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Mike Pavie Locomotives

Mike Pavie started his first locomotive, an LBSC small boilered Tich, in 1968 when he was just 13 years old. While being far from perfect, it did work and was the start of a lifelong passion for miniature locomotives. Mike writes, "I can clearly remember the looks on the other lads faces at the interview for an aircraft engineering apprenticeship at British European Airways in 1971. When we were asked to bring something that we had made, most people had a coat hook or screwdriver all polished for presentation. On reflection a 3 inch gauge steam loco was perhaps a little flash!"

Mike has built a total of twenty passenger hauling live steamers since then, culminating in two Welsh narrow gauge locos, a USA standard 4-4-0, an LMS Royal Scot, and a GWR King (all in 7 inch gauge). For a change he also built a 4 inch scale Foster agricultural engine. All these models were sold to fund the startup of his own engineering business on leaving British Airways after 30 years service.

His aim is to build ten locomotives every three years. So far his Gauge 3 models have ranged from various pacific types (Gresley A4 and A3, Peppercorn A1, Britannias, Duke of Gloucester), to the Riddles 9F and even lowly Hunslets. A small deposit will secure the engine of your choice for the future! Mike may be contacted at mike@pavie.plus.com

A History of Mike's Locomotives

The first Gauge 3 live steamer which Mike built was an LMS Patriot class 4-6-0. Since that time he has maintained a prodigious output of model locomotives. I seriously doubt that anyone in either the UK or North America has built as many, at least not since the days of commercial builders such as Basset-Lowke. Mike, writing for the model press about 2006, describes how his locomotives differ from that of Basset-Lowke and other venerable manufacturers:

In the early part of the last century, Gauge 3 garden railways were predominantly supported by Bing, Bassett Lowke, Carette and Jubb. These fairly basic spirit fired locomotives were ideal for gauge 3. They would run sedately with a few coaches without requiring too much attention. In the early 1920’s a young man called Lillian Lawrence began to modify these commercial locomotives producing much more powerful machines which could pull an adult along. Ultimately Mr. Lawrence began to write for many model magazines under the pen name LBSC. His brilliant designs transformed 2" gauge locomotives from weak commercial toys to powerful coal fired passenger haulers.

However, you don’t get ought for naught, and LBSC locomotives slowly grew in size to provide the power, and scale dimensions became of secondary importance. This effectively destroyed the interest in gauge 3 scenic railways for many years until the gauge 3 society was formed in 1990 to rekindle the enthusiasm.

When I joined the society, most of the locomotives running were LBSC designed passenger haulers hauling a train of several coaches (a much lighter duty than they were intended for!). This is not the ideal motive power due to their excess weight and power being unsuitable for the scale track.

I was asked to build a loco for one of the members and I decided that a locomotive design pitched somewhere between the old commercial designs and the LBSC passenger haulers was required. My locomotives feature the adequate bearing areas found in the passenger haulers combined with lighter weight, (closer to scale) framing and reduced cylinder bores, ports and passage ways. The copper coal fired boilers are fitted with screw down regulators to provide fine control and reduced size axle pumps, to reflect the lower steam consumption of the smaller cylinders. This first locomotive, a LMS Patriot was very successful and has led to 18 – 20 subsequent engines, each one fine tuning the requirements a little further and being slightly more detailed than its predecessor. With the exception of the gas fired A4’s they are all coal fired.

My recent batch of LNER locomotives consisted of 3 Gresley A3s and a Peppercorn A1. The engines are built to a scale of 17/32 in to 1foot, which is true scale for 2 inch gauge. These are 3 cylinder machines 11/16inch bore x 1 1/8 in stroke. The A3s being fitted with Gresley/Holcroft conjugated valve gear for the inside cylinder and Walschearts gear outside.The Peppercorn engine has Walschearts gear outside and the inside cylinder has slip eccentric gear in order to reduce the number of inaccessible working parts inside the frames. Cylinder lubrication is taken care of using a simple displacement lubricator fitted behind the front buffer beam. The forward footplate lifts off to facilitate oil servicing.

