Friday, 26 January 2018

Bye bye 'Warspite'

My first live steam model locomotive was 'Alfred', as readers of this blog will know. 'Alfred was a great little engine to learn the skills of ownership and driving a live steam model, but because of his limited capability in terms of power, boiler capacity, and size of firebox was never going to be a viable passenger hauler on the big track at Urmston.

Please click on any picture for a larger image.

'Alfred' with an interested youngster

I was asked by a fellow member what sort of locomotive I'd ideally want to replace 'Alfred', and I replied "I'd really like a Standard Class 4 Tank". I knew it was unlikely I'd ever own such a machine as they are notoriously difficult to model with their subtly curved side tanks, cab, and bunker. There is a set of drawings available from Doug Hewson and some expert model engineers have produced some lovely models using them. Many more have started and years later are still nowhere near completing their models. It's no surprise then that on the rare occasions such models do come up for sale they usually change hands without being advertised, such is the demand.

When the Kingscale 'Jubilee' was announced at an amazingly low price for a big 5" gauge 4-6-0 express tender locomotive I ordered one. And then, out of left field, came 'The Wildfowler'.

'The Wildfowler' dwarfs 'Alfred'

'The Wildfowler' is a fabulous engine, built to a high standard by master model engineer Walter Fiddler in the 1960s, and had just been rebuilt by Steam Workshop when I came across it on their web site. I had found the 5" models of Beyer Peacock narrow gauge tanks owned by Dave and Jim at the club to be excellent locos to drive, and 'The Wildfowler' was in similar vein, so after a trip over the Pennines to see it at Steam Workshop's premises and a visit to Urmston by the steam Workshop team to demonstrate the finished locomotive to me, that was the engine that actually replaced 'Alfred'. It is a lovely thing and an excellent passenger train loco on the club track.

And then 'Warspite, the Kingscale 'Jubilee' arrived. It looked superb but first attempts to run the loco were not successful. However, Kingscale's after sales service was second to none and after a few visits by 'Warspite' back to them (they picked it up from and returned it to me each time and of course all at no cost) it was finally 'sorted'  as reported recently here on the blog, complete with a video of it running at Urmston (repeated below).

And then Kingscale Models announced they were to release a 5" gauge BR Standard 2-6-4 Tank, the very loco I had wanted but thought probably unobtainable. I considered just buying one but really with 'The Wildfowler', 'Warspite', and my electric loco 'Lindow' my stable was full. If I was to go for the Standard 4 Tank one of the others would have to go.

The prototype Kingscale BR Standard Class 4 Tank

'The Wildfowler' is a loco I would be very reluctant indeed to sell so I talked to Kingscale about a buy-back deal for the Jubilee. They made me a very fair offer of taking back the Jubilee with a cash payment to me (the Jubilee is a more expensive model than the Standard Tank), and reserving me the Standard Tank (which is scheduled for delivery in August) as fully paid for.

I really do like the Jubilee; it looks fantastic and has a lovely 3-cylinder 'bark' and at last it was running as it should. But there are a couple of considerations which persuaded me to let it go.

Driving 'Warspite' at Urmston

It's not an easy engine to drive being a long stretch over the tender to reach the cab controls, but perhaps more of a consideration longer term is that being a 3-cylinder engine it has between the frames the middle cylinder, connecting rod, big end, crank axle, and a full set of walchearts valve gear. If anything were to go wrong with any of that it would require an extensive strip down of the engine (boiler off etc) to repair it, which would be very expensive outside warranty. Both 'The Wildfowler' and the Standard Tank are two-cylinder engines with cylinders, valve gear etc.all outside the frames where it can be easily got at for maintenance, and should repairs become necessary. 

So this morning it was bye-bye Jubilee.

Adam from Kingscale Models secures the Jubilee for travel back to Northamptonshire this morning.   

Electric loco 'Lindow' wasted no time in claiming a place on the vacated hydraulic trolley in the garage which will also accommodate the BR Standard Class 4 Tank when that arrives. In the background, on a second hydraulic trolley and covered in a blue towel is 'The Wildfowler'


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