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Cheddar Samson

By Chris Bird (Summerlandsteam)

The Cheddar Samson

From what I can find out, the Samson was produced from 2002 until 2006, when Cheddar Models Ltd. folded. Here is their technical description from their website:

The boiler is made from copper with all joints silver soldered. It is fired by a ceramic gas burner. The fire tube has a combustion chamber at the burner end with cross tubes and tapers down to 22mm diameter at the smoke box end. Gas is supplied from a refillable gas tank mounted on the foot plate.

Standard boiler equipment includes; water gauge, boiler filler valve, safety valve, pressure gauge and syphon. Each boiler is numbered and a certificate of testing is supplied. Maximum working pressure is up to 60 psi. The cylinders are slide valve type with 5/8" bore (15.875mm) and stroke.

General features; controllable lubricator, sprung axle boxes, bronze bushed coupling and connecting rods, lost waxed head lamp and whistle casting and spoked insulated wheels.

A complete radio control system for proportional speed for forward and reverse is included.

Weight in working order 8.14lbs Boiler capacity 200ml approx. Running time 20-30 minutes on one filling. Haulage capacity on level track 60lb(28kg)+.

Supplied in RTR (Ready To Run) form, finished in mid Brunswick Green or in Black

My Samson

I have fancied a Cheddar Samson for some time. They are chunky locos, loosely based on the Bagnall Gibralta class. Their powerful 5/8" cylinders and superb engineering set these locos apart from many competitors. Cheddar are now long gone and the locos do not come along very often so I was very surprised to find one on the Bring&Buy stand at Exeter Garden Railway Show. I happend to take a look during a lull in busiess on my stand and there it was. A smart example that seemed OK at a quick glance (yes this is gambling!) and the price had just been dropped. The decision weas made and I even had the exact money!

It came with 40mhz radio control, a huge whistle under the running plate and aven a plastic carry case. When I got it home, I decided on a steam test on the Hog Hill rolling road.  The batteries were charged and after adding oil, water and gas, I fired it up. I realised at this stage that the Cheddar gas tank had been replaced with what I assume is a Roundhouse one. Clearly the previous owner didn't like the gas control sticking out of the rear cab sheet.

The loco ran beautifully - though it danced up and down on its rather soft springing. It was interesting to watch the regulator glitches affect the speed. The regulator is a piston type and invisible, but I could see the effect.

Then it was outside to take a couple of photos. The strange holes in the rear cab sheet are correct for the prototype. Also you will see the remains of some orange Trimline which was removed shortly after.

Fitting a Chuffer

Fitting a Summerlands Chuffer to these locos is incredibly easy. Using a piece of hardwood as a drift, I just tapped the smokebox hinge from behind and the smokebox front, which is just a press fit, comes out to reveal the exhaust. There is a crimped cap on this which just pulls off.

I used the SCGP3-L-40 which means that it uses the Large 3/8" chuffer on 40mm of tube to push on to a 3/16" exhaust (since replaced with a SCGP3-40 with FX Control). To cut the exhaust near to the top of the smokebox I stood the loco on its rear buffer beam with the chimney towards me. I supported it firmly and then protected the boiler with layers of cloth behind the exhaust. I then cut the exhaust with a Dremel cutting disk at an angle of about 45 degrees. it is worth protecting the top of the smokebox wrapper with tape as the chuck gets very near (or too near in my case!).

The Chuffer then slides on to the exhaust and as I wanted it about 8mm down from the top, I carefully nipped the brass tube with side cutters to make a slight dent where i knew the top of the exhaust was. This makes it grip. Alternatively you can put a slight bend in the copper exhaust.

Then it is simply a matter of tapping the smokebox front back into position.

Changing the Radio Control

The batteries are in the left hand tank on Samson and the receiver is inside the right hand tank. To remove the tank, first unscrew the cab back sheet (two screws at the top) then undo the screw on the cab cross member on the side you want to remove. Then remove the two screws on the cab side. Now lay the loco on its side and remove the rear step (two screws) and then the screws holding the tank side to the footplate. it then just lifts off. if it doesn't, you have missed a screw!

I replaced the receiver with a cheap Radio Link one and tucked the ariel underneath it. I removed the old aerial wire from the cab roof. A quick check and then it was all back together for a test.

