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

Thursday, September 20, 2012

East Broad Top #7 Progress Report

Okay, it's been a while, and I've been a bit distracted by a few other projects. Hey, I deal with enough deadlines at work. If I wanna shelve a project on the railroad for a year, I can do that, right? (Okay, I still haven't finished my passenger cars yet, and it's been nearly 5 years for one of them...)

Anyway, after a month or so of finally getting around to working on it, EBT #7 is ready for the paint shop.

Truth be told, I'm not so much the type of modeler who has to have many projects going at once as much as I am a modeler who hits a minor snag on one project and decides to shift gears until inspiration strikes. And often, it's not clear what that particular snag is until inspiration strikes and you want to get back at it. In the case of #7, it was the front pilot.

EBT #7 always had a wood cowcatcher, even through its service on the Ohio River & Western. Nothing unusual about that. I've scratchbuilt them before. They're not difficult. You draw it on the computer, print out the patterns, cut to shape, and glue together. It's not hard--just tedious. And I knew I'd have to do that for this loco since there wasn't a commercial laser-cut pilot which would work and save me the toil. As it happens, I went into Caboose Hobbies around a month ago, and they had just put out a bunch of large scale detail parts on the clearance self. Pennies-on-the-dollar prices on these things. Included in that was a Precision Scale 1:24 K-27 cowcatcher. As you see above, it's a casting of a "boiler pipe" cowcatcher. But for whatever reason, this kicked something into gear for me. At the very least, it would be something to visually give me the appearance of a proper cowcatcher on the loco while I got going again on the rest of it. So it (and a bunch of other detail parts) came home with me. After some minor cutting to clear the coupler pocket, I attached it to the pilot beam, and I liked it. The front of the loco looked "finished." I may still build a proper wood pilot for this loco (it's only 4 screws to remove it), but for now it will do.

The coupler pocket was built using the stock Accucraft 1:32 coupler box with some extra styrene bits glued in place. Nothin' fancy. The coupler lift bar is .035" mig welding wire that I got from Harbor Freight--something like $5 for a spool of a gazillion feet that I'll never empty in the next 30 years. It's got a good degree of stiffness to it, but is still a bit more pliable and easy to work with than the steel "music wire" you find at hobby shops.

The headlight is a stock Bachmann headlight that I backdated with some plumber's putty. The headlight bracket is from a Bachmann 2-6-0. The smoke stack was turned from PCV pipe fittings.

The smokebox front is a press fit inside the PVC pipe I used for the boiler. The core of the plug is 2" outside-diameter acrylic tube, wrapped in electrical tape to bring it to a snug fit inside the PVC pipe.

To lay out the bolts and dogs and other fittings on the front, I printed out this circle and attached it to the styrene sheet to cut out.

I would highly recommend anyone wanting to build models of things that are riveted to get one of these things. It's a punch and die set from Micro Mark. If I read correctly, they're discontinuing this version, and supposedly replacing it with something else, or I'd post a link. Northwest ShortLine makes a similar thing, but will cost you considerably more. Regardless, it's indispensable when it comes to doing long rows of evenly-spaced rivets.

Of course, in large scale, counting the rivets is easy. Getting them the right size and shape is the challenge. This is the side sheet for the firebox, whose stay bolts have a unique dimpled shape. I embossed the rivets using the punch set, then went back with a scratch awl and "popped" each one.

Here's the finished sheet on the boiler.

Here's the firebox on D&RGW #346 at the Colorado RR Museum, which was built to the same drawings as EBT #7. (And proved to be a great resource for building this model.)

The backhead and cab floor are built similar to how I did the smokebox front--it just plugs into the PCV pipe for the boiler.

Plumbing this locomotive was an educational experience. While #346 may have been built to the same Baldwin drawings as EBT #7, that's largely where the similarities ended. Each railroad had different requirements, and adapted the locos over time differently. As such, much of the plumbing varied from loco to loco. One thing that was constant, however, was the throttle valve, and the "tube" that ran from the throttle in the cab to the steam dome. This is often overlooked in photographs, and sometimes forgotten on commercial models as well. (Of course, I figured this out after I had run the original lines for the steam to the injector, so that had to be redone.)