The all silver soldered coal fired boilers are made from 1/16 thick copper and fitted with 8 x 3/8inch diameter fire tubes and 1 x 3/4inch diameter flue which houses the super-heater element. They work at 80psi and were hydraulically tested to 160psi. The grate sections can be tipped up to clear the residue after a run.

Boiler feed is by axle driven pump 3/8inch stroke and 3/8inch bore. A screw down bypass valve on the footplate controls the feed rate. A tender hand pump is also fitted to enable the boiler to be filled prior to steaming. All the valve gear and coupling/connecting rods are machined from mild steel and fitted with bronze bushes. The plate work is constructed from 20swg brass and designed in sub-assemblies which enables the engine to be dismantled for maintenance in a relatively short time without damaging the paintwork. These engines were built from the works general arrangement drawings together with reference to photographs, no other drawings were required. I obtained the drawings from the National Railway Museum archive.

I should mention that the superb paint job on these models is nothing to do with me! Les Richards in the Isle of Wight paints all my models.

So far, only one A3 has been steamed. I was very pleased with the performance, it ran quietly with 6 coaches, attention to the fire only being required every 15 minutes. On subsequent runs we will increase the coach load to 12. This will make a train almost 40 feet long, incredibly realistic as it glides past.

With the A3s project behind me I recently designed and built a Gauge 3 Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0 saddle tank for "Stuart" models of Guernsey. This loco will eventually be produced and marketed as a kit similar to Aster products. The production is eagerly awaited by Gauge 3 members, many of whom have indicated they would like a Hunslet kit themselves.

(June 2008 Update)

"I am currently building 8 locomotives, 2 Britannia’s, 2 Duke of Gloucesters, 2 Rebuilt Merchant Navy’s and 2 Modified Halls. The Halls are the next kit prototype for Stuart Models. My future order book is filling up and the next build will some some smaller locos (a LNER N2 tank, two LNWR coal engines, a Cauliflower and a Watford tank). Also 4 LMS Duchess pacifics, 2 LNER V2 2-6-2s and a Southern West Country pacific are also in the works".

"Gauge 3 has a lot to offer. It is the largest scale scenic garden railway and the degree of realism is superb, locos have exhaust beats like the real ones and the trains seem to rattle by for ages. This, together with the friendliest bunch of blokes you could hope to meet makes for a great day out."

"The next lot is four Great Western Kings and 4 LMS Jubilees (no retirement yet)!"    (A complete list of Mike's locomotives, with pics, is charted below--Dave)

Mike's Workshop  

I am consistently amazed by the way some men can do so much, with a minimum of tools, in a minimum of space. Mike Pavie is one of those men. His workshop is located in a detached double car garage next door to his home (a deconsecrated Methodist chapel). The garage is divided into two halves, one half being the workshop proper (heated for those -5 C winters), the other half housing his material stores and guillotine. Surprisingly, the machine tools which call Mike's workshop home are all manual machines. He summarizes his equipment:

(1) Myford 254s high speed centre lathe ,with tapered roller bearings, a geared headstock and screw-cutting gearbox with hardened bed and 10 inch swing. (2) Senior universal milling machine: The mill has a 3 phase motor powered from a static inverter which gives variable frequency 3 phase from domestic single phase supply, giving infinite speed control. (3) Meddings drill press (4) Off hand bench grinder (5) Tip lap cutter grinder for sharpening end mills (6) Metal cutting bandsaw with 10 inch throat (7) Edwards guillotine 1 meter X 16 gage swing (8) 2 sets bench rolls (9) Brake press and small guillotine combined (10) 10 cu. ft. / min. compressor (11) plus all the usual hand tools and tooling for the machines.

Construction Photographs

Considering that Mike has not entered the age of CAD and CNC machining, it is remarkable just how prolific he is in building scale live steam locomotives in Gauge 3. Most all of Mike's work is done on either a manual lathe or a manual mill--no Wire EDM's or CNC machining centers here! Admittedly his main frames are farmed out to a job shop where they are stamped, but Mike does the rest. And manual machine work of the quality necessary to build the Britannia 4-6-2 chassis at right takes time. Here are two examples:

Machining Investment Cast Drivers: Better than three weeks were required to machine the sixty investment cast iron drivers below along with ninety wheels for lead, trailing, and tender trucks. That's enough wheels and drivers to build ten locomotive chassis and seven tenders. Mike's wheels, I should add, are cast by a fellow Brit: Mr. Mark Wood. You can view his impressive line of castings here.

