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What is the truth about "Tich"and "Minnie"?

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Howard Jones12/09/2010 09:29:25
70 forum posts
112 photos
my model engineers club has always been stridently against me building LBSC's Tich. The advice being to build a Juliette as my first loco.
my reading of the plans that I have seen is that Juliette has almost the same internals as Tich but in a fuselage that is an inch and a half longer.
There are one or two videos on youtube of Tich in operation and it seems to run ok.
So whats the truth about Tich? do they actually work ok?
My model engineer's club is one for incredible precision and I've often wondered whether they make things too closely toleranced and end up with mechanisms that are too tight to work well. I've noticed comments throughout old model engineers that the secret to a good loco is free running tolerances.

The other model I've wanted to build is L.C. Mason's "Minnie" which was equally bagged by the club, yet it remains the ME plans best seller.
I'm perplexed. are these really as bad as made out by my club of perfectionists?

David Clark 112/09/2010 10:17:43
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles
Hi There
You are overlooking a few things.
One, It is you that is building the locomotive and traction engine, not your club members.
Two, the cost of castings for Tich and Minnie will almost certainly be a fraction of the cost of castings for a 5in. gauge locomotive or a 3 in. scale traction engine and the build time will certainly be quicker.
Also, you could comfortably build the boiler youself.
I too have had the same experience of clubs.
They say Tich will only pull the owner. So what? All I want to do is build a loco. I am not bothered about pulling passengers at the local club.
I have castings for Tich and one day soon will start building.
Maybe one day I will build Minnie too.
The hobby is all about having fun.
regards David
John Stevenson12/09/2010 11:46:01
5068 forum posts
3 photos
Present your club with a globe as you are leaving, it will prove that the earth is round.
John S.
Axel12/09/2010 12:47:58
125 forum posts
1 photos
Hope we can see a series on Tich building, I know many will hate it, cos its been done before I´m sure. But since we have been given the plans now, it would be good methinks!
John Stevenson12/09/2010 13:29:28
5068 forum posts
3 photos
It may have been done before  but like the Disney films that are re-released every 7 years it will play to a fresh audience.
Anyway if David is building one he needs all the help !!  [ apology is in the post ]
John S.
JasonB12/09/2010 13:32:38
12663 forum posts
1147 photos
Nothing wrong with building a minnie as a first TE, granted it won't pull you around a rally field but it can be made with a smallish lathe for little outlay and not everyone wants to rally their engines and it will fit on the average manle piece.
You could always do the Minnie in 2" same amount of work you just need slightly bigger toys and it will happily pull a couple of adults.
John Weight12/09/2010 16:52:09
48 forum posts
14 photos
As one who has built a Minnie, I confirm that it was a great engne to build and gave me lots of pleasure to do so.  I have steamed it and it runs like a dream. 
The only problemt that I have had is that, I cannot in spite of many different attempts, get the water pump to actually put water into the boiler against the steam pressure. Even at 20lbs air pressure the return valve in the pump body cannot resist and the water is recycled back into the water tank. But it was great fun to have a go at.
Ian Hewson12/09/2010 18:36:18
167 forum posts
11 photos
This is the kind of attitude that I suspect some clubs still show to beginner's.
50 years ago as a 16year old I wanted to join a local club, but the way I was treated put me off model engineering clubs for life.
I still see the same closed and blinkered attitudes today when visiting shows.
Despite the prejudice shown to a 16 year old I persevered on my own and enjoyed many happy hours in my workshop, thanks to ME and LBSC.
My first loco was Tich, and it taught me many skills.
Since then I have made and enjoyed making the Dore Westbury miller, Quorn and the VDH.
Don"t let other people decide what is best for you, take advice by all means and be prepared to learn from your mistakes, but enjoy what you want to do.
Howard Jones13/09/2010 15:44:05
70 forum posts
112 photos
I think the editor and I have the same attitude to these designs.
they are what they are and they are enjoyable building.
I think that I can appease my club by declaring that I will not build a tich or a minnie. that will be true. I'll build a few of each.
that globe idea may become an annual award in my club.

thanks guys you've confirmed my thoughts. I think the grandson is going to enjoy tootling around behind a tich when he is old enough.
David Clark 113/09/2010 16:12:47
3357 forum posts
112 photos
10 articles
Hi Howard
When you start building, please post some photos as you go.
regards david
Stub Mandrel13/09/2010 19:45:44
4305 forum posts
292 photos
Picking up on the other comment in your first post - the one about precision.
I've had real problems with too-close fits in stationary steam engines. If you have any misalignment, no matter how tiny, things will bind. It's amazing how a little bit of easing of a fit will make it all more tolerant, without necessarily adding knocks or clicks!
Nicholas Farr13/09/2010 20:23:41
1626 forum posts
832 photos
Hi, I to have castings for Tich, and maybe one day soon, or maybe later I will get round to start building it. I will say that although I have nothing against clubs, I have no interest in joining one. I prefer to be totally independant and produce what I like when I like or maybe never. Its the interest in machines and mechanisams and tinkering about  that I find rewarding.
Regards Nick.
Axel18/09/2010 15:49:34
125 forum posts
1 photos
Is the Tich a scale model or a freelance?
JasonB18/09/2010 17:00:13
12663 forum posts
1147 photos
Freelance as is the Minnie

