By Julius de Waal

The Birmingham Dribbler or carpet railway was an early model railway dating back to Victorian times. There was no track – the locomotive ran across the floor. In some cases the front wheels were made steerable so that they could be run in a circle. First appearing in the 1850s these models became popular later in the 19th and early 20th century, usually in O gauge.

The locomotives were very simple, basically a boiler mounted on wheels, usually made in brass, with a pair of simple oscillating cylinders driving the main wheels,. The boiler was filled with water, the burner lit, and when steam was being produced, the locomotive was placed on the floor and allowed to run until either the water or fuel ran out or the engine crashed into the furniture. After a number had exploded, safety valves were fitted.

They quickly gained the nickname of Birmingham Dribblers (or sometimes "Piddlers"), as large numbers were made in Birmingham,  and they had the unfortunate habit of leaving a trail of water. Water could be mixed with the fuel used for the burner, and numerous fires were caused by the locomotive crashing into furniture and over-turning so that the burning fuel was spilled over the floor. Julius’ version runs on rails.

Julius’ drawings for the historic Birmingham Dribbler locomotive.

Click on drawings to download.

For personal use only.

Although drawings reproduce well on this website, they are even better as saved downloads.

Please let the editor know if you are building one of these or other projects to Julius’ drawings.