Machining Reverse Links & Rods: Manual milling requires a good deal of ingenuity--tricks of the trade--in order to produce anything other than basic pockets and square blocks. A case in point is reverse links (those things that rock back and forth in the middle of a Walschaerts vale gear). Mike makes his by first turning the right diameter of steel disk on his lathe, cuts grooves into it (only a rotary milling table I suspect) and then uses a slitting saw (at right) to separate each link from the next. Fluted main rods are made by running a Woodruff key seat cutter against a length of steel held in a custom made jig (far right).

Punched Frames: British style plate frames are just odd to an American's eyes, but they seem to be imminently more user friendly from a model maker's perspective; plus, they can be punched with a die, or cut out with either a laser or a water jet. Mike's frames are 2mm steel, as one would expect for a live steam model. These particular frames, above, are for several models of the LMS Coronation Princess class 4-6-2, now nearing completion.

2004-2008 Construction Photographs

There's gold in that there cabinet (or four years worth of work)! Some of Mike's projects from 2004-2008 are represented below: The thumnails below show from left to right (1) a Britannia class 4-6-2 chassis (2) Britannia #70046 Anzac (3) Bulleid Rebuilt Merchant Navy class 4-6-2 Orient Line (4) Peppercorn A1 class 4-6-2 Alcazar (5) Gresley A3 class 4-6-2 Flying Scotsman (6) Great Western Railway Hall class 4-6-0 Burton Agnes Hall  (7) and a grab bag of boilers for the same. The locos in the cabinet are several Britannias, Duke of Gloucesters, rebuilt Merchant Navies & two Halls.

2008-2011 Construction Photographs

Since June of 2008 Mike has been working on another batch of locomotives. There are ten in all, pictured at left:
Top row (left to right):   LMS Duchess,  LMS Duchess,  LNER Gresley V2,  LNER N2 tank, Southern Railway West Country.
Bottom row (left to right):  LMS Duchess, LNER Gresley  V2, LMS Duchess, LNWR Cauliflower 0-6-0, LNWR Watford tank 0-6-2.

The Tenders: When Mike builds a tender, he does so several at a time. These frames were assembled in Spring 2009.

LMS Coronation Princess (non-streamlined or "Duchess" Class) 4-6-2:

Here are a few pics of Mike's four Duchess class Pacifics in various stages of construction. These are four cylinder locomotives but are not compound. Like the prototype, Mike uses a unique variation of Walschaerts valve gear. To the best of my knowledge, no multi-cylinder locomotives, save for one or two simple articulated types, were ever built in even the halcyon days of 2" gauge in America. Well done!

Chassis & Valve Gear: (Note the two Walschaerts gear actuating 4 cylinders using rockers.)

Lead & Trailing Truck:                              Engine w/o Tender:      The Completed Loco:

LNER Gresley V2 2-6-2

Mike's model of the well-known LNER V2 is built with three cylinders and functional Gresley conjugated valve gear!

Frame & Chassis

Gresley Conjugated Valve Gear:                                                    The Completed Loco:

SR Bulleid West Country 4-6-2

Mike's model of Oliver Bulleid's lighter version of his idiosyncratic Merchant Navy class, the West Country, features two cylinders and slip eccentric valve gear between the frames so as to externally mimic the look of the Bulleid chain drive valve gear--and yet with much more reliable performance! The streamlined, or "air-smoothed" casing is itself worthy of comment.



Gresley LNER A4 4-6-2

Strictly speaking Mike's model of the Gresley 3 cylinder up-side-down-bathtub streamlined A4 pacific was not part of his 2008-2011 projects. However in 2011 one came back for a servicing, and so here is Sir Nigel Gresley in all his emerald green glory.

LMS Patriot 4-6-0

A second engine that returned for servicing in 2011 after 17 years of hard work was the LMS Patriot 4-6-0 that Mike had built in 1994. Here are a few pics of the locomotive with and without its scarlet paint.


