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Coal fired Sir Morris de Cowley, as rebuilt by the author.

Sir Morris de Cowley

by T.A. Barnes
Beverly, England
Photos by the author

January, 2012

This Sir Morris can be compared with another example reviewed in the March 2010 Locomotive of the Month. This one differs from the other in many details -- for example, in the valve gear, fittings, tender, and final appearance -- but it is still recognizably the same engine. This one was bought some 25 years ago as a rolling chassis, boiler, and box of bits (“ready to put back together”) but it had been badly mauled in an attempt to give it the look of an LMS Pacific. Before this, however, it had obviously been very well used.

Some 20 years after buying it, I eventually made a detailed examination and found that, although the chassis was in reasonable condition, several parts needed remaking or were completely missing. The boiler also needed serious attention. There were no working safety valves and few useable boiler fittings, whilst the boiler itself leaked badly, particularly at the tube plate and where the handrail stanchions had been screwed directly into the boiler itself. The stanchions were cut off and re-soldered, but this added to the already battered appearance and meant that the boiler would require cladding. This would at least allow the shape of the engine to be changed and, having grown up in York amongst LNER locomotives, I wanted it to have the look of a Gresley engine if at all possible!

After its rebuild, the engine was therefore given a “tapered boiler,” a new smokebox and door, new safety valves, a new footplate profile, a new cab, new tender details, new handrails, new couplings, etc., and finished in “wartime black” (to avoid having to line it out!), which also allowed me to plate over the front cab window to hide the pressure gauge. The offside clack box was disguised as a Westinghouse pump and the snifting valve hidden at the base of the smokebox in GWR-style, with a dummy LNER-type behind the chimney.

Awkward pipework junctions beneath the footplate were given the look of an injector. The boiler is lagged with fiberglass matting beneath the cladding and the roof slides off in the normal way to facilitate driving. The boiler has been hydraulically tested to 120 psi and was steam tested successfully, with the pop-type safety valves set at 60 psi. To my shame, since its rebuild the engine has never been run. If I manage to arrange this one day, I'll let you know how it goes (if it goes).

Footnote: The Sir Morris de Cowley locomotive was designed by LBSC. Its construction was described in Volume 54 of Model Engineer (1926) in his “Shop, Shed and Road” column.

I have been told that the engine was the result of a bet, where Curly had been challenged to design an 0-gauge engine that could pull a passenger. Sir Morris is said to be the result.

Looking at the original drawings, I felt that the loco already had the general look of a Gresley-designed product and that, if it could be given an imitation tapered boiler and LNER-style footplate curves, together with other details, it might look the part, despite the unfortunate lack of Walschaerts valve gear. On this point, I have always wondered (with absolutely no facts to back up my theory!) whether LBSC had styled the engine on the Gresley P1 class, which, in 1925, had just been introduced and was the most powerful locomotive on the UK's railways at the time -- although it was a 2-8-2 and not a Pacific. The tender, cab, boiler, chimney, etc. do have the look of a P1 and, in designing what was intended to be a particularly powerful 0-gauge model, there may have been some sort of logic in echoing the look of the most powerful full-sized engine of the time. Anyway, that's my theory!

Builder Original unknown; rebuilt by Tom Barnes 2005-6
Date completed Estimated to be 1926-1930
Gauge 0 (1-1/4”)
Scale Not to exact scale, but finished in LNER "wartime black" as No. 2398 (a spare LNER number)
Boiler Locomotive (five small and one large tube with superheater; one hollow and one solid stay
Fittings Two clack valves (one for hand tender pump one for axle-driven pump); two pop-type safety valves, steam turret, snifting valve, pump bypass valve, blow-down valve on water gauge, pressure gauge, screw-type regulator, blower, blower valve, whistle, whistle valve
Fuel Coal
Blow-off pressure 60 psi
Cylinders Two outside cylinders with D-valves
Reversing gear Slip eccentric with linkage through frames to D-valves above cylinders
Lubricator Displacement, mounted beneath smokebox
Dimensions 22” long x 4-1/2” high x 2-3/4” wide
Weight 8-1/2 pounds
The engine as it came to the author.
Left: Boiler parts, including the newly made tapered shell, running boards, bands, grate, and the modified boiler itself at the lower right.

Below: The boiler front, showing the five flues and one larger superheater tube. Above the flues are the solid stay (right) and the hollow stay.

The rebuilt backhead. Left to right: pressure gauge, water glass with blowdown, throttle (regulator), blower, and whistle. The fire door is below the throttle.
Above: The snifting valve can be seen below and to the left of the screw in the side of the smokebox.

Left: The front of the locomotive. The lubricator is below the smokebox.

Above: Horizontal rocker arms take the motion from the eccentrics through the frames to the valves.

Left: The underside of the engine, showing the slip eccentrics on the center axle. Below it is the axle pump; above is the whistle.

The six-wheel tender, painted LNER "wartime black."
The fully rebuilt locomotive, resplendent in its new black paint.
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