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Molly is a model locomotive.
After my father had rescued my great grandmother from the ignominy of being taken for a ride in a driverless car she presented him with a pair of brass knuckledusters, much to his embarrassment. (see ...Automobiles) However, the next Christmas she came good with a cheque and he used it to buy himself a metal lathe.
My father's family have always had a fascination with steam locomotives. Whenever we went on holidays the highlight of any visit to a new town was to go to the railway station and "watch the trains." I realise now that this interest was probably generated, to a degree, by my great grandfather who was the moving spirit in having a railway line built from Adelaide to Alice Springs. The plan had originally been to link Adelaide and Darwin but for some reason the line between Alice Springs and Darwin has yet to be built.
My father's mother died when he was only seven years old and he and his brother were farmed out around the family. Father was sent to boarding school but spent his weekends and holidays alternately with his two grandmothers. His paternal grandmother was a very stern woman who had a tremendous influence on his life and his thinking. She was always referred to as "The Grandmother." Spending so much of his time with The Grandmother meant that he must have grown to know his grandfather very well and hence his great interest in trains.
Molly was started when we were living in Perth. She was build from a blueprint which Father purchased and he went on, over the years, to make every last screw and spring which went into her. Mother, under his supervision, made the sprung buffers which went onto the front of the locomotive.
When we moved back to Adelaide the lathe and the part-completed Molly went with us and were housed in a room of the old cottage attached to the stables. A couple of years later there was a bushfire and the stables were totally destroyed. The heat of the fire was so intense that the metal components of the lathe fused and it was useless. By some stroke of luck Father had taken Molly into the house to show to a visitor and so she was saved from the fire. It was many years before Father was able to afford another metal lathe and Molly languished in a half completed state for a long time.
Father finally finished her when he was in his seventies and sent her off for testing. Her boiler burst and it was back to the drawing board and a new boiler. Finally she was finished and passed the pressure tests but sadly the standard rail width for model locomotives had changed and Molly was never able to run on a track.
Father began a new model - bigger and of a standard gauge - but died before it was finished.
FOOTNOTE: When my mother had to move into care Molly was sent, at my request, to me. She was accompanied by her big half-brother which I didn't want, being far too heavy for me to lift and with only the chassis completed.
However, I contacted the local Model Engineers Club and they have taken him. He has gone to a good home with a promise that he will be finished and will one day run, as all good steam locomotives should, on rails.
Molly will stay with me and in due course will be passed on to my grandson who is already fascinated with her.