The new 45mm gauge Pigsty Hill Light Railway was running (fairly) smoothly, and the
mix of steam and R/C battery locos did their job, but I felt that operation was very
limited - still N times around the loop and a reverse back to Pigsty Hill in the
"tail" of the P. Furthermore, the stock lacked a theme, although the scenery was
becoming increasingly, and satisfyingly jungloid. I was well pleased with the LGB
track, although less so with their R3 turnouts, which are less than truly wonderful
(see 1600 tips). Nonetheless, I decided to carry on with these, nothing better in
Code 332 being available on this side of the Big Pond.
The New Vision
I decided to specialise on tram and geared locos, and determined to get a Brandbright
tram loco similar to that which I had foolishly sold in the days of the PHLR Mark
One. I also set out to build myself a wooden tram locomotive body, to fit on a battery
chassis. I decided that beloved "Hedgehog", a Roundhouse "Katie", had to go. I also
decided to expand the line to include a "Wye", so I could run out-and back, and at
least a partial second loop, to increase the length of run. The intention was that
this would allow the use of locomotives without radio control. How all this was done,
and with what success, forms the subject of this page.
The Permanent Way Improvements
I was unsatisfied with the operating potential of the existing line. In particular,
having to back out of the main circuit made life difficult both when operating out
and back and tail-chasing round and round. I once again reached for my copy of WinRail
and took the radical step of consulting other members of the 16mm narrow gauge modellers'
e-group as to the design. The result was as below:
The Thing (aka "Hedgehog")
Increasing frustrated by steam locomotives running out of control, I decided to build
my own geared loco. The result was the Thing - I leave it to the reader to decide
whether it was worth the effort.
I was surprised and delighted to see that Tootle Engineering of Canberra, Australia
was making a battery electric model of the Malcolm Moore diesel. This Australian
locomotive design, based on a tractor body, was brought to North Borneo by the Australian
Army during WWII. A couple stayed on with the North Borneo Railway, and one is preserved
in the Railway Museum at Kota Kinabalu.
The price was reasonable, even after the demands of Customs and Post Office, so I
bit the bullet and bought one.
This beast did most of the non-steam work on the PHLR Marks III and IV, due to its
reliability, pulling power and prototypical appearance.
The Regner Konrad or "Babi Jokut"
As so often in the history of the PHLR (the Fowler Resilent, the Wooden Tram and
so on), as soon as I built a functioning geared steam locomotive, one came on the
market. Messrs. Regner of Aurach, Germany brought out their Konrad, which is everything
a real engineer, rather than a bodgeller, would have made of the Thing. Unable to
resist it, I ordered one of these from Martin's Models, added a water filler, and
now have the most docile and reliable steam loco I have ever owned. It doesn't look
I named it "Babi Jokut", which means "bearded pig" in Malay. This animal is native
to North Borneo, and its owner, another bearded pig, is native to North Bristol.
This coach was loosely based on early Darjeeling Himalaya Railway and North Borneo
railway coaches. For details of how it was built, see Building Coach No. 4
The Wooden Tram (or the Orange Box)
This was built to fit either a Playmobil or IP dual-gauge battery chassis. It was
very loosely based on those on the Wisbech and Upwell branch (of course, every manufacturer
in the UK brought out a similar beast within six months of its completion), and it
received compliments from Real Engineers, which was nice.
After a review of locomotive policy, PHLR #3 "Fire Fox" was sold off to a railway
in West Sussex. This was the first scratch-built loco I ever sold, which helped to
soften the blow.
The Steam Tram (or the Coffee-pot)
After much searching, I managed to get hold of a Brandbright Coffee-pot steam tram,
although it would have made more sense to hold on to the one I bought in 1987. This
had the bolt-on body, which to my mind improves its appearance.
It has a vertical boiler, heated by a sort of butane gas ring, which provides steam
to oscillating cylinders, these driving the wheels through 2:1 reduction gears. It
has outside frames, with connecting rods and fly-cranks, and is adjustable to 32
or 45mm gauge, so I can use it on the lines of the narrow-minded.
They were originally built by Brandbright from components machined by Roundhouse.
Unfortunately, mine has lost its maker's plates, but my best guess is that it was
built in 1987, like its predecessor.
This was sold on in 2005 to make way for the Regner Konrad. It went to a good home,
the new owner even keeping the "Willie Rushton" namplates.
In keeping with the new policy of manual control, PHLR #7 "Harry P Dodge" was sold
off to the same railway in West Sussex. This was something of a wrench, as this was
a locomotive of which I was very fond, but it seems to have gone to a good home.
The new owner lined it out within a day of receiving it, which was nice.