This page shows some of the models that have been through the Rhos Helyg Locomotive Works recently.

Latest additions appear at the top of the page.

Please see the Gallery page for more finished models.

You may click on the pictures to see enlarged views.

Roger Marsh Avonside 0-4-0T MARCHLYN

The proverbial Box Of Bits can always be a challenge, especially when there are no instructions, few others around of the same type to copy and the box contains bits from more than one kit. Such was the case with this one, which eventually turned in to a model of Penrhyn Quarry's Avonside 0-4-0T MARCHLYN.

I've had a couple of the similar Maxwell Hemmens Ogwen/Marchlyn locos here, but this one was made by Roger Marsh so there are a few differences. I started by finishing assembly of the chassis and running it on compressed air. I then put enough bits on to get it running on steam. The chassis ran nicely but the boiler was not so good. The pressure gauge pipe was fractured where it was soldered directly in to the boiler, and the backhead water gauge glass was also leaking. Not something I can fix, so the boiler went off to Shawe Steam Services for repair. The pressure gauge pipe can now be easily removed from the boiler should the need arise, and a different and better method of retaining the backhead in place has also been used.

Meanwhile, I removed the poorly applied paint and applied etch primer, black with Penrhyn lining and red detailing, all followed by reassembly to give the result shown.

Roundhouse Engineering Double Fairlie 0-4-4-0T EARL OF MERIONETH

A Roundhouse Double Fairlie carrying a lining scheme based on that carried by the old (proper!) Earl of Merioneth prior to its withdrawal from traffic in 1971. Name and patent plates were supplied by MDC.

Roundhouse Engineering Dylan 0-6-0ST EMILY

The bodywork for this Roundhouse Dylan came here for repainting in a Festiniog-inspired scheme of green with red lining and black edging. Once completed the parts were returned to the loco's owner for reassembly. (Photo by Simon Sparkes)

Roundhouse Engineering Vale of Rheidol 2-6-2T No. 7

This loco came here in well-worn lined maroon livery with a request to repaint it in gloss bronze green. The maroon paint was in such a state that it had to be removed but on doing so I found that this loco started life in gloss black. Fortunately the maroon paint detached from the black very easily, leaving me with a loco with perfect paintwork over which the green could be applied and avoiding the need to strip to bare brass and reapply etch primer.

The livery is that carried by the VofR locos in the late 1940s / early 1950s, immediately prior to British Railways giving them names.

Accucraft Superior 0-6-2T SUPERIOR

It was a few years ago that Accucraft made an 0-6-2T called Superior, supposedly based on the loco of the same name formerly based at Bowaters paper works in Sittingbourne but now to be found at Whipsnade Zoo. That they were both 0-6-2s and both had side water tanks was undeniable, but there the similarities pretty much ended. Compared to the full-size loco, the model was too long, too tall, lacked the upper cab back sheet and had the wrong chimney.

The owner of this Superior discussed with me what might be done to improve the model and make it look more like The Real Thing. We determined that there was nothing critical (driven axles, boiler, etc.) on the loco that would be affected by the changes we wished to make. Using a drawing of the full-size loco as a guide the owner produced some drawings to show the modifications that could be made, principally reducing the cab height by 6mm and the loco's length by 15mm. Once on my bench, some serious butchery followed.

The tanks were cut off the cab and 15mm was removed from the front of the cab sides and the cab roof. The cab height was reduced by removing 6mm from the top, but this also caused the existing cab roof retainers to be lost, so a new method of holding the roof in place was devised. The cab and tanks were then reattached to form one piece once again.

The loco frames are, as is usual, made from Accucraft's choice of Weapons Grade stainless steel. This stuff is hard - very hard - and so is impossible to solder, impossible to tap, almost impossible to drill and difficult to cut. In order to retain the correct cut-out shape for the pony truck I determined that the 15mm length reduction had to come out of the middle of the frames, and the cut-out for the dummy firebox sides would be the ideal place to do that. The pony truck also needed some work to cope with the shortened frames.

The main footplate was also reduced in length by 15mm, which also involved relocating the reversing lever, lubricator, boiler water drain and cab steps.

The chimney was sent off to my good friend Adrian who managed to successfully turn it in to something looking a lot more realistic.

