Ken Swan

In model engineering circles the name Ken Swan is synonymous with 7 ¼-inch gauge live steam engineering. To those who knew him personally he was an inspiration, a fountain of knowledge, a teacher and. a pioneer


This was Ken’s first design, built from 1959-61. He particularly wanted a loco which could be built on a Myford or similar lathe, hence the small wheels. Whilst it is a freelance 0-4-2 tank, it incorporates much of the detail to be found on the 0-6-0 tanks which were in widespread industrial use at the time. The drawings have been available for many years and a large number are known to exist.


This is a freelance 2-4-0 tank with inside cylinders and Stephenson gear. Ken never produced any drawings for this loco, and his prototype remains unique.


An freelance 0-4-0 saddle tank with outside cylinders and Walschaerts valve gear. The design incorporates many parts which are common with Bridget, and again many have been built.


A model based on a Kerr Stuart contractor’s loco with Hackworth valve gear, which would have run on about 1ft 9inch gauge track, meaning that the model is to a scale of 4” to 1ft. This proved to be Ken’s most successful design commercially, and 3 are owned by TSMEE members. Ken was building his own Wren, but it remained incomplete at the time of his death.

Koppel (Rack version)

Without a doubt, this was Ken’s most challenging and complex design. The loco is based on an Ornstein and Koppel narrow gauge0-4-0 rack locomotive used in Austria. The drive incorporates a 2:1 geared reduction and a pinion wheel to engage with a rack fitted to the track. The prototype has given many years of service in extremely arduous conditions on the rack railway at Beamish Museum, with its 1 in 10 gradient. About  8 are thought to have been built.

Koppel (Adhesion Version)

This is an 0-6-0 version of the rack Koppel, but without the geared drive and pinion.


An unusual 0-4-0 narrow gauge yard loco, used in shipyards and industrial complexes. The prototype was built by Robert Stephensons  and used on Tyneside. It incorporated Charles Brown valve gear and a steam tram type boiler. Ken was hampered by the lack of information on the prototype, having only a couple of photos to work from, but was developing the design at the time of his death. At least two have been completed since then.