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, February 21, 2014

Perry Lumber Company Climax #265

The Whoozit Lumber Company? And what--pray tell--does this have to do with the Tuscarora Railroad? The Perry Lumber Company operated in Perry County, PA from 1901 to 1905, connecting with the Newport & Sherman's Valley RR. Sherman's Valley was one valley to the east of the Tuscarora Valley, so practically neighbors. (There were dreams afoot to connect the N&SV, Tuscarora Valley, and East Broad Top Railroads, though none remotely came to pass.) In any case, the Perry Lumber Company ordered this 25-ton Climax in 1901. (One source lists this loco as 30 tons, though the 25 tons comes from Climax company records.) For whatever reason, they did not specify a road number for the loco, so when it arrived, they gave it the Climax builder's number, #265.

This was their only locomotive. The name "Alfarata" which adorns the side of the cab comes from the poem "Blue Juniata," in which Alfarata is an indian princess. These two photos show the locomotive in service on the Perry Lumber Co.

In 1905, the locomotive was sold to the East Waterton Lumber Co for use on their East Waterton & Kansas Valley RR. (Pretty big name for a small logging line with one loco.) It wasn't a long move for #265, as East Waterton was not only the terminus of the EW&KV, but also a stop on the Tuscarora Valley RR.

Here is a detail from the only known photo of #265 on the EW&KV. Nothing much has changed, though the spark arrestor on the stack is gone. Curiously, the EW&KV never repainted the locomotive. It retained its Perry Lumber Co. markings, number, and "Alfarata" name. It's plausible that the crew came with the locomotive from one operation to the next, though that's speculation on my part. That would explain their affinity for its original markings. #265 served the East Waterton Lumber Co. until 1908, when it was sold. It would serve at least two more lumbering operations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, according to published reports.

So, why a model of #265? From a historical (or--relative to the Tuscarora RR--semi-historical) perspective, it left the valley a mere 2 years after the TRR got going, and unlikely that it ever strayed onto the TVRR's rails much less would have been in a position to be "loaned" to the TRR.

Well, ever since I sold off Tuscarora Timber Co. Heisler #4 (see photo in the previous post), I've been at a loss for a "not going to derail on me" steam locomotive that I can run on the railroad. Yeah, I've got the M-1, but it's a diesel. I wanted a steam loco so I can listen to the gentle chuffs while I'm mowing the lawn or doing other mindless yardwork where I'm likely not to keep too close an eye on the trains as they go around.

When Bachmann first introduced their Climax, I was pretty much disinterested in it. It was "too small" to my tastes. But for some reason, when I received their updated version to review for Garden Railways, I saw it in a different light. When I did the review, something clicked. I knew it would have to stay on the roster.

I decided I didn't want to do this as a freelance Climax. I did that to a large extent with the Heisler. While I was very pleased with how it turned out, I never felt much of a "connection" to the locomotive. It was very much a matter of "I can't think of anything else to do with it..." I knew for this locomotive, I wanted to find a true prototype for it, preferably one that had a tie to the railroads I'm modeling. A little research turned up two possible Climaxes; the Perry Lumber Co. 25 ton Climax, and an 18-ton Climax owned by the North American Refractories Co. (NARCo.) which operated a ganister rock quarry just north of Neelyton, PA, and served by the EBT.

My preference always leaned towards the NARCo engine, but it had two things going against it; first, it was only 18 tons, and the Bachmann model was of a 25-ton loco. Second, it was a T-boiler Climax. While I had no issue with replacing the boiler, the firebox was integrated into the frame of the Bachmann loco, and would have been a bugger to re-work into the cylindrical shape of the prototype. And when a friend e-mailed me a photo of the Perry Lumber Co. Climax with the very unique lettering on the tender, that sealed the deal.

That didn't mean I didn't have my work cut out for me. While the Bachmann model was based on a 25-ton Climax, and the Perry Lumber Co. Climax was a 25-ton Climax, that's pretty much where the similarities ended. The PLCo loco was a much earlier vintage, with wood cab, flared fuel bunker, and--most notably--a straight boiler. Pretty much everything above the frame had to change in some fashion.

First up was the matter of the boiler; going from a wagon-top to a straight boiler. If you look at the photo of the stock locomotive, you'll notice there's no difference in the size of the boiler where the smokebox meets the boiler itself. While not unprototypical for Climaxes, in the case of this specific prototype, there was a slight increase in the diameter due to the thickness of the boiler lagging. I got lucky on two fronts. First, the width of the firebox was 2", which matched some 2" diameter acrylic tubing I had laying in the workshop. Second, the stock smokebox just fit inside that pipe, saving me the trouble of having to make a new smokebox.

I also got "lucky" with the cab on this loco. While I'm no stranger to scratchbuilding cabs, why do work you ain't gotta? The cab came off of another loco I had scrapped. The width and height were pretty much spot on, though it needed a new front cab wall since the boiler on this loco is much smaller than the boiler opening on the stock cab kit. You can see the holes where the old handrail stanchions attached. I like to leave details like that on a model, as it illustrates the point that locomotives were almost constantly changing.

