Last weekend I was at Amberley for their annual railway gala, helping out with the 009 Society stand in the model railway exhibition. Making up 009 wagon kits and chatting to punters wasn't very demanding so it left time to have a good look round. The format was much the same as previous years, some good NG layouts (though little I hadn't seen before) but the real action is outside with lots of trains and locos running. Visiting loco this year was Jack, an Andrew Barclay originally built for the Edinburgh Gas Works, and looking superb.
However this year I was on a mission - I knew that three of the Thakeham Tiles locos ended up there, and it would be great to see if I could find them, so camera in hand I went for a wander. First up is No 4, which was built by the staff at Thakeham, clearly no expense spared!
Nearby was No 5, also built at Thakeham. This time a little more thought had gone into the design and it had a (removable) cab, it almost looks like a loco! Almost, like No 4 it has more in common with a lawnmower than a railway loco.
The final loco was more elusive, but a quiet word with someone in the know pointed me in the right direction (probably a direction I wasn't supposed to be in), to where I found Hudson Hunslet 3653 of 1946. Now this loco was significantly modified to fit under the Thakeham hoppers, so first here's a picture of a similar Hudson Hunslet looking as the factory intended:
So finally here is the Thakeham Hudson Hunslet. The chassis and radiator are recognisable but the driving position has been dropped behind the chassis, with the driving controls modified and extended for sit-down operation. Note that like No 5 there is no coupling on the "rear" of the loco - the cab would not be strong enough - but the operation at Thakeham only required coupling at one end.
To complete my model of Thakeham Tiles a model of at least one of these locos would be great, though none would be easy. The enclosed No 5 would probably be the easiest to motorise, and although there is a good kit of a (standard) Hudson Hunslet from Nonneminstre Models that could be modified, the Tenshodo motor bogie which it is designed for is unsuitable for 14mm gauge, and the open sided prototype makes motorising it a real headache. In any case I will be struggling to get the layout finished for EXPO as it is so building another loco is out of the question!
Still an enjoyable and productive day at Amberley and perhaps some projects for the future!