Coal Fired Roundhouse Fowler

John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
Hi all,

Well its like waiting for a bus. You wait for ages and two come along at the same time.

This post is about a Coal Fired Roundhouse Fowler I bought from Simon at Anything Narrow Gauge at the Bressingham Show in the summer of 2013. It was bought in bits as a project. I took photos of the purchase but they have been lost in cyberspace somewhere. As bought the loco was black. It had an British type cab with a front spectacle plate. The tender seems to be home made but under the tender treadplate scribed by hand is the word Roundhouse. There was little wear in the motion. The original cab, if there was one was missing but the original Fowler roof was in the box. The original smokebox front had been used. The smokebox surround seems to have been sweated onto the boiler.

I got the loco home and panicked a bit. I was worried about the state of the boiler. It seems to be made of heavy gauge copper but when I filled it with water to check for gravity leaks no water level showed in the boiler glass. Off with the gauge glass fittings and a good two days soaking in de scaler seemed to do the trick and cleared all the lime scale away.

A hydraulic test was next. Water squirted out of the pressure gauge syphon. It had broken off at some time and been soft soldered back in place but not well. A new syphon and gauge was sourced. The pressure valve was set at 60 psi and water squirted into the boiler. No leaks! Wooppee. It held its pressure well so I looked at the possibility of coal firing for a boiler steam test. Panic. When I checked the steam blower pipe in the smokebox it had also broken part way though and had been soft soldered. It would have been almost impossible for me to mend this blower pipe as it has snapped about 8mm from the front tube plate. The situation was saved by the fact a copper pipe would tight push fit in the original blower pipe. This saved re routing a blower pipe down the outside of the boiler. The next concern was the smokebox door. It is the original Fowler design. The fixing is by a push and twist and then securing with a 6ba bolt. Would it be OK as a tight enough fit not to allow cold air in the smokebox. I blanked off the hole at the bottom of the smokebox placed the boiler in a cradle and fired it up. All was well. No leaks, drop in pressure and the blower worked a treat. The boiler was a prolific steam maker, so on with the rebuild.

The tender was water tight, no leaks at all. I made a new smokebox support plate and cab plate. The others were a bit flimsy. A new almost original, well as original as I can get it, Fowler type cab was made. The eagle eyed will see that the front cab sheet has the pipes exiting from the right hand side instead of the left. I got confused when I was drilling the holes. New piping was also bent up to fit.

The chassis was stripped down. New axles bushes cranks were used. new pipework for the water feed and by pass were made up.

I put everything back together for a steam up. You can see the photos attached. I was feeling really pleased with myself. It didnt last.
The loco made steam like it was going out of fashion. That was not the problem. Getting the timing right was. I have built and timed up Roundhouse loco now for many years so what was I doing wrong? Not having an air compressor does not help and scalding hot locos can be a pain. I checked and re checked and in the end I had to put it away for a couple of days. Putting the loco into mid gear I moved it along the track. The valve spindles did not move at all. The valves were set right. Steamed up, lumpy running. It wanted to go put was hesitant. The following day put it in mid gear pushed it along the track the valve spindles on the right hand side was moving. To cut a long and frustrating story short I had not pinched up the grub screw on the lifting arm causing the valve spindle to do its own thing. Sorted it out, steamed up and a slight fiddle with the valve spindles to fine tune and all was well.

I took it to bits degreased and painted. I did at first put finials on the sanding gear domes etc. They were off and old cuckoo clock but I have since removed them.  I am pleased with the final result.

Can anybody identify this loco at all from what I have said about its origins. Who sold it to Simon at ANG.

John.

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mikanmart

Registered
17 Mar 2012
194
25
London
You have done a nice job there , the only snag being it looks better than my kit built Roundhouse Gas Fired (!!!!! Shock horror , can I say that ?) Fowler .
I have always liked the Fowler , it somehow lends itself to any model railway . Except the Swiss stuff I run in between times .
We use it as a pulling source for our world wide collection of rolling stock . It doesn't look out of place on any of the old Colonial Railways .
I hope it gives you a lot of pleasure , commensurate with the amount of work you have put into its recovery .

Mike Morgan
 

stockers

Trains, aircraft, models, walking, beer, travel
24 Oct 2009
25,617
3,747
63
Nr. Ashford, Kent. England.
Country flag
Lovely looking loco. nice job
 

garrymartin

My Family,Railways, Beer and the Seaside
She looks as pretty as a picture, a Fowler would be the next live steamer on my wish list (but this changes every week!) :)
 

green park

Registered
25 Sep 2013
326
0
looks lovely john, nice job. i have a loco where the previous owner had been using tap water and the inside of tender looked like an old bath with rings of sediment around it. i expect the boiler was the same so lashings of de-scaler later it was sorted. he also must have been using old car engine oil on it as well as it smelt like castrol gtx! he had let it run dry and it sucked oil back up into the tube type regulator, overheated and dried hard. hence the "needs some work" label when i bought the loco. needed a looonng soak in parrafin to free up that lot. strange after spending lots of money to buy a loco, some people try to run them on the cheap. martin
 

John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
We brought them back to life Martin. Giving them another chance.
John.
 

stevedenver

Registered
24 Oct 2009
5,470
212
Country flag
cracking paint and great story!
looked very nice in the buff too,

I loathe the day when I need to do more than add fuel water and oil.....have no clue to how time a loco
 

Llongfordrailway

Edrig, Little John, Ruby, Ffion and Coal Fowler
17 Nov 2013
330
0
Lancashire
What a stunning engine! Was it originally commercially built or home made do you think? It looked brilliant in brass too :D
Not sure if you are on YouTube but I'd love to see a video of it in action!

