Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Very Special Special

A couple of weeks ago the Bron Hebog team lost a dear friend - designer extraordinaire and raconteur Steve 'Stefco' Coulson.

At the Hull show last week we paid our tribute to him by running a special train formed of the rolling stock he had a special connection with.

For those who aren't aware, Steve was a part owner of Britomart, a Quarry Hunslet locomotive bought from the Pen-yr-Orsedd quarry in the 1960's and brought to the FR where he helped care for it.

Britomart was a 'toy' on the FR in the days when the railway wasn't so open to such indulgences.

This model is our 2nd Britomart, which has been built up from a Brian Madge kit. The exquisite outside frame chassis is connected to the motor not by gears but by a miniature rubber band, just the sort of practical engineering solution Stefco would have approved of, and I'm sure he wouldn't have minded that it's still running around in primer.

The second locomotive is the Funkey diesel Vale of Ffestiniog which he was responsible for redesigning to fit the FR.

It wasn't merely a case of hacking the body about, he had to completely re-engineer the machine, moving many of the components and adapting it to have a cab at each end rather than just in the middle.

That he managed to achieve all this and for the result to be so aesthetically pleasing speaks volumes for his talent as a very intuitive engineer.

The last vehicle is carriage 122, a radical prototype he designed and helped to build in the early 2000's applying modern road coach-building technology to a narrow gauge carriage and making maximum use of the railway's' kinematic envelope.

It looks destined to remain a one-off but that's no criticism of the design which has proved very popular with passengers.

I recall that Stefco was very chuffed when we produced this first model of his carriage and, as ever, offered all the assistance he could.

When I asked for a drawing to help make the model he didn't just hand me a basic outline but instead a complete set of the design documents.

All of us on the Bron Hebog team will always treasure the hours we spent listening to his stories as he held court with a pint in his hand and another lined up ready on the bar.

Until our paths cross again some day,  perhaps in 'the embassy', we hope you appreciated our tribute train, Steve.

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