Its fact that the world of Model Engineering,is one of the most satisfying worlds to belong to,at least in this country.Its also very sad that the cost of the machine tools necessary to pursue this delightful craft is such that few youngsters actually get round to taking it up.
As a kid,I lived next door to an Army Captain,who was building a 3/4" scale 4-6-2,and a beautiful job he was making of it as well.So when I was looking around for a pastime,it seemed natural to gravitate this way.
The lathe I eventually bought was aquired from the local scrapyard,a pre-war 3 1/2" amatuers bench lathe,which was rapidly reduced to its component parts,revealing in the process *why* it was in the scrapyard to start with!However,being ever one to go in breaking eggs with a big stick,the machine took about a year to get into working order again.In fact,I still have it,and could make a tidy profit if I wanted to sell,it having only cost twenty quid to start with.A 1925 vintage drilling machine and a home made bench grinder later,plus an oscillating engine built in little more than a weekend, (pretty little thing this is,but absolutely useless)set me in mind to build something a little more advanced. Now there are hundreds of set of drawings about for scale locos,from 5" gauge down to tiny 00 gauge examples,all proper steamers,but I didnt fancy any I had seen. What I settled on eventually,was a typically English 0-6-0 tank engine built in hunreds for the Great Eastern Railway in the late 19th century.It had its cylinders coyly tucked away between its frames,and a livery of Ultramarine blue,edged with black,and lined out in red and white.The cab roof was white.
Trouble is,there wasnt a design,so muggins did it himsellf, rapidly finding out that there wasnt room for *two* cylinders between the frames of a 3/4"=1ft scale model. So,I settled for one.The drawings were all done on bits of scrap paper,and the only items that were bought were the wheel castings,hornblock ditto(the axleboxes slide up and down in these)and,eventually,the pressure gauge. And I also joined the local club.There I found to my great delight,a bunch of folks that were always genuinely interested and helpful to anyone with problems.The trouble with the demise of full size steam,is that it produced a mystique,which it didnt deserve.Basically,the steam engine is a simple and forgiving machine,which responds to a bit of applied common sense very well.It took membership of a club to appreciate this,since some of the members were damned nearly as thick as I was,and had produced some *very* nice models indeed.They were,I found,somewhat in awe of anyone who started from scratch and designed his own,rather than working from existing drawings.But they never scoffed,and in fact one or two actually started to do the same thing themselves.
The scrapyard was a real home from home while I was looking for materials,and the guy that ran it(unfortunately now dead) a friend in need.He would save stuff,especially in the non-ferrous line and sell it to me by weight,as indeed he sold everything. Stainless steel was the most expensive material known to man at the time.Fortunately a miniature loco needs very little of this stuff.One exeption,in my case,was the valve gear eccentrics(Or excentrics to be accurate).So my effort has stainless excentrics,which have the distinction of being made from the short ends of bar,of the steel that Guiness barrel bung fittings are mande from.In fact,that is exactly what the rest of the bar *was* made into.