Michigan with “Bells and Whistles”

Michigan is finally finished  and doesn’t it look splendid now it has the detailed step with handrails and buck-eye coupling bolted in place.  All Bells and “Whistles” have been added – yes original sounds can now be produced at the flick of a switch



Spot the model!

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Many people have taken part in the project and I thank them all for their help, support and encouragement but I think three areas of work should be picked out in particular for their contribution to making such an excellent looking model and the fine detailed work achieved by our members.

Andy Harding  has done a tremendous job with the curved front and the detail he has managed to include.  All made out of an old washing machine in the true spirit of model engineering.  Take a close look next time you see it.

The paint job and lining, done by Gerry Fletcher and Arthur Clark, has taken hours of rubbing down and work to get such a splendid finish with such attention to detail and meet the very high standard they set themselves.

IMG_1586 This picture show Terry Phelps putting the finishing touches to the handrails and lettering which he has  designed built and fitted and plays such a major part in adding the realism when compared to the original locomotive.  Terry was also responsible for stitching the three parts together to make a strong and serviceable body.


No doubt many members will get a lot of enjoyment and take pride in driving Michigan round the track.  When you do spare a thought for the hours of work put into the project. by so many members. 

Michigan in Service

Michigan was taken into service today 19 th April and ran trouble free all afternoon.   A good crowd turned up for this auspicious occasion – 1800 rides.  A number of members had a drive and all were very happy with the performance.  No major problems.  Two dummy axle boxes fell off and are somewhere round the track – perhaps the golf ball hunters will come across them.     I managed to knock  a horn off putting the loco back in the carriage shed.   Please note it is now clear that when it is put away in the carriage shed,  it has to go on the road adjacent to the walkway or it fouls the cross  structure of the lift.

Mark and I looking a bit worried about our new baby being out in public for the first time




Our new driver – we like to get them young.  It just shows how easy it is to drive



Tim Hims came along to join in the action


Michigan almost there.

We took Michigan out into the sun today.  Doesn’t she look good and a credit to all the members who have done so much work  on the hand rails, painting and today Mark and Gerry applied the numbers and letters previously prepared in  line with the original by Mark.

Despite standing all over the winter she started readily in true Honda fashion and was driven by several members who commented on the ease of driving and power available.        In principle she is ready for the new season but I think we will wait until all bits are added including the font deck and steps before introducing her to the public.

I have to say I am delighted with the finished (almost) product.   If she goes as well as she looks, and I have no doubt she will, she will do us proud and be a great new asset for the Society.IMG_1342IMG_1343IMG_1347IMG_1348



Meanwhile “One Match Frank” was enjoying his day.IMG_1340


The First Locomotive enters the Maintenance Shed

On Friday the final track connection was made by the line gang and the first locomotive driven into the maintenance shed for it’s annual service and inspection.


The Main Team – (most of it)


Colin, Alan and Don have been working away digging a  trench forming the track bed, making and laying the track and making and erecting a point from the existing siding.  On Friday assisted by the “tractor gang” the ballast was packed down, final connection made, the work was completed and Telford  driven into the shed.  Just in time for the winter maintenance.


Team plus Tractor Gang and Workshop Manger


Telford now awaits it’s annual service and inspection.  It will be much easier parked in the maintenace shed with tools and bench available rather than as previously working outside exposed to the elements loosing nuts in the grass.


Telford awaits Annual Service and Inspection in the warm and dry.

Electric Loco Evening on November 19th at Begbrook



Last year we had an excellent evening discussing and showing various Electric Locomotives of all shapes and sizes.   Please bring along and show your electric locomotive of any gauge from N Gauge to Full Size, you must have one somewhere even if it is only the one that runs round the Christmas Tree.   All will be most welcome and we can discuss any queries you may have.

We should have Michigan body on show – the chassis is a bit of a lump – and can talk about the latest development in this exciting project which may well set a new standard for 5″ gauge locos just as we did with Telford in 7 1/4″ gauge.

This is one of the members locos which will be on display



See you all on November 19th – Come along with your loco and make a Good Evening into a Great Evening

Bob Lilley

Michigan Does the Ton

My last blog was before the exhibition where Michigan was on display and I have to say it created considerable interest.   At that time I had decided on  modifications which I hoped would share the load between battery and engine but they had not fitted  or  tested on the track.

This picture shows the green resistors mounted at the front  behind  the fan because they will be dropping a bit of load and may get quite warm.  They should reduce the alternator output at high currents which will maintain the load on the engine comfortably below its rating.




