John Littler’s


John Littler’s Little Jen traction engine will be well-known to recent exhibition visitors where it is usually shown on the stand of the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers, of which John is an active member. Until the Sandown Park exhibition in 2012 it was always seen in brass, and looking very good. Now it painted. Fortunately, it has lost none of its appeal in the process.

It is based on the Little Ben design which appeared in Model Engineer magazine in 2001, designed by New Zealander Bruce Robertson in 1:24 scale, as an example of a ‘garden gauge’ engine, which was simple but featuring slide valve gear. The stroke is 9/16” and bore 1/2”.

John’s version differs from the original. A centre stay is fitted to the boiler, which is removable. The flywheel has been moved to the near side, in line with English practice, and the front wheels are fitted with stub axles to facilitate steering. The main bearings are designed to look more authentic.

The chimney and base were redesigned and a copper cap fitted. Instead of being brazed inside the chimney, the safety valve was made removable.

The castings originally available for the wheel were no longer available and so Mamod wheels were used.

Many items were fitted which do not feature on the original design including:

  1. Hub caps

  2. Steering

  3. Steam fount and gauge

  4. Slip eccentric valve gear

  5. Cover to tail of valve rod

  6. Glands to valve and pistons - including lengthening the piston rods

  7. Spectacle frames and one plate

  8. Oilers

  9. Drawbars and pins

  10. Drive gears and casing

  11. Neutral/drive selector

  12. Displacement lubricator

  13. Hinged smoke box door and dart

  14. Boiler bands

  15. Rivets to simulate separate smoke box

  16. ‘Obligatory’ bucket on front draw bar

John’s version is meths fired like the original, although with its great new paint job, we think it will only be running on compressed air for a while.