As delivered the Essel Engineering Fowler is equipped with a huge battery pack and manual control via toggle switches in the cab and chimney. That's probably not too bad on a garden railway with few directional changes and long or continuous runs. On a very short layout manual control is (in my view, at least) unpractical, even if the chimney speed control actually worked fine. Having had good experience with the RC equipment built into my little Lister it was obvious that the Fowler also had to be remote controlled.
|Disassembly in progress. The large battery box with fuse and connecting wires is seen to the right. In the middel the electric motor and gear box. To the left is the handle for regulating speed.
The battery pack in the Fowler consisted of 6 AA-batteries. Testing the top speed showed that the battery pack could propel the loco a lot faster than it would ever be realistic on my model railway. With a small layout I also don't need the same endurance as a garden railway operator and I decided to cut down on battery size to a single 9 V battery. Testing showed that it produced at satisfactory top speed. In exchange for a reduced battery size I would have possibility to remove the large battery box in the cab, rebuild the cab area and fit a driver figure. See a short sequence from the initial running in of the locomotive in its original condition.
To remove the batteries and original control equipment I had to dismantle the model quite substantially. I first took off the cab by removing the screws in the rear buffer plate. Once the cab was removed the screws holding the large battery box in place were unscrewed and the box lifted off and toggle switches and charging socket removed. The chimney (exhaust pipe) was lifted off and the bonnet taken off. Then I removed the speed controller and was free to conduct final dismantling of the complete network of wires.
|Difference in buffer height between Fowler and standard skips. Something has to be done!
As I had the loco almost completely taken apart I took the chance to lower the buffer height as my stock of small skips obviously wasn't compatible with the original buffer height. I have now removed the buffers and will carefully drill new holes. While the rear buffer will present no obvious challenges the front buffer will need the front ballast weight modified. Looking forward to the work, though!
|Rear buffer removed. New hole to be drilled for a lower buffer height.