Three Smaller Locomotives:

Here are a few pics of two of Mike's smaller locomotives from this production run. To North American eyes, the 0-6-2 wheel arrangement is odd indeed! But most remarkable is the Joy valve gear used on both the 0-6-2 tank engines as well as the 0-6-0 tender loco--true works of art.

LNER N2 tank 0-6-2

LNWR Watford tank 0-6-2

LNWR Cauliflower 0-6-0

The Gauge 3 Locomotives of Mike Pavie -- A Complete Listing (as of August 2011)


Prototype Class Name / Engine No.

No. of Models

Remarks: All locomotives are fitted with slide valve cylinders unless otherwise stated.

(Click on thumbnails)

1994 LMS 4-6-0 Patriot Leicester Regiment #5503 1 Coal fired, 3 cylinders, 3 sets Walschaerts valve gear
1995 LNER 4-6-0 B17 Leicester City 1 Coal fired, 2 cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear
1995 LMS 4-6-0 Deeley 999 1 Coal fired, 2 inside cylinders, Joy valve gear  
1995 LNWR 4-4-0 Precursor Shooting Star 1 Coal fired, 2 inside cylinders, Joy valve gear
1996 GWR 4-6-0 Castle Class Earl of Plymouth &
Tintagel Castle
2 Coal fired, 4 cylinders, 2 sets Walschaerts valve gear
1998 BR 2-10-0
Riddles 9F Evening Star &
2 Coal fired, 2 piston valve cylinders , Walschaerts valve gear
1999 BR 2-6-4 4MT Standard Tank (no #) 1 coal fired, 2 cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear  
2002 LNER 4-6-2
Gresley A4 Bittern  #60019
Falcon  #60025
Sir Nigel Gresley  #60007
3 Gas fired, 3 cylinders, Walschaerts / Gresley Holcroft valve gear
2004 LNER 4-6-2
Gresley A3 Flying Scotsman  #4472
Flying Fox  #?
Dick Turpin  #?
3 Coal fired, 3 cylinders, Walschaerts / Gresley Holcroft valve gear
2004 LNER 4-6-2
Peppercorn A1 Alcazar  #60136 1 Coal fired, 3 cylinders, Walschaerts / slip eccentric valve gear
2005 LNER 0-6-0 J94 Hunslet Austerity Bridget &
2 Coal fired, 2 inside cylinders, slip eccentric valve gear
2008 SR 4-6-2
Rebuilt Merchant Navy British India Line  #35018
British Orient Line #?
2 Coal fired, 2 cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear
2008 BR 4-6-2
Britannia Lord Rowalan  #70045
Anzac  #70046
2 Coal fired, 2 cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear
2008 BR 4-6-2
Riddles 8P Duke of Gloucester 2 Coal fired, 2 cylinders, dummy Caprotti gear, inside slip eccentric valve gear   
2008 GWR 4-6-0 Modified Hall #8669 Burton Agnes Hall
#6980 Llanrumney Hall
2 Coal fired, 2 cylinders, inside slip eccentric valve gear

Locomotives Under Construction (June 2008-2011)

2011 LNER 2-6-2 Gresley V2 Unnamed 2 Coal fired , 3 cylinders, Walschaerts / Gresley Holcroft valve gear
LMS 4-6-2
Princess Coronation Unnamed 4 Coal fired, 4 cylinders, Walschaerts valve gear / rocking levers
2011 SR 4-6-2 Bulleid West Country Bideford 1 Coal or gas firing to customer choice, 2 cylinders, inside slip eccentric valve gear
2011 LNER 0-6-2T N2 Tank Unnamed 1 Coal fired, 2 inside cylinders, Joy valve gear  
2011 LNWR 0-6-2T Watford Tank Unnamed 1 Coal fired, 2 inside cylinders, Joy valve gear
2011 LNWR 0-6-0 Cauliflower Unnamed 1 Coal fired, 2 inside cylinders, Joy valve gear
Total Number of Gauge 3 Locomotives Constructed: 36    

Articles & Resources by Mike:

Boiler Making Hints
Gauge 3 Society Products

Last update: 8 December 2011

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