Hello little Ruston

I’m not sure if it could look more crude but also that I could feel more proud. Here’s a first progress photo of a little Ruston 16hp loco model I’ve started. It’s a case of a very large scale model of a small thing—I’m building this in 16mm scale for 32mm gauge track.

I pick away at it every day as much as I can and always look forward to working on it again soon. Currently it’s just a series of Ruston-shaped boxes and I’m keen to start fitting some finer details. I need to sort out how to power it but the model is huge compared to what I’m used to so I’m certain something fun will be what I go with. I’ll also need to sort out how to assemble the model and I’m tempted to embed tiny magnets in the corners of each subassembly to hold the hoods and cab in place—though, frankly, glueing it all together is very, very tempting (tempting, not smart).

This is…

  • the first thing I’ve ever scratchbuilt in this scale
  • the first time I’ve ever tried making an engine
  • A stupid amount of fun

What’s “16mm scale”? Naturally there’s a club that will do a better job of introducing it better than I ever would: https://www.16mm.org.uk/

My model is based on a beautiful drawing from the Merioneth Railway Society’s page: http://www.merionethrailwaysociety.com/ruston-16hp.html

My friend James has this really cool railway in the still larger 7/8” scale. Last weekend I had a really enjoyable time reading his posts on his Drfrdwy Tramway: https://paxton-road.blogspot.com/search/label/dyfrdwy%20tramway

Garden railroading isn’t part of my right now but there’s no reason that this couldn’t run on a short track here, indoors.

Categories: 16mm scale 32mm gauge, 16mm scale Ruston, modelmaking

Tags: , , ,

5 replies

  1. I’ve never tried one of these Rustons, only the later style 20DL… I did look at doing the 11/12hp ones that really did exist on the Deeside Tramway, the inspiration behind the Dyfrdwy Tramway…

    You’ve captured the character well so far, and I look forward to what follows. Delrin chain and sprocket can be useful, but a cheap and cheerful Chinese motor and batteries under the hood with an on / off / on switch instead of the gear lever would work as well for light use…

    There is something calming and mindful about larger scale modelling, about scratch building and about moving away from your normal modelling sometimes. Enjoy yourself!

    • There is something indeed quite different feeling, working on this model. The first I noticed was the effect of the large scale itself. While not an excuse for sloppy work the scale’s size compensates for parts that aren’t 100% perfect because, in this larger scale, it can absorb moments of slight imprecision.

      I’m using 0.040″ thick styrene sheet for the work so far. It’s readily available and sturdy to work with. Compared to much smaller scale work it’s refreshing to be not so dependent on materials that might be more difficult to purchase here in Atlantic Canada. As I move into those details that are based on things like wire I’m looking forward to being able to employ wire gauges I can buy in art supply stores instead of another special order from the hobby shop. In that sentiment is I think one of the great attractions here that this project invites a contemplation on: not just scratchbuilding but how we access the materials we’ll invest into the model itself.

      On powering it…there’s another fun conversation:

      I briefly thought I could use old Triang-era OO scale wheels. Their proportions might have translated nicely into this much larger scale. The chassis I was hoping to use wheels and gears from was the old 0-4-0 chassis but I believe it’s wheels are 16mm diameter not the 19-20 that I’m looking for here. You’d mentioned Slaters and I see they list some that will work. Equally, IP Engineering sell a chassis equipped with 20mm wheels.

      CHASSIS (i.e. wheels, gears, motors, in concert)
      I mentioned seeing an IP Engineering chassis that is complete including steel wheels for (I think) 35GBP and that is attractive if only because it’s everything all in one package. That chassis’ wheelbase isn’t right for this model but I can’t see any reason why it couldn’t be easily cut apart and changed–it’s the wheels, gears, and motor that I’m interested in, in the first place.

      Isn’t it cool to work in a scale so large that your motor options feel limitless? Even classic (albeit high current draw) motors like the old Pittman DC90’s that were once so popular will fit easily into this model–it’s just that large. In the smaller scales this would be the domain of micro motors.

      I can’t help but feel I’m on the edge of having to revisit a statement about radio control and batteries. Life’s like that though. We should be confronted with our past opinions so we can mature and contemplate if they’re still current and correct. So…

      Analog DC is easy.

      I bought that NCE DCC controller. I am a fan of layouts like Fen End Pit and believe they use DCC control on that layout. Given the space inside this model why not keep at DCC here too? It seems easy enough. Just imagine the size of a speaker I can fit inside this hood? (35mm square in the main engine bay alone!)

      I can’t help but think that I could create a controller from Arduino components. I believe this is what Loco Remote do with theirs. A Wifi or Bluetooth shield added to an Arduino would allow me to talk directly to the locomotive from my cell phone and control it from there. This would be the most complicated solution (i.e. figure it out myself compared to a more “pay and play” options like DCC but I find the creativity factor intriguing. I think this is something I want to explore but if I take it on now it’ll only be overwhelming and I want to avoid that feeling if at all possible.

      I ordered a pile of rail (Micro Engineering) and then some skips (Binnie) so should have enough to really get some good play time in here with all this together.

      In the end, studying my work to date on most things, I am looking for something that has me wasting less of my time on cruising through catalogues looking for parts and models to buy and more time screwing around with models to tinker with. I think it could be fun to see how well my lessons learned from Coy’s superb trackwork would translate into this larger scale. I’m excited about making things. I’m in no rush to rebrand myself with some premature statement of “I work in 16mm now” but it’s definitely something that feels like it needs to happen.

      That I feel this attracted to the workbench again is certainly good. That alone is validation enough.

      I always enjoy the conversation. Great to talk–we should actually do that again soon.


  2. This is going to be fun, to build and to watch the build!
    Thanks for sharing,

    • Thank you Eric. It is really fun.

      I’ve been really lucky this last year’s worth of months. Projects like Coy, even though they didn’t reach completion reminded me of how much I enjoy working in this hobby. That feeling of reconnection to something important to me. I feel continuity of that feeling into this project: as mentioned, even if this little model goes nowhere I’m keen to be at the workbench working on it. That’s a feeling that I’m glad to be feeling.

      I’ll try and save up updates to save in chapters even if they’re only this brief but I’m looking forward to seeing what Future Chris does with this. I hope he makes it.



  1. Thakeham Overlap – Prince Street

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