Polly’s Perfect Performance

Took the club’s Polly 6 to Maidstone MES to represent BSMEE at the Polly Owner’s Group Rally on Saturday 26th September. It ran faultlessly all day and gained some very positive comments from a number of other participants, particularly on the paint finish and the general smooth running. Even got a big ‘thumbs up’ from Andy Clarke, owner of the manufacturer, ‘Polly Engineering’. The track is set in the beautiful Mote Park, Maidstone, Kent and is approximately the same length as our track at ACR. We then ran the loco on Sunday 27th for a full day of passenger hauling at Ashton Court. It was in steam continuously from 11.50 am until 17.15 pm. and once again ran faultlessly. For those involved in the build and those currently involved in the maintenance, give yourselves a good old pat on the back!

Give us a Brake!

The first Hudson-James Mk III now with brakes fitted

The first Hudson-James Mk III now with brakes fitted (click for a closer view)

New Ground Level Bogies update.

Another milestone has passed, with the Hayes 210M brake callipers and PNP actuator now installed on the first bogie. Note how the David Hudson self-steering layout eliminates the traditional central bolster and pivot, making it possible to fit the disc brakes and the vacuum gear on the bogie centre line. This makes the whole unit self-contained, which would be difficult to achieve with earlier forms of bogie construction.

Ron James and I have finalised the brake linkage after much thought and a few false starts. A number of improvements have been made over the Mk I and Mk II iterations in developing this Mk III production version:

  • Brake Lever Extensions secured with ¼” pop-rivets for improved head clearance.
  • Brake Lever Extensions have an extra tapped hole for the actuator connecting rod ‘big end,’ to improve the geometry and eliminate clashes.
  • Coupling rod is now solid; adjusters were found to be superfluous.
  • Brake adjustment and balancing is now exclusively by means of the castle nuts on the callipers (as designed).
  • Split pins on the castle nuts replaced by R-clips for ease of maintenance.

Experience with our Mk I and Mk II Hudson-James bogies has shown that very little actuator force is required. The design challenge in fact is to minimise wheel locking, particularly when vehicles are lightly loaded; hence the intentionally short lever arm for the ‘big end’ of the actuator con rod. However to ensure good performance when fully loaded, all carriage wheels will be braked, so this gear will be fitted to every new bogie, and eventually retro-fitted to unbraked examples of the previous Marks.

As a further control, we will be standardising the train vacuum after trials, and fitting limiter valves to prevent the standard vacuum being exceeded.

Our next step is to replicate this bogie so that we can install the pair to refurbished carriage no 201.

Gary Locock

New Ground Level Bogies

New Ground Level Bogies posted by Gary Locock

New Ground Level Bogies

New Ground Level Bogies



New Ground Level Bogies

A milestone has been passed. The first production ‘Hudson-James Mk III’ has been assembled, and passed its initial track tests with flying colours. It negotiated all our points and ‘difficult’ track sections at high speed without derailing. But I lie, (a little). On the carriage shed siding, there is a build up of ballast, and some loose stones caused it to lift off the rails; but it obligingly (and repeatedly) re-railed itself once the obstruction was passed. Twigs and rubbish on the rails had the same effect; a good result.

Next job is to fit the brake gear and finalise the linkages, and then to complete the second bogie. Many thanks to Andy Harding who turned up some axles, which were all that remained outstanding to get us to this stage.

Meanwhile, Phil Faulkner has been grafting away around the carriage shed, stripping and repainting the chassis, which is now ready to accept the two new bogies- thanks Phil. Then we can fit the refurbished body of carriage no. 201, and carry out the real testing, with a full load at maximum speed.

When this vehicle enters traffic, we can then get on with completing the remaining 12 bogies, for a rolling programme of installation.

For those who don’t know, these bogies are a radical new design, with swing-link suspension and self-steering wheelsets, based heavily on the work in 5” gauge by David Hudson, which was in turn inspired by modern developments in full size. Ron James adapted the Hudson principles to 7¼” gauge and his Mark I and Mark II prototypes have proved themselves in service at Ashton Court over several years. Ron and Phil Bridgway did most of the initial ‘heavy lifting’ to get the Mark III project to its current stage. Mark Phillips did some of the drawings; along with Bernard North. Kevin Slater and David Giles remanufactured the wheels after the first batch failed inspection. Bert Roberts, and numerous others of the Friday gang have been doing some of the smaller in-house workshop operations.

Gary Locock


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!

IMG_1606101 low down


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.