I'm not flush with 16mm scale, 32mm gauge steam engines, but when I suddenly needed one for a photo shoot, it was an opportunity to dig out a model I built well over 25 years ago.
Ben came about because I watched my friend Anthony Coulls chasing a manually controlled live steam engine around a layout. I liked the size and shape of the model. The idea of working a regulator in the cab appealed to me. Chasing a lively steam engine didn't.
I also loved the drawing in the Backwoods Miniatures advert of a Barclay. With this in mind, I sketched out a plan based on some glass-filled nylon driving wheels I had managed to buy. When I made this model, I suspect spending proper cash on a garden railway project was out of the question, so they would have been cheap.
Apart from the slide bars and bearings, the model is a tribute to Plastikard. Nice thick stuff and plenty of it. This seems to have survived some dreadful storage in a plastic box in an unheated shed for many years. I haven't tried the model with batteries (2 C cells) but can't see why the cheapo motor and gears (possible from Proops pound pack) shouldn't work.
The most expensive items on the locomotive will be the nameplates and worksplates. The later read "Philip Parker - 1992". Well, and the chimney which is metal from a source I can't remember.
Inside the body is the clever bit. A sheet of PCB carefully cut so a wiper on the back of the regulator moves around and picks up varying amounts of electricity, this being set by diodes soldered to the board. I have no idea how I worked this out, or why it's diodes and not resistors. I'm sure I couldn't figure it out now.
Direction control is from a slide switch in the footplate.
Ben always worked well, doing exactly what I wanted. I could chase my loco around and operate it from a proper regulator in the cab. I just didn't burn my fingers doing it.