Southern Maid

by LBSC

The "Circular Course" in a Small Back Garden.

This week I'm going to make a desperate effort to kill several birds with one brick. Now both in previous correspondence, and during the special avalanche invited by asking brothers to "call the tune" for the next engine, there has been much lamentation about the lack of trackage space in the average suburban garden in most towns. In "outer suburbia" and on the outskirts of smaller towns, land is cheaper and builders have been more generous in the garden space allotted to small houses, villas and bungalows, the sort of dwelling that quite a number of good folk who follow these notes make their homes in; but there are ever so many more who live in densely populated areas in the large towns, and the only bit of "garden" they can use is a small fenced or walled-in space, often stone-flagged. A brother showed me one a short while ago; it measured eighteen feet across and twenty-two feet long, and he plaintively remarked that it would be a mockery for him to build a small passenger-hauling locomotive, because he had nowhere to run it. Even the 22 ft. wall to wall, would not give the engine a chance to get away with its load, and the constant reversing takes all the pleasure out of driving the little barrow. Even when the gardens really are gardenlike, and allow for a track sixty or seventy feet long, the "shuttle service" (as we used to call short-distance suburban work) kind of gets on your nerves after a while, and you long for a continuous run, so that you can let the engine "have her head" and emulate her big sisters. When making serious tests, the need for a non-stop run is more pressing still, as I know from my own experience. You couldn't get a fuel and water consumption test on a big engine by shunting a load of coaches up and down the platform lines at Victoria! Anyway, brothers with small gardens have asked if it is possible to build an engine on 2" gauge that really is an engine and not a "modified" apology, that would negotiate a curve sharp enough to allow it to run around a circle or oval in the limited space available; and brothers who have a long straight line along one side of their garden, say they would put another one down the other side and join the ends, if they could build an engine that would take the curves in safety. What about it?

Tyros Want Simple and Quick Job.

"Bird No. 2" deals with tyro brothers' needs. Now tyros, beginners, novices, L-card merchants or whatever else you like to call them, are my especial friends. Reason? Well, try to imagine a dismal kitchen in a poor apartment house, with a dilapidated table in the corner. Picture to yourself a poor kiddy in a torn and grubby sailor jumper and knickers, trying to build for himself a working steam locomotive, his only materials a few bits of scrap brass and copper, salvaged from goodness knows where, and some tin obtained from cut-up cans. His tools, a soldering bit, a home-made mouth blowpipe, a pair of discarded dressmakers' scissors, a flimsy Archimedian drill off a fretwork set, a stumpy hacksaw frame made from a piece of bent rod, to take short bits of broken hacksaw blades, a hammer and chisel, a couple of badly-worn files and a few other oddments. No help; no information; not even parental encouragement, only trouble for getting in the way and making a mess. But the locomotive was built, a crude caricature in very truth, and! it worked! Half a century has elapsed, and that same kiddy is writing these words, offering, to the best of his ability, a helping hand to all who have need of it. Tools and material are plentiful in these days of grace; but without the knowledge, they are useless. Tyro brothers of all ages, answering my "plebiscite," emphasised the need of a simple type of locomotive that could be built quickly, easily and cheaply, with a minimum of tools and equipment; also an "elastic" sort of outfit into which they could work any castings, parts or material they might have on hand. Another repeated request was, not to hold up "tyro instructions" whilst dealing with more complicated jobs, but give them a turn "in parallel." The request for a simple kickoff job is certainly a welcome sign, for too many beginners in the past have aimed too high, and given up the job in despair. There have, of course, been exceptions; but the general trend was as stated. It is all right hitching your wagon to a star (ah! that reminds me, Hitchin is where Bill Massive lives, and I've got to write to him; half a tick whilst I make a note of it. Thanks!) Now where were we? Yes, that's all very nice, but if you try to couple up to a comet, you're going to be in the very dickens of a jam ere long. A schoolboy about thirteen wrote me once and asked for some information about a gauge "O" L.N.E.R. six-cylinder BeyerGarratt that he proposed to build. I told him it was a case of cutting more cake than he could eat, but he said that the fact that I would not tackle such a job myself, was an incentive for him to go right ahead with it. Well, I gave him his information, and asked him to let me know how he got on with the job. That was several years ago. I'm still waiting news! Anyway, I've been busy investigating, co-ordinating, correlating, and umpteen different other kinds of "'ating" all the letters, and have managed to scheme out a locomotive which I sincerely hope will fill the needs of all the good folk mentioned above. The general outline was taken from a Urie-Drummond goods engine used on ballast trains, which passes the back of our house fairly frequently; and sundry alterations and amendments, to suit the special requirements, were incorporated. She is called "Southern Maid" because she is a sister to the "Dairymaid," born and raised in the same place and bearing the family likeness; but there is no reason why she shouldn't have a copper-topped chimney and a taper boiler, and be called "Cornish Cracker," or a Belpaire boiler with Stanier cab and fittings, and be known as "Miss Elemess," or anybody could doll her up in L.N.E.R. uniform and call her well, the L.N.E.R. name some of their engines after football teams; how would "Kicking Katie" suit? She'll certainly have heaps of kick!

