The Accucraft model is a live-steam version of a venerable British prototype
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The British really got their money’s worth out of many of their steam locomotives. The first copies of the Adams Radial 4-4-2T (denoting it as a tank engine) were produced in 1882. The last ones were retired from service in 1961.
It’s named after locomotive designer William Adams. “Radial” refers to the design of the trailing truck, which, instead of being pivoted to the frame, was held in a sort of sliding cradle. This arrangement gave the axle a much longer pivot radius and let the engine negotiate relatively tight-radius curves.
Four companies built 71 of them for the London & South Western Ry. to be used mostly in commuter service around London. Accucraft’s model is based on the engines made by Neilson & Co.
THE MODEL. Our built-up sample arrived in a in a wooden cradle inside a well-padded cardboard box. In addition to the engine, the user gets instructions, a pair of syringes, Allen and nut wrenches of various sizes, and some extra nuts and bolts. The cradle has hook-and-loop straps and can be used for transport.
The cab is accessed by opening the roof to the left. Boiler fittings include a water glass with a blowdown valve, a 1/2″ pressure gauge, a filler plug with a Goodall-type valve, and a throttle. A safety valve is hidden under the steam dome.
A displacement lubricator is in the left side tank. The gas tank sits in the coal bunker and is fitted with standard filler and control valves. A dummy coal load
hides the gas tank. I would have liked to have seen it fit more securely.
The boiler is Accucraft’s typical single flue copper model. The burner in the cab has an air-adjustment ring that can be used to help the fire if needed.
Lighting up is accomplished by opening the smokebox door, introducing a flame, then slowly opening the gas valve. The fire then flashes back into the flue.
Accucraft uses tiny magnets to hold the smokebox doors closed on their British engines. I wish they would apply these to their American engines as well. The locomotive has two double-acting cylinders outside the frames, while the valves are inside, as per the prototype. It’s also equipped with piston valves.
Reversing is accomplished through use of a third piston valve actuated by a lever in the cab. This swaps the admission and exhaust of steam to the cylinders.
LOOKING CLOSER. The detail level is good. The prototype was fairly plain, as British engines tended to be. On the model, there are several small but high quality castings. The wheels are beautifully rendered, with thin, delicate-looking spokes. Dummy springs and brake detail are visible behind the wheels.
The front truck is pivoted just behind the second axle. The rear axle is, in fact, not radial. To simulate this action, it moves laterally in its bearing as much as 3/8″. The quoted minimum radius for this engine is 4’6″, which is pretty tight. The rear axle is sprung; the drivers are not.
Couplers are the standard British hook-and-link, and are nicely modeled. All of the buffers are stiffly sprung.
Paint and graphics are well up to Accucraft’s already-high standard. The fine white lining on the review sample is outstanding. The wheels, including the treads
and flanges, have been blackened, which I find quite attractive.
FIRING UP. The instructions are written for beginners, and I found nothing out of the ordinary in them. I prepared the engine by applying light machine oil to the
moving parts, then topped up the lubricator with steam oil. Distilled water was used to fill the boiler through the filler plug using the supplied syringe. I filled
the gas tank with butane and placed the engine on the track.
With the smokebox door open, I cracked the gas valve and struck a fire. The flame instantly burned as intended, below the burner, with no adjustments needed. The instructions say to leave the smokebox door open for a couple of minutes, which I did. The gas surged for a bit, but once settled, pressure came up to blowoff at around 50 lbs. in 8-10 minutes in hot weather.
The light engine was a little slow to get going, clearing its cylinders of water and warming them up. When it was ready, it ran steadily for about 15 minutes.
Even with the throttle wide open it didn’t run away. Top speed was reasonable. Performance in reverse was similar.
There was audible exhaust chuff over the roar of the fire. There may have been a little blowby, too, though that didn’t seem to affect performance.
When the run was over, I tried to blow down the boiler, but the handle to do that is difficult to get to. I let the engine cool naturally. Subsequent runs were similar.
The non-return valve built into the filler plug allows you to refill the boiler when it’s under pressure, but you’ll need the right kind of pump bottle (not included).
MY TAKE. This locomotive will perform best with some wearing in and some practice on the part of the driver. Right out of the box, performance was good.
I was pleased with the engine. It’s well designed and easy to operate. It runs well, the cab is fully fitted, and it looks terrific. It’s an unusual and elegant little engine.
Facts & Features
33268 Central Avenue
Union City CA 94587
accucraft.com Price: $2,110 built up; $1,945 kit Paint schemes:
Several prototypical paint schemes
■ Dimensions: Length over end
beams, 13 3/4″; width, 3 3/16″; height over
stack, 4 7/8″. In 1:32 scale this works
out to 36′-9″ x 8′-6″ x 13′-0″, respectively
■ Gauge: 45mm
■ Scale: 1:32
■ Weight: 6 lbs.
■ Butane-fired, single-flue copper
■ Two double-acting, piston-valve
■ Outside cylinders, inside valves
■ Piston-valve reversing, controlled
from the cab