Introducing "Belle Stroudley"

HERE is something which, from recent correspondence, I guess will be a welcome change from the eternal (most folk begin to call it "infernal") Pacific and its everlasting outside Walschaerts gear, multiplicity of coupling and connecting rods and all the rest of the blobs and gadgets. Don‘t run away with the idea I've any grudge against Pacific — far from it! Sir Morris and Fayette belong to the noble order; but if you'd nothing to drink except champagne for about a month or so, you would most probably be glad to swap the last half-dozen bottles for a cup of orange pekoe or a glass of plain water. Well, of late I have had many requests to rake up some old well-known and well-tried brand of locomotive, and bring it up to conform with modern requirements; so I have done this with a very simple type for a start, and if any brother wants to build a speedy and efficient engine of moderate power "on the quick," I fancy "Belle Stroudley" will suit very nicely.

Old Bill Stroudley's single-wheelers came out years in front of their time, and were remarkably successful engines; they could take loads far beyond their rated capacity over by no means easy routes, and run like deer when occasion should arise. One of them made a record run between Clapham Junction and Fratton which holds good to-day; and another, when the Brighton main line was blocked one night by an accident at Wivelsfield, brought two complete trains (an ordinary train and a return excursion) from Brighton to London Bridge via Horsham. How she ever got up the bank at Ockley, with twenty-seven coaches, and only 14½ tons on the single pair of driving wheels, is something which the cleverest of the "calculation experts" cannot explain. But she did it! I was at London Bridge when she came in, her smokebox door was red-hot right up to the crossbar, and the tender reminiscent of old Mother Hubbard.

There are other reasons beside "sentimental" ones why I picked out this particular type of locomotive for modernisation. Brothers who have written in have suggested all kinds, from the old Californian 4-2-4 "C. P. Huntington," illustrated in these notes some time back, down to the Great Northern "Ivatts," Great Central "Pollits," and the Great Eastern No. 10 class. But practically all have made a proviso that the job should be as simple as possible (consistent with speed, power, and efficient operation) so that anybody building one wouldn‘t have to make special patterns, or do a lot of other work which knocks all the interest out of the job and causes abandon ment before you've hardly got started. The Brighton engine has no bogie, so there is one job cut out for the start; she has inside frames throughout, including the tender, so there are no outside axleboxes, dummy springs, etc., to fit up-still less work—and the trimmings and top works are the essence of simplicity. These several points I duly observed, and that settled it.

The wheelbase is near enough "scale," but the size of the leading and trailing wheels, also those of the tender, have been reduced a little so that they just go under the running board instead of through it. On the originals, this has to be slotted for all wheels, engine and tender, but "Belle" only needs slots for the driving wheels. The reduction does not spoil the appear ance of the engine at all, and saves a lot of work in cutting slots, making lead ing splashers, and boxing in the slots in the tender soleplate. Single spiral springs replace the plate springs on the carrying wheels; the drivers retain the double spirals of big sister. The rest of the simple running gear remains unaltered.

The principle variation naturally is the boiler. It is pretty safe to say that the immortal Billy, whose ideas were so far ahead of his time, wouldn't have been slow to bring his boilers up to — or in advance of — date, and would have fitted them with superheaters, extended smokeboxes, and probably a few improvements of his 'own as well. Therefore I have given "Belle" a modern boiler of moderate proportions which will make all the steam she needs for running a heavy train or hauling live passengers, which she will do as easily as old Polly, or any other single-wheeler I have built. With the boiler shown, you keep old Billy‘s copper-topped chimney and his characteristic dome with the spring-balance safety valves on top. These are dummy, but a big plain direct-acting valve is located under the dome casing, and the steam escapes from the top of the balances in regulation style. The boiler is not too high to prevent the use of the Stroudley cab with its straight-topped weatherboard and dished roof; and the extension of the firebox into the cab brings the fittings on the backhead well within easy reach, whether the engine is being used on passenger-hauling or "scenic" work.

At the same time they are far enough under the roof to be inconspicuous. The "scale" tender wheelbase is retained, also the overall length of frames; but the body is highered to match the cab, and the tool-box on the back done away with. I think that is all the general remarks, and with a few notes on the details, plus the sketches and "Dairymaid" back notes, anybody who wishes should have no difficulty in easily turning out a sister to "Belle Stroudley." As to sizes, take your pick. She is primarily intended for 2½-in. gauge, but I have added the (b) sizes for 3½-in. gauge, and by halving these you get correct measurements for gauge 1; whilst half the (a) dimensions will be O.K. for gauge 0, and double (a) sizes for 4¾-in. gauge or "1-in. scale."


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This page was last changed on 04/05/2016