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The Smallest Shay

The Smallest of 'Real' Shays

In my brief online research of small Shay locomotives, I wondered what was the smallest manufactured. I knew about the former High Country Railroad Shay in Colorado that is still for sale for $200,000. It is a late model 13 ton, two truck, three cylinder Shay of 1920 with a curious 'monoblock' cylinder casting (one casting for all three cylinders) and Walsherts valve gear. Evidently several of these were built about this time, all two foot gauge. An associate of the owner of this machine told me some time ago that to make it thirteen tons it actually had three tons of lead in the end beams of the frames. He said this was removed some years ago to facilitate a move so it is actually a ten ton Shay now.

It is still in storage and still for sale so if Ed McMann comes to my door with ten million like he keeps saying he will, I know something I can spend it on! And regauging our track or this loco will not be a problem!

This is what it looked like at manufacture. It was a 'stripped down' construction locomotive. It has since been rebuilt to look like a Gilpin Shay (and looks much better than this, I think).

Curtis Ferrington of the 5 Inch Steam Trains list informed me of the smallest gauge of Shay known to be built: 19 5/8" (50cm) gauge for Puerto Rico. The specs are on the website. It was a two cylinder thirteen ton model of 1912. Either of these would fit easily on our train as they are no more than about five feet wide and twenty feet long, if our version is built it will only be a little smaller to accomodate our smaller cylinders (5 1/2"x 6") with smaller boiler and wheels to match (probably both 18")

Thanks to Michael Rowe and others of the 5 Inch Steam Trains and Park Trains lists for helping me compile information.

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posted 22.09.2002