The Candidates in Steam

Some readers have been a bit reticent to give their opinions on my shortlist of live steam locos! I realised my rather dry summary of the specs might not be enough – I needed to see the locos in action and so do you. Fortunately, there are some rather good videos out there. Please, watch them, and give me your thoughts!

Here’s RWM Janet:

She’s filmed there by Chris Bird, running Roy Wood’s line. She’s fitted with a chuffer, and seems to run well slowly with a heavy train. (Another Chris Bird video, and one by Roy Wood)

Here’s Regner Willi:

It’s a short clip, but long enough to see how superbly slow this geared loco runs even with a light train.

Here’s Regner Konrad:

Look at the way the geared Konrad takes that incline. Impressive.

Roundhouse Millie

Another film from Chris Bird who makes amazing videos (as well as Summerlands Chuffers, one of which is fitted to this Millie). This is on his own line. None of the above locos can easily be radio controlled, but Millie can. For fair comparison, I’ve tried to find videos without R/C but I think I failed in this case.

Roundhouse Bertie

Watch from 1’59”. It’s another Chris Bird video – Bertie is fitted with a chuffer. This is a new loco; Roundhouse locos apparently need quite a bit of ‘running in’ to perform their best.

Accucraft Ragleth

Watch from 6’10” – Chris Bird again – there’s a comparison of Ragleth with and without chuffer.

Those are the contenders.

But I thought I’d just include one more clip. It’s not a contender because (with R/C and slomo) it is more than 3 time my budget. It is an incredible performance, though, again filmed by Chris Bird, and it sets the bar for slow running. It’s ruined everything else! But it’s a pleasure to watch:

More Roundhouse Katie with slomo, and even more.

Published by

Simon Wood

Lecturer in medical education, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See for more...

4 thoughts on “The Candidates in Steam”

  1. Brill. I can appreciate how slomo makes all the difference aesthetically. Lovely clip at the end with a Roundhouse Katie. You can even hear the rolling-stock over the rails. But the bottom-line for me is that you’ve got to have a chuffer! 🙂 The sound is wonderful, especially when the load is increased and the going gets tough. If you can’t afford an engine with slomo the closest you can get to it is loading up and making the going difficult – fantastic sound. My particular favourites were the Accucraft Ragleth – especially the way it comes round the bend at about 8.00 in towing the five coaches – just superb and Roundhouse Millie. Though the sound of RWM Janet was great too. Above and beyond that I just don’t have your discerning eye and ear 🙂 I feel like we should do a fund raising event so you can get a Roundhouse Katie with slomo! Still you’ve got to have dreams.

    1. Thanks Joe. Sound matters to me – if I can fit a chuffer, I will! That would rule out the Regners, though…

      A heavy load certain does seem to help slow running (as well as a good chuff) but in the clips of Katie you can see how slow she runs as light engine. Shunting with live steam, just imagine! Ragleth seems to run well slowly for a loco without slomo, even starting quite smoothly, which is its biggest attraction to me.

      I did ponder, briefly, building a Katie from a kit. A kit is a few hundred cheaper, but even without R/C and slomo, it’d still be a fair bit more than a Ragleth, though I’d have the option of those future upgrades. I might quite enjoy building it (even if it might take me months – it’s a challenging job) but I might not get as smooth a running loco as a professionally built one – and I’d have to paint it. I’m not good at painting! Painting is not fun.

      You’re not the only one to mention the Millie. She’s a lovely loco too, and reputedly can run for 50 minutes without a refill!

  2. You have a nice line, I think it would suit a smaller steam loco better, I have an old mamod sl1 it runs very nicely, but its had quite a lot of work done! If you enjoy working on your locos then its great fun. Mine now has, cylinder upgrade, chuffed, gas burner, lubricator, cab regulator, boiler top up valve, full radio control. This winters jobs in the workshop are to fit a pressure gauge and an rc whistle

  3. I had similar ideas to yours – I did start with the original Mamod loco, when it first came out. When I looked into a better loco, I decided I didn’t want slip-eccentric, as I wanted to be able to operate ‘hands-off’, with r/c, This was before Accucraft, so I had a basic Roundhouse loco, but they don’t seem to do anything equivalent now, the nearest probably being the ‘Katie’. That loco was stolen a couple of years ago, and I replaced it with a Ragleth, which I have been very happy with. As you say, it is quite large, though – I do have a chuffer on mine, and have also replaced the gas valve and regulator with options from ‘The Train Department’, but these were added later…. The Mamod still gets a run every now and then, with uprated safety valve, and replacement burner, to give a longer run.

Leave a Reply