Sold May 2005 Back to Archive

7 1/4 inch gauge Hercules chassis - stock code 2511

I'm a firm believer in part-built engines as giving the potential for a good head start on a new project. There are, as always, certain provisos, the first of which is to pick something that has been well-made to start with - I know from bitter experience working on a B1 some years ago that it's easy to end up with most of the previous owner's bits in the bin and wondering if it wouldn't have been easier to start from scratch. Having said that, there are masses of part-built engines out there (giving some credibility to the oft-quoted statistic that only one in one hundred engines is ever completed), many of which have stalled due to a pathological accumulation of errors. For some reason every part-built ever offered for sale is in "superb condition, built by a toolmaker/professional machinist/father" (delete as appropriate).

The original design was by Dick Simmonds, it was intended as a powerful, robust engine with decent-sized cylinders, generous bearing surfaces and sensible provision for lubrication. It has become a popular design, which does exactly as the man intended producing a compact-sized, powerful engine equally at home running up and down a portable track at the local fete as running round the club track for hours on end.

Which brings us on to this particular Hercules. The builder was a toolmaker. A real one, who spent his days producing tooling for Hornby as a living, whilst building steam locomotives to amuse himself of an evening. The standard of work is exactly as you'd expect - no point me prattling on really, the pictures tell the story. Fit and finish is excellent, motionwork is beautiful, it runs along as smooth as silk. Whilst not a weekend job to finish, the addition of a commercial copper boiler would only leave platework and plumbing to produce a really super engine.

It currently weighs about a hundredweight and a bit, finished it will be closer to three. In addition to the chassis, there is a large tin full of parts, material and finished bits including the brake gear and a set of running board blanks clipped out in steel sheet. Parts and castings to get to this stage account for a little over £1300, along with several hundred hours of a talented man's work. There is a complete set of drawings, Reeves still stock the castings (although other than a dome, there are precious few to buy).

Length 41 inches
Driving wheels 6 3/4 inch diameter
Cylinders 2 1/8 inch bore

gauge 7 1/4 inch