The fuel bunker on the stock Bachmann has straight sides, so I had to flare the sides out just a bit. I cut off the corner, then applied a judicious amount of "friendly persuasion" to bend the tops out just a bit. It was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated.

Other details had to be changed as well. The pilot got toolboxes (from an old Delton C-16 "kit" I had in lying about). I replaced the electric headlight with a kerosene headlight. Alas, as much as I liked the cabbage stack, it wasn't prototypical, and I wasn't in the mood to take that much modeler's license. But the stock straight stack looks like a soda straw, it's so narrow. As luck would have it, though, I had a spare straight stack in my scrap box had sufficient girth for my tastes. That, and the stock stack was a snug fit inside it, so it held it in place!

The stock domes were placed on the new boiler, though there are no air pumps and unlike the "modern" stock Climax, the steam delivery pipes on this prototype are hidden inside the cab.

For the couplers, I modified an Accucraft 1:32 coupler (accurate for a 3/4-sized narrow gauge coupler in 1:20.3) to fit on the stock Bachmann coupler shaft. This kept me from having to modify the draft gear--another convenient bit of luck. Rust-colored paint and a coating of rust-colored Bragdon's weathering powders while the paint was still damp gives the coupler its rusty appearance.

While difficult to see, the cab fittings are based on those on a prototype Climax. I think the engineer is from Ozark Miniatures, but don't quote me on that. I thought his paint job turned out particularly well, though one of these days I'll get a good paint job on an engineer's face who's looking out the window. At least I modeled his door open so you can see it a bit more from the front.

The lettering on the loco is from custom dry transfers I had made. To get the lettering right, I took one of the prototype photos into Photoshop and stretched it until it was square. I then searched the internet for fonts that were close-ish to what was on the prototype. I then took the photo into Adobe Illustrator to use as a background, typed the letters, then converted them into vector artwork. From there, I could bend and warp each letter to match the prototype. I'm glad "Alfarata" only had As.

Due to the small size of this loco, I couldn't make the battery pack removable as I do in the tenders of my other steamers. There's a 14.8 volt Li-Ion battery pack inside the boiler. The smokebox door reveals the charging jack and the power switch. You can also see some of the coal dust I sprinkled on the front deck to give it a more realistic appearance, and if you look between the cylinder saddle and the smokebox, you can see some 1/16" cork sheeting I used as filler so that the new boiler sits level between the smokebox and firebox.

I took off the sand boxes from the rear of the fuel bunker, and filled in the openings that were originally for various control switches. I hard-wired those connections on the stock PC board, allowing me to remove the switches. The water hose hanging on the back is made from electrical wire insulation threaded over 1/8" diameter plumber's solder. That allows me to "hang" it to shape.

Control of the loco is via a QSI "Titan" motor/sound decoder and a G-wire receiver. In yet another bit of luck, the "rod clank" sound on the new Titan steam file sounds reminiscent of gear noise, so when I slow the locomotive down and the chuff fades away (as it would on the prototype), all you hear is the loco drifting by with a subtle rumble of gears. It's pretty cool. The Titan allows you to use two speakers for a "stereo" output. This means you can map various sounds to one of the two speakers (or somewhere inbetween) and shape where the sound sounds like it's coming from. On this loco, I've got one speaker in the bunker, and another one in the smokebox. I would have loved to set the sound balance such that the chuff was coming only from the smokebox, but the small speaker doesn't have enough bass for it to sound realistic. That, and for all practical purposes, you can't really tell which of the two speakers from which the sound comes from more than 10 feet away anyway. Still, it's cool to have the bell and whistle sound like they're coming from the bell and whistle.

I'm still not what I'd consider a "big" geared steam fan, but I think this model scratched an itch that needed scratching. I've got a loco I can put on the rails and know that it will make it through my spring switches without incident. Control is top-drawer, and it's fun to listen to the chuff get louder and softer in response to changes in the throttle. Here are some video clips of #265 in action.


Anonymous Bonde Imbrahimovic said...

Great blog, I am really glad I found it. I loved the youtube videos and just wanted to let you know that I will be checking back regularly. Right on!

July 13, 2014 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Cabbage Stack said...

I wouldn't say a Rushton (cabbage) stack was non-prototypical on a Climax. The Rushton was sold as an aftermarket item by Baldwin Loco Works and I read about a couple of logging companies who outfitted their engines with these whether they be Shays, Heislers, Porters or what-have-you. It would be unwise for one to claim that any and all Climax engines were NEVER outfitted with Rushtons. (it was an after market item !!). I just haven't found a photo of one yet.

February 1, 2015 at 2:58 PM  
Blogger Kevin Strong said...

No doubt the cabbage stack may have been used on Climaxes in the general sense. It's not prototypical for this specific Climax, though. The "stock" straight stack looked like a soda straw to my eyes, so I used a slightly wider diameter one I had lying around in my parts bin. Coincidentally, it fit right over the stock straight stack, so I just glued it onto that then into place on the model.

February 1, 2015 at 10:30 PM  

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