27/04/2010 18:42:34
147 forum posts
1 photos
Hi Vincent and welcome to fold.  Have you considered yet as to which gauge you want to build?  As you are starting out I will assume that it will be 3 1/2".  From experience I can reccommend the Caribou. Not to dificult to build, Has outside gear (Baker so no fiddly bits.) As its Canadian It makes a large model for this gauge. I have seen it pulling 4 adults and 4 children.
Dave Jones 127/04/2010 22:22:05
85 forum posts
5 photos
I too would recommend a 3 1/2" gauge model.  5" are quite big for a first model and cost considerably more in terms of castings and materials and 2 1/2" are a bit fiddly for a first time model. 
Keith Wood 128/04/2010 14:45:50
16 forum posts
1 photos
Hi Vincent
I started off building a Rob Roy and progressed onto a Lifford Hall 4-6-0.
What I discovered is that the smaller the loco the harder it is to run, smaller boiler & firebox.
If your interest is building only start with something smaller such as a Rob Roy, If you intend to run a lot then something medium sized such as Maisie of Caribou would be better.
I would recommend having at least an axle pump plus an injector on any model loco you build.
Best regards.
Montreal Canada
Jeff Dayman28/04/2010 20:41:04
2234 forum posts
47 photos
Bear in mind Caribou is nowhere near a true scale model of a CNR 0-8-0 switcher. If you don't care about that, by all means go ahead, it sure will pull, regardless. It is too bad that Evans didn't make it closer to scale though.
For simplicity and pulling ability, a Sweet Pea would be good I think, but they are big.
Vincent Shaw-Morton28/04/2010 21:30:57
17 forum posts
15 photos
Hi Everyone,
thanks for coming back to me on this one.
I am settled on one thing so far, and that is the gauge. I don't really want to do a 3 1/2" gauge for the reasons already mentioned. (more fiddly to build, due to smaller parts, and not so powerful as a working engine. Looking at the Reeves site they have a couple of models recommended for the beginner at 5" gauge:-
Jack an 0-6-0 tank,
Scamp 0-4-0, or Dougal 0-4-0.
Did anyone have any comments on the complexity/difficulty of crank axels and inside cylinders on more advanced engines?
Jeff Dayman28/04/2010 22:58:47
2234 forum posts
47 photos
Looking at Reeves website, Dougal looks very simple, but might be nose-heavy and a bad rider due to front tanks over the cyls. However on Dougal it would be easy to reach the controls (no cab) and with outside cyls it would be relatively easy to make as long as boiler is simple (it should be). You could always revise the tanks to be centred over the axles as well.
Ajax would also be a candidate, although slightly harder to reach the controls inside the cab, compared to Dougal, it has tanks over the axles which should make it fairly evenly loaded on the axles.
Seems to me it was Harold Pearson and his daughter that wrote recently in ME about his own Ajax, which as I recall has given excellent service over many years.
Good luck whatever you choose.
calder percival 128/04/2010 23:44:01
19 forum posts
1 photos
why not try a go Doug Hewsons y4 simple and to scale and easy to move but capable of work
Chris B29/04/2010 16:49:33
34 forum posts
5 photos
I am making Dougal as a first loco, but I have scaled it up for 7 1/4".
I have made my own patterns, which takes a bit of time but pays dividends in the wallet ( 1.5 times more casting for less than 1/3rd the price of commercially available castings)
I too have wondered about the weight distribution but some ballast in the bunkers and under the footplate should help this and add a bit of adhesion.
I have also used std oilite bushes for the rods and axleboxes to simplyfy things further.
Vincent Shaw-Morton29/04/2010 18:44:39
17 forum posts
15 photos
Doug Hewsons y4 looks ideal!
It is a nice looking engine, well proportioned and simple, and of course the right gauge.
This loco has gone to the top of my list. Does anyone have any finished pics of the y4. The only one I have found so far is on Doug Hewson's own site
clivel29/04/2010 23:14:55
344 forum posts
17 photos
I was in a similar boat a few years ago and eventually after weighing up all the options I decided on the Y4. As a result I contacted Doug via email. Not only was he extremely helpful but he also sent me a number of very nice Y4 pics, which regrettably he hasn't included on his web site. I bought the plans from him, and was all set to make a start, but a change of job and a house move put a temporary halt to my locomotive building plans.
