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The engine, with rebuilt chassis and other improvements.

A rebuilt Beck Helene

by John Richards
Hillman, near Rockingham, Western Australia
Photos by the author

December, 2011

This is the story of my Beck Helene. I purchased it from a friend, James Gregg, who outbid me on eBay and then sold it on to me. It had a terribly warped frame, as you can see in the photo below, requiring an extensive rebuild. In rebuilding the engine, I made a number of changes from the original.

Helene, made in the early 1980s by Beck, of Kassel, Germany, has been featured before in these pages, along with their Anna, which I also own. Matador, designed by Beck as Bertha, was later produced in Britain after Beck went out of business.

Beck was one of the first companies to produce low cost, small scale, live-steam models of narrow-gauge engines. Helene was Beck's second locomotive. It was produced in 1980-81, following Anna by one year. It was an 0-6-2T, .

Beck's engines were simple in the extreme, which no doubt helped with their longevity. Helene's specifications closely follow Anna's.

As rebuilt, the engine has two, double acting, slide-valve cylinders controlled by slip eccentrics between the frames (the original engine had eccentrics on the outside). The new lubricator is in the cab, like that on most other model steam locomotives, and is accessed by unscrewing the top.

A new water gauge is on the opposite side of the cab from the lubricator, and can be easily read. Butane is carried in a very large tank in the left side tank. The gas-control knob protrudes from the back of the cab.

Bodywork is straightforward, being comprised of sheet-metal shapes formed to suit. I remade parts in brass where they needed replacement.

The boiler is a single flue, gas-fired unit, with a jet in the cab that squirts gas across an intervening air space into the back of the burner. In rebuilding the engine, I changed this somewhat from the original model (see the photo below).

I tested the chassis both on air and steam, which you can see on the YouTube movie below.

When the rebuild was complete, I ran the engine for some time and am very pleased with its performance, both then and now.

For the test, I prepared the engine in the usual manner and lit it up. The fire caught right away and I had steam in 15 minutes from cold. I tied on a couple of Prado wooden coaches, which were a bit wobbly, to say the least. The engine performed just fine.

Here's a movie of the chassis being tested. If, for some reason, you can't see it, click here.

Builder Beck (Germany). Rebuilt by John Richards
Date completed 1980-81; rebuilt February 2011
Gauge 45 mm (gauge 1)
Scale 1:22.5
Boiler Single flue
Fittings Safety valve, pressure gauge, throttle, water gauge, blowdown, boiler re-filler
Fuel Butane
Blow-off pressure 50 psi
Cylinders Two, double acting, with piston valves
Reversing gear Slip eccentrics
Lubricator Displacement
Weight 10 pounds, 4 ounces
The engine as received. The frame is severely warped and many parts are missing.
The engine as rebuilt, with a new frame and LBSC-designed inside eccentrics.
The new reversing gear between the frames can be seen in this underneath view.
Steam is piped directly into the steam dome. On the original locomotive, the throttle was a knob on the dome.
The backhead, with the parts labeled.
The new burner.
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