You can see also in this shot the construction of the cab, built from a core of .100" styrene, laminated with .010" styrene embossed with the rivets. The rounded edging on the roof is half-round strip from Evergreen. The "doors" on the front of the cab are cosmetic; the seams just scribed into the styrene sheet to make a visible line. They won't open.

Detailing the firebox and ashpan was fun. Clear photos of this end of the loco are non-existant, so I had to do a lot of guessing in terms of how the brake rigging would have been attached. I could see the Eames vacuum cylinders (the round things) in the photos, but much else was in shadow. Here, again, is where having #346 nearby came in handy. The ashpan and firebox mounting links (the bike-chain-looking things) are patterned after what's on that loco.

The tender shell is designed to lift off the base for easy access to the control electronics and battery. This arrangement, too, might change depending on which control system I ultimately end up using. The new QSI Titan has some features I'd like to try in this loco, but I'm waiting for them to upgrade the software for the steam locos to take advantage of those features. If I do go that route, I'll put all the electronics in the boiler and just the batteries and speaker in the tender. I'll run two separate batteries, because the Titan has a synchronized chuff feature that will drive a smoke unit. I'd love to see this thing puffing smoke, if only for show for 10 minutes or so before I get bored and turn it off. You can see the construction of the tender tank--similar to the cab with a core of .100" styrene laminated with thinner sheets.

To laminate the sheets, I'm using 2-sided tape. I could use styrene solvent cement, but I can never get it down to more than just the edges of the sheet, and depending on the thickness of the sheet, sometimes you get some crazing in the middle if you use a thicker cement. This stuff is permanent. You roll it on, then peel off the orange backing to reveal the "sticky" side. Line up your sheet and press. Line it up well, as you may not get a second chance. I get it at Michaels or similar craft store. They have it in varying widths as well as full sheets.

The steps on the tender are Ozark Miniatures castings. If you look closely, you'll see a pinhead in between the cast-on bolt detail. These steps don't have any physical means of being attached to the tender, and as I've experienced on other locos where I've used these steps, there's no glue strong enough to hold them in place when the loco hits a rock or some other obstruction. So the pin is necessary to hold the step onto the tender. When painted, it will blend in.

The rear coupler is the same Accucraft 1:32 coupler as on the front, only on this one, I cut away part of the coupler box so I could fit the top of a 1:20.3 Accucraft coupler box over it. (I'm using the 1:32 couplers because they scale out to the 3/4-sized coupler used by the EBT and other narrow gauge lines, particularly those in the northeast and midwest. The grab irons and bolts on the tender are from Phil's Narrow Gauge. Cheap, strong, and pre-bent--three qualities I like in grab irons.

I modeled side extensions on the tender of this loco, which--to the best of my knowledge--the EBT didn't use. Most of their locos had a board going across the back of the tender just forward of the water hatch, but not along the side. The EBT was a short coal-hauling railroad, never far from a source of coal. There was no need to really extend the capacity of the tender. I added them strictly for aesthetic purposes. The tender is accurate for the original tender that went behind this loco. When the loco was damaged in the paint shop fire (see earlier post on #7), the railroad ordered a new steel cab from Baldwin. This was a lot taller than the original wood cab. No photos exist of #7 on the EBT prior to being sold to the OR&W in 1913, and the earliest photo of the loco on that railroad show it with a new, taller tender--presumed to have been built by the Pennsylvania RR who owned the OR&W at that point. In all the photos of the loco with the steel cab, I'm used to seeing a tender of a given height behind the loco. Without the side extensions, the original tender just looks short, mis-matched for the locomotive. Yeah, it's modeler's license. I'm okay with that. 

From here, it's off to the paint shop. Hopefully the weather will stay warm for the next month or so in order for me to get that done before winter sets in.