By Nigel Town
The story of this engine is far from straightforward and I made a fair few mistakes on the way. The engine was purchased second hand from an advert in Exchange (now Bulletin). The engine was meths fired with a 2 channel 27 Mhz Sanwa radio control on the regulator and valve gear. Originally the loco must have looked like the picture in the catalogue below.
On getting the engine home I just couldn’t get on with the whole meths experience. The brass work got coated with soot, the boiler became blacker, and I managed to damage about 3 lengths of track by setting fire to the sleepers. The paint on the body work was damaged in places and I considered a respray, I also longed for the safety of a gas burner. The other snag was the front pony truck. It had a habit of bouncing off the rails and taking the engine with it, spilling the meths and setting fire to more rail.
I commenced a wholesale strip down and rebuild – boiler upgrade from brass to copper, fuel change from meths to gas, radio change from 27Mhz to 40 Mhz and body work change from “as delivered” to “Southern” style with an entire respray and lining.
This was the first time I’d stripped a live steam engine down, so I took it apart very carefully listing and photographing the parts and the order they came off in. The boiler/burner and gas tank was made by Tony Sant. With the boiler sitting on the chassis the new smokebox was fabricated and soldered along with the modified body work.
The first trial, was without paint or radio as I wanted to find out if I’d got the basics right. It worked a treat, spurred on I went for a second run and things fell apart literally. The build up of heat in the smokebox caused the smokebox door to come unsoldered and it just fell off on the track in front of me. The rest of the trial went well and confirmed the loco’s capabilities. With these problems identified I then stripped the engine down a second time and started to paint the chassis parts and fit the radio.
The loco retains all the original running gear, including the Hackworth valve gear and the small driving wheels. The rotating slide for the Hackworth gear remains hidden behind the side tank, and while it’s very different from the prototypical Joy gear it still has a certain charm about it.
The locomotive was fitted with mini servo’s – Hitec HS81’s which I feel give a good balance of size, torque, and price. The valve gear servo lies on its side under the cab floor. The regulator servo sits on the cab floor. With hindsight this is a clumsy arrangement and spoils the look of the locomotive cab. The Archangel lubricator with the characteristic white nylon cap was discarded and a Roundhouse equivalent took its place.
With the full Lightlines treatment this engine really looks the part. To my eye it retains the enduring charm of the Archangel running gear, but has the gas firing system I prefer and the body shape and livery to match the remainder of my Southern Railway liveried Lynton & Barnstaple rolling stock.
So the mistakes – I tried and failed to take on the establishment and build this with metric fastenings. Obtaining brass M2 and M3 hex bolts 12 years ago was a challenge which I failed to meet. This engine has a healthy mix of metric and BA threaded fastenings. The soft soldered smoke box door I’ve already admitted to. Potentially the “big” mistake was to depart from the original Archangel concept. My defence to each of these is ignorance!
I must express my appreciation to Keith Skillicorn who took the time to take the excellent photographs of my completed locomotive in fully lined Southern livery for this article.