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Accucraft Leader 2

by Chris Bird

A number of us in the Garden Railway Club have been tempted by the Accucraft Leader - a scale model of the Kerr Stuart "Brazil" class which has recently been available at a very attractive price here in the UK. John Robinson (JRinTawa) has already set the ball rolling with his page on Leader, but as our approaches will be very different, this page will document my experiences and simple modifications.

The New Loco

One of the first jobs was to change the spark arrester chimney for the straight one supplied with the loco. This is a matter of opening the smokebox and grasping the knurled ring with long nosed pliers as the chimney is turned to unscrew it. It is a bit awkward, but, with a bit of persistance (and standing the loco on its rear coupling) off it comes. The problem arises when fitting the straight chimney, as it becomes clear that the thread is too short (or the chimney sinks too far into the flair). I was able to turn a washer on the lathe, but Ian Pearse of Accucraft UK says to contact him, or your supplier, if you have a problem.

When fitting the chimney, make sure you have it vertical as there is a bit of play before it is tight.

The cab is a bit more crowded than Ragleth as there is a water gauge - which so far, seems to work on my loco. This type is not normally very reliable on 16mm locos.

You can also see that unlike Ragleth, the burner does not have an air control ring. I found it quite difficult to light, but putting a finger over one of the air holes until it is lit properly helped. Remove finger before the burner gets hot!

I also had to change the wheels from 45mm gauge to 32mm gauge. This simply means slackening the grub screws on the driving wheels, but the pony truck needs to be removed and the correct gauge wheels bolted in position. When replacing the pony truck, make sure you put it on the correct way up. I didn't!!

The Leader's cylinders are inclined, as on the prototype, but this leaves a bit of a gaping hole in the running plate. I plan to make dummy valve chests to full this.


The saddle tank can be removed by unscrewing the knob on the centre of the dummy water filler and then the two small bolts from the tank brackets into the front of the side tank. It is not necessary to remove the bracket over the smokebox as this is a dummy.

The cab can then be removed by removing the two bolts from the bracket in front of each of the side tanks and the single bolt in each cab doorway. The spanners supplied are shown in front of the loco.

The Pressure Gauge

As I am not a fan of the pressure gauge showing through the cab spectacle, I needed to turn it round (using two correct spanners to avoid straining the pipe). However, this would have meant that the brass back showed clearly instead. I removed the gauge and masked it before spraing the back satin black.

The water Top Up

The replacement water filler cap can be clearly seen above and the loco comes with two brass fittings - one to adapt a pump bottle and one to fit on the end of the flexible pipe as a precision nozzle - shown here next to the plain pipe as normally used.

In practice I found that using this created a problem. It got well and truly stuck! My friend Roy Wood dignosed why - the taper plug is cold when it goes into the taper, which is very hot. The plug heats up and jams. it took a number of attempts with pliers to remove it, so I will just use the plain pipe in future!

Modification thoughts 1

Following JR's thought on a side tank with dome, I tried a Lady Anne dome in place. This is 35mm high.


I have passed over the important part about steaming up the new loco. Just like Ragleth, it ran superbly, straight out of the box. I need to fit the radio control before doing a proper video, but here is a snap of it running at Roy's railway.

Valve Chests

Looking at photographs of the real loco shows that that although the cylinders are inclined, the valve chests are level with the footplate and, in fact, stand slightly proud of it. So far, I have found no photos of a modified leader, and so designed a clip on, dummy valve chest. When I say designed, I mean I made it freehand and found the mistakes as I went along.

It is made from soft soldered brass with 1 BA steel bolts.

The brass angle nearest to the camera is bent slightly to act as a spring clip on the back of the Accucraft valve chest. The top plate could be thinner and you could use 12 BA bolts, or stud with nuts. I drilled an tapped the top plate. After taking these photos, I cleaned and etch primed before spraying with satin black.

Now all I have to do is make one for the other side!

Well I have now made one for the other side and have simplified the design a little. Instead of using angle to fix the outer face plate, I have simple flanged over the top. Otherwise it is the same - and I used the digital caliper to scribe lines 3.5mm in from the edge to line up the 10 BA bolts.

I used bulldog clips to hold the parts for soft soldering and then it looked like this:

On fitting it I found that the left hand cylinder (on the right in the photo) is a bit further out than the right, so it would be better to make the top plates a few mm wider. Best to measure both before deciding on the correct width.

I then etch primed and sprayed it with Halfords satin black acrylic.

Radio Control

Right - well after a long pause for holiday and kitchen refurbishment, I finally got round to putting the radio control in. For the present, I have just installed it on the reverser, as I find this fine for what I need.

After removing the body, and marking where its position on the footplate, I made a brass bracket to hold a micro servo. The servo is not one of the smallest available, it is the next one up, and as usual it is a cheapo analogue one from Giant Cod. I made a dummy actuating arm from some scrap wire, and then made up the rod from this pattern using a 2mm, end threaded, steel rod from the model shop. Below you can see the servo in place, held by some oversized setscrews that I happened to have. You will see that I have re-positioned the pressure gauge as I originally planned to have the rod passing behind the lubricator. I had to remove the gauge and re-anneal the tube to do this.