First Run

She ran very well indeed with a slight waddle due to the springs. The whistle is effective if carefully used - it tends to overblow and screech if too much lever is used. For photography it an give some nice steam effects:

Coal Basket

The loco was fitted with a rudimentary coal basket made from strip wood.

Luckily I had a Swift Sixteen coal basket etch in stock:

Which was carefully bent up and soft soldered:

After etch priming and spraying this was bolted to the tank top, as far back as it would go:

later, I lined the basket with cling film and superglued some real coal together to make a removable load.

Boiler Bands

The boiler bands are the normal type, clamped together under the boiler with a screw and nut. To access these, the tanks had to come off. The screws were awkward to reach but once slightly loose, they could be eased along the boiler to clear the pipes. the front two needs a slight tweak to one end to clear.

Here they are removed and you can see the whistle valve. The silicone tube was uncoupled to allow the rear boiler band to be free.

The boiler bands were rubbed down with fine abrasive and degreased before etch priming, baking and then carefully brush painting with Humbrol Brunswick Green. Here they are on a simple stand:

I gave them three coats and baked the last one in the oven at 100 degrees for about half an hour. I eased them back round the boiler and fitted the screws with the tags up on top of the boiler as life would be much too short to try to do it when they are in their final place! While still loose, they are rotated and eased into position.

And then finally tightened.


With the side tanks off, I was able to tackle the name and number plates. Sadly these had not only been fitted at a slight angle (very easily don as I know!) but had been epoxied in position. And they were clearly not the first plated that had been fitted., judging from the marks around them. I removed then by dipping in boiling water and then striking them downwards with a hardwood drift, struck sharply with a hammer. This takes them off without damage, but one numberplate resisted and I used an old screwdriver with the edges carefully rounded to avoid damaging the paint.

Here is the mess left and is the reason why epoxie should NEVER be used!!!

The glue mess is impossible to remove without stripping or damaging the paint so I have ordered some slightly larger plates from John Lythgoe to cover the mess. In the meantime, I replaced the plates with clear silicone and then reassembled the loco.


I found that the soft springing made the loco "waddle" and indeed Dave Pinniger found this when he reviewed the loco soon after it was launched. Ge suggested removing the front springs and inverting the ax;e boxes. I did this and it was much improved.

Instructions based on my experience

1.    Fill boiler by removing the safety valve under the dome – it is quicker than using the filler valve on the back of the boiler.  If the water gauge is not operating clearly, fill it to the top and remove 30-40mm using the syringe with tube.

2.    Use a small syringe to empty the water from the lubricator and top up with medium steam oil (460 grade as for Accucraft).

3.    Fill the gas tank.

4.    If fitted - close the FX Control on the Summerlands Chuffer by turning it until both holes are blocked.

5.    Turn the gas on a quarter turn and light at the top of the chimney. If the burner whistles, turn the gas back. It is a ceramic burner and is virtually silent in operation.

6.    Open the lubricator valve about 1 to 1 ½ turns. This is trial and error – but the loco will be pretty frugal on oil.

7.    Turn on the Transmitter first

8.    Turn on the receiver under the front of the right hand tank.

9.    Operate the regulator toggle to ensure it is linked – it has a habit of going wide open on switch on. It settles to closed as soon as it is operated.

10. Steam will be raised pretty quickly – it is a very good burner/boiler combination.

11. Beware – this is a powerful engine with well engineered cylinders – it can be very lively.

12. Put it in gear by briefly raising or lowering the right hand toggle. It stays in the gear set.

13. Open the regulator gently and drive carefully!

14. If fitted - the whistle works by moving the right hand toggle to the left. Do this gently for the best effect. Too much steam and it over-blows and screeches. Get it right and it is the best 16mm whistle you will hear!

15. Because this loco is so powerful, it needs a huge load to give a loud chuff with the FX closed. For a quieter run, or a bigger steam plume, use the small or the large hole open, once the oily emulsion has cleared.

16. At the end of steaming, turn the receiver off first. Do not try to operate it with the transmitter off – it defaults to full speed. (note that this may vary with different R/C gear - but be on the safe side!)

17. Then close the lubricator valve to prevent any chance of any oil being sucked into the boiler as it cools.


Here is one at Roy Wood's Holt Wood Light Railway

And here is another, double headed with a Cheddar Hercules. It does not do justice to the superb Samson whistle, but we were trying to do a lot of things at once!