But, I was up at the Adirondack Live Steamers ("ALS") over the summer trying to run one of my Gauge 1 live steam engines and had a lot of trouble with it. I had two Gauge 1 steamers: one is an Accucraft Ruby that I assembled from a kit and the other is a Lindale Caledonia alcohol fired locomotive that I purchased from another gentleman. The Ruby has never run right, and I had two different repair companies look at it (I paid them) to fix it. Both said they did, but it still doesn't run right. Some have said Accucraft kits aren't very good, and I had trouble with mine from the start. The Caledonia suffered its own problems over the summer and so I recently sold it back to the gentleman who sold it to me. If you are keeping score, that leaves me with one non-working engine. But, come 2019 I want to have an operational steamer.
|Picture taken from BAGRS website
So, I started to research where to get the parts. Unfortunately, there were many problems along the way. For instance, the company Midwest (which makes scale lumber) stopped producing the boiler/cylinder kits around 2013 and they have become scarce on the market. There are no plans to reintroduce them, and while substitutes are available they involve a lot more work then I wanted to invest. Next, the necessary gears/sprockets are still available but are expensive and when I placed my order not all were in stock. This has actually held up the project for the last month. Finally, the wheels are quality metal wheels and the plans rely on the diameter of the axle to match up well with the sprockets. But, the guy who made the wheels is out of business (also around 2013) and they are scarce. I found a set on EBay that are slightly smaller in diameter so my engine will go a little slower than called for. Beyond that, the parts are strip wood, some tubing, axle box castings and a displacement lubricator which I ordered from the U.K., and some glue. Not all that much really.
As can be seen from the finished engine, there isn't actually much there and it is ripe for customization. From a personal perspective, I really don't like logging type stuff. The charm from the cobbled together, falling apart, unpainted wood and rust locomotives and specialized freight cars is lost on me. So, I struggled for a bit as to how I could end up with an engine that I liked.
Most of my other Gauge 1 equipment is based on British narrow gauge stock, and I wanted my engine to sort of look like it might have operated in Wales. I thought about building a tram engine car body that would shield the mechanical portions of the engine but to look right and withstand the heat it would need to be fabricated from metal. I already have enough metal projects going on right now. After being stumped for a while, I remembered the De Winton quarry engines that operated in Wales and mainly hauled slate around. While not an exact match, if I paint everything black and round over the end bunker edges and if you squint just enough it sort of looks like one. The prototype De Winton engines were mostly small but did have some variety as to size and shape.
The heart of the locomotive is the power plant which consists of an assembled boiler and one cylinder. The boiler is fired by sterno which is held is a round pan below the boiler, and the pan sits on the top of the locomotive deck. The boiler is connected to the cylinders with flexible tubing that needs to be easily removable as the boiler must be lifted off to fill and occasionally clean the sterno pan. The cylinder is mounted on the top of the deck and it has a sprocket on it which is connected by a chain through the deck of the engine to the axle below, which also has a sprocket on it. The holes were laid out and drilled through, and then a combination of files and knives opened them into the square shape. As long as the chain clears without binding, they will be fine.
The coal bunker on one end was important to me for several reasons. First, if you don't include one (some people put barrels on instead to represent oil burners) then the engine looks pretty plain. Second, I have a lifetime supply of real coal obtained from a shortline railroad I like and I wanted to incorporate that in somehow. Third, I could round the corners to mimic the prototype De Winton engines. I built it to plans, though I added some bracing to the inside corners and (which will be hidden by the coal pile) and also a kick board in the front (to prevent the coal from spilling everywhere. Once dried, I rounded over the front corners. Yes the prototypes were steel and had rivets and mine doesn't but oh well. It was easily to build and most American engines didn't have them rounded, so it further enhances the illusion that this is a Welsh quarry engine.
Most of the locomotives I have seen online built to these plans have wood that has been stained or weathered to bring out the character of the wood. For stains to really look good, you need to be careful when you are gluing things up to make sure excess glue doesn't get where it shouldn't, as it will prevent even stain penetration. I tend to be a bit heavy-handed with adhesive application, but since I am painting my engine black it isn't as big a deal.
|(No right wheel, as the sprocket isn't on it yet)
So, the project slowly jerks forward. I have until spring, and nearly all of the necessary parts are here. I only need the gears/sprockets and I should hopefully have them within the next month.