There is no room in the cab for the batteries or switch, and as I had an AAA battery pack in stock, I also needed a charging socket. I decided to mount all three in a tray above the pony truck and could see straight away that this needed to be water proofed to avoud water from filling the boiler causing problems.

I cut a piece of brass (about 0.5mm) to fit between the frames and marked it for bending.

After drilling and filing the holes for the switch and socket, I bent it to shape and quickly discovered my mistake. I wanted to to fit flush with the buffer beam and to do this it needed two more bend and some filing and drilling to miss the various screws and brackets. It ended up like this (and yes there was an error in cutting the hole for the socket!

This was then rubbed down, degreased with thinners and etch primed before spraying satin black.

Then the battery and switch (two poll two way) and socket were wired up and the battery was glued in position with silicone. I sealed round the wires with silicone too.

After de-greasing the underside of the footplate, this was then glued in position with silicone. Here it is shown with the pony truck and mount removed.

I had to drill a hole in the brass footplate for the power feed to reach the receiver which would be mounted in front of the gas tank. I marked it and drilled a pilot hole (after protecting the boiler with thick card) and then enlarged it so that the plug would pass threough. As onle two parts of the plug are used, I removed the third and so needed a smaller hole.

Then I needed to mount the receiver. I found that the current RadioLink receivers were too tall to fit under the tank, but luckily I had an earlier, short one. I wanted the receiver as far from the boiler as possible, while still being able to remove it to access the plugs. To achieve this I made a simple brass clip.

And this was stuck to the gas tank with silicone.

I tested it - and it works fine! With the regulator just cracked open, it is possible to get very smooth starts with the reverser.

Gas Control

The standard Accucraft gas control is a large black knob and I wanted something less obtrusive. Following a suggestion from tag Gorton, I simply shortened and cross drillrd the valve spindle before gluing in a piece of brass rod. You can see it in the photo above.

Lining the Body

Well this is a complex task. First it involves removing the body and packing it in bubble wrap in a box. That box goes in another box and the whole lot goes off to Tony Willmore at Rhos Helyg Loco Works. I specified the original maroon panelling out of black with cream lining. Tony also painted the cab for me - the top cream and the bottom black. The exterior was then given a satin coat of two pack varnish.

This is what it looked like when it arrived:

The camera has over brightened the colour, but it is a superb job.

Painting the boiler, smokebox and buffer beams

Because of the black panelling, the maroon boiler needed to be sprayed black. The smokebox comes off with four bolts underneath and the boiler is held by one screw underneath, but I needed to remove the pony truck and holding plate to get to this. Then the boiler was just held by the burner and steam pipe. I undid the unions in the cab and removed the jet - which needed a firm pull. The, using two 7mm spanners, I undid the superheater union at the front and the union at the rear. One screw holds the burner and then this and the superheater pipe can be withdrawn.

The boiler then lifts off to reveal the chassis.

And here are the parts to be painted:

I degreased the boiler and smokebox parts with automotive degreaser and hosed it off outside. Then the parts were dried in a warm oven (80degrees with the door ajar) before a light rubbing with a fleece type abrasive and degreasing again.

After some deliberation, I decided to spray the whole boiler including the water gauge fittings. These are lacquered so do not need priming.

Here it is masked and ready to spray. Note the barrel of the safety valve cover will remain maroon.

After three good coats of Halfords satin black acrylic paint, flashed off in front of a 2 kw fan heater, I removed the masking before baking in the oven for 20 mins at 100C and then a further 10 mins at 140C.

The smokebox parts were sprayed with Halfords matt black acrylic following the same method:

I then turned to the buffer beams which have (aledgedly) the correct vermillion colour on the outside. Unfortunately they have the same colour on the inside which looks....well....not so nice! I removed the couplings, and then the beams. These were degreased and then masked on the outside face, taking care to run a finger nail round the edge. They were then sprayed satin black and here you can see the masking removed from one before the oven treatment.

Radio Control for the Regulator

I found that the loco was just fine with single channel R/C, but as I had it apart and a servo to hand, I made a bracket out of brass and fitted the regulator control. I drilled the existing regulator, as I had seen others do this, and it works OK. The steel is quite hard though and the drill wanted to wander.....

Here it is installed - the bracket is fitted with one 8 BA screw and silicone adhesive.


The cab fits on easily with two bolts for the doorways and two in front of each tank. The tank is an awkward fit though. As supplied, this sees to slope and so I enlarged the holes in the rear brackets to allow adjustment. Onece these are in, it is just a matter of fitting the tank cap and centre screw to hold it in place.

I also fitted a pair of nameplated that I have had in stock for a long time. They were for my Countess (long since sold) and Sofie Grace is my second granddaughter. The Number plates are from Roundhouse - great value!