skip to Main Content

A Tender for 7 1/4″ Gauge Narrow Gauge Locomotives

I am hoping to have a 7 1/4″ Gauge Locomotive running in the near future.  A suitable Tender is therefore a must.  There are a number of designs available but I decided to go with the one from Blackgates Engineering from West Yorkshire.

As described, it is a sit in 4 wheel  design very heavily built.  It has a big water tank and good coal storage. The foot well at the front is a bit short for my size 12 feet but only by a little. I bought the laser cut frames, CNC’d wheels in steel and the body work which is a fully welded fabricated assembly.  It arrived on a pallet and is indeed – heavy. The drawings supplied use a number of components from the 7 1/4″ gauge Sweet William (Sweet Pea’s big brother)

The Tender from the front.  I have etch – primed at this stage. There will be a vertical sliding door to fit on the coal storage. The coal storage has a padded seat on a plywood base which covers the large rectangular hole.

The lid over the water tank. The inside of tank and the lid will be painted with POR15 paint. I have used stainless steel clinch nuts on all the tank fittings.

It would appear from social media that quite a few people use citric acid to remove mill scale.  I tried it on the 6mm base plate of the tender – it works a treat and also on the weld carbon deposit. POR 15 paint prefers a rough surface to stick to so I hope the acid will help with that.  I am also hoping the inside of the tank will rust up a bit as again POR15 prefers that too.  An unusual paint – worth reading up on.

I hate making mistakes or wasting material – spot the obvious mistake. The 1/4″ bsp thread should all be the same length!….and it was my last bit of 18mm A/F brass hex. Never mind we all mistakes… so it was produce some more hex from round brass bar using the rotary table and tailstock.

I am planning for two injectors so I need two water feeds. The left hand feed is for a tender water gauge – see later photos. The centre 15 mm pipe is an overflow pipe. When the tender is full this pipe should drain any excess below the frames of the tender.

The water filler tube is fabricated and silver soldered together from odd  sections of brass. I wanted a cap which didn’t rattle or fall off. The cap is from brass with an “o” ring which just nips to give a small amount of friction to hopefully hold it in place.

Below is a general view down the length of the chassis (upside down). Buffer stocks were cast iron castings. The buffers were the largest diameter steel  I had in the “scrap box”.

This view shows the brake gear much of which I have made from stainless.  The injection moulded plastic brake blocks are supplied by PNP-Railways.

The brake rods are very easy to balance using the hexagonal bottle-jack couplings in the middle. The transfer of the holes between the chassis angles and the main body are the next stage.

I have now started on the copper pipework. I am planning for a tender water gauge and two water feed pipes with individual taps. The large copper tube is an overflow pipe drain. The two brass bulkhead fittings allow everything to be connected when the whole thing is the right way up.

The finished pipe work. All pipes will be straightened on final assembly. I am a big fan of Loctite “Lock and Seal”.  I use this on all my pipe work and  boiler fittings.  So far it has served me well. I have used standard dia. 8mm copper pipe and end feed 90 degree fittings (all silver soldered) and 1/4 BSP compression fittings  throughout.

I wanted to make a water gauge for the tender tank and very few designs appear to exist. It could be a very simple piece of pvc tubing but like always I over complicate things. This version is not my design. It is a copy from a website “gentoosjournal” an 0-4-0 Stafford owner who has made several modifications to his loco. He includes CAD copies on his website – many thanks – extremely useful.

From these two photos it is possible to work out the basic details. I made two at the same time – one for the tender and the other as a spare.  I may regret it but the clear tube is acrylic as it is readily available and will only have cold water in it. The tube is 200mm long. I would prefer red line glass but in that length is not so readily available. The gauge is mounted in a corner and the black steel angle acts as a support and a gauge”glass” protector. The top brass block has an “O” ring inside to support the tube with a dia. 1 mm hole to vent air.

…And now the two halves come together at last and the correct way up. All black at the moment but that will be explained later on.  Next is to add the various fittings, pipe work, the foot rests and paint the inside of the water tank with POR15.

Below shows the tender from the rear.  Very solid and heavily built buffers and stocks. The coupling pins I have turned from stainless steel. The design is based on those made and sold by Station Road Steam.

This image from the front is a bit dark…apologies

The two brass couplings will be for injectors. Either one or two depending on the needs of the loco that is being used.

The wick oilers below started of their live as just simple pots. I decided to convert them to wick oilers and have glued a short piece of copper pipe into holes in the pot. I tested them by putting oil in them one evening – the following morning they were all empty and the oil was now on the bench!

The brass hex. extension / bulkhead fittings were added to enable 1/8″dia. pipework to be added by using nuts and cones to suit.

The first run on the track on 15th May 2021. The wick oilers were filled and appear to be working OK.  The wheels are a little stiff but will soon wear in.  I only managed to blow 2 x 40 Amp fuses on “Midlander”.  We have one section of track that is steep and on quite a tight curve!

The image below shows the foot-well more clearly with the raised diamond pattern rubber covering.

The seat was made by Coastal Customs Upholstery on Portland UK. First class work by this company.

The pipework for the injectors is the last part to be completed.