Stuart Moon photos:
Ragleth from Accucra The new generic locomotive – Stuart Moon dons bib and brace.
Those who visited the Accucraft UK stand at the Llanfair Garden Railway Gala in September 2009 will have seen the latest production sample in the exhibition cabinet. A chat with Ian Pearse, MD of Accucraft UK, revealed that the need to keep the 0-4-0 models fresh, and a new design, offers a simple replacement for ‘Caradoc,’ ‘Mortimer’ and ‘Edrig,’ which seems rather a broad brief for one model to take on. Home builders weep not, the ‘boiler and frames’ version of Edrig remains available; sighs of relief all round? Anyway the result is a simple four-coupled locomotive, right up the headshunt for those who like generic models.
Generic locomotives, primarily because they are a blank canvas and of no particular prototype, are popular with those who like to modify their models. The keen-eyed, therefore, can only remark on the additions rather than the lack of a particular rivet. Anticipation is that demand will be high following introduction of this offering. The body takes its design cues from those seen in ‘Lawley’ and ‘Wrekin.’ The compact dimensions however, present a more balanced and purposeful look than that of Ragleth’s longer wheelbase sisters.
GREATER HAULAGE ABILITY The cab layout and free space available make easing a driver figure on board a straightforward undertaking. The chosen driver figure need not be of slimline and modest build, and the line-up of popular Rob Bennett characters tend toward those of a more robust of figure. Indeed the racing snake figure of our highly steamed editor fits easily in the left hand cab entrance of Ragleth without recourse to radical surgical procedures. It is good to know that space is ‘designed in’ for footplate crew of whatever provenance.
With the common powertrain introduced with ‘Superior’,
there are no surprises for those used to live steam operations. Ragleth has the same smooth power delivery as the rest of the Accucraft generic range, so will suit many garden railway owners. The one aspect that sets apart this four-coupled model from her 0-6-0 sisters is perhaps greater haulage ability; the adhesion weight placed through four wheels not six. Ultimately, this means that there is just that little more grip available, so when the going gets tough Ragleth should surpass her better-facilitated sibling.
On the mostly flat Little Bovey & Heathfield Tramway, ultimate adhesion is rarely tested, although the tight LGB R3 curves do offer a check on forward progress – especially with 9lbs of test train on the coupler. It is never enough to stop Ragleth completely because she just digs a little deeper and chuffs out of the sticky spots.
In recent months, the LB&HT has taken delivery of some modest four-wheel coaches and a luggage van from Perfect World and their simple varnished lines act as a counterpoint to the Accucraft unlined silk finish. Ragleth livery options are GWR Green, LMS Red, Dark Blue and Sober Black – an improvement on earlier models. The paint finish is up to the usual standard and those that wish can pass their chosen model to one of the various aftersales livery specialists for addition of lining, from the simple to the expansive and complex. Alternatively, there is the DIY route as used by people who dislike spending money and enjoy an hour or two with rolls of lining tape. The cab floor is clear of clutter, so mounting footplate crew onto some wooden floorboards is a simple task to achieve.
BOILER BLOW DOWN The review model came fitted with a single channel 2.4 Ghz control. This rather under-utilises the transmitter’s facilities as the
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Left: The standard three-quarter view. This is a locomotive that presents all sorts of possibilities for those who like to fiddle….
Above: The design cues from Lawley and Wrekin are apparent in this left profile view. It is possible to make out the gas pin nipple in front of the second boiler band. The plain safety valve is easily enhanced by the addition of the aftermarket bonnet. The underfloor boiler blowdown valve is the item in front of the step.
Right: Tank to boiler fit is nice and close. The only minor down,
is the gas fill this pokes up above the tank surface. The cure would be a small wooden/metal tool-box with hinged lid as a disguise – one of the items that detailers will no doubt apply.
supplied units offer five-channel control. In the dim mists of time single channel Macgregor units were thought to be living on the ‘cutting edge’ of control. Move on 30 years and finding a stick system with two channels is becoming increasingly difficult.
The Planet T5 system employed does all one could wish for. It controls the piston valve regulator/reverser and this is also dependent on the setting you choose for the rather nicely formed regulator lever in the cab. It would not be impossible to add another servo to drive the regulator, but take a degree of care here as the majority of the electronics live under the cab floor and the incautious could find themselves with an inoperative installation due to piercing what lies beneath.
As with Ragleth’s predecessors, the mounting holes for servos, receiver and power supply are pre-fitted by the factory and those wishing to do so may add their choice of radio kit. Note however, that while Accucraft will happily supply a factory R/C installation, the company does not deal with queries on fitting one’s own system.
The manual controls are easy to access, and owners of previous Accucraft models will find no surprises in the modus operandi of their Ragleth. Being a piston valve model there is the customary boiler blowdown valve, sited below footplate level to clear the boiler of excess water. The lubricator lives a reclusive life in the corner of the cab and its extended tommy bar makes recharges of oil a simple matter. Those who have previous experience will know of the well established lubricator blowdown procedure employed at the end of each run which speeds the servicing operation.
Having bolted on your choice of bits and pieces and then transported the finished item to the steam-up bay what follows should outline the performance that owners should be able to
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