Edited By JasonB on 18/09/2010 17:00:34

Samuel Brown 212/12/2010 21:24:40
9 forum posts
Apologies for going off topic. 
I have just read the comments regarding problems with the 1" scale "Minnie" boiler pump. I have not yet made the pump for my own Minnie but would I be better to make and fit an injector to feed the boiler instead of spending a lot of time making a pump that may not function effectively? Has anyone fitted a Minnie with an injector?
John Olsen13/12/2010 00:07:13
884 forum posts
86 photos
1 articles
Hi Samuel,
I would suggest that a pump is likely to be easier to get working than an injector. The usual difficulty with pumps like these is the balls not seating well. It is better to burnish them than to do the old trick of seating them with a hammer and punch. But similar pumps have been standard on small locos since the twenties, so they can be made to perform well
That is not to say that an injector would not be good too, just that it is likely to be harder to make than the pump, at least until you have some practice with them.
Jeff Dayman13/12/2010 01:34:33
1186 forum posts
31 photos
I haven't built either Minnie or Tich, but I have the books for both and have been through them with a fine tooth comb. My two cents below - your mileage may vary.
Minnie in my opinion is a better quality design. Mr Mason has included many diagrams and photos of layouts and work holding/machining ops, rather than just word descriptions and the very few sketches of such items in Tich plans. (other feature related reasons - see Tich issues below). Lots of very small parts, but that should not put you off if you are patient. The pump issues mentioned above should be resolvable with some fooling around with spring force and ball/seat size and travel, but lots of experimentation may be required to zero in on optimum sizes/lengths. Heat could be a factor too - reciprocating pumps will not easily pump hot water, and the pump being stuck to a hot lump of copper boiler means it surely will be warm. Maybe a thermal isolating mount for it somehow could be implemented. The only major thing that would make Minnie easier would be building the engine on an engine frame and using a separate steam dome rather than the cylinder block, like USA traction engine practice. This would simplify things considerably, but it wouldn't be an English design traction engine anymore. As I recall there are several bushings called out as brass, in my opinion only good bronze should be used for bushes on rotating shafts. Also cast aluminum T rings are called out for the rear wheels, I would say built up steel wheels from rolled steel rings and waterjet cut steel disks, all silver soldered up, will be much better and maybe cheaper than aluminum T rings.
Tich is a very small locomotive. I have seen people struggle mightily to coal fire it with success. In addition the throttle / regulator is one of the worst designs I've ever seen for one. There are also many known published plans errors for Tich on Alan Stepney's site. The regulator issues could probably be solved by installing a smokebox throttle. One good and proven such throttle is a Swagelok ball valve (high temp rated model) but space is small for this in Tich so it might take some fiddling on a CAD system to shoehorn it in. If it won't fit, a screw down needle style throttle would be easy and will work fine. If I were building Tich, I'd go with the Baker valve variant for easier build, and the open cab variant, for easier firing. Speaking of firing, maybe a two slotted tube or ceramic element gas burner as used in gauge 1 models would be easier for a beginner to make and use rather than coal firing. After all the firebox of a gauge 1 big loco like a 4-6-2 or 2-10-0 is around the same size as a Tich firebox, and the gas burners work fine for the big gauge 1 models. Check out Roger Thornber's locos in ME for details on these gas burners.
It's too bad someone hasn't done a design for a narrow gauge open cab outline loco, like Terry Aspin's Charles 0-4-0, for 3 1/2" gauge. (or have they?) This would give an equally simple to build and low material cost loco for beginners but the boiler would be just that much bigger as to have more room for a simple smokebox throttle and would be easier to fire on coal. Food for thought. Doesn't need to have a saddle tank, either, it could be a tender loco for simplicity.
JasonB13/12/2010 07:31:22
12663 forum posts
1147 photos
Its generally accepted that the position of the pump on the minnie is what causes the problems as it gets too hot and stops functioning, I'm off to work now but should be able to come up with details of a pump mounted on the horn plates.
Don't go for an injector at that size its hard to get them to work consistantly. A hand pump in your trailer would be a better option for a second pump.
You will also have to take your water gauge of a separate bush as it should not share the manifold to meet current regs
Keith13/12/2010 16:24:24
25 forum posts
A little bit off topic but not by much - I know the plans are available for Minnie - I thought the book was as well - but google only came up with secondhand ones - some for a lot of money. Does anyone know if it still is - I might have assumed thats why the back issues were removed from the site as relatives wan'ted money from book sales. Does anyone know if it is still available?
I ask because it is my retirement project and that is getting closer!
JasonB13/12/2010 16:43:21
12663 forum posts
1147 photos
It is indeed out of print but keep your eye out, I saw one a few weeks ago for less than £10.
It is also possible to make the model with just the book and no drawings so paying a bit more for the book is not so bad, I made mine with just the book.
Back to Jeff's point about alloy rims, I feel this is one of the better options for the 1" Minnie as most builders may have only done a stationary engine or two before so will not have facilities to roll a decent round ring from 3mm plate. They would then have to cut 4 rings for the tees or use disks as Jeff suggests which would need a good welding ability to be able to achive a wheel that is not distorted as the weld cools not to mention disc wheels making it look like a Simplicity roller

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