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March 2007

Archangel's The Princess 0-4-0T

by Marc Horovitz

The prototype
The Princess (later just Princess) was one of four locomotives supplied to the Ffestiniog Railway in Wales in 1863-64. It was designed by C.M. Holland and built by George England & Co. in 1863. When first built, it weighed 7.5 tons. It was rebuilt two or three times, ending up with a large saddle tank. It finally left service in 1946.

The engine
Archangel's model of The Princess is almost a parody of the full-size engine. The prototype was a tiny thing, with a wheelbase of 4'6". This model has a wheelbase of 6'4" in 16mm scale. While the prototype was small and delicate in appearance, the model at hand is a sort of large and hulking caricature of the original. (Compare this engine with Robin Gosling's accurately scaled model of The Prince, a similar locomotive.) Other versions of The Princess were also produced by Archangel, as portrayed in Peter Dobson's book, 16mm Scale Live Steam Model Locomotives. Vol. 1 (there never was a Vol. 2, alas).

Despite its proportions, the model has many interesting points. I acquired it as a disreputable box of bits from a friend at a train show a while back, and went through the enjoyable process of repairing and reassembling the locomotive. It is relatively early Archangel, having been made in 1976. It has cast-iron wheels, which were evidently intended for an 0 scale, standard-gauge engine. Details include dummy outside cylinders, a pair of sand boxes flanking the smokebox, the wonderful hemispherical dome, and the suggestion of a cab front. Name plates were made by stamping the letters into a piece of brass, then riveting them to the dummy side tanks. The builders "plates" are merely paper stickers. The engine begins and ends with a pair of dumb buffers made of wood.

Mechanically, this is an interesting locomotive. It is Archangel's common single-cylinder job. However, because of the forward placement of the front axle, there was not room for the cylinder between the frames. So instead of occupying its usual place, the cylinder was reversed and placed between the two axles towards the rear, driving the first axle by means of an amazingly short rod. Reversing is by slip eccentric.

In the open cab is a throttle, the lever of which conveniently extends past the back plate. There is also a pressure gauge, a blowdown / vacuum tap, and a whistle, the latter of which is actuated by Archangel's nearly impossible whistle valve. The whistle isn't mounted to anything -- it just sort of hangs off its own steam line. The lubricator is fitted with a drain screw and a huge, unsightly filler screw (which, I've been assured, is original equipment!). The lubricator, as well, is not attached to anything but the steam line -- it just floats in the air a few millimeters above the deck.

The Princess is an alcohol burner, the tank being carried between the frames at the rear. A three-wick burner heats the boiler, with the wicks contorted around the engine's mechanics. The long asbestos wicks are splayed out at the top.

The run
The last time I'd run this engine was years ago, so I was looking forward to doing it again. The snow had finally melted enough to reveal the track, so off we went. I prepared the engine in the usual way, making certain to oil all of the moving parts, which had dried out over the years. I filled the tank with alcohol, discovering that the overflow pipe was set too high inside the tank, which caused a fair amount of spillage. I lit the engine on the bench, then carried it to the track, setting it on a low concrete bridge. Flaming alcohol immediately dripped out, setting the dried grasses below alight. I moved the engine onto solid ground and extinguished the growing forest fire. Once the fuel level dropped a bit, all was well.

It was a cool day, with the temperature in the low 40s, so it took a little while for steam to come up. Once it did, I opened the throttle, and the engine moved right off without a stutter. Because of the cylinder's close proximity to the fire, it was already hot, so there was no condensate.

I backed the loco up and coupled it to a train of 10 four-wheel wagons, then turned it loose on the mainline. The scruffy-looking engine, its paint peeling off in several places, ran beautifully. Its characteristic two-chuffs per revolution were clearly audible. The safety valve blew noisily at around 80 pounds, sending a fine plume of steam into the cold air. Around and around it went, with only the occasional stop for more fuel. It is a very thirsty engine and the fuel tank required relatively frequent topping up, even with its large reservoir. It was easy to control and docile in manner, pulling its train with nary a complaint. It could easily have taken a much larger load.

After perhaps 40 minutes (I didn't time it), with the setting sun shining dimly through the high clouds and the temperature dropping, I let the fire die and ran the train into the station on residual steam. Thus ended a run that could only be described as spectacular.

Builder Archangel (UK)
Date built 1976
Gauge 0 (32 mm)
Scale 16mm
Boiler Pot
Fittings Safety valve, throttle, blowdown valve, whistle
Fuel Alcohol
Blow-off pressure 70-80 psi
Cylinders One, double-acting D-valve
Reversing gear Slip eccentric
Lubricator Displacement
Weight 5 pounds, 8 ounces
Dimensions Length over end beams, 10-7/8"; width, 4-1/8"; height over stack, 6"
The right side of this tattered engine attests to the hard life it must have had in earlier years. It's amazing it runs so well. Note the 0-scale drivers. Immediately behind them is the large alcohol tank. The hemispherical dome adds a lot of character to this locomotive.
Dummy sandboxes perch on either side of the smokebox, while a trap-door smokebox door (non-working) and a lamp iron adorn the front.

When first acquired, the boiler, which is hung from a single screw behind the smoke stack, was pushed down, deforming the copper smokebox. This had to be straightened and the boiler reattached, which accounts for some of the paint loss.

The cab is a mess of plumbing and fittings. The throttle lever extends beyond the backplate, making it easy to reach and tweak while the engine is in motion. To the left of it is the blowdown valve, which is exceedingly stiff and can only be (carefully) turned with pliers. The whistle valve and whistle are merely suspended from their respective plumbing.
Above left: The lubricator hangs from the steam line. That honking great screw on top seems to be in character with Stewart Browne's freewheeling approach to engine building. Note the gap between the lubricator and the deck. Above right: Steam's up. The engine blows off at around 75 psi, pretty high for a pot boiler. The whistle valve and whistle can be seen above and to the left of the pressure gauge, respectively.
A three-wick burner powers the boiler. Wicks are fitted wherever they will go. The single cylinder points forward, driving the first axle by an extremely short (and oddly bent) connecting rod.
The Princess sails serenely across the Harris Viaduct on the Ogden Botanical Railway with a relatively long train in tow. Rolling stock is a motley collection of 16mm vehicles acquired over the years. The little coach on the end was built by Mike Horner.
Archangel safety valves are known for flatulence, and this one did not disappoint. The engine took its train around the loop at a walking pace, over and over again.
The train quietly heads for home as the shadows lengthen at the end of an excellent day of steaming.

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