Ac­cord­ing to Chris…

His grand­chil­dren call him ‘Grand­dad Trains’ and he’s been a ded­i­cated rail­way mod­eller since the 1960s but, de­spite pop­u­lar leg­end, Chris Leigh doesn’t re­mem­ber when di­nosaurs roamed the Earth!

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Chris dis­cusses mo­tors in lo­co­mo­tives and us­ing them with older con­trollers.

Core­less mo­tor. What was your re­ac­tion to those two words? Cu­rios­ity? An­noy­ance? An­tic­i­pa­tion of an­other war of words? There’s lit­tle doubt that, to some mod­ellers, the words are in­stant provo­ca­tion. It re­minds me of the re­ac­tion to ‘VHS’ by a Be­ta­max video user, or to ‘cas­sette tape’ by those com­mit­ted to vinyl records. I’m not sure that I ever heard, among those same folk, a sim­i­lar re­ac­tion to ‘45rpm’ when their gramo­phone would only play at 78rpm. But I’m sure ev­ery­one thought that the sty­lus was an improve­ment over the steel nee­dle. But back to core­less mo­tors. They are not a new thing but de­vel­op­ments in mo­tor de­sign and con­struc­tion have meant that a core­less mo­tor can of­fer ma­jor ad­van­tages in a model lo­co­mo­tive, par­tic­u­larly where space is at a premium. It does, how­ever, need to be the right core­less mo­tor for the job, as the down side is that they pro­duce less torque, and con­se­quently gen­er­ate more heat. The other down side is that we haven’t yet be­come ac­cus­tomed to them. Not that we’ve re­ally had much chance to be­come used to any­thing be­cause, as in every tech­nol­ogy, change and improve­ment has been on­go­ing. When I started work in 1963, Tri-ang’s X04 and Hornby-dublo’s Ring­field

Many of us are re­luc­tant to throw out old stuff if it still works

were ‘state of the art’. The X04 may have been less pow­er­ful, more ba­sic and cheaper, but it won hands down be­cause it was also smaller. It was adopted as a sta­ple for pow­er­ing kits too, un­til su­pe­rior mo­tors with the same di­men­sions came along. In the mean­time, Tri-ang took things down one more size with the XT60 mo­tor, de­vel­oped for the 12mm gauge ‘TT’ range. Ev­ery­thing changed again in the 1970s with the re­turn of Ring­field mag­nets in the so-called ‘pan­cake’ mo­tor adopted by Lima and Tri-ang Hornby. By us­ing this in ten­der-drive mech­a­nisms for steam lo­co­mo­tives and mo­tor bo­gies for diesels, se­ri­ous sav­ings could be made in the man­u­fac­ture and stock­ing of parts. Over­all, how­ever, mod­ellers did not like them. The spur gear­ing was rel­a­tively un­so­phis­ti­cated and slow run­ning was hit-and-miss, while a steam lo­co­mo­tive pushed by its ten­der was sel­dom a con­vinc­ing sight. That other bane of 1960s mod­ellers, trac­tion tyres, also re­turned with a vengeance on these six-wheel drive mech­a­nisms, usu­ally af­fect­ing the num­ber of power-col­lect­ing wheels and de­grad­ing per­for­mance even fur­ther. Since the move to Chi­nese man­u­fac­tur­ing in this cen­tury, there has been very lit­tle stan­dard­i­s­a­tion of mo­tors. At first there was a move from three-pole to five-pole mo­tors, and to en­closed ‘can’ mo­tors. In re­cent years, with mo­tors of­ten housed in in­ac­ces­si­ble cas­ings, the mo­tor has be­come in­creas­ingly in­te­grated with the chas­sis and gear train, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for re­view­ers to as­cer­tain ex­actly what type of mo­tor is fit­ted. We’ve even had in­stances where dif­fer­ent pro­duc­tion runs of the same model have had dif­fer­ent mo­tors, Ox­ford’s ‘Dean Goods’ be­ing a case in point (ini­tially five-pole, later three-pole). The core­less mo­tor of­fers a dou­ble ad­van­tage in a bet­ter power:size ra­tio and qui­eter run­ning – ideal at­tributes for po­ten­tial DCC sound in­stal­la­tion. Though not a pre­req­ui­site for all mod­ellers, a 21st-cen­tury lo­co­mo­tive tool­ing does need to make pro­vi­sion for this de­vel­op­ing as­pect of rail­way modelling. The down­side of core­less mo­tors – and some other mod­ern types – is that they are not tol­er­ant of the cur­rent ‘spikes’ which can hap­pen with older model rail­way con­trollers. It seems that 1960s model rail­way con­trollers, though un­so­phis­ti­cated, were built to last and some mod­ellers are re­luc­tant to up­date their equip­ment. Many of us are dis­in­clined to throw out old stuff if it still works. As a re­sult, I was sur­prised to find no fewer than five ‘gen­er­a­tions’ of con­troller at home, three of them in reg­u­lar use on my lay­outs. Only one of those con­trollers still in use is ana­logue, and that’s on my Bri­tish ‘OO’ gauge lay­out. It is around 15 years old and is Gauge­mas­ter’s con­troller for dou­ble track. It is prob­a­bly time I up­graded again, but it is com­pat­i­ble with mod­ern mo­tors and still in pro­duc­tion so there seems lit­tle point. The old­est of my con­trollers is an H&M model which was used for re­view­ing mod­els at Model Rail­way Con­struc­tor back in the 1960s. I keep it for his­tor­i­cal in­ter­est and be­cause its six switch­able cir­cuits en­able me to pro­vide vari­able power for light­ing or pow­er­ing ac­ces­sories when noth­ing else is avail­able. I can’t imag­ine any cir­cum­stance un­der which I would use it to power trains as, at 60 years old, it is at least twice the age of any lo­co­mo­tives that I op­er­ate. Tech­nol­ogy moves on, and what other 60-year-old elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ance would we even con­sider us­ing?

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