Tuscarora Railroad

The Tuscarora Railroad is a 1:20.3 garden railroad located in suburban Denver, Colorado. The railroad is based on the East Broad Top RR which still operates today as a tourist line in Orbisonia, PA (south-central PA). Be sure to check out Garden Railway Basics , Kevin's book on building and maintaining garden railroads for information on how the TRR was built.

Location: Denver, CO

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tuscarora RR #2, post-wreck

The Wreck of TRR #2 

It wasn't at all uncommon on narrow gauge railroads for locomotives to occasionally leave the rails for one reason or the other. Sometimes, there was no damage, sometimes just minor nicks and scratches, and others--well--let's just say today's insurance companies would declare the locomotive a total loss.

The Tuscarora Railroad is no different here. The victim in this instance, TRR #2, the 2-6-0 they purchased from the ET&WNC. It was in April 1923, and the spring rains had softened up the roadbed enough to where the weight of #2 pushed it just past that tipping point, and over went TRR #2. Damage to the locomotive wasn't all that significant in terms of the key components; the boiler and frame were found to be structurally sound, but the cab, domes, and tender were history.

Despite its age, #2 was still very much the favorite for the passenger trains, and refurbishing any of the other "spare" locomotives was not really much of an option. So, an order went out to Baldwin for some new parts. By July, 1923, TRR #2 was back in business, and considerably more modern than any other loco on the line at the time.

The model

 When I built the model of the original TRR #2, I couldn't help but to wonder what it would look like if it were a bit more modernized. "Most" modern moguls such as those on the EBT, the Waynesburg & Washington, or other lines had more-or-less evenly spaced drivers, so I couldn't really find a specific prototype to give me any kind of an idea. However, the notion just stuck in the back of my head.

A few years ago, I entered a photo contest on the 1:20-point-me web site. The prize was a Bachmann 2-6-0, the same as what I used to build TRR #2. Alas, I didn't win. (I came in third, winning a flat car which ultimately became EBT caboose #26.) However, my friend and fellow modeler Bruce Chandler did. He, too, was wondering about what the mogul would look like if modernized. I had some parts left over from another project, and he and I got to thinking trade. I needed the old tender and fluted domes for another locomotive project (EBT #3), so it made perfect sense to just trade parts for parts. Well, Bruce ultimately decided that he didn't want to bother with that project, so offered to sell the locomotive to me at a price I couldn't refuse. So, now I had another Bachmann mogul which would soon be devoid of its tender, domes, cab, etc. So, what to do?

Why not modernize it myself? I had the necessary parts. So, the idea for a "post-wreck" #2 was born.

At the core, I did the same thing to this loco as I did to the original #2; replaced the original wagon-top boiler with a straight boiler, and added a new cab. On this one, I added all new "modern" fittings, though--new round domes, electric lights, generator, new stack, steel cab, and new pilot. The tender had to be built new since I'm using the original tender for EBT #3. Fortunately I had all these parts in my parts box.

Okay, not everything was in my parts box. I needed to build a new front pilot. Truth be told, I've gotten lazy of late. If I can buy a part that looks good for less than what it would cost me in terms of time to build the same (or similar) part, then I'll shell out the money. Caboose Hobbies had some Accucraft pilots, which they'd be willing to sell me for $60. Yeah, I think I'll pass on that one. However, on the next aisle over, they hade some Bachmann K-27 pilots for $17. Bingo! I cut around 1/2" from the center of it, and voila! That and an Accucraft 1:32 coupler (scales out to a 3/4-sized coupler in 1:20.3), and we're off and running.

I went back and forth on where to put the generator. Most locos have them next to the cab. I could have done that easily enough, but figured to do something just a bit different on this one. I wanted to preserve the open space between the cab and the steam dome for just the bell that the original #2 had, so it made sense to move the generator forward of the sand dome, where there was still room.

Yes, the "bailing wire" holding the steam line to the handrail stanchion is slightly out of scale, but it is prototypical.

On the other side, all the electrical conduit us modeled. I decided to run separate electrical conduit for this loco, mostly because I wanted to clutter the boiler up with some extra detail. It would have been just as common for the railroads to use the handrails themselves as conduits, provided they were hollow.

The stanchions are from a Bachmann Big Hauler, though I had to drill out the bases for brass pins to stick them into the boiler. (I don't use my lathe often, but it comes in handy for stuff like that.) The generator and headlight are also surplus Bachmann parts. The stack is an Accucraft C-16 stack. Smokebox cleanout plugs and other bits are Ozark Miniatures.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love doing locomotive plumbing, especially when it comes to dual air pumps? No? Well, there's a reason for that. I don't. I find it particularly loathsome, actually. Tedious, finicky, and an outright pain. But, a modern locomotive like this needs two air pumps to be able to keep the air tanks filled for not only locomotive brakes but train brakes as well. The steam turret just behind the bell will ultimately be plumbed to the air pumps.

I went back and forth as to what to do for a cab. I've got a bin full of Bachmann "Big Hauler" 4-6-0 cabs, but would a 1:22.5 cab work on a 1:20.3 locomotive? After all, this is the same cab I used when "downsizing" a 1:20.3 consolidation to 1:22.5. However, after consulting quite a few plans for narrow gauge moguls, I discovered that the cab scales out very well in 1:20.3.

You can see the construction of the boiler in this shot, too. It's a length of PVC pipe, which is wrapped in 1/16" cork "lagging." This is then covered with .005" styrene for the jacket. As per the prototype, the lagging only covers the boiler, not the smokebox. That's wrapped with .005" styrene, embossed from behnd with rivet detail, but the styrene is applied directly to the PVC pipe.

I also put some airtanks (again surplus from the Bachmann 4-6-0) under the cab.

The tender is from a Bachmann 2-8-0. I narrowed it around 1/2", and took around 1" off the length. The cuts are evident in this photo. They'll be filled with putty and sanded. The frame is scratchbuilt.

So, that's where this project stands so far. I've still got a good bit of work to do on it in terms of plumbing and detailing, to say nothing of painting it. For paint, it will get painted in the same green/black with silver striping as TRR #10. I'll also put sound and R/C in the tender.

Further bulletins as events warrant.