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Russell pauses for a beauty shot on the author's railway.

Paul Millington's Russell

by Keith Skillicorn
Southport, England
Photos by the author

October, 2012

Prototype information and history
The full-size engine was built by the Hunslet Engine Company in 1906 to a design broadly similar to those built for the 2' 6”-gauge railways in Sierra Leone. There were some notable differences however. For instance, apart from the gauge, there were no cutouts in the frames to allow the pony trucks to swing, as the loco could negotiate curves down to three-chain radius without this facility. In truth, the loco was more akin to leeds No. 1 as supplied to the Masham Brewery Railway

Russell was originally ordered by the Portmadoc, Beddgelert & South Snowdon Railway for use on their proposed line to connect the Croesor Tramway at Croesor Junction to the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways terminus at Rhyd Ddu. The loco was actually delivered to the North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways, as the PBSSR Company didn't have a railway to actually run it on.

The engine was put into service in between Dinas & Rhyd Ddu. The PBSSR didn't ever actually connect the two railways but did much in the way of earthworks, notably in the pass of the Aberglaslyn. Completion was left to the Welsh Highland Railway, which they finally managed to do in 1923.

The model
This loco was built in 1995 by Paul Millington, who supplemented his income as an engineering student by building 16mm scale, live-steam locomotives. The loco has a wealth of details, including full rivets on the side tanks and correct smoke box and chimney.

The wheelbase is correct to prototype, requiring the use of some bespoke parts as well as standard Roundhouse valve-gear components. Cylinders are standard Roundhouse items. The loco is gas fired, with the gas tank located in the left-hand side tank. A water top-up valve is under the dome and there's a gauge glass in the cab.

Other cab controls include steam regulator, reversing lever, gas valve, and a blowdown for the water gauge. The loco was painted by Paul but the lining was contracted out to Geoff Munday, who had recently started his Lightline lining service. The model was delivered to me in this condition and I must say that I was very pleased with it indeed.

Many years have now passed since Paul built Russell for me and I'm glad to say that we have kept in touch. When the engine began to show signs of wear a couple of years ago, Paul took it back and replaced the axle bushes and a couple of brass bearings on the connecting rods. The engine came back nice and tight, as if it where new again. A little running in saw the performance back to normal.

The run
The loco was oiled round in the usual way and the water level in the boiler was topped up. Filling the gas tank, which is fairly large, was next on the list. I opened the gas valve and lit the burner which ignites with a “pop”. It took about six minutes for the loco to raise steam to blow-off pressure.

I placed the loco on the track for a warm up. The condensate clears very quickly on this engine and I ran it in both directions for about 20 feet.

The train, consisting of three NWNGR four-wheeled coal wagons, four bogie coaches, and a four-wheeled van, was coupled up and off she went: no drama, just a nice chuff only slightly marred by the relatively noisy gas burner. With the water topped up to the top of the gauge glass the loco will run out of gas well before the boiler is empty. A run of between 35 & 40 minutes can usually be achieved on one fill of the tank, depending on the load, weather, and ambient temperature.

Russell has been a prime mover on my railway for many years and I have no doubt it will go on that way for many more.

Here's a video of Russell with a heavy train of 11 coaches. If, for some reason, you can't see it, click here.

Builder Paul Millington (UK)
Date completed 1995
Gauge 0 (32mm)
Scale 16mm = 1'0"
Boiler type Center flue
Fittings Steam Regulator, Safety Valve, water gauge, top up valve
Fuel Butane
Cylinders Two, double-acting D-valve
Reversing gear Simplified Walschaerts
Lubricator Displacement
Blowoff pressure 60 psi
Dimensions Length over buffers, 350mm; height to top of chimney, 147mm; overall width, 98mm
Weight 8 pounds
Russell is an elegant locomotive from either side. The detail level is high, with fully riveted side tanks, coal bunkers atop the tanks, and a handrail and headlamp on top of the smokebox. Cylinders are by Roundhouse.
The end views illustrate the solid chunkyness of the engine. Air hoses, unusual for a narrow-gauge engine, adorn the end beams. The engine was painted by the builder but lined out by Geoff Munday of Lightline.
Boiler-top detail is visible in this shot. The tanks' black tops offset their maroon sides.
The neatly laid-out cab. Note the way the pressure-gauge line is curved to follow the shape of the gauge. The water glass has a blowdown valve at the bottom and the "brake stand" on the right is actually the gas-control valve.
Russell, with a passenger train and a full head of steam, looking grand in its natural habitat.
There's no lack of power with this engine. Here, it easily handles a heavy mixed train on the author's railway.
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