3in. Scale Simplicity Road Roller


by Richard Folwell





Richard's Simplicity road roller first appeared in public at NSME Bits and Pieces Night in April 2019, where Richard was awarded the Bassett-Lowke Bowl, and later presented with a trophy to keep. Progress since with the roller is recorded here and updated as it happens.

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Two pictures of the reversing arm for the 3" scale Simplicity road roller. You may find it interesting that it is machined from solid, a piece of 2" diameter steel, rather than fabricated, which is the more usual method of manufacture - judging from models seen. Richard is currently erecting the hornplates.






February 7, 2020.

The pictures include the erection of the hornplate for the roller and trial fitting of brake gear, stub axle assemblies and differential/final drive shaft and bearings. Next stage is machining the boiler mounting plates.






February 11, 2020.

One photo shows the boiler mounting plates being machined to a nice snug fit between the hornplates. The other shows the boiler with machining completed and the firehole and damper door assembly fitted. This design has a marine type firebox very similar to the Sweet Pea railway locomotive, hence the unusual looking arrangement. The next step is to fit the smokebox, then mount the boiler at 27 degrees to the horizontal. Richard comments - "For a design the original manufacturers entitled 'Simplicity,' construction of the model is proving to be anything but!"






February 16, 2020.

There was a need to make some adjustable stands to align the horn/boiler/smokebox components. Using 12mm setscrews, a built up method of construction, rather than machining from 2inch bar, has been used to cut down on the amount of swarf produced. A few drops of retainer and job done. It's just possible to see one of these stands holding the hornplates level. If anyone has a 3inch scale Ben Hur action figure they no longer play with, Richard would love to have it?







February 23, 2020.

Smokebox now fully bolted to boiler - Jacked, packed and tacked ready for completion of hornplate to boiler bolts. Fingers crossed it doesn't move!







March 1, 2020

Boiler mounting completed, I'm happy to report that four years after starting this project the roller now actually rolls! The target angle of the boiler is 27, but as the photo shows it has ended up at 27.1. I contemplated 'falling on my sword' at such a dismal failure on my part, but have taken comfort in the fact that very little in life is ever perfect. So, rather than consigning the roller to a skip, I have decided to struggle on. Incidentally, I cannot praise these digital angle gauges highly enough. I've had this one for many years and used it both professionally and at home. Without it setting up the boiler would have been quite difficult.





March 8, 2020




This week I decided to erect the steering gear. It's quite a novel way of steering, using as it does a worm and gear quadrant, as opposed to a drum winding a chain as most other road steam manufacturers employed.

You can see it's very straightforward in principle, but unfortunately there does seem to be a tight spot in operation. I have two choices, either use feeler gauges to determine any error and apply all the manual skills of a neuro-surgeon to shim out any imperfection, or failing that, employ the services of a 2lb hammer. I suspect that in actual fact the steering shaft, despite being made from 1/4 inch dia stainless, is flexing. This can be rectified by a support bracket mounted on the side guard once that is made and fitted.

Please note that I did not cut the worm or gear teeth as they came with all the other cut gears, thankfully!!!!


March 15, 2020




Not quite so much progress to show this time on account of me nursing a heavy cold (or I think that's what it was) for around ten days, which severely curtailed progress. Once mucus production had reduced to a manageable level, plus having a very strong sense of Civil responsibility, I decided to 'self-isolate' in the workshop and managed to knock this up. To the uninitiated it is the firebox damper operating linkage, simple but effective. I have heard from various sources that this design is a very poor steamer, due mainly to having a shallow depth of fire. I have plans to lower the grate 12mm and sharpen up the blastpipe arrangement but that is some way off yet.    

March 22, 2020






It's now time for a bit of detail work. Here can be seen a rear lamp bracket just after bending and ready for drilling and a clean up.


The next photo shows them both (yes both sides of the roller are thus equipped) bolted in place along with footsteps and the towing pin.








Finally the differential gear guard is shown fixed in place on the spectacle plate. The drawing shows this as just a simple rolled strip open at the sides, and in my opinion it looked ghastly. So I welded on some sides and then brazed it to a baseplate rather like a loco wheel splasher; much better, and if any rivet counter criticises it, they'll be told "my model, my rules".





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