Dave Watkins's Live Steam Page

Driving a steam train
Garden Railway Video Clips

 A favourite pursuit is designing, building and running live steam model railways. I usually work to a scale of 1:19, that is approximately 5/8" or 16mm to 1 foot, The models follow narrow gauge practice using a track gauge of 32mm (1.25") to represent real trains that run on lines of 600mm or 2 foot gauge or thereabouts. From the vagueness of the last sentence you will gather that I do not count rivets when I build models.

The Birches Barn Light Railway runs at ground level round a suburban garden. The main circuit is 1.25 scale miles in length. Track is Peco SM32, mainly on a concrete foundation. It is secured with a 1:2:2 Rowland's mix of cement, peat and sand which protects the track from human feet, footballs, BMX cycles and wild animals.

On this page you can find locomotives:-

Chaloner DeWinton 5" gauge

Trojan 5" gauge battery electric

Wild Rose Quarry Hunslet 32mm gauge

Frog Bagnall, coal fired 32mm gauge

Idris DeWinton 32mm gauge

San Fairy Anne Hudswell Clarke 32mm gauge

Detritus live diesel 32mm gauge

Brick Bagnall 32mm gauge

and some links to other web sites.

Chaloner  - I am a member of  Stafford and District Model Engineering Society and of Wolverhampton and District Model Engineering Society. At Stafford, as well as a 16mm narrow gauge circuit the club has 2 1/2", 3 1/2", 5" and 7 1/4" available.  Wolverhampton has 3 1/2", 5" and 7 1/4" gauges. I have built my own 5" gauge De Winton locomotive form a Maxitrak kit. See my Chaloner pages for the story and video clips of trips around the Wolverhampton and Stafford ground level tracks..


Trojan - the Birches Barn Light Railway now has a 5" gauge circuit.  As well as Chaloner we have a battery powered diesel outline locomotive. This is a second hand Ride-on-Railways Trojan 0-4-0.

Trojan with works train

Wild Rose

Wild Rose is a home build project serialised by Keith Bucklitch in the journal "16mm Today" otherwise known as SMT. The loco is the original which Keith copied to develop the series. This is a model of a typical quarry Hunslet as used extensively in the slate quarries of North Wales. The model is designed to be built without any commercial parts. It is simple enough to be tackled by a beginner who wants to learn metal working techniques. Building Wild Rose requires use of a small lathe. Wild Rose has a simple pot boiler and slip eccentric valve gear. It can be built with either methylated spirit or butane gas firing.

Keith Bucklitch's Wild Rose Too articles appeared in SMT 48,49,50 and 51. There is sufficient information and hand drawings with the articles to enable you to build the loco. Subsequently, the first three sheets of CAD drawings appeared in SMT 53, 54 and 56. Unfortunately the guy who produced these was unable to finish the set. In SMT 57, Tony Wooler described a gas burner. My write up (no drawings) of the original Wild Rose was in SMT 40. I started from an outline drawing of a quarry Hunslet by John Foulds in SMT 17. John also wrote another article in SMT 36 about how he built quarry Hunslets driven by an oscillating cylinder with geared drive. You can find a few pictures and plans for a whistle are available to download.

I am currently working on new drawings, this time they will be metric rather than imperial. I am recording progress in my wildrose16mm blog.


Frog is a model of an early Bagnall locomotive. It is similar to the full size locomotive Isabel which is based at Amerton Farm near Stafford. The model features working Baguley valve gear and a drumhead boiler (Bagnall's name for a marine boiler). It is fired by solid fuel (actually Homefire smokeless fuel). Stoking a loco this size is a challenging task. Mind you there is no physical effort involved since the firebox takes just a thimblefull of fuel at a time. It has to be fired every 70 yards or so. On a ground level line this can take some doing. More pictures of Frog


Construction of Idris was described in SMT during 1995 with full working drawings. It represents a de Winton locomotive as used in North Wales slate quarries. The model is simplified by using oscillating cylinders. A centre flue boiler is used. Orignally fired by methylated spirits, Idris now sports a Butane gas burner. For more infromation read the Idris Story and you can download the plans in PDF format. For more pictures see: Another image of Idris , Three quarter view, and Underside with burner removedUnderside with burner in place .

San Fairy Anne

San Fairy Anne is a model of a Hudswell Clark locomotive. It carries an internally fired JVR type C boiler, and has working Stephenson valve gear. This loco saw several years service on the BBLR before the valve gear wore out in 2001. New eccentrics, sheaves, valve rods and motion plates were made and fitted early in 2002 and it is now running better than ever.


Detritus is an interloper on this page. It is a working model of a typical smallish industrial diesel locomotive. Construction was largely from recycled material. It uses an glo-plug engine taken from a Nitro Hawk radio controlled car. The drive train is mechanical with forward and reverse gears and a lever operated friction clutch. An effective silencer makes it quieter than my lawn-mower. The pull-cord starter from the car makes for easy starting. For more information read the Detritus Story.

This loco is not in the same league as Mr. Wada's fantastic Gauge 1 creation which you can find described in Live Diesel Models. Nonetheless it was fun to build and is a great crowd puller at shows and garden meetings.

Locomotive Brick on the BBLR

Brick is a model of one of the very earliest steam locomotives built by W.G.Bagnall of Stafford in 1879. It was supplied to Beckenham and Penge Brickworks. The real locomotive was less than 5 foot high. see the 16mm Association web pages for a description of the model. Drawings are available in PDF format.


If you want to contact me about leisure activities Send e-mail to: dave.watkins@blueyonder.co.uk

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