O Gauge Shay Steam Locomotive

Shay Locomotives were designed specifically for logging in North America, and over 300 were built. Bogies gave them the ability to run on uneven tracks with tight curves and with all wheels driven they had huge pulling power.

The first Meccano Shay which would run on O Gauge track was built by the late Keith Cameron in the 1980s. Mine depends heavily on his instructions in the July 1984 issue of the Meccanoman’s Newsmag, although I have made substantial changes, where I found his instructions didn’t work for me, or to take account of parts added to the system since the 1980s.

My model follows Keith’s in many broad areas:

  • Overall proportions and construction
  • Drive shafts and bogies
  • Utilising the Extending Double Universal joint which came in the box with the yellow Six Ratio Gearbox sold by Liverpool. (Alas, these are so hard to obtain — I’d love one of our replica specialists to figure out a way to make something to perform the same function)

Main areas where I’ve gone my own way:

  • Three cylinders and three crankshaft bearings (Keith’s had two of each)
  • Totally different firebox construction
  • Totally different gear train from motor (mine relies on tri-flat gears and axles)
  • Mine is powered by two cube motors (Keith’s used a Decaperm)
  • Different arrangement for power pickup from third rail (using an idea from Chris Shute)

Given my colour scheme of blue, zinc and black (and my aversion to repainting) it’s inevitable that the parts needed can’t be found all in one uniform shade of blue.

No way is this a scale model, and it’s no great challenge to spot many ‘engineering compromises’ that Keith and myself chose into order to squeeze everything into such a small model. But it was huge fun to build!

It will run along the track in the direction that the switch in the white box is flipped to (left or right).

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