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Columbia dreams

Where does my love of the 2-4-2 type come from? I don't know, but I can date it back quite a ways. When I was 14, Dad received a copy of Live Steam magazine. There, on page 16, was a photograph that I turned back to time and time again over the subsequent years.

Live Steam September 1978 from the collection of H.L.Broadbelt

Baldwin builders' number 13350, sent to the Columbian Exhibition in 1893 and giving the name of "Columbia" to all subsequent engines of her wheel arrangement. The long, lean lines, the shotgun stack, steeply raked cowcatcher, Vauclain compound cylinders, giant 84" drive wheels, and those big lead and trailing wheels, measuring 50" each... She carries a balanced elegance that few engines built since have held. Hmm...

Fast Forward to 2001. Our International Meet in Montreal. I was given a magazine, (Live Steam June 76,) and a book (Pictorial Encyclopedia of Railways by Hamilton Ellis.) I was also told that a rolling chassis of a Maisie is available at Waushakum.

I thumbed through the magazine, and found an article on the first Atlantic-type engines, and how they had been developed from the Columbia type for the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad in 1894. Still having the 50" lead and trailing wheels, the drivers were shrunk to 72", giving better tractive effort at the expense of top speed. Hmmm...

Live Steam June 1976 from the collection of R.E. Prince

I put down the magazine and picked up the book, only to find that Chicago, Burlington and Quincy had a couple, with six-wheel tenders. Hmmmm...

Pictorial Encyclopedia of Railways, C. Hamilton Ellis, page 112

Having been so quickly redeveloped into another type, very few express passenger Columbia engines were built - I would guess less than 50. The 2-4-2 did prove to be a popular tank engine on short lines and industrial service.

Narrow Gauge Railways of Canada, Omer S. A. Lavallée

The four-wheel lead truck was more stable at mile-a-minute speeds, and so, after only a couple of years on the market, the Columbia was gone, replaced by the Atlantic.

Now would it be coincidence that these two books and the news of a Maisie (Atlantic-type) chassis would come to me on the same day? I don't think so. A month later, I looked at the chassis of the Maisie, and brought it home.

This is a Maisie, completed as per the "words and music" of LBSC. She is a British engine, a Great Northern Railway Atlantic. The chassis I brought home is sort of a "variation on a theme..." Within this variation, there are several errors that I will have to correct before going any further in the construction. Do I want to put a lot of effort into this British Atlantic, or do I want to take the good stuff off this chassis (Main drivers, axle boxes, rods, cylinders, and eccentrics) and start fresh making my own errors, on a Columbia? Hmmmm...

I measured the spare trailing and tender wheel castings that came with my Maisie, and they scale up to 51"... Hmmmmm... 76" drivers, the valves can be dummied up to look like a rebuilt Vauclain compound... Hmmmmmm...

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