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Crown Metals
Crown Metals History One of the largest producers of park trains was the Crown Metal Products Company. Crown began by focusing on 15" and 24" gauge trains, but later built trains as large as 36" gauge. Many Crowns are still in operation all over North America. 
Crown was started by Ken Williams. Mr. Williams was in the manufacturing business. His interest in trains led him to purchase a steam locomotive. He later bought a small 15" gauge engine, probably a Cagney. From these humble beginnings he began making his own trains. By the time he died in the early 1970s, Crown Metal Products trains had progressed from small, 15" gauge steam locomotives to 24" gauge engines and on to 36" gauge engines. While all were intended for the amusement industry, these are real, working steam locomotives.
Crown locomotives come in three basic sizes. The smallest is the 15" gauge engine. These could be ordered in 14", 15" or 16" gauge. All three of the smaller gauges used the same basic 15" gauge locomotive frame and boiler, with the wheels pushed in or out to accommodate the other two gauges. Apparently very few 15" gauge locomotives were built.
The 24" gauge engines were Crown's largest until they entered the 36" gauge market in the early 1970s. They are essentially a larger version of the 15" gauge locomotives. One of the most impressive examples of the 24" gauge Crown is Hershey Park's Dry Gulch RR. The small engines pull 4 and 5 car trains up some pretty steep hills, putting on a real show.
The smaller engines were pretty much all built to the same basic design. The larger 36" gauge engines, however, were sometimes customized. Crown did offer a standard 36" gauge Crown. Anheuser-Busch ordered a pair of custom Crowns when they opened their Busch Gardens theme park, "The Old Country," in 1974. A third Crown, which is a "standard design" engine rebuilt to match the European styling of the other two, has recently been added. A total of 18 36" gauge locomotives were produced in the 1970s and 1980s.
The smaller engines are mechanically simpler than the larger locomotives. The three foot gauge engines have a single stage air pump manufactured by Westinghouse Air Brake Company. (WABCO). WABCO's steam air pump business was bought out by Crown, who turned around and sold it to a company called Backshop.  Air operated independent brakes are standard on the larger engines. The smaller engines came standard with hand operated locomotive brakes (working on the drivers only, the pony wheels were unbraked) and a chain driven air pump. This method of pumping air meant that the train line had to be charged from a shop compressor before the first run of the day. Back to Welcome Page Crown Metals Feature Spotting Features:
Crown engines of all sizes are characterized by their rather small-looking boilers. The pony wheels of most 15" and 24" gage Crowns are ridiculously small -- a mere 3" diameter in some cases. Most of the Crown engines attempt to look like narrow-gage locomotives by employing an over-scale cab. The logic behind this is questionable, as even so enlarged, the cab on the original smaller designs still provides zero protection for the engineer.
Details vary depending upon the desire of the original purchaser. A classic "Old West" balloon stack was standard, but some engines came equipped with diamond stacks or even straight stacks.
Crowns could be ordered to use a variety of fuels. Propane cost extra but was popular nevertheless. The 15" gage engine could be special-ordered as a 14" or 16" gage machine.
The 36" gage Crowns were heavily customized by at least two buyers. Two identical early 1970s locomotives went to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, VA in a fancy European dress which included a Belpaire boiler shape. At least one engine, an oddity built to 30" gage, was constructed as a replica of the Union Pacific's #119, which was one of the locomotives at Promontory.
The "standard" 36" gage Crown is a nicely-proportioned machine with a wagon-top boiler, balloon stack, and tall drivers. As with the smaller engines, a diamond stack was occasionally substituted. The design makes no claim to being a miniature of a standard-gage locomotive, but here the oversized cab works much better than on the smaller Crowns. At least it keeps the rain off the engineer's head! Some locomotives have a distinctive clerestory roof on the cab, others have a more common-looking deck roof.
Crown diesels strongly resemble the company’s steam locomotives. The engine is housed in the tender, driving hydraulic motors on the locomotive drive axles. Note that several owners have converted Crown steam locomotives to diesel power using a similar technique, so just because it’s a diesel-powered Crown doesn’t necessarily mean it was built that way!
A 24” gage Crown at Remlinger farms
Crown Diesel at Dorney Park
A 36” gage Crown at Busch Gardens