5" Gauge Stirling Single
Well, another project followed me home from the club last Thursday!
Friend Bob from the club phoned me up on Monday evening and asked if I could help him with a job. I thought he was going to ask me to help him do something at his house but no. He explained that some years ago he had done a job for somebody and when finished the chap had told Bob that he hadn't any money to pay him! Instead he offered Bob a locomotive that his Grandfather had built and Bob thought that that was better than nothing so took it. Bob told me that it was a 5" gauge Stirling Single which sounded interesting. Bob thought that it was all there but in pieces. The chassis was complete, as was the tender. There was a boiler and a cardboard box with all the platework and a few other bits. Bob thought that it mainly wanted just putting back together and a bit of pipework doing.
I agreed to have a look at it and Bob brought it to the club. After a quick look I put it in the back of the car and brought it home. The chassis is more or less complete and so is the tender. The boiler is all there but needs soldering together and staying.
Everything looks really well made and whoever built the loco knew what they were doing.
I was given the impression that this was a 'new' build and had never been completed. However, when I looked in the smokebox and the inside of the chimney, they are covered in a thick coating of soot and carbon so it has run at some time. Also the grate that came with it has obviously been used and there are various old fittings that looked used. So, what I think is that is it's an old loco that someone started to restore and decided to build a new boiler for it at the same time. If the loco is really old then it may originally have had a rivetted and soft solder caulked boiler which may have gone past its sell by date.
The cylinders have been piped up to a valve and I would think this was so the chassis could be run and tested on air. I'll probably do that myself shortly.
The question is, how old is it? Did the chap's Grandfather build it or was it him who started to restore it? We'll probably never know now as Bob sort of fell out with the chap who he did the job for so we can't really ask him!
I don't know if it was built to any drawings but I'm sure that it predates the Scarth design sold by Reeves and also the Clarkson design now sold by Blackgates. I can't think of any others without doing some research. At first galnce, the only castings seem to be the wheels and the cylinders but they must have come from somewhere. Everything else seems to be built up from steel bar etc.
Along with all the main bits shown above, there are several boxes full of old fittings, bits of the loco and a lot of the old nuts, bolts and screws. There is also the original safety valve which is of the Salter type with the lever and spring (although a modern type has been fitted to the 'boiler')
It also came with the original pressure gauge which is a make that I have never seen before. This could be a clue to the age of the loco.
There is no makers name as such on the gauge, just a trade mark and a symbol. It also only reads to 80psi so I suspect that the working pressure of the loco when it first ran was probably fairly low, perhaps only 50 or 60psi?
The gauge is unusual in that it has a large diameter flange on the bottom that bolts to a similar flange with a threaded boss on it for the steam connection. The number on the top of the dial is 632720 so they must have made a lot of them!
I was a bit confused at first by the fact that the tender does not have a handpump fitted but amongst the bits in one of the boxes was what looked like a handpump of sorts. At first I couldn't see where it would have fitted but then spotted some mounting holes in the rear drag beam of the loco. It fits along the back of the drag beam under the cab floor and is operated by a shaft and lever sticking out the back of the drag beam at the righthand end. You can just make it out in the photos of the loco chassis.
The whole loco is a lovely piece of work and deserves to be put back together and given a run so watch this space. The major job will be completing the boiler but everything is there except for the stays so the cost for materials will be minimal. However, I don't have any timescale for this. It depends on how desperate Bob is for it to be finished. I think he wants to sell it and recoup some of his losses from the job that he did. I'm tempted to make him an offer for it but I've eventually decided to buy Monstrous after the owner David has been trying to sell it me for a couple of years now!
After a it of research on the internet it would appear that the pressure gauge was made by Schaffer and Budenberg although all the photos that I found show the name written on the front of the gauge. Perhaps they didn't put the name on these small gauges? The flanges at the bottom connection house a corrugated diaphragm that operates the needle via a linkage. It's difficult to date the gauge but it could be late 1800s/early 1900s.