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Coal News February 1980

WHEN pitman Phil Healey decided to make some model safety lamps for fun he went to metal work night school for the use of the machines.

Three years later his hobby has taken over half his garden as he works on a fully- functional scale model of a steam traction engine.

"I made a couple of things out of scrap brass and got thoroughly hooked," says Pye Hill Colliery fire officer Phil. "I have never done any metal working in my life before, but this just caught on."

After finishing his two small lamps Phil made a couple of ornamental model trains from scrap - then started to get ambitious.


He turned out a scale replica of a l9th century Flintlock pistol, fully accurate apart from having a solid barrel demanded by law.

Next he decided to make a traction engine. "That's when I ran into a problem," he says. "Night school didn't have the facilities for that kind of work, so I had to invest in my own - and that meant first learning to be a builder."

For without a room in his house Phil had to build a workshop in the garden to accommodate his drills, lathe and work-bench. Once that was finished he still had work to do, designing and building extensions for the lathe to cope with the work that had to be done.

Phil is now half-way through the scale model of the traction engine and reckons it will be about another year before it is finished.

"I've got everything I need, even the anthracite for the fuel," he says. "I'm really looking forward to raising steam in it for the first time."

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Philip the
Clock Maker