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.

Roundhouse Engineering Pooter 0-4-0T No. 5 MOUDROS BAY

This Mark 3 Pooter came to me for some body repair work and a repaint in to satin black with blue lining. Very kindly the owner had removed the old paint, saving me time and him money! Its meths tank had returned to its component parts so that was rebuilt while it was here, together with the fitting of "current" cylinder covers to its old-style rectangular valve chest cylinders.

Roundhouse Engineering Dylan 0-4-0ST No. 1 DYLAN

An interesting and unusual job was the regauging of a 30+ years old meths-fired Roundhouse Dylan 0-4-0ST from 45mm to 32mm, the One True Gauge. These locos were not built to be adjustable for track gauge and some considerable dismantling was needed to remove the wheelsets from the frames. Unlike the current Roundhouse products, the cranks and axles on these older locos are held together with grub screws and roll pins. The first picture shows the two wheelsets with the front one awaiting regauging and the back one completed, along with the slip-eccentric valve gear and modified rocker arms. It is always a pleasure to work on these old Roundhouse locos, there is just something about them.

Peacock Island Workshop Toucan Garratt 0-4-4-0

This Garratt runs on 45mm gauge track and uses two Accucraft Dora chassis as power units. It came to me initially for repainting and lining but, as usual, it turned in to a bigger project.

Unusually, only the front power unit actually worked. The rear unit was a stripped Dora chassis that consisted of not much more than frame, wheels, axles and rods. The current owner sourced another complete Dora chassis and that was then modified using parts from the unpowered unit and fitted to the loco, together with the necessary live and exhaust steam pipework. It was also found that the front unit was extremely sluggish when running and some modifications were made to the existing exhaust pipework to eliminate the back pressure that was causing the slow running.

The cab roof was modified to ensure a better fit, and a couple of additional boiler bands were fitted to break up an otherwise long and plain boiler.

Finally, the paint was removed from the cab, bunker, tank, frame, boiler and smokebox and then repainted in blue with red lining and black edging.

The Morgan Locomotive Company Garratt 0-4-4-0 No. 16

Garratts have a reputation for being big and long locos, but not this one as it is barely 15 inches long. It is powered by a 2-cylinder oscillator steam motor mounted under the boiler, with power provided to each end by drive shafts and universal joints. It is beautifully made and a credit to its builder. It came here for a repaint in to green with yellow and black lining.

Regner Konrad 0-4-0

A much-modified Regner Konrad: A previous owner removed the flywheel and replaced it with a second cylinder. My task was to build a new cab for it, followed by a full strip and repaint in to maroon lined in yellow and black. The current owner had thought that the rather nice tender was no longer needed but I persuaded him to keep it with the loco. However, it has been coupled in such a way that the loco can be used with or without it.

I P Engineering Simplex diesel

My first ever 16mm/foot scale loco was a Brian Clarke / Saltford Models Simplex battery diesel. For the few pounds they cost Saltford sent a motor, wheels, axles, a switch, a selection of whitemetal castings and comprehensive instructions. The bodywork was made from styrene sheet (not provided in the kit) and it was a couple of evening's work to cut out all the bits, glue them together and end up with a working loco. Other locos featured in the Saltford range and I am sure I am not alone in following that introductory route to modelling in our scale.

My Saltford Simplex lasted me well but various impacts (one caused by a cat flicking it off a shelf on to the floor) had caused much damage to the bodywork and so it was retired for a major repair a few years ago. Subsequent investigation revealed that it was slowly returning to its component parts and so I decided to rebuild it completely, but this time in brass rather than styrene. As a wet North Walian Sunday afternoon job I made a start but other projects came along and it got forgotten.

And then I P Engineering announced their Leighton Buzzard sand quarry Simplex diesel kit and I thought it looked so much nicer than anything I could be bothered to make, so I bought and built the one shown here. The kit is almost entirely made of whitemetal and features a wealth of detail, such as rivets and the emergency door handle. I chose to solder the parts together for extra strength, and I also incorporated some of the whitemetal castings from my original Saltford loco, such as the starting handle and the diesel engine details.

Being a loco built for myself, of course I was always going to make some changes to the kit as supplied. The engine bonnet had rounded edges front and back (as used on a cabless Simplex) and so it was squared-off at its back end, as most of the Leighton Buzzard locos seem to have that arrangement. I also added the protective mesh on the front right. I turned the radiator around so that the cores are on the left of the loco and the fan is in the middle, again as that seems to be common at Leighton Buzzard. The window on the left cab side is unusual but I decided to leave it in place. I also replaced the switches either side (one for off/on, one for forward/reverse) with a single centre-off slide switch.

There were two quarry operators at Leighton Buzzard: Garside's and Arnold's. Although the liveries were similar (green with white details) I chose the Garside livery for my model and in keeping with their policy of naming locos after famous horses I applied an appropriate name.

