By Derek Wiggins
This actual loco is widely accepted as the Archangel prototype of the model. It is dated 1984, when “Russell” was offered by Stewart Browne with two options of meths firing, a pot boiler and internally fired with a 2 wick burner. With a pressure of 50 psi there was a duration of approximately 40 minutes. You could alternatively specify internal firing, with a multitube boiler needing a blower to raise steam. This version operated at 75 psi and could remain in steam all day.
The other options were either gas firing, working at 40 psi, or coal firing with roughly the same specifications as for the internally fired model.
This particular loco is gas fired. It was supplied new by Stewart to Harvey Watkins, whom most of you will know as a builder of excellent locos in his own right. Harvey enhanced the detail of the model, and fine tuned its running to a point where the loco is an absolute joy to use. In time Harvey passed it on to make way for other projects, and it came to me from its only other owner. It has not in any way been refurbished, and therefore has that wonderful patina of a much cared for, but working model.
“Russell” the original is, to my mind a beautifully proportioned loco, and this model is an almost exact replica – possibly with the exception of the chimney? The valve gear is particularly worthy of examination. It is fully working Walschaerts, with lap and lead and the facility for increasing cut-off. Direction of motion is selected by a looped rod, just visible near the cab floor in the right hand doorway. In mentioning the cab, the gas burner is unusual in that the jet is remotely mounted to the floor, with the flame directing into the centre flue of the boiler. The gas is controlled via the brass knob visible in the other doorway below the pressure gauge. There is however very little burner noise audible when running.
The displacement lubricator is housed at the front of the loco, beneath the footplate – its head is disguised by the oil can permanently affixed to it. “Russell” is 318mm long over the bufferbeams, and will happily negotiate a 3 foot radius curve. I am grateful for this last fact as my line has some tight curves!
For anyone not too familiar with the complete Archangel range, and who has only seen such models as ‘Sgt. Murphy’ or ‘Brick’, the quality of this loco will come as a surprise. I am more than happy to put it alongside any “Russell” from a modern era, and it will happily pass muster both in terms of looks and also performance.
When new, this particular specification would have cost you £799, whilst the coal fired was a whopping £995! Stewart lost all his records through flooding some time ago, so cannot verify or contradict the generally held theory that only around six or seven models were ever built, in whatever specification. Please let the heritage team know if you are the owner of one.
Now for the name of the loco, which from the photos you will have read as “Jack Russell”. This attributes directly to the mischievous and highly refined humour of Harvey Watkins. Look closely at the photos, and in one you will see the scale working safety valve. If it does blow off, I can assure you that it is a violent and noisy jet of steam that erupts – sufficient to blow off your spectacles if you are looking down directly from above! As Harvey says – It Bites!