Cherry Hill’s

The final chapter of the book Cherry’s Model Engines dealt with the beginnings of a new project, an ice locomotive designed in the mid 19th century by one Nathaniel Grew. Since then progress has been made, albeit slowed following the death of Cherry’s husband, Ivor, in the meantime. These photos from the Brooklands ME Exhibition in 2016 now make it possible to imagine how the finished model will look.

It will be stunning! The valve gear alone is a work of art with its tiny components and unusual layout.

Everything is made from steel. At the moment Cherry is contemplating the difficulties of making the pipework, also in steel - some of it just 1/16” dia.

Grew was born in Norwich on 6 October 1829. After serving a pupilage with Messrs. W. Bridges Adams and Co., Fairfield Engineering Works, London, from 1846 to 1849, he was employed until 1851 on the South Eastern Railway in London and at Ashford.

From 1851 to 1853 he was engaged upon the survey and setting out of part of the Madrid and Valencia Railway on the section from Albacete to Almansa, under the Marquis Salamanca and Mr. W. Greene.

From 1854 to 1859 he was chief assistant to Sir William Siemens in connection with his improvements in engines, furnaces, and iron and steel manufacture. Then in 1860 he set up business on his own account as a civil engineer in London, and was consulting engineer to several large mercantile firms, having charge of their engineering work.

For some years he was connected with railway work in the Argentine, Central America, Peru, and Brazil, advising on the supply of material to lines in those countries.

His last important work was the construction of the produce market at Bahia Blanca for the Bahia Blanca and North Western Railway.

His ice locomotive worked successfully in Russia on the River Neva during the winter of 1861, conveying passengers and goods between St. Petersburg and Cronstadt.

The ice locomotive can be thought of as an early large snowmobile. Grew came up with the idea of a steerable steam locomotive with sled runners at each end of the engine. Power was applied via a pair of driving wheels fitted with steel spikes (yet to be added to Cherry’s model). Unlike many of today’s snowmobiles the Ice Locomotive was fitted with a cab when on the ice to keep the driver warm with help from the boiler.

The engine was exported to Moscow to transport goods across frozen rivers and lakes. Many a prayer must have been offered to not have to stay in one spot for very long.

Some people have wished that the book had contained details of her machining techniques.  However, it is not the techniques that are important - it is all conventional machining really, although she does make extensive use of jigs and fixtures in the search for perfection. And anything less than perfect is immediately scrapped.

Much more important are research and design. Also decision making.

For example, how to make the sled blades? Most would fabricate them from sheet and angle. Cherry machined the runners from solid using conventional machining. Not CNC. Cherry still does not own a computer.