Other detailing work included:
 - Runners on the cab sides for those very distinctive Bowaters sliding windows.
 - Addition of a upper cab back spectacle sheet.
 - Replacement of the spectacle rings with four more in keeping with The Real Thing.
 - Re-positioning of the sand domes reach rod from the right to the left side of the loco.
 - Fitting of lamp brackets, lamps and cable conduits at each end.

Finally, the whole loco, including the frames, was repainted in Bowaters green with yellow and black lining.

Roundhouse Engineering Cilgwyn Quarry Railway 0-4-0ST LILLA

Another off my "I'd like to do one of those" list has recently been completed: A Roundhouse Lilla in the condition that it ran when new at Cilgwyn Quarry in the Nantlle Valley here in North Wales.

Photos of Lilla in its pre-Penrhyn Quarry days (i.e. before 1928) are hard to come by and I only know of two: A Hunslet works photo of the loco brand-new, and a single image of the loco at work at Cilgwyn. Interpretation of the photos is very subjective but until more photos appear in the public domain nobody can be absolutely certain how the loco looked at that time. However, the photos do show the hardware changes that have occurred during the loco's existence, mainly after it moved to Penrhyn, and they are distinctive enough to reproduce in model form.

The most noticeable difference concerns getting water from the saddle tank in to the boiler. At this time Lilla only had one injector fitted, which was on the left side of the loco. A water pump driven from the crosshead was provided on the right side. The pump has been reproduced, together with the associated pipework. On the full-size loco the holes in the cab front and footplating were re-used when the pump was removed and a second injector fitted, hence why the two sides do not match.

Other changes included:
 - Sheathed wood dumb buffers.
 - Lamp support arm on front and rear lamp brackets.
 - Whistle on the cab roof instead of on the cab front.
 - Additional handrail knob on chimney front.
 - Sandboxes alongside the smokebox and associated operating linkage.

The full-size loco retains the stub of the saddle tank support for the sanders reach rod to this day.

The brand-new model also received the following modifications:
 - Removal of preservation-era tool box and vacuum brake piping.
 - Fitting of left-hand injector water valve handle.
 - Fitting of additional blower and lubrication pipework.
 - Removal of derailment bars and mountings.
 - Fitting of reverser and drain cocks reach rods.

Finally, it was painted and lined in the known Cilgwyn colour scheme.

Argyle Locomotive Works Bantam 0-4-0ST

If there is a word that can be used to describe an Argyle Loco Works "Bantam" it might well be "cute". This one came here showing no signs of a lot of use, but definite signs of trauma.

The most noticeable fault was the bent frames. The loco's 0-4-0 wheelbase is only 55mm but it has an overall length of 285mm, meaning that it has a huge amount of overhang especially at the back end. Something had occurred that caused the rear of the frames to droop downwards so the loco was completely dismantled and the frames were straightened.

Another issue was that the entire gas system was missing. A new tank. control valve, burner jet and pipework were kindly supplied by Argyle.

Attention then turned to the paintwork. The original plan had been to retain the existing paint but my usual plan of a run through the dishwasher led to most of it coming off! The small remainder was stripped off and the loco was completely repainted. This included the frames, the insides of which are clearly visible, and so while the outside received a coat of black the inside received a coat of red.

Yellow lining with black edging was then applied, followed by reassembly and a steam test.

Archangel Darjeeling 'C' Class Pacific 4-6-2 No. 808

This model of a Darjeeling C-Class Pacific was built by Stewart Browne of Archangel fame.

The model came here with only the frames, wheels and a few other details painted. My task was to apply suitable, and authentic, paintwork. Information kindly provided by David Charlesworth of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society (to whom I am very grateful) soon revealed that our choices were: DHR green with red and black lining (carried from 1914 to 1948), Indian Railways plain black (1948 to early 1970s), and black with blue cab and tender combined with red and white details (early 1970s to withdrawal). It is dubious variations of this latter livery that preserved 807 and 808 carry today. I'd never seen a black one in this scale so I suggested it to the owner, and he agreed. Like other models of a similar size, they can gain a real and purposeful workaday appearance in plain black with a few contrasting details.

