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Stephenson Patentee (Trix)

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The model of a Stephenson Patentee by Trix represents a design for a railway steam engine pioneered by Robert Stephenson and Company in the early 1830s.

 

By 1830, the company's 2-2-0 Planet defined an engine with inside cylinders located at the front, and a steam dome to prevent water from reaching the cylinders. The 2-2-2 arrangement of 1834 was an evolutionary development of the Planet, with the third axle adding stability and space for a larger firebox. The buffers and couplings were in the locations standardised with the Planet.

 

The engine 'Adler' ('Eagle') of 1835 was thus one of the earliest examples of the Patentee. It was delivered to Germany in a short time scale, supplied as a kit of parts and assembled upon delivery. The company sent their engineer William Wilson to supervise the build.

 

The company exported built examples of the Patentee to the Netherlands, Russia and Italy, and licensed construction of the first steam railway engine built in Belgium. By 1838 the type had become the company’s standard design for passenger trains. The 2-2-2 wheel arrangement remained the preferred arrangement for steam railway engines throughout the 1840s, and many of the Patentees continued to work in service for 20 years or so. The Adler was withdrawn and broken up in 1857.

 

The Trix model is probably based on the replica of the Adler built for celebrations of the centenary of German railways in 1935, supplemented by drawings of the original. The model comes as a train pack with three coaches, propulsion being provided by a motor in one of the coaches.

 

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The model is likely to find a home with the modeller of early railways or a person who wants to run a 'museum' style train from time to time. The wheels are coarse scale, and this seems to enhance the character of the model.

 

The model is a fine reproduction of the engine as initially portrayed by the replica. The frames were of wood, strengthened with sheet metal, and the mouldings reproduce these nicely. The detail at the front includes the fronts of the two cylinders and a dummy scale coupling with a hook and link. The wooden cladding on the boiler is neatly done too, and the model seems to capture the character of its subject well. The general look of the model is helped a great deal by the use of a true scale gauge. The use of a deliberately narrowed gauge for such a small prototype would upset the proportions.

 

At a glance, the only obvious compromise is the over-scale thickness of the moulded railings on the footplate. The model omits the headlamps seen on the replica, but to my eye the only significant differences are the boiler stays being finished in black (red on the replica) and the upper tender sides being black as well (green on the replica).

 

The Patentees had no flanges on their driving wheels, in an effort to help the engine negotiate sharp curves. The true necessity of this is unclear, though of course Tri-ang caught up with the idea over a hundred years later. The model has flanged wheels instead, but the error is not obvious unless you know the detail.

 

The prototypes achieved a speed of around 40 mph and could pull twelve coaches or wagons. The model easily achieves this speed, but as supplied there is no rear coupling to add a longere train.

 

The prototypes had no brakes. Braking was done with a spindle brake on the wheels on one side of the tender, and the model includes the brake handle.

 

These engines were built before the introduction of a standardised loading gauge, and the chimney is rather tall - about 58 mm (a scale 5 metres / 16' 6") above rail level. As it happens, the overhead line on my tramway is just high enough to let the model run through, but one of my tunnels is about 3 mm too low.

 

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The train can run on Hornby and Peco code 100 track, and a bit surprisingly on Kato Unitrack (code 83 FB) and SMP type J (code 75 BH) where the rail fixings are quite slender. The wheel flanges are too coarse to run on Peco Streamline code 75 FB track, Tillig code 82 FB track, or through a Peco code 75 BH turnout. There are electrical pickups on all three coaches, and my example never stalls or fails to start. Realistic slow running is not really possible with this generation of motor, but the three-pole armature runs reliably as it cogs its way from one pole to the next.

 

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The main limitation of the model is the provision of power in the train. Realistic operation is confined to 'watching a train go by' or a tram-style shuttle service. The train has simple bar couplers between each vehicle, attached with screws. You can uncouple the engine from the train by lifting the tender off the track, but the other couplers are semi-permanent and there is electric wiring between the coaches.

 

The modeller wanting to upgrade the mechanism to something more modern will find several candidates able to fit into the first coach, ranging from a Tenshodo spud to one of the QuadDriver units from High Level Models. I cannot visualise a chassis able to fit into the tender, even with a modern motor and an enlarged hollow load of model coal.

 

For those thinking of an upgrade before purchase, the wheelbase of the tender and of each coach is 22 mm, with 11 mm 10-spoke wheels throughout. An upgrade of the driving wheels in the engine requires some thought because they should be without crankpin bosses. It may be easiest to find a friend with a lathe able to turn down the front faces of the originals a little, and remove the flanges. The leading and trailing wheels of the engine are again 11 mm, 10-spoke.

 

The 1935 replica of the Adler was severely damaged in a fire in 2005. The Deutsche Bundesbahn decided to restore the replica, and in the process the replica became externally closer to the original engine. The modeller wishing to change the model to improve its authenticity should therefore look to the present-day version of the replica rather than photographs taken during the celebrations of 1935, 1960 and 1985.

 

Secondhand prices in Great Brtain vary a great deal. I paid £75 for my train at a swap meet in early 2018, but I see dealers on eBay asking around £200. The condition of a forty year old model can be very worn indeed, and it is sensible to exercise caution when buying such a model at a distance. A reputable seller will allow returns for 14 days, which is useful if a model is found to fall short of expectations on receipt.

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That is a lovely model of an iconic loco! Thanks for such an informative post, Richard.  

 

BTW for those unlucky individuals who are not modelling British railways in 3.5 mm, I see Newman Miniatures now has 3D printed Patentees in N and OO on its Shapeways page.   

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