DJB Engineering Robert coal-fired 0-4-0T No. 24 SYD

This is the fourth DJB Robert that has been here for accident repairs. They are heavy locos so when they fall on to a hard surface the damage can be severe. Despite the evidence in the first photo, this coal-fired one didn't actually suffer too badly in that no boiler damage was incurred, with only a bent blower valve spindle to deal with. The rest of the impact was absorbed by the body work, and mainly the cab. The second picture shows it after bashing back in to shape and a full strip and repaint based on the livery carried by the full-size LYN. New name plates by MDC to replace the wooden originals finished the job nicely.

Accucraft Lynton & Barnstaple Railway 2-6-2T No. 190 LYD

An Accucraft L&B 2-6-2T modified to reproduce the look of LYD based at the Festiniog Railway here in North Wales. The full-size LYD was completed only a few years ago and is a reproduction of the original L&B Manning Wardle locos. It was based on last-built LEW and so has a flat cab back, unlike the earlier locos which have a visible rear coal bunker, but it is not an exact copy. Accucraft themselves produced a limited run of these locos in the guise of LYD but these were simply done by changing the name and number and they did not include the modifications made to allow its use on the Festiniog, The model shown here has those modifications and reproduces the full-size LYD as closely as it has been possible to do. The modifications included:
 - Tighter radius on the cab roof edges and consequent modifications to the cab sides (to allow the loco to pass through restricted clearance tunnels).
 - Addition of steps on the tank fronts.
 - Larger coal bunkers.
 - Fitting of two dummy whistles to replace the one provided.
 - Repositioning of the rear lamp bracket.
The body was stripped and repainted in a more authentic shade of green, and was then lined in white with black edging, including the cab back (LEW's cab back was always plain green with no lining). The cab front, boiler and tank tops were repainted in satin black to match the full-size LYD. Name, number and works plates were specially made by MDC.

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

Could this be the rarest Roundhouse Engineering loco type...? It was back in 1986 that this model first appeared, but only a very limited number were made. It is a Mr. Merlin's Pooter. I can find very little about these on the internet, with the prime source being Roundhouse's own "History & Museum" page and which includes the only picture I could find of one.

From the Roundhouse History & Museum page: "Tom Cooper, formerly of Merlin locomotives commissioned Roundhouse to produce locomotives for him when he parted company with Merlin. Tom advertised this under his "Steamlines Models and Publications" banner as Mr. Merlin's Pooter though it was known as Thomas's Tank Engine at the factory. Not many were produced before Tom moved onto fresh pastures and the model was withdrawn early 1987.".

After a few modifications, including to the boiler steam turrets, it reappeared a year or so later as a very European-looking model called Erica.

The model uses the standard Charles Pooter chassis with a new body and a one-piece cast smoke box. The meths-fired boiler, in common with other Roundhouse locos of this time, is made of brass. It is fitted with radio control on both regulator and reverser. A nice touch is the engraving on the bracket that holds the radio equipment in place.

This one came here in a sorry state and mechanically completely worn out. Both cylinders received full overhauls, all rods were replaced and new wheels, cranks, axles and bearings were fitted. It was then a case of going through the whole thing and correcting the many issues that it had.

I took the view that this was a restoration rather than a rebuild and hence the 6BA cheese-head bolts remain on the buffer beams. The paintwork is based on that shown in the Roundhouse museum picture but with the addition of black tank tops and extra lining. (Additional photos by Paul Sonnemans)

Roundhouse Engineering Tipong Colliery 'B' Class 0-4-0ST No. 789

The photographs alongside show the final result of an unusual project and commission that some may not recognise. This collaborative project between Rhos Helyg Loco Works, model owner Adrian Moore, John Shawe of Shawe Steam services and inspired by the help of David Charlesworth of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society has been many weeks in the workshop of Rhos Helyg Loco Works.

For those of you who do not recognise what it is please allow me to explain…

In 1970 the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway sold four of their iconic ‘B’ Class 0-4-0ST steam locomotives to a coal mine at Tipong in Assam, about 630 miles from Darjeeling. The locos concerned were numbers 781, 784, 789 and 796. To say they had a hard life at Tipong is an under-statement. They were worked hard, abused and were extensively modified to cope with the local conditions, and all with the absolute minimum of maintenance. Modifications included a fatter chimney (the reasons for which we have so far failed to find), replacement safety valves on the dome of a type usually found on static industrial boilers, and some very prominent pipe work over the coal bunker for the boiler injectors and steam blower.

Various videos of the full-size locos at work, along with Bagnall 0-4-0STs that also work there, can be found on YouTube by searching for “Tipong colliery”.

I have always had a very short list of models that I would really like to make, and this one was in the top three on that list. I first saw pictures of the Tipong ‘B’s in the late Terry Martin’s superb book Halfway To Heaven, and I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing! Could somebody really do that to a ‘B’ Class? Well yes, they could, and they did.