Regards

Daniel
 

mike

Master at annoying..
Staff member
GSC Moderator
24 Oct 2009
50,709
3,845
Rossendale
www.gscalecentral.net
Country flag
what a fantastic achevment, i dof my cap sir!! ???
 

John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
My Youtube chanel is LLANWELLYN. The two recent loco are not on there as yet but will be later in the spring. There are other coal fired locos to be seen as well as kit built gas fired. As regards ghe Roundhouse Fowler is a real mystery. The tender is scratch built without a doubt. The boiler I have no idea. Its well made and very heavy. The chassis is pure Roundhouse as far as I can see. Axle pump is D.J.B. I would guess its the same as my Lady Anne's. The paint is Halfords car spray for the blue and the black is Wilcos bar barque heat proof paint sprayed direct onto the brass. Etched primer was used on all the othe body work.
John.
 

Llongfordrailway

Edrig, Little John, Ruby, Ffion and Coal Fowler
17 Nov 2013
330
0
Lancashire
Thanks for that John. I'd be interested to see some pictures of your boiler and the amount of fire tubes it has etc. and pictures of the backhead? If you don't mind! Unfortunately my coal fired boiler has never been a great steamer where it was too free steaming and as a result the axle pump couldn't keep up and the slightest usage of the bottle pump to fill the boiler when it stood still, the engine would loose steam! :mad:
It is currently in bits awaiting the return of my enthusiasm to rebuild it again and try again! I was in conversation with Paul Bailey early last year to order a new boiler from him but as he is busy with the main business and kits he produces, it never really got off the ground unfortunately. Ahhh well, I will keep trying. Seeing your engine has certainly given me a push to give it a go.... I might go out in the work shop this weekend ;)

Regards

Daniel
 

John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
Daniel,
I will post photos Friday re the boiler for you. Regarding the axle pump-
my Fowlers axle pump struggled to keep the boiler water level up after a while. I checked the flow back into the tender with the by pass open and it was good. It may be that the boiler is using more water than can be pumped in. Perhaps others can help here. Little and often with the hand pump may be the way to go, especially when replenishing the fire box and wait till the pressure rises. I was told by John Sowerby many years ago that to run a coal fired loco the thing to have was patience. How right he is. Photos tomorrow and the best of luck with your rebuild.
John.
 

Llongfordrailway

Edrig, Little John, Ruby, Ffion and Coal Fowler
17 Nov 2013
330
0
Lancashire
Thanks for that John! It's been an on going saga with my engine. I had it working as a saddle tank but not 100% happy with its performance as I found the water gradually dropped over the run and I needed to fill it back up with the bottle pump. This is why it was stripped it down but never got back round to reassembling it. In regards to your axle pump, did you ever get a solution to it not keeping up with the boiler? Or just servicing it often with the water bottle?
This was my problem as I have an expectation that the axle pump should keep up with the boiler as is the case with other coal fired engines such as Djb ones. Perhaps I need to readjust my expectations if you have a similar experience.

Regards

Daniel
 

John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
Daniel,

I've been looking at you YouTube uploads. Your running at very fast speeds with the loco on blocks. Slower speed on the track and the pump may keep up with demand.
John.
 

Llongfordrailway

Edrig, Little John, Ruby, Ffion and Coal Fowler
17 Nov 2013
330
0
Lancashire
That's something I've not considered John. Unfortunately my railway has r1 curves and I find the loco often derailed which is why I opted for a saddle tank in case that helps. It didn't! I then resorted to running on blocks. I'm planning to go out this weekend and put it back together and see how I get on.

Thanks for your help

Daniel
 

John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
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Daniel,
Close up photos as requested.
John.
 

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John Morgan

Steam Traction
23 Jun 2011
298
1
Norfolk
Daniel, You can see the controls I hope, photos not to good. Notice the 6 boiler tubes are sloped and not level. The new blower pipe is sticking up just at the rear of the blast pipe.
The tall control on the right hand side of the cab is the bypass. Next to it is the blower control. Hope this is a help
John.
 

Llongfordrailway

Edrig, Little John, Ruby, Ffion and Coal Fowler
17 Nov 2013
330
0
Lancashire
Excellent John! Thank you very much. The set up looks similar to mine.... I feel reassured by what you have said about running the engine earlier with the water levels and running. I think I'll give things another go with mine.

Thanks for your help and taking the time to take those photos.

Regards

Daniel.