7 1/4" Penrhyn Hunslet

7 1/4" Penrhyn Quarry Hunslet

By Randy Blackburn

This is another loco with a nice miniature railway pedigree.  Built originally in Yorkshire by Randy Blackburn to the design by Jeff Stubbs, she was bought by Colin Cartwright at Conway Valley Railway museum in Betws-y-coed, North Wales to run passenger trains on their 7 1/4" gauge railway there.  Along with sister engine 'Linda' (painted green, and I believe still owned by Jeff), they managed the passenger trains there for many years, even being immortalised on the classic post cards from the period.

Although ostensibly in 'working order', she came to us in a slightly cosmetically tired state, and in need of a bit of a light general overhaul.  We immediately got started stripping her down to fast track the job.  We wanted to get her into service on our 'High Legh Miniature Railway' (near Knutsford), and also she's a big loco and we didn't want her taking up loads of space in the workshop for months!  You can see from the photos below the general state of her on arrival.

First things first,.... strip down the top end to see what's underneath.  Particularly the view of the backhead above gives you a good idea of the general state of the paintwork in places.  The cab and saddle tank can then easily be stripped of their brasswork and paint, ready for surface prep, etch priming and paint.

We found (as you can see below) that there was a small patch on the smoke box where the metal had rusted through.  The rest of the metalwork was found to be acceptable, so we locally cut out the offending section and welded in a fresh patch of metal to make the repair.  The photos below shows before and after.

Here Mark is getting stuck into the stripping off of the brasswork and paint from the cab and tender.  Again you can see the general condition of the locomotive now that the platework is visible with all the bits and bobs removed.

Now we can start on the fun part!  Fresh paint and getting the whole thing repaired and back together!  In the last picture below Graham is working on the crosshead.  It had a bit too much wear in it and so we shimmed out the brasses to hold the piston rod in parallel and firm.  We also added a couple of side control spacers to the little end and the coupling rods as they seemed to have a bit more lateral play in them than necessary.

The tender is an interesting thing.  Not made (we think) by the locos original builder, but commissioned by Colin at Betws-y-coed from our friend Brett Rogers at TMA engineering.  Brett recalls that TMA built a little batch of these tenders for (we think), the two Conway Valley Hunslets and his own Penrhyn Hunslet 'Charles'.  It's certainly scrubbed up very nicely, and the only thing that we have done here is that we found there was no real provision for coal on the loco, so we did a 'fag packet sketch' and Mark knocked up a nice little coal basket with protective cowl for the water filler neck to fit on the rear of the tender.  We think it has added a lovely bit of balance and detail to the back end.

The loco has always been in Blue, so we thought we would continue with that theme.  We've been inspired though by the livery that Linda ran in on the Ffestiniog Railway in the 1980s.  Here's a couple of photos of the full size loco in Blue, and then Dave spraying and masking up for the blue and the black edging.

Next up, Jenny, Mark and Dave all got stuck into polishing and refurbishing the fittings and brasswork so it was all sorted and ready to go back on the loco as soon as the paint was finished.

....and Billy did a fine job modeling the new Name and works plates in CAD ready to be machined up on the Tormach CNC Mill.  The Makers plate was a really tricky thing to model.  Firstly we picked our numbers.  There were three full size locos built by The Hunslet Engine Company.  Charles was the first one (Works number 283 of 1882), followed 11 years later by a second pair to ostensibly the same design, Blanche (No.589 of 1893) and Linda (No.590 of 1893).  The original plates off the loco were actually copies of Charles's plate, and were actually just stick on vinyl!  We've decided to pretend our loco was a second one built along side Charles in 1882, hence the consecutive number 284.  The plate was actually really tricky to model accurately, because back in 1882, the plates were all clearly carved and set by hand.  So when you look closely at Charles's original plate it's very much a wobbly affair, with the shadows of the letters comprising the main form of the pattern.  Essentially that meant that Billy had to draw the whole thing more or less free hand rather than using actual letters.  We could have cheated and just made it neat and modern, but we wanted it to look right.  You can see a photo of the original plate and our CAD for our loco below.

We've also decided to change the loco's name.  Katie is not an original name from the full size locos, and the plates were also Vinyl things.  As this loco is a 'keeper' to work on our Miniature Railway, we are re-naming her after Simon's Granny, Maywyn Nicholson.  A good Welsh sounding name for a Penrhyn Hunslet we reckon!  In actual fact Maywyn was the youngest of a number of siblings, and the honour of naming her fell to the older sister,..... who promptly made up a name that she thought sounded nice!  So Maywyn, like her namesake will almost certainly remain forever unique!

In the meantime, Mark was cracking on getting the cladding and plumbing refitted, this time with actual lagging (insulation) underneath!  As you can see from the 'before' photo (the first one), there were only cobwebs to keep the heat in the boiler before!!


Time now to do the lining out.  We've mulled over several different liveries here for her, but currently we are going with a thin cream line between the navy and black, as per Linda in the full size.  We've also tried the navy on the frames over the original light blue edging, and we are going to cream edge that too.  Lastly we are planning to put a thin red box on the tank and cab sides to tie the bodywork into the frames, which also has a red pinstripe.

....and here's John marking out with a white wax pencil and then adding the red pinstripe with the bespoke lining instrument that he made using a syringe needle.

.....and she's finished!  Here are some photos, and there will be a video of the first runs at our railway next week all being well.  🙂

For any more information please don't hesitate to give us a bell on 07816 963463


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