Wednesday, 20 May 2009

ALRC Locomotive No 2: The Shay

This magnificent award winning locomotive is a one third scale model of a narrow gauge [two foot] Shay and was built by Edwin Peck of Norwich. Shays were designed primarily for use in the North American logging industry. The prototype of this particular model was built by the locomotive works in 1915/6 for CW North, not for logging, but for use in hauling materials used in road building.

Edwin started building the loco in 1991 and devoted ten years to this project, a project that must have been a real labour of love. Working in what is basically a garden shed and with the minimum of machines, most of the loco was hand made, he even made the patterns for all the gears by hand including the complex bevel gears, out of MDF. He then had them cast in a local foundry. The work he did must have impressed others because Edwin was awarded a very well deserved bronze medal at the 2000 Norwich Model Engineering Exhibition, and that was before the loco was finished!

Edwin was invited to bring his Shay to the Ashmanhaugh Light Railway's first anniversary Open Day on 31 July 2004, where it was driven by his grandson. After a break of almost five years the locomotive returned to the Railway taking up permanent residence on 29 April 2009. The Shay is now owned by two of the ALR's members.

The bare technical details are run of the mill stuff; it is powered by a 5hp Honda engine driving an Eaton 6/7 hydrostatic unit. However what it does clearly illustrate is the way in which a very convincing steam outline locomotive can be produced without a workshop full of machinery and the need for boiler testing. Production costs are lower and insurance cheaper. Seeing this loco running with all its highly visible outside working parts it is only when it gets close that one realises that it is powered by an internal combustion engine and not by steam. This illusion is helped by the engine exhaust smoke and gases passing out through the chimney.

GD/BM April 2009