One day while chatting to Adrian, who is a good friend and customer of mine, he mentioned that he was on the lookout for another loco and that he quite fancied the Roundhouse Engineering ‘B’ Class, but was reticent to get one as there are loads of them around and he wanted something a bit different. I tentatively suggested a Tipong version but he, understandably, had no knowledge of these engines until I sent him some pictures. His almost immediate and enthusiastic response was “Yes, let’s do it”. Based on the availability of high-quality photographs our choice was 789 as it appeared in the mid-2000s.

Adrian and I then started a fascinating dialogue as to what would be possible, and we drew up an extensive list of requirements and guidelines of what would be possible and what would be compromises.

At the top of the list would be that this unusual model would be based on a standard Roundhouse Engineering ‘B’ Class loco and no attempt would be made to alter the basic Roundhouse running gear.

We fired the starting pistol and Adrian purchased a good second-hand Roundhouse Engineering ‘B’ Class loco in DHR blue as the basis of the new project. It was soon dismantled and had its paint removed. Work then started in earnest, and the modifications included:
 - Removal of headlamps, dome cover, buffer beams, dummy pipework, clack valves, front handrails, front steps, cab steps, hand brake handle and couplings.
 - Replacement buffer beams front and rear incorporating wooden dumb buffers and simple loop couplings.
 - Removal of the front sandbox, handrails, steps and apron to be replaced by a smaller apron, a different arrangement of handrails and steps and completely exposing the saddle tank balance pipe where it joins with the well tank between the frames.
 - Addition of valve chest and cylinder lubricators on the cylinders.
 - Removal of the smokebox door and replacement by the flat door used on the Tipong locos with crude hinges and fastenings and a patch repair plate at the bottom. The lighter colour around its rim is fire clay, used to keep the door air-tight.
 - Replacement of the standard chimney with the much fatter and tapered version used on all the Tipong locos.
 - Addition of a dummy steam blower pipe running between the coal bunker and saddle tank and then in to the smokebox.
 - Addition of patch repair plates to the lower edges of the saddle tank and the front and left side of the coal bunker. The tank was also attacked with a ball-peen hammer to give it some character.
 - Addition of a dummy sliding door on the lower right of the coal bunker, used on the full-size loco for clearing out the bunker.
 - Addition of dummy welds on the left side of the coal bunker to represent the replacement platework fitted to the full-size loco.
 - Addition of a dummy industrial safety valve on the dome. This fits over the standard Roundhouse safety valve and vents through the angled pipe. It was made by owner Adrian and is a triumph of design and machining. Making it vent properly was one of our design criteria, and Adrian succeeded with that considerable challenge!
 - Addition of dummy pipework, manifold, valves and clacks running over the top of the coal bunker. The manifold runs across the bunker just in front of the cab. Connected to it are three steam valves, accessed on the full-size locos through the front spectacle windows, with one on the left and two on the right. Two control the boiler water injectors (right and one on left) and the other on the left controls the steam blower. The clack valves either side of the boiler were also replaced with representations of those carried by the Tipong locos. Again, Adrian made the manifold, miniature valves, clacks and pipe flanges.
 - Replacement of the normal curved cab roof with a flat roof.
 - Rearrangement and selective removal of the handrails on the cab back, along with the addition of a cage just above the cab floor to retain coal on the footplate.

On completion of the metal work the loco was painted in filthy black and grubby green, with basic red lining and a few yellow highlights.

It may look worn-out, poorly maintained and generally knackered but as stated above no mechanical work was done on the original model at all so, unlike the full-size locos, it still "Runs like a Roundhouse". We always knew that some aspects of the conversion were going to be a compromise but both Adrian and I feel that the character of the full-size locos has been encapsulated in the model. Apart from the pleasure of creating this much-abused locomotive, we spent a lot of time discovering more and more about these locomotives and have discovered much information about some of the minute detail.

Thanks are due to several people:

This project would probably not have even started without the help of David Charlesworth of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway Society and editor of their newsletter Darjeeling Mail. David very kindly sent us the pictures of the full-size locos seen here that showed various details that Adrian and I had been unable to see clearly in other photographs. Our sincere thanks go to Peter K Jordan (Fuzz) of Darjeeling Tours Ltd for the photographs themselves.

Our sincere thanks also go to John Shawe of Shawe Steam Services for machining the dome cover, dome ring and new chimney, for supplying the steam valve and clack handwheels and for machining work on the smokebox door, and to MDC for supplying the custom-made 789 number plates.

We must also thank David Churchill who has written the wonderful book The Incredible Darjeeling ‘B’ Class for various extra information, in particular further details about the strange safety valve arrangement on the loco. We do know a bit about these locomotives now…!

And finally, my thanks go to Adrian not only for his machining work described above, but also for his faith in me that this project could be achieved. After all, once it was started there was no turning back! He accepted without question my suggestion in allowing me to produce this model. It has taken a considerable time to complete, mainly due to the “How are we going to do that?” emails and discussions, but I have thoroughly enjoyed working on it and both Adrian and I are absolutely delighted with the final result.

We just hope Roundhouse forgive us...!

This page was last updated on 6th August 2019