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

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tuscarora Railroad #5

In my last post, I lamented that as I was finishing my model of EBT #7 (built to the same drawings as the D&RGW's C-19 locos), Bachmann releases a commercial model of a D&RGW C-19.

Great. Just ducky. Grumble, snarl, snort... rotten finks could have saved me a ton of work had they announced things a year or so earlier. (I have since provided Bachmann brass with a list of projects I'm contemplating in hopes that this time they'll announce them before I start building them.

As luck would have it, a Bachmann C-19 found its way onto my shelf. This, then, begged the question: what do I do with it? One of my first thoughts was to build a model of EBT #7 as it came from Baldwin in 1881. I have a drawing showing the loco "as built," complete with color scheme and lining; the whole nine yards! Cosmetically, it was doable from this as a starting point, but it would have required cutting down the smokebox and building a new tender. That, and an exceptional amount of custom artwork and fine decal work for the lining that there was no way, no how I was in the mood to do. Maybe "someday," but not now. And to be quite frank, I had my model of EBT #7, so "been there, done that" began to set in. That, and I had just finished scratchbuilding one of these buggers; the thought of doing a ton of work to this one just to match a prototype that I had already built a model of was about as appealing as running barefoot over hot lava.

So, I turned to my usual scapegoat when I get an urge to build a locomotive that the EBT never ran, the Tuscarora Railroad. I decided they needed a new 2-8-0.

So here's the back-story...

Up until 1913, the Tuscarora RR had been using EBT #7 and #3 to fill in when TRR #3 was out for repairs. The EBT sold #3 to the Tuscarora Valley, which was great because the TRR could still use it, except that it blew a cylinder shortly after being sold and never turned another wheel. EBT #7 went to the Ohio River & Western where it became their #14 (and lasted until the end of that railroad.) The TRR had just bought #4, but it wasn't as powerful as #3 or the other locos. So, in 1916 when the TRR had some extra cash to spend for a new ("gently used") loco, they went shopping. Crews liked EBT #7, and--quite frankly--were a bit miffed that the EBT didn't come to them before shipping the loco off to Ohio. Fortunately, the design was apparently very popular with Baldwin, and in addition to EBT #7 and the locos built for the D&RGW, Baldwin built a number of nearly identical locos for export south of the border. Southern Equipment & Iron--a dealer in used locomotives--happened to know that one of these export locos was available. Alas, the paper trail on this loco had disappeared, so no one knew exactly when it was built, but from all appearances, it was built to the same drawings. A deal was struck, and what would become TRR #5 was soon on a slow boat from the Yucatan. SE&I would spend the next 6 months re-fitting the loco with the modern safety appliances now required, and upgrading the lighting, and all that good stuff.

When the loco arrived on the TRR, the plan was to paint it in the same green/silver scheme as #4. SE&I was supposed to do the painting there as part of the rebuilding process, but some lackey in the front office screwed up the paperwork, so the loco was shipped unlettered, with just the basic black paint on the cab and tender. By the time #5 arrived on the railroad, #3 was due for a major shopping, so pressure was on to get the loco on the rails quickly. That meant "basic black" won the day. "Stamp 'TRR' on its ass and get it on the rails!" was the direct quote. The paint was still drying as the fire was lit. TRR #5 was officially in service.

The Model:

By all rights, the Bachmann C-19 as delivered (shown above) is an outstanding model. When I was researching my model of #7, I spent a good deal of time looking at #346 at the Colorado RR Museum, and Bachmann did a very good job on this loco in terms of fidelity to the prototype. So much so, in fact, that were I to simply repaint it, it would still look to me like a D&RGW loco in different paint, as opposed to a 2-8-0 built expressly for another railroad to their specifications. As common as 2-8-0s were on narrow gauge lines, the ones built for each railroad had a different "look" about them. So, off I went to de-Rio-Grande-ize this particular 2-8-0.

