Brian Clapperton explains the history behind ABC Gears
The idea of the product was brought about when I joined the Northolt Model Railway club back in 1982 and became interested in 0 gauge. It soon became apparent that the biggest problem in 0 gauge was the motor/gearbox. For somebody looking for a scale performance out of locos with narrow fireboxes, the Crailcrest motor was far too big and the RG7 at that time did not seem man enough to do the job. Also going on at this time was a project with my father Anthony Clapperton to build a 3˝” gauge diesel hydraulic locomotive which needed a vast quantity of gears.
As I was looking for a college project, a gear-cutting machine seemed the obvious answer
My first 0 gauge project was to rebuild and power a Triang Hymek and thus was born the first gearbox. In 1992 I was made redundant so devoted my time to the newly formed company called Anthony and Brian Clapperton Engineering. This was soon abbreviated to ABC Engineering but when booked into our first show we somehow managed to become ABC Gears and the name has stuck ever since.
It soon became obvious that demand for the product soon overloaded the demands on my gear-cutting machine and after only 20 sales, professional gear-cutters were brought in. This brought a new meaning to supply and demand with improved products and sales soaring. From the early days motors were always a problem but soon found that after experimenting and testing the Maxon and later Canon motors found they were ideal.
I took the decision to use high precision spur and helical gears as these made for a quieter running and smooth operation. Also realising that you need space for compensation beams and springing gear, decided to make the gearboxes narrow and can be available at just 16mm wide. They are designed, manufactured and hand built at our Hampshire based facility and can provide over 75% efficiency, delivering almost three times more torque to the track than worm-wheel gearboxes. This also allows the advantage of using smaller motors to power the locomotive with simplified assembly and more space in the firebox for adhesive weight. It also means that pick-ups can be lighter, reducing drag and makes possible the use of battery operation and DCC.
We have also decided to join the ranks of the DCC as we feel it is a positive step forward and realised that with so many people interested in DCC and running their locomotives with our motor/gearboxes, we needed to stay involved with the latest trends to stay on track with our customers by giving them the best information possible.
On a personal note Brian belongs to various clubs and societies and is committed to helping and assisting others within the hobby. He shares his ‘loco’ time with his wife Karen, both enjoying various hobbies outside of his business.