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Sir Toby P. Wickham
Track Maintenance Vehicle

At the end of 2018 the management bought an unused Swift Sixteen motor bogie via eBay. This has brought forward plans to make a track maintenance vehicle to propel a track-cleaning 'gizmo'.

In January 2017 a friend who spends a lot of time volunteering with the Great Central Railway kindly took me to the GCR's then-new train sheds at Nunckley Hill. In there was Wickham Trolley 7595, built in 1957. Looks like it could be modelled around the SwiftSixteen bogie. But a bit tricky to hide the bogie's electric motor. And the solid wheels supplied would have to be drilled.

Wickham Trolley 7595
Wickham Trolley 7595

But what about Perseverance on the Launceston railway? That too could be modelled around the SwiftSixteen bogie. Much easier to hide the bogie's electric motor – it could sit within the firebox and boiler. No worries about the wheels (except they'd be bigger than those on Perseverance – probably no bad thing).

Perseverance on the Launceston railway.
Sorry I don't know who to credit for this photo.

And what about a tram engine, the staple of 'characterful' railway models? That too would be easy using the SwiftSixteen bogie – no chance of the motor (or even the wheels) being seen.


Not 'Toby' – this tram loco ran at Port Stewart.

Rather than remain undecided the management came to the entirely sensible decision to combine all three. The side elevations will bear some resemblance to the Wickham trolley. The end elevations will owe something to a tram loco (though undersize) while the Wickham's infernal composting engine will be swapped out for an external combustion power unit based around a vertical boiler.

tram engine elevation
Just to prove that the management hasn't entirely forgotten how to do scale drawings with technical pencils. This preparatory drawing for a 'Toby'-type
tram loco was done early 2017 when the management were considering a
1:32 scale model. It was almost certainly the first technical drawing done
by the management for at least 35 years. No, it's not very good.
But standards weren't that high 35+ years ago either.


Pretty much in the order it happened:

Strips of brass lightly rubbing against the inside faces of all four wheels pick up the 'juice' from the track. They are located in holes already drilled in the sides of the Swift Sixteen bogie, using moulded nylon 8BA bolts (the management have had a few for over 40 years– always knew they would be useful one day) to avoid electric short-circuits.

Two brass lugs were drilled then tinned and soldered to the necessary wiring before being meeting up with the aforementioned nylon 8BA bolts. As well as the motor there is a 'power-take-off' socket for as-yet-undetermined secondary uses – it was easier to fit it at the start than to contemplate retrofitting it later. (The management did some of that after-thought wiring malarky with Nellie. As a result The Regulations were amended to the effect that planning ahead is always a Good Thing.)

A piece of 0.5mm brass sheet was bent to locate the power bogie to the 3mm ply 'floor pan' with four M3 bolts into the floor pan and two more into existing holes in the bogie. The ply floor plan was reinforced around the edges using 6 x 15 mm strip wood, held in place with glue and M2 bolts (used as push-fit pins) and M2 socket hex-head self-tappers. The management never knew they existed until a well-known online retailer advised that people who bought M2 bolts also bought these. Somewhat skeptical but turns out that despite the diminutive size they 'bite' into stripwood effectively. For those thinking of emulating the pilot holes are 1.5 mm diameter (for both M2 bolts as push-fit pins and the M2 self-tappers) which is 1:16" to Imperialists.

Frankly the 6 x 15 mm strip wood is a bit too chunky – if the management do something similar again (and such are the plans) then 6 x 11 mm will be used.

Although a range of other adhesives are always easily to hand (including PVA, hot melt, superglue, epoxy and several types of plastic cement) after much trial and a certain amount of error the management are back to using UHU as the main contact/impact adhesive, just as they did in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Yes it does tend to 'string' – though with experience that happens less often. But UHU has just the right combination of 'going off quick enough' and being repositionable to be better than cheaper contact adhesives. Which also tend to dry to an opaque brown.

The fore and aft elevations are from more stripwood, with the major joints reinforced with 12 mm panel pins (the 'top piece' is pilot drilled so only the 'bottom piece' grips the pin as it is hammered in). The infill is a mixture of lollipop sticks and kebab skewers, with some cellulose acetate sheet ('upcycled' from packaging) for windows. The reinforcing plates at each corner are custom-made from brass strip with more M2 self-tappers doing 'the business'.

The firebox and boiler are plastic mouldings from the bits box. Had to be plastic 'cos they're quite close to the electrical contacts on the motor. The chimney is a length of 12 mm steel tube (with a solid piece of plastic keeping it away from the motor terminals).

The piston and motion are from a Timberkits model of Stephenson's Rocket (other parts from this kit will be making an appearance as part of future Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway rolling stock). The linkage to one of the bogie wheels was bodged together mostly from plastic card (in part to maintain electrical insulation and in part because it was easier to do than keep cutting and drilling brass – there was a lot of trial and error). The 'power take off socket' proved to have an excellent unexpected use – as a 'power intake socket' to run the motor when making all the mistakes setting up the linkage. Saved having to repeatedly put crocodile clips back on after they've been knocked off accidentally…

The corrougated iron roof is, predictably, from ubiquitous food tins which – conveniently for 1:20 scale modellers – are now strenthened with ribbing.

Dummy pipework and the like is mostly welding rod, leatherworking eyelets and florists' wire, except where it's not. Hans-Dieter Hersche, the driver, is an LGB figure given a coat of paint.

The lantern was adapted from moudlings supplied by Maritime Models and lit by a flickering yellow LED, with a 10kΩ variable potentiometer to control the brightness.

Sir Toby and Gizmelda with Hans-Dieter and the flickering lantern.

Sadly only came across this real 'steam speeder' after finishing Sir Toby.
Thanks to Nigel for making me aware.





Early stages of construction


Just waiting for Gizmo and Gizmelda
All the brass work looks wonderfully new and shiny. But once it's tarnished then the black paint is likely to come out.


Hans-Dieter Hersche, Whittlecreek and Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway's Principal Track Maintenance Manager, familiarising himself with the rudimentary controls.

The paint job is intended to suggest the English, Welsh & Scottish Railway (better known as just EWS) cargo loco colours. No real reason why but Nigel suggested it (thanks!) and I didn't have a better idea. Definitely didn't want the dunked-in-custard look of Notork Derail's maintenance vehicles.

Another suggestion from Nigel (more thanks) grew wings and has led to this vehicle acquiring the name Sir Toby P. Wickham (the 'P' is for Perseverence, though not many people know that). Well if there's a loco called Sir Gomer (named after Sir James Gomer Berry 1st Viscount Kemsley (1883–1968) and based at the Battlefield Line Railway) why not a Sir Toby?

Sir Toby was designed to work with Gizmo and Gizmelda

update Halloween 2019

The homemade brass couplings on Sir Toby and Gizmelda have been replaced by standard LGB ones. Not only do these work better they also allow Sir Toby to haul a pair of LGB bolster wagons. Or, in principle, any other rolling stock.

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Images and text copyright Bob Trubshaw 2018–2021