There are very few pictures of these locos around, and my major source for detailing was, again, the large-format book entitled The Darjeeling Himalayan Railway - A Photographic Profile 1962-1998. It is referred to as "The Australian Book" and it includes a full-page colour photo of 807 in black in 1962.

After dismantling, a good clean, bodywork preparation, and lots and lots of masking etch primer and two coats of satin black were applied. It was then a case of reassembly and dealing with a myriad of the smallest of details. Finally, with the paintwork finished, the final task was to affix number and works plates from MDC to the cab, tender back and smokebox and NF lettering to the tender sides.

Roundhouse Engineering Mr. Merlin's Pooter 0-4-0T PANGUR BÁN

PANGUR BÁN is another of those rarest of Roundhouse Engineering locos: a Mr Merlin’s Pooter.

The owner had managed to obtain a bare Pooter chassis, the vibrating levers and slide blocks for the Hackworth valve gear and, most importantly, a brand-new body and cab roof from a Mr Merlin’s Pooter or Roundhouse Erica (they are identical). With these few components to hand the challenge then was to turn them in to a fully working loco and the hunt began for the parts needed to do so…

A trawl through our respective Bits Boxes produced more useful parts: Safety valve, dome (modified from a Roundhouse Tom Rolt), regulator, smokebox dart, meths tank (from a Lady Anne), meths burner, dummy tank fillers, chimney cap and whistle from the owner's, and dome retaining clip, boiler retaining band, chimney base, cylinder covers and a few other smaller components from mine. Old-style rectangular valve chest cylinders were needed and so a pair of those were removed from my own Lady Anne (and replaced with lovely new current-style ones!) and overhauled.

Roundhouse provided a host of new parts, including wheels, axles, bearings, cranks, coupling and connecting rods (same as Katie / Billy / George, etc.), centre-pivot reversing lever (from an Alco), bottom-drain lubricator and superheater tee.

That left the difficult bits to find. I took on the task of supplying the missing valve gear parts. I made the return cranks and valve rods, but making the slide balls was not something I could do so my good friend Adrian was asked if he would do so, and he did! They are a difficult thing to produce and wear on the slide balls is often the cause of Pooters becoming unused Shelf Queens. Once the chassis was running we knew we could finish the loco.

The owner took on the task of finding a Pooter boiler, which took a while but eventually he was successful. Once I had the boiler to hand, I made the inner firebox that supports it and allows it to be fixed to the frames.

It was then a case of doing the plumbing, making a new chimney, fitting some of the decorative body components and painting in bronze green with orange lining.

Could this be the last new Pooter…?

Roundhouse Engineering coal-fired Dylan 0-4-0STT ODIE

It was back in 1987 that I first encountered 16mm/foot live steam garden railways. This was at the renowned Paddock Railway at Hampton Loade station on the Severn Valley Railway. I was an SVR volunteer at Bridgnorth back then and it became a nice Sunday afternoon diversion to travel down to Hampton Loade and run my O-Gauge stock after the 16millers had finished their session. I'd not seen anything in this scale before, and I was hooked immediately. My good friend Paul would let me run his meths-fired Roundhouse Dylan, called ODIE and named after the dog in the Garfield cartoon strip. The loco's nickname was Bill, for reasons I am sure I do not need to explain.

Hankering after my own loco, my desire was sated when I purchased my own Dylan from good friend Tim.

All three of us drifted away from Hampton Loade over time, and my contact with ODIE ended. Paul converted it from a pot boiler to internally-fired meths, and then rebuilt it with a Shawe Steam Services coal-fired boiler and repainted it blue. Some years ago Paul drifted away from 16mm and sold a lot of his rolling stock to Tim, including ODIE.

It was an absolute delight to be asked recently by still good friend Tim to repaint ODIE in to his standard bronze green with orange lining livery. Tim stripped the blue paint so all I had to do was apply the new colours. Opening the box was like meeting an old friend again ... after a 25 year gap I reckon.

The pictures show ODIE in its new paint, outside the loco shed at Hampton Loade in 1989 (in green on the right, with my red Dylan on the left ... no shelter in those days, we just got wet) and at the late Eric Skinner's line in Solihull with Paul's carriages around the same time.

This page was last updated on 28th May 2020