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.

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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...!

Roundhouse Engineering Lady Anne 0-4-0T No. 3 "BRIAN"

An old meths-fired Roundhouse loco has been on the bench, this time a Lady Anne 0-4-0. This one had been converted to gas firing at some point but the current owner wanted it converting back to meths. The burner was in a sorry leaky state so some re-soldering was followed by a new set of wicks. It also needed attention to its safety valve that lifted at about 5psi and a few other minor repairs, including replacement of the boiler filling system using components provided by DJB Engineering. Subsequent testing under steam showed that all was not well, and the cause of the poor performance reported by the owner lay very firmly elsewhere. Basically, the poor thing was mechanically worn out. Such was the wear to the slip-eccentric valve gear that the slide valves barely opened and were preventing steam from entering the cylinders. It would run in one direction, but not the other. As the loco has sentimental value to the owner he decided that it should have a full and proper repair. New wheels, axles, bearings and, most-importantly, slip-eccentric valve gear were provided by Roundhouse Engineering and fitted. Both cylinders received overhauls, including replacement of all O-rings, gaskets and re-facing of the slide valves and their faces. All of this returned the loco to full working order. The owner and his grandson would be dealing with its bodywork and paintwork issues.

Swift Sixteen Owain 0-4-0Ts No. 6 "LADY KATHLEEN"
                and No. 16 "LORD RODNEY"

A pair of Swift Sixteen Owain bodies mounted on Accucraft chassis which were assembled, painted and lined here. They both needed some additional work to fit over the pre-existing radio control gear, and both gained the dummy whistle from their original Accucraft bodies.

Roundhouse Engineering Darjeeling 'B' Class 0-4-0ST No. 50B

This Roundhouse Darjeeling 'B' Class came here for fitting of a cab back sheet, working lights and blackening of the rods and valve gear. The cab back sheet was beautifully made by my mother-in-law and can be fitted to any Roundhouse 'B' Class. All I need to have is the cab roof, with headlight and whistle removed for easier postage. Contact me for further details.

Roundhouse Engineering Argyll 0-6-2T

For nearly 40 years I have been involved with and supported railway preservation projects, and so it was a pleasure to be able to assist in this particular, if rather unfortunate, task. The Roundhouse Engineering Argyll shown in the pictures is owned by the Donegal Railway Heritage Centre in Donegal, Republic of Ireland. It forms a significant part of their public displays that help to keep the history of the County Donegal Railways system alive in what is now an area of the country devoid of railways. It suffered an accident that resulted in an impact to the rear of the cab and also to the front of the frames, the latter pushing the right-hand cylinder out of alignment. The DRHC contacted me and asked if I could repair it, which I could. Straightening of the frames was the first task, and the chassis was soon running again as it should. Battering the bodywork back in to shape took a little longer, but started with stripping the paint and then some careful work to restore the shape. In this kind of impact as well as bending the brass will often stretch, as it did in this case. A full repaint in County Donegal red lined in cream followed. I was anxious not to place too much of a financial burden on the Heritage Centre for the repairs needed as it would divert funds away from their other work. However, another regular Rhos Helyg Loco Works customer is a Life Member of DRHC and so, between us, we covered the cost of the repair and I was delighted to be able to return the loco to the owners at no cost.

Locomotion Hunslet 0-4-0ST "CACKLER"

This loco first came here a few years ago for attention to the poor running characteristics unfortunately common in these locos. The usual battle with the cylinder end covers and their steel 10BA screws snapping when unscrewed followed. Fitting a new set of the correct type of piston O-rings soon had the loco running again as it should, and that was about all I did. Four years later, and the same loco was back on my bench having changed owners in the meantime. The new owner wanted it to be fitted with single-channel (regulator only) radio control, more detailing (lubricators, pipework, cab vents, etc.) and a repaint in to the maroon lined in red that the full-size loco carried while at Dinorwic Quarry in North Wales.

DJB Engineering Robert coal-fired 0-4-0T

Another Robert, built here from a kit, and again featuring the the dummy coal bunker sections between the cab front and the back of the water tanks, filling the gap nicely and changing the look significantly.

Scratchbuilt Quarry Hunslet "UNA"

I was asked by a customer in Australia to paint and line the bodywork he had made for a Quarry Hunslet. He was building a model of the National Slate Museum's loco UNA and so the parts were painted in dark maroon with cream lining and black detailing. The loco is now complete and looks stunning. I am so pleased to have played a small part in its creation. (Photos 2 and 3 by John Bell)

Steve Acton 0-4-2ST "EDWARD THOMAS"

A representation of the Talyllyn Railway's Edward Thomas built by Steve Acton using Roundhouse Engineering chassis components. It came here for repainting of its boiler, smokebox and cylinder covers, some attention to the existing lining, a valve timing check and servicing of the safety valve.

Finescale Engineering Peckett 0-4-0ST "LEAMINGTON SPA"

Sometimes it is an absolute pleasure to do work on a loco, and those produced by Finescale Engineering definitely fall in to that category. LEAMINGTON SPA is a Finescale Peckett 0-4-0ST and it came here for remedying of its poor performance issues. Worn piston rings, a stuck slide valve head and a faulty safety valve all contributed, and normal sewing machine-type performance was restored after correcting these issues. Just lovely...

This page was last updated on 11th November 2018