Romance behind loco miniature

Gary Warner, GERALDTON GUARDIANGeraldton Guardian

Model trains have a fascination for millions around the world, including retired electrician David Shea.

Like most enthusiasts, Mr Shea has his own collection of miniature model trains, but romance was in the air when he decided to build his biggest locomotive yet.

A scale model of an English-built F-Class, designed to run on the Batavia Coast Miniature Railway at Spalding Park, it is not just any old loco.

In 1975, a younger Mr Shea waited at Geraldton Railway Station for his fiancee Joanne and her mother, returning from a trip to Perth to collect her wedding dress.

That train was the last passenger rail service between Geraldton and Perth, hauled by a locomotive that began life in 1958 with the Midland Railway Company, which had been taken over by WA Government Rail in 1964.

His decision to build a replica F-Class was followed by trips to Moora, where one of the last examples of the breed stands, to carefully measure the rusting derelict.

While that original locomotive is over 14m long, the replica would be just 2.9m.

There was no building kit for this replica; the chassis and running gear were hand-built by BCMR stalwart James Fairclough, with the bodywork fabricated by Jason Stacy at Geraldton Sheetmetal and guidance by Craig Johnson.

It went to Riley Fenner at Auto Custom for that rich maroon paintwork of the Midland Railway Company, then the finishing touch signage was taken care of by Ross Hughes at RGI Signworks, and of course the wiring was installed by Mr Shea.

A handsome new addition to the model locomotives at BCMR, which runs from 10am to 3pm on the first Sunday of each month at Spalding Park, it is already proving popular with children who enjoy it without knowing the romantic story behind its creation.

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