New  batteries were also fitted.  Previously we had been using old discarded golf buggy batteries in the belief that the engine would do all the work and that these old batteries should be sufficient.   However it seems that he batteries were completely dead and now that we wanted the batteries to share the load we fitted new lead/acid motorcycle batteries



With some trepidation we wheeled Michigan out, hitched up some carriages, started it up and a few of us set off.     To everybody’s delight it performed exactly to plan.   Plenty of power when pulling away with very little slip because it is quite a heavy loco. Then, on opening the throttle, away it went to speeds well in excess of normal running with no strain on the engine.   Observing the alternator output current and controller input voltage it could be seen that  the full 28 volts were maintained until 12A and they then tailed off down to battery volts of some 25v when the battery started to assist.  At no time was the engine under any undue strain.   When we slowed or came to a halt the ammeter showed that the alternator then proceeded to charge up the battery back up to it’s initial state.   All exactly as planned.


We decided it was time for a full trial so we loaded it up with 9 of our heavier members, which together with the trucks I calculated to be about 1 ton,  and off we went.  It sailed round like a dream and so we continued for two full laps at speeds I felt would not frighten our chairman unduly but again well above those required during normal passenger running.   On completion we all congratulated  ourselves and I continued running to check further items and make sure everything was going to plan.


 I then realised that I had not taken a photograph of this historic event but was delighted to receive by email that evening a photograph taken by Andrew Harding’s good lady who was waiting for Andy in the car park and here it is.  Thank you Mrs H.

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Gerry and Arthur are now proceeding on the preparation of the body.  Two coats of primer have been sprayed on followed by the final coats of green and yellow.    Some rubbing down and polishing is now necessary before the red stripes are applied and we can then start fitting all the knobs and whistles which will make it look like a real model engineering locomotive.

Just in case you have forgotten, this is how it will finally look.

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Michigan Exhibition Update


IMG_1031Latest news of Michigan is that the body is now in one piece.  Terry and helpful Neighbour have welded together the three parts with locating pins which allow it to be easily dropped onto the chassis.  Terry has also fitted a return at the rear to house the control panel and removed the suprlus vents which have been worrying Mark no end.

Mike Keighley has been busy adding dummy mdf suspension on the rear bogie whilst the front one is in his workshop hence the wooden block.  Don’t worry the axle boxes will be painted black.



Meanwhile Andy Hardy has been working on the curved front which will incorporate the headlight and support the bell and hand wheel.  This a real work of art incorporating bits of a washing machine etc – real old fashioned model engineering



Meanwhile new batteries have been obtained together with a new ammeter and stabilising resistors.  All will be ready to go after the exhibition and we look forward to further trial runs at Ashton Court.  We have decided against powder coating because of the logistic of matching the colour when new parts are fitted and the need for bare metal etc.   Ride on Railways get a good finish on their models using acrylic and we will be seeking advice from them at the exhibition.

We will be exhibiting the loco, showing work in progress, at the exhibition and look forward to seeing you all when I can explain the detail and answer any questions – See you there.


Footnote – Just finished my 7 1/4″ Gauge Beattie Well Tank ready for the exhibition and cannot resist giving you a preview.  What will I do with myself now?IMG_1044

Michigan UpDate

Work is progressing onMichigan, the new 5″ gauge petrol electric club loco.


The chassis is running and performed well today at the track pulling a loaded train round the track with ease.  Too much ease in fact as some members wanted to get off as they thought I was driving too fast – well these new inventions have to be tested to their limit.  As I say there is plenty of power but if you are very ham-fisted with the throttle it is possible to stall the engine.  Development work is continuing to ensure that the battery provides some of the power and hence take some load off the engine which has a maximum power rating of 1 1/2hp.  Should be plenty for a 5″loco I hear you say but unfortunately the alternator is only 50% efficient which leaves 3/4 hp for the motors which may not be enough for some of our budding Stirling Mosses accelerating up the back straight.  Anyway we are experimental so a little problem solving does not come amiss and we have a number of things to try.  We will probably fit new batteries and do away with the existing ones which are from golf trollies and have been discarded because they will not do a full round on the golf course.




We also have the body which has turned out very well. In particular the louvres really set it off.   It has come in three pieces plus the cab roof and we have to get it welded together. Then we intend to get it powder coated which should give a durable finish.  After that we will be fitting all the bits and pieces which many of our members are making to ensure it is a model fit for a model engineering club.  I am sure it will look splendid.

Watch out for further updates

Bob Lilley




Work is starting on a new 5″ locomotive for the Bristol Society – Michigan.

This will be an electrically powered locomotive with dc motors on each axle with and onboard power supply using an alternator and Honda Engine.   Using the profile of an American switcher loco the engine will drop down between the bogies to make maximum use of the space available.

At present we have the chassis and most of the components to allow it to be assembled for a trial run.  The body which is being supplied in basic form by Ride on Railways is awaited.  A number of members have agreed to make  individual components but much of this work cannot start until the body arrives.

The engine will be similar to our 7 1/4″ locomotive Thomas Telford which has proved to be very successful.    If you want to learn more about Thomas Telford visit the web site  http://thomastelford.wordpress.com.

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