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Garden Railway-The New Locos  

New Motive Power for the Shortline

Written April 12th, 1999
Updated December 30th, 2001

The new Porter on The Toenail Ridge Shortline started life in the workshops of the Bachmann Industries assembly plant in Philadelphia, Pa.
It was originally built as an oil-fired side-tanker but needs on the Ridge dictated a change and after extensive modification it exited the Selbyville workshops as a coal-fired tender loco.

The new incarnation hides a 9.6 volt nicad battery pack in its tender. The tender is totally scratch-built from styrene and carries a load of real coal. Even the back-up light is scratch-built, around the carboard core from a fax paper roll.

The cow-catcher was liberated from a toy train bought at a local discount store. The hatch on the tender is lifted from a Bachmann 10-wheeler. The fireman's shovel is loaded with real coal pieces. The loco cab was extended with sheet styrene laminated over the original roof and a hatch scratch-built to fit.

Porter Update
28 June 1999

Motive power on the Toenail Ridge continues to evolve. The little Porter that lost its side tanks and gained a tender has now gained a pony truck and has had its headlight replaced with a very old-style kerosene type garnered from a toy loco purchased from a local discount store.
The lantern has been sprayed gold with its reflector sprayed with automotive chrome paint. The main body of the lantern was then overpainted with Satin Black, leaving the gold as highlights on the flag holders and chimney. The mounting base is also from the toy loco.
This toy is a battery powered old-time loco, about 1:32 in scale, 6-coupled, with an excellent sound card feeding a one inch speaker in the boiler backhead. Well worth the purchase price as its bell, diamond stack, domes, light, Westinghouse brake and cowcatcher are up to good model standards, not to mention the excellent working side-marker lights which are destined to adorn my next caboose. One pair are already installed on the smokebox of the 2-4-0 Porter loco, as is the Westinghouse.
The sound card is already in the tender of the 2-4-0, control via a separate sub-miniature switch in the front of the tender body.

It comprises two steam whistle blasts on start-up, then a series of 4-beat steam exhaust sounds, another whistle, then an excellent bell ringing for 4 seconds, then the whole cycle repeats.
It just by co-incidence happens that the bell rings at just the right places on the Toenail Ridge Shortline where grade crossings occur....I couldn't have planned the timing better if I'd custom-built the sound card. I plan on adding a white-noise generator to the tender as well to give a constant background steam hiss.

The pony truck was added following details in an article in an old Garden Railways magazine written by Alan Olsen of the Acoma Central GR in Denver Co. I copied his mod using the 4-wheel pony truck from a Bachmann 10-wheeler cut in half, then added a long mounting arm laminated up from styrene strips and pivoted the lot from a mount in front of the motor block. The arm is prevented from dropping too far via a brass wire saddle bent to fit. Lead is glued to the top of the axle mount to give some neccessary tracking.
The operation of course required that the front pilot be lengthened, and a new pilot apron fabricated. I lengthened the frame with Plastruct square tubing and made the apron from Evergreen