By D Zimmermann

While searching through some information on the locomotives of Patrick Stirling, I discovered that he had also designed a traction engine. It is dated 1859, when Stirling’s career was on the up.

Looking at the drawing, it looks like a candidate for a Cherry Hill model. There are plenty of details to fill in such as the valve gear, boiler feed and firing arrangement. And there is some serious work to be done on the frame design. The central driver is located between the boiler and water tank which will give a weight balance. However, we imagine there would have been a problem of flexing of the frame to overcome as the engine ran over uneven ground. Flexing would have tended to alter the widths of the axle box horns and crankshaft horns above. We imagine some serious stiffening would have had to be added.

We could not find whether one had actually been built, but the drawing is intriguing and would make a great design exercise and a real test to get it to work as a model.

Patrick Stirling was born at Kilmarnock in 1820, the son of Reverend Robert Stirling, of Stirling Engine fame. He was an apprentice at the Dundee Foundry of Urquhart Lindsay & Co, before becoming foreman at Neilson's Locomotive Works in Glasgow. In 1851 he was superintendent of a short line between Bowling and Balloch (River Clyde to Loch Lomond), which later became a part of the North British Railway. Then in 1853 he was appointed to the position of locomotive superintendent of the Glasgow & South Western Railway. After 13 years at the G&SWR, Stirling moved to the Great Northern Railway in 1866, where he stayed until dying in office in 1895.

During his early years at the GNR, many new engines were built for speed and power, in order to handle some of the continuous gradients on the main York-London GNR line, and to compete against the Midland Railway and L&NWR in the ‘Races to the North’. A product of these races were the famous Stirling Singles, the elegant 4-2-2 engines with eight foot driving wheels, domeless boilers, and iconic cabs. These popular and much modelled engines regularly set speed records in the races of 1888 and 1895. Stirling engines are instantly recognisable, and many are great subjects for models. Like the delightful goods engine illustrated below.

But will anyone take on the traction engine?