How She Fills the Bill.

First, as to the sharp curves: She is no freak, but a normal engine, as you can see, yet as the wheelbase is only eight inches, she will go around a circle fifteen feet diameter; and the backyard that could not accommodate this, or an equivalent oval with 7 ft. 6 in. radius curves, would be very small indeed. The equally-divided wheelbase, and the moderate overhang at the trailing end, avoids undue angularity between the engine and tender, even on a curve of such small radius; and the absence of a bogie or pony truck does away with all question of wheel flanges rubbing cylinder covers. Secondly, as to type of engine, and its general construction. A six-wheels coupled engine with small drivers, is about the most powerful of all normal types of equal size; in addition to that, the lay-out of the "Southern Maid" brings the construction down to the absolute rock-bottom of simplicity (and, consequently, time and cost), without the slightest sacrifice of efficiency very important that at the same time allowing for anything the prospective builder has in hand, to be "worked in." For instance, if you have any wheels a little smaller or a little larger than those shown, use them by altering the position of the axle holes in the axleboxes, and tilting the cylinders up or down to suit. Any kind of cylinders with valves between frames, will do. The steam-chest opening shown on the sketches, " by 1 3/16", will accommodate the old Jubb type of "standard" cylinder, of which there are any amount still floating around. I have a pair taken off a rebuild job, and am going to rebore them and fit new pistons, open out the ports, fit new valves, and use them on my own edition. Other makers' cylinders or castings of similar type can be utilised, if the steam-chest holes in the frames are cut accordingly. The Averill type with circular steam-chest, will also be O.K., and only need circular holes in the frames for the steam-chest flanges; see coming notes and sketches. No alteration will be needed in frame dimensions, and the cylinder centre lines will come exactly the same, whatever type you prefer to use. As the idea of the engine is for continuous running, it will seldom be necessary to reverse it, therefore a simple loose eccentric valve gear with a fixed early cut-off, will do the needful in the way of steam distribution, and be the "easiest possible" for tyro manufacture and erection. A single feed pump operated from an eccentric on the driving axle, will keep the boiler well supplied with water; it will naturally pump at a high "gallonage," owing to the small size of the driving wheels. The boiler shown is a short-barrelled longfirebox contrivance with a round-topped wrapper sheet, the whole shell being made from a piece of 3" copper tube, no firebox extension pieces being needed, as you'll see when we get to details. The comparatively large diameter gives a good water capacity and keeps the boiler stable. Here again, if you have a piece of tube anything between 3" and 3", it can be used. For the larger size, pitch the centre a little higher, so as to keep the bottom of barrel 5/16" above frames, and cut down the height of the chimney and dome to suit. A big plain safety-valve can be located under the dome cover; and the discharge from this, blowing out through the two little dummy valves on top of the cover, will be characteristic of big sister both in sight and sound, and save tyro brothers a little more work. The outside pipe by the cab, a feature of all the Eastleigh productions, can be utilised to convey steam to a whistle under the running board. This boiler is, of course, coal fired; but where cost is a consideration, and the builder does not think he can tackle the construction of a regular locomotive-type boiler, a water-tube generator may be used, for which instructions will be given. This can have a sheet-iron or steel casing, and the inside part may be brazed by the rawest recruit, with a one-pint blowlamp. It will be fired by a burner using ordinary paraffin or kerosene. A simple six-wheeled tender similar to "Mary Ann's" will do for the "Southern Maid," and the whole bag of tricks can be made and assembled by any beginner in the minimum of time, with small equipment and at low cost. As requested, I'll give the instructions "in parallel," so that anybody who wants to build the engine can go right ahead, and there won't be any interference with the completion of "Maisie" and other puffs of "Live Steam," and no need to refer to any back notes.
The constructional series appeared in The Model Engineer between 17th September 1936 and 13th January, 1938.

The Association can supply photocopies of the constructional series to members.

Drawings, castings and some materials are available from GLR Kennions.


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This page was last changed on 04/05/2016