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Site last updated 20th Nov 2017

Meeting October 5th

Posted 10/10/2016

Live steam models in 0,00 & 009 scales

Meeting on 5th October.

    I had been looking forward to the October meeting for a while since I heard it was to be a demonstration by Brian Caton, having seen a few of his live steam locomotives before at an exhibition in Scotland last year, and also had the chance to operate one on Nick's garden railway.

          On arrival at the meeting, we helped set up the test tracks – 24 feet of straight O gauge demo track and an oval of OO track, which were wired and tested for electrical connection. These tracks were the first of many examples of cleverness which were to follow, as even the wiring of the track was subject to Brian's ruthless ingenuity. Spring loaded pins in each track section made reliable connections to its neighbour, and all were secured together with steel pins through hinges in the underside. A simple test lamp checked for continuity.

    Firstly Brian explained the inspiration for loco building came from his father's models, but with an ambition to make them as close as possible to the real thing, and the idea that if you could remotely control the speed and direction, he wouldn't be wearing out a racetrack of bare grass around the lawn, chasing after any over-enthusiastic steam locomotives. Like all learning processes, there was some history of control methods tried and revised, one of which involved a 10amp supply that apparently was prone to arc across the tracks during operation, which prompted me to think of the time-travelling loco from the Back to the Future movies!

    Brian had brought several of his incredible O gauge models, and gave a summary of a few of them describing an array of steam terminology which alas was lost on me (although he assured us that 'it's only steam engineering'!). As far as I could see, the term 'just like the real thing' doesn't do them justice – they are not 'like' the real thing, they 'are' the real thing – just a bit smaller.
A couple of members tried their hand at operating – when power is briefly applied to the track it turns a small motor in the loco forwards or back depending on polarity, which in turn varies the regulation of the steam, enabling precise remote control of speed and direction.
Following on were a set of 5.5mm to 1foot steam locos, then OO, then a tiny little magic box of OO9... all live steam, all amazing models, and all reliable little runners.

    The videos of Brian's garden railway looked very good – and filmed from on-board as if leaning out of the carriage window. I particularly liked the winter scene with snow on the ground – this doesn't stop the running, you just have to send the snowplough round the track first of course!

    An excellent evening which I'm sure everyone enjoyed – thanks Brian!

Andrew Vaughan