The eighth LittleLEC competition was held at the Fareham Model Engineering Society in 2015, and despite there only being six entries the Society made superb one day event of it. Several of the 'usual culprits' were unble to enter this year, but we had a couple of new contestants who really added to the fun. There was Canterbury Lamb, the lightest ever model to run in the competition, and ten-year old driver, the youngest ever for the event. What shame it is that so many people have found their first model too difficult to drive! All those who have been willing to try their hand at LittleLEC have found it more enjoyble than driving a big loco, which presents very little challenge once one has become accustomed to it.
LittleLEC is intended to introduce a more light-hearted approch to efficiency competitions, than that encountered in IMLEC. It gives the opportunity for people with small workshops, limited transport, or other difficulties in building or transporting larger models, the chance to compete aginst similarly placed model engineers. There is also a significnt number of builders who started out with the likes of Tich, Juliet, RobRoy, Canterbury Lamb, small Lion, Mon, and any number of other models of similar size. Many of these models have been put way in favour of something bigger and easier to drive, but some are now seeing the light of day again, and others are being built especially for the competition. The range of models at Fareham this year was amzing, and we hope that future LittleLECs will entice even more builders and owners to get their models out of the closet and chllenge themselves to a couple of 20 minute runs, and compete with others in the same sitution. This does give you an opportunity to have the track entirely to yourself for total of 40 minutes, and you won't often get that!
Challenge is the right description. Nevertheless, William Powell from Bournemouth managed to drive his Canterbury Lamb up 1 in 77 at Fareham, and the North London and Swansea events saw some excellent driving to defeat the obstacles presented there. There is real excitement in running a loco like Tich, weighing less thn 22 pounds (10Kg), up the 1 in 66 gradient on the Swansea track, or round the half mile track at North London hauling two adults for 20 minutes, and feeling you could keep going. One of the regular Tich drivers did manage to come third at West Huntspill in 2013, an excellent performnce for such a small model.
The competition allows for entry of models weighing up to 50 pounds, excluding coal and water, so even some small 5" gauge models can be eligible, see the guidelines section to check. If you have a suitble model, why not enter the 2016 competition at the South Cheshire Society, and see what you can do? (See note below).
Model Engineer magazine has put up a first prize of £50 plus a one year subscription to the magazine, and £25 for the second placed contestant. Warco award a prize of £20 of Warco vouchers for third, and the host society usually awards a prize for a reason that they decide on themselves, meaning you don't have to be a top three finisher to receive a generous memento. There is also the Small Locomotive Challenge trophy, donated by Station Road Steam, awrded to the winner to keep until the next event.
Applications for the 2017 event to be hosted by the Guildford Model Engineering Society are now being accepted.