A few years later and another move coming up in a few months, I find myself once more in a position where I will be able to set up a workshop so I have been revisiting the issue of a first locomotive. 
My first thought was the Q1 currently being serialised in ME, a loco I suppose one either loves or hates but it really appeals to me,  unfortunately like you I am sold on the idea of a 5" gauge so it is a non-starter.
So it was back to the Y4, it seems to have all the attributes of an excellent first model - it should be a relatively powerful passenger hauler,  relatively easy to build, and from my experience with Doug, I am sure that he would be most helpful if one hits on any snags, The only trouble is that the loco does nothing for me personally, I don't know why.
So right now I am waiting for the book "Build your own steam locomotive Sweet Pea"
which I have on order from myhobbystore.  There are some really nice looking Sweet Peas around and the only downside for me, is that I would prefer a model of a full-size prototype rather that a freelance engine.
I have a few months to make my mind up, but I am pretty much convinced it will be either the Y4 or Sweet Pea, logically I think the Y4 would be the best bet, but emotionally it just doesn't do it for me.

Jeff Dayman30/04/2010 13:22:47
2234 forum posts
47 photos
One thing I will say about Doug Hewson's designs/plans is that the drawings are clear and very complete, at least the ones I have been seeing for years in ME and EIM. When the occasional error happens (very infrequently) he publishes corrections very soon afterward. Same with Neville Evans. I give these guys a LOT of credit for that - embarrasing as errors are, publishing corrections is best for the hobby.
There has been a lot of talk about errors on this forum and others and some designs by other designers have errors that have been on the drawings for years.
If you go the Sweet Pea route you might want to look up an alternate die block design for the valvegear, published a few years ago in ME. The idea was to use a roller bearing setup to reduce block wear, which in some Sweet Peas has been an issue. It's a great engine in any case. 
6001902/05/2010 19:50:51
24 forum posts
4 photos
Reading the thread I find that I am at a similar point to Vincent. First model (well second if you count being 1/3 of a consortium that part built a Springbok in 1975), 5" gauge decided, tank engine so no tender to build decided. My answer to me is Metro - 6 wheels for stability but only 4 to connect up with rods, reasonable weight for one person to carry, reasonable size boiler and firebox, open backed cab so easy access to fire and controls, inside cylinders to hide some of my novice machining skills. What could possibly go wrong?  Well, that's what I'd like to know.. Good first model?
david scott11/05/2010 11:26:04
4 forum posts
For me too the Y4 or Blackwell as she first appeared 20 or so years ago, would be a suitable engine for the first one. simple, 4 wheels, outside cylinders, and easy to move.
In fact I am doing a 6 wheel version to go under a Tina, Tina for copyrite reasons also has a twin brother tram called Toby!
For someone with a bit more skill there is our dear Fair Rosamund with the backing of laser cut frames, stretchers, castings, curently in the magazine and supported by Poly Model Engineering. I am told that the wheel patterns are particulaly fine with a slim hub
which should also make prospective builders of Metro happy.
Vincent Shaw-Morton17/05/2010 22:07:17
17 forum posts
15 photos
Hi Everyone,
I was all settled on the Y4, then i went to the NRM and  it was 'love at first sight'
Wainwright D Class 4-4-0.
Probably rather too ambitous for a first model, none the less has anyone out there ever built one as a scale model, not that I'm thiking of it at this stage........just curious.
clivel03/08/2010 21:02:45
344 forum posts
17 photos
I was recently paging through some old issues of ME, and came across Don Young's 5" Railmotors. These really seem to be the ideal beginners locos, I rather like the look of the No1 which is supposedly modelled after a full size Rhymney Railway engine.
Does anyone have any thoughts on the suitability of these engines to a beginner?
Although the ME articles include a description of the livery, I would love to see photos of completed models or of the full size prototypes, but have had no luck finding much through google. So any links to photos or any other information regarding the full size engines would be much appreciated.
AndyP03/08/2010 23:41:34
189 forum posts
30 photos
Whenever I want a photo of a model my first port of call is the Station Road Steam archive.
clivel04/08/2010 05:32:31
344 forum posts
17 photos
Thanks Andy,
After a pleasant hour or two browsing The Station Road Steam web site, I can see why its your first port of call. Definitely worth adding to the  bookmark list.
Unfortunately the only complete Railmotor they have photos of, is a rather sad looking orange specimen that they describe as painted "by apparently, an eight year old"

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