Last year I embarked on an ambitious project to scratch build no less than four locomotives by Messrs Rennie of Blackfriars, London.
In 1838/39 the brothers constructed five engines for the London & Southampton Rly., and two for the London & Croydon Rly. It is clear from studying the drawing published by Brees in his 'Railway Practice' that the design was a combination of Stephenson's Patentee and the popular and sturdy 2-2-2 by Sharp & Co of Manchester. However, having no previous experience in the field, the minute books at Kew tell us that all seven engines were miserable performers constantly requiring attention to keep them in service. Two further examples of this type were built for the London & Brighton and two more were built and exported to Germany.
Despite a growing reputation for shoddy workmanship, in 1841 Daniel Gooch commissioned Rennies to build two engines of the Fire Fly class for the broad gauge GWR. Gooch supplied patterns and templates to ensure the engines were built exactly as he intended and since the Fire Fly's were a modification of Stephenson's superb Star Class, these two engines named Mazeppa and Arab were excellent. At the time they entered traffic they were the most powerful of their class having slightly larger cylinders than their stablemates.
The result of this order was that Messrs Rennie now had experience of building a 'proper' locomotive and based on this they then built three further engines, Satellite in late 1841 for the London & Brighton Rly, and Man of Kent and Kentish Man for the Joint Committee of the L&CR and the SER in 1842/43. Contemporary reports tell us that all three were a roaring success. As a representation of Rennie's locomotives I chose to model Croydon, Satellite and Kentish Man (the fourth being a duplicate Satellite in 00 for a friend).
To save making frame sides again and again I decided to make one master for each side of the sandwich frame, set them in a mould and cast them, then assemble each side frame as a proper sandwich. This saved a lot of time especially with duplicating Satellite. The buffer beams are universal so they were also made as castings as were a number of other parts required in number.
The tender was also made in this way and treated as a 'kit', after all I need four of them. The idea is that a simple motor bogie unit will go in each tender and this universal power unit will be easily produced for each loco.
Croydon is taking shape. I made masters for the boiler, firebox and smokebox for all the locos and cast them from resin to reduce weight. Having moulds for each of these units makes them interchangeable and potentially useful for future projects too. Creating Croydon's distinctive octagonal dome was fun...!
Satellite is just balanced in its wheels for this trial fitting. This one is in 00 so quite a bit of material had to be shaved out of the boiler, firebox and smokebox in order to fit the wheels in what is realistically the wrong place! The splashers will remain polished brass and should look quite grand in the end.