Roundhouse Argyll - Sir Adrian Webb

by Mark Pengelley


The idea for wanting a Argyll or a Atlantic locomotive came about many years ago when I discovered the Cambeltown & Machrihanish Light Railway and quite simply fell in love with it. Anything and everything about the line I found quirky, interesting and above all narrow gauge. The original locomotive ran on a 2'6 gauge, so neither 32 or 45mm would be correct in 16mm scale, but for me it doesn't matter. Below are some photos of the original locomotives I have scanned from my books.

Argyll stood at Hall Street outside the free library.

Again, Argyll stood on the northern line facing east at Machrihanish.

My favourite loco of the line, Chevalier. I have a Mamod named after this loco, some day I will build one with a Ragleth power unit.

Chevalier working hard pulling the colliery hutch carriers. Each hutch carrier holding four colliery hutches piled high with coal.

If you search hard enough online it is possible to find the location of the line, what a beautiful place it must have been with some great scenery.

The model

So it was the tail end of 2012, I knew I wanted to buy an Atlantic but I was too late! Sadly I did not have the funds available in time for the order at the end of 2012, so I missed out. I have been hunting on and off for a couple of years for an Argyll or an Atlantic, but came across this one on Simon Wenworth's stand during the Elsecar model steam show in September of 2013. We exchanged emails back and fourth a few times and eventually I bought her in February 2014. As luck would have it, it used to belong to one of our own, Doc Turner and resided at the Dingle Leigh Railway. David sent me a few photos of Sir Adrian Webb in his natural habitat at the DLR, I hope you don't mind me posting this David?!

Historically at the Dingle Leigh Railway, archive photo found.

It was clear to me that Argyll was a well cared for loco and highly respected from the way David spoke about it. I have seen some archive video footage of the Argyll running on the DLR, so I knew of what I could expect from the loco and also from speaking with Chris Bird (who also has a Argyll) I was then familiar of the driving characteristics associated with one.

The trials of Sir Adrian Webb were not full of good events. Simon had told me that the R/C was intermittent, so I knew what I was getting into, but it did work until the loco was tested on the Ridgemont Hills Light Railway. The first run was driven manually only and was quite difficult.

Sir Adrian Webb as received at the RHLR on 1st February 2014. My first impression was 'this thing weighs a ton!' compared to my rather lightweight tram and skinny weight RH Billy.

Warming up to take the first train.

Sir Adrian Webb is ready for the off for the first time.

Roundhouse Argyll's first firing

Here is a short account of Sir Adrian Webb's first fill.

Roundhouse Argyll first run at the RHLR

During this run Sir Adrian Webb is being controlled manually.

After the inaugural runs I decided to upgrade the R/C to 2.4ghz setup so I could use my computerised transmitter and run the loco properly.

Some minor timing issues (me being fussy!)

So I decided to crack on with the running and fitted the 2.4ghz receiver.

I took the body off and swapped over the receivers. All was well after this so after setting the end points on the transmitter I proceeded with another run.

Here is the ultra tiny new 4 channel receiver. My how things have moved on!

This is where the timing problems began. It appeared that during the life of the loco whilst running with the factory fitted R/C, it was purposely set so that the direction was not set to full movement. I had set my r/c so that it did and whilst trying to run the loco, it had a massive blow-by problem. I could only just get it to run in reverse using full valve but had to bring the stick back to nearly half way to run forwards.

I took the valve chest off to discover that the valve was hitting the edge of the chest when set to full forwards. So back to basics we went. I emailed Chris Bird about my problems and he gave me a couple of things to check and it was during these checks I found the quartering was out on the right hand crank, so I altered it. My days, that made it totally un-drivable, the blow by was immense. So I stopped work, went to bed and called Chris in the morning. We spoke long about the things that could be wrong, but it ultimately came down to the quadrant throws. I went home from work that evening, spent a couple of hours working out the problems, changing the lengths on a couple of rods and hey presto, the valves no longer fouled the valve chest walls at full valve. A quick run confirmed this and I shared my glee with Chris on the phone. Thanks Chris! :-)

So the following day I called Roundhouse to order some spare parts for a couple of projects and some maintenance parts for Billy and Argyll. I had a lengthy conversation with Harri Henderson there who confirmed he assembled this Argyll and she was one of the last two batches with the 'problematic/nightmare' smaller valve chests that the chassis builders hated at the time. I also found out that my Argyll was built in March of 2004 and was sold to PPS steam models.

Roundhouse Argyll wonky wheel

During the first steam up I was a little concerned as to the large side to side wobble that occurred al low speeds. I found that one of the wheel bosses was drilled at an angle and caused this. Here is a short video that demonstrates this. Fortunately this problem was not evident when running on the rails, so until the new blanks arrived from Roundhouse, I was ok to continue.

Then came the good part. I was lucky enough to be given a pass to go over to the Summerlands Light Railway at Chris Birds house. I had a fantastic day, thank you Chris for the great day and giving up so much time for me. Thinking of the line and how much I have seen of it on youtube whilst watching Chris' videos, they say you should never meet your heroes. I think this is rubbish because the SLR was better than I imagined! ;-)

Here is Sir Adrian Webb sat ready at the Summerlands Light Railway. A great moment!

And the video.

Roundhouse Argyll at the Summerlands Light Railway

The kindness of Chris Bird

I was outside filming my tram going around the line (on my own ;-) ) and Chris decided to take my Argyll apart, and fit the new wheel bushes that I had literally just taken delivery of that day. I did sneak in and take the odd photo whilst he worked.

Not a way a loco should stand, but missing a front axle with coupling rods disconnected.

The disconnected parts

Chris then pressed in the inserts, drilled the holes on the lathe and tapped the grub screw threads for me!

Thank you so very much! A job that I could never had done on my own, I do not own a lathe. :-(

Anyway, back on track. I was having a fool around with Argyll on the line at home that I am building casually. I decided to do a 'real and model' shot.

The demolition train at Lymescraig

The construction train at the RHLR

And for now, that is all on Sir Adrian Webb.