I spend my life advising anybody who cares to ask, "buy the best engine you can afford" - the advice is even more applicable to beginners who have enough on their plates learning to fire, drive and look after a steam engine without having to fix it every five minutes as well. If you are starting out in 5 inch gauge and have decided on a "Simplex" (and you could do a lot worse, the design has been tested the length and breadth of the country over the last thirty years and still provides a strong, simple to look after engine) then you might want to take a look at this one.
From the collection of a prolific builder, I sold a GWR Prairie by the same chap just before Christmas. All his engines are built to a high standard as working machines - the machining is crisp and accurate throughout, the valves are set spot-on and there are a wealth of little details making his engines practical and easy to look after, from the axle box lubricators mounted on the front of the side tanks to the substantial derailing bars back and front.
Silver soldered copper boiler with superheater, fed by axle pump, injector and auxiliary hand pump in side tank. The injector is currently plumbed to take feed water from a water container on the driving truck (which is a sound idea, leaving the axle pump to deal with the hot water in the side tanks). Cast iron cylinders with slide valve actuated by Walschaerts valve gear, mechanical and sight feed cylinder lubricators. The motion work is finely made with bronze cross head slippers and in good order throughout.
I ran this engine last week, it will run almost silently right up to mid-gear, given a load it accelerates with dead square exhaust beats in a most spirited fashion. It has a new boiler certificate and is, without doubt, the nicest Simplex I've ever driven.
Length 36 inches
Weight approx 120 pounds