The most obvious changes came at the front of the locomotive. The headlight was replaced with a smaller one, and moved back to sit on top of the smokebox instead of on the original mounting that partially stuck out a bit. This meant building a new bracket, but easy enough with some scrap styrene. I also moved the class lamps to the side of the boiler instead of the front. The original brackets were turned into flag holders. I also added wire to simulate the electrical conduit running to the class lamps. Also missing from the front is the handrail on the smokebox door. This proved to be a bugger to remove; I ended up breaking the hinge pins in the process, so the smokebox door no longer opens. No biggie; the entire smokebox is just a press fit in there now anyway. (The screws that used to hold it in would go under the new headlight bracket.) The two square nuts just to the left of the class lamp fill holes into which steam exhaust lines on the stock model were stuck into. I removed those lines and a few other bits of extra plumbing.

The front pilot went on a diet of sorts, too. The original pilot beam stuck out about 3/8" wider on each side, with the ends of the beams rounded and flag holders on the ends. I thought that looked too wide, and discovered that the ends could be cut off at a point where there's "filler" in the die-cast pilot beam casting which would allow for a new "clean" end to the beam. You can see the holes on the front where the pilot steps originally attached to the pilot. I left the holes in place; I wanted this loco to look like it had seen some changes in its life, and holes in the pilot beam where things "used to be" seemed like a logical way to convey that legacy. So the pilot beam got narrowed, and the pilot steps moved in as well. That meant the cowcatcher had to be narrowed as well. Fortunately, there's a lot of "extra space" in the middle, thanks in part to an unnecessarily-wide coupler pocket. I narrowed this down to be just wide enough for the Accucraft coupler pocket I use, then cut out the appropriate section from the middle of the cowcatcher. A new piece of wire in the middle, and all looks like the original, just around 1/4" or so narrower. As good a job as Bachmann did on this model, the "thing" they put on the end that's supposed to be the air hose connector is--well--it was a piece of bent metal wire. I replaced that with a proper angle cock and brake hose. (It's interesting that--historically--steam locos had the forward air brake hose on the "wrong" side to connect hoses on cars. This apparently owes itself to the pre-train-brake days when the line was used just to run air from one loco to another. When they changed the locos for train brakes, in many cases they used the existing plumbing. Occasionally they'd re-route the plumbing to the other side of the deck, but for the most part, they just kept things in place; turning the glad hand to the outside to mate with the other equipment.)

Here's a better view of the side of the locomotive, showing the "cleaner" side absent all that extra plumbing. I kept the cylinder cock lever at the front, but re-routed the reach rod to run under the running board into the cab at floor level instead of running into the cab nearer to the roofline. It just kept things tidier. I added air tanks to the side of the locomotive; one under the running board on this side, and one under the cab on the opposite side. I also re-routed the injector lines to enter the cab in line with the injector casting on the cab interior instead of about 3/8" above it.

I liked the original cab, except for the windows. The EBT (as well as the 2-8-0s of identical design built for export of which I had photos) all had this 3-window arrangement on the cab, as opposed to the two window arrangement on the Bachmann model. This was simple enough to change. The arm rest popped off with just a bit of "friendly persuasion," and the window awning popped right off without a fight. A razor saw took care of the original center pillar, and two new styrene strips made for nice replacements. Inside the cab, you can see the new LED cab light I installed. The stock cab light is orange, and located near the front of the cab. For starters, orange doesn't cut it, so that had to go. Secondly, the cab light would be on the rear wall so to illuminate the gauges and handles, and not interfere with the crews' view forward. So, a little extra wire, and voila! I didn't do anything with the plumbing inside the cab. There's a lot of it; some of it matches what I've seen in the cab of #346, much of it is a complete mystery, but it's there, in the shadows, and more trouble than it's worth to fix. (You can see the original hole for where the water injector line originally entered the cab about midway between its current location and the handrail. Here again, I left the hole in place to convey the idea that this loco has seen a few changes in its life.

The tender got a lot of attention from the razor saw. (Or more accurately, the rotary cut-off saw in my Dremel; faster and easier.) If you look back at the "stock" photo, you'll see the tender had "hungry boards" above the top of the flared edge of the tank, as well as extra metal shrouding around the water shut-off valve. This made for a very tall, very narrow-looking tender. That wasn't going to do at all. So all that stuff got cut off, and the divider at the back of the coal bunker lowered and scribed/sanded to look like wood. The air tank and attendant air lines decided to live in my parts box until needed at some point down the road. You can see the power and volume switches on the front wall of the tender, along with the Phoenix programming port just below it. I usually put these switches on the floor of the tender, but with the trucks and the speaker and weights the way they are, there wasn't room.

I made a new coal load using my usual technique of real Broad Top coal and white glue. For this loco, I cut a new styrene base to replace the stock coal load, and glued the toolboxes to this new base. (I also removed the quasi-rain-gutter "lip" around the opening for the electronics so the new base would sit flat and give me more room for coal.) Before gluing the coal in place, I laid a plastic bag over the tender, so the coal load would be removable so I can get to the batteries. A new back-up light on the tender completes the rear end.

To be honest, the tender is from an aesthetic sense still a touch "narrow" for my sense of proportion, and I went back and forth on adding about 3/8" to the width to bring it more in line with the side of the cab, but at the same time, it's prototypical, and it's only my sense of aesthetic that says it doesn't look right. I've found that over time, I tend to get used to things, so I don't think I'm going to worry about it--at least any time soon.

Contrary to the backstory above, my first thought when it came to painting this loco was to paint it in the black with dark green boiler scheme of the TRR a la TRR 2 and 10 as they appear in the 1930s. With the generator and electric lights, I figured this would be a great addition to the "modern" fleet. Unfortunately, I ran into a minor glitch. For both #2 and #10, I was able to brush paint the ModelFlex paint right out of the bottle onto the boiler and get a glass-smooth, even coat of paint. I think as ModelFlex paint gets old, it gets thicker and doesn't cover nearly as smoothly. You can see evidence of this on the cab where I repainted after removing the old lettering. In the past, that also laid down nice and even; this time I got brush strokes all over the place. Fortunately it's a wood cab, so the brush strokes look like wood grain! (I've since opened another jar of that paint to find it the consistency almost of syrup, so--yeah--evidently it thickens as it ages.) Anyway, brush-painting the boiler wasn't going to happen, and I wasn't in the mood to strip everything down to airbrush the boiler. I was back to the "hate" side of my love-hate relationship with my airbrush. (And after my subsequent attempt to revive our relationship on a diesel I'm currently working on, I'm afraid it's time to part ways.)

But I digress...  The green wasn't going to work, so I was then able to turn back the timeline a bit on this one to the mid 1910s. That allowed me to go with a plannished iron boiler jacket using the powdered graphite technique I used on EBT #12 and TRR #10. This gives me a polished metal look without having to remove a bunch of details to get it. With that, I contemplated the green/silver scheme of TRR #4, but there was that whole "airbrush" thing again. So basic black, borrowing from the paint scheme on #3 won the day. The original plan called for a "5" on the sand dome in addition to the cab, but remember that "love-hate" relationship I have with my airbrush? I have a similar relationship with decals. I was out of the Micro-Sol setting solution I had used in the past to help apply decals, so I bought a bottle of Walthers' Solv-a-set instead, figuring I'd try something new. I placed the decal on the sand dome as normal, then went to apply a drop of the setting solution. Surface tension moved the decal, but the stuff softens the film so quickly that as I was trying to reposition it, it fell apart. I normally print extras "just in case," but I went through all of my extras just on one bloody decal! I'm not going to print a new sheet just for two flippin' numbers, so to heck with it! I put a big "5" on the headlight (a much more manageable dry transfer), and called it good.

Having said that, I think I'm a convert to the Walthers stuff. In the past, I've never been able to apply decals on any surface consistently without getting some level "silvering" where the decal doesn't properly adhere to the surface. It's either in very small pockets, or the decal just doesn't stick at all. With this stuff, 100% perfect. So... hopefully...

Like many of my current projects, this was something of an unplanned excursion. But that's okay. I don't mind these kinds of unplanned excursions. It's the ones that land you in the ER trying to explain to the doctor the circumstances of your arrival that I avoid at all costs. This loco--out of the box--is arguably one of the smoothest-running locos I've put on the rails. Now it fits in well with the rest of my roster, and I'm sure will ultimately provide plenty of enjoyable, reliable service.