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Southam is my 3 1/2" gauge model of a Hudswell Clarke shunter, D604, which operated for many years at a cement works in Warwickshire.

Many model engineers dream of travelling along a model railway behind a locomotive of their own making. Sadly the cost, time and complexity of even a 3 1/2 inch gauge steam locomotive can be enough to deter many beginners. My solution to this was Southam, an inexpensive but characterful diesel outline electric locomotive in 3 ½” gauge that is currently being serialised in Model Engineer.

Most designs for such small diesel models are functional and follow rather boxy prototypes. This model is based on one of Hudswell Clarke’s early designs, these were made to resemble their steam powered products and have plenty of character and detail. Construction took about six months.

I used LBSC’s classic design for a contractor’s locomotive, Tich, as a reference point. If I could match the power and adhesive weight of this live-steam 3 1/2 inch gauge 0-4-0 in my electric 0-4-0, then it should have a comparable performance. In the end I managed to achieve this specification - the all up weight is about 25lbs (12kg) compared to about 20lbs for Tich and, with the motor I used, the power available, 80 watts, is about the same or perhaps rather more – the limiting factor for Southam is the available traction as it will always slip rather than stall. Like Tich, the design is simple and straightforward and can be finished to any level of detail the builder desires in the knowledge that it will comfortably pull a hefty adult (I’m 6 foot two inches and about 14 stone) around most tracks.

I wasn't happy with it's gaudy 'factory' finish, which I decided isn’t ideal for a working shunter that spent its life in a cement works, so I went to work with your dust and rust paints, using an Arism compressor and Sparmax airbrush all from www.airbrushes.com. A bit of research soon showed that the radiator grill at the front is a prime target for cement dust!

Southam Weathered 5

Southam won a Highly Commended Certificate at the 2016 Model Engineer Exhibition in this guise.


Southam Weathered 6

Southam was serialised in Model Engineer Magazine from mid-2016 to mid-2017.

The issues are: ME: 4539, 4541, 4543, 4545, 4547, 4549, 4551, 4553, 4555, 4557, 4561, 4568.


Southam running on the Nottingham SME track


 Southam on the cover of Model Engineer Magazine