WINGS, Wheels and Whistles is an event hosted by the Pietermaritzburg ME Society annually, and is becoming more popular with each passing year. This year’s event was held on August 6/7.

The society invites a variety of modelling groups, from model engineering (of course), HO/OO electric trains, dolls houses and furniture, woodworking, radio control model aircraft, black powder cannons, horse drawn wagons, etc etc,  to display their activities and possibly recruit new members. The ground level track also appeals to live steamers from far and wide, and so the WWW do turns into a mini steam meet, which in turn provides locos for the largish passenger hauling requirements that result.

Firstly the weather!  Well, South Africa had just experienced a passing cold front, including a blizzard with snow blocking the main traffic to the interior. So, very cold, slightly wet conditions were encountered on the Saturday, which was still quite acceptable. Sunday though was totally perfect – such a contrast, and could not be bettered!

Since this is a model engineering site, I will restrict my comments to that activity. On display on the tables were all the normal stationary bric a brac, various 3 1/2” and 5” gauge locomotives normally found including a 7 ¼'' gauge Rocket.

What really caught my attention was a 5'' gauge  Britannia, under construction, but this one is unique since it has a steel boiler. Whether the model loco will conform to all the scale outlines does not matter here – the extra traction from the heavier boiler will serve it well!

A portable Gauge O & 1  track had an impressive display of commercially made locos. There are various home built G1 locos in the pipeline, so one can expect to see some growth in these gauges.

Another loco worth noting is a SAR 19 D, built in 7 ¼” gauge – which makes it slightly over 2”/ ft scale – yes, 1/6th full size. This loco is being constructed with CNC machines, so CAD design capabilities are essential.

Live steam loco building can be a really personal thing, can take years, a real life sentence and, unfortunately, can get beyond one if fate intervenes. However, unfinished work tends to find a new owner somewhere down the line, and I imagine very few end up on the dump, although there are cases of such,  along with some fortunate rescues. Quality builds should survive though. So some locos under construction were not seen, their builders having passed on during the year, but family members are now the custodians of their work.  RIP   Paul Young and Don Le Roux.

Out on the track, well it became rather busy on both days. In 7 ¼” , A Royal Scot, Highlander, two Avonside NG Cane loco's, an SAR 16 class, a Large Simplex and the free lance Highwayman (more on this later). Five inch gauge were  a Hunslet (Don Young's), a Baldwin, and an Avonside cane loco. The 'Diesels' also ran, but they just make noise!  A 3” scale traction engine made steam too.

The loco, The Highwayman, was built by a group of mostly retired gents, members, either from the Durban SME or the PMES, who lived basically between the two facilities. The group was formed with the express purpose of building a 7 ¼'' gauge loco, designed by one of the members, but based loosely on a Martin Evan's William, with SAR features. The work was spread out between the various members, and each month, a luncheon and meeting was held to discuss their progress.

Once the loco was completed, it was donated to the PMES. While it never performed consistently, it was at least theirs. As with a communal project, quality control is not always easy to achieve, some work  not as good as it could be. It must have been quite some task not to ruffle feathers and still keep going to completion, – hats off to them. As it was explained to me – climbing the mountain together.

The Highwayman's stalwart performance at this year’s WWW is due to a rebuild by one of the PMES members,  Roy Chilcot, who put aside his unfinished 7 ¼'' Tich to tackle the work. Congratulations Roy, and thanks from all the PMES  and surviving Highway group members.

I ran my 5'' Avonside on both days, the cold conditions on Saturday producing quite a dense cloud of oily (so I found out) exhaust steam from the chimney, making it sometimes difficult to see through. I think I will reduce the blast nozzle size to lift the cloud a bit higher – improving visibility and reducing the facial splash lubrication – I cannot go home looking like that again! Sunday, being warmer was better though, again, thinks – never go home looking like that again! My family just laughed!

An enjoyable weekend, a thank you to the PMES committee and visiting loco owners  from Witbank, East London, Bloemfontein, Johannesburg, Durban and elsewhere – See you there next year!

Info: PMES Google Earth co-ords    29°38'26.09" S  30°23'14.71" E

PMES  website

Hannes Palings Flicka photo site

South African success story
By Errol Koch

Rocket in 7 ¼ gauge by Martin Hampton

Britannia being built with a steel boiler

Impressive gauge 0 and 1 displays

Mighty SAR 19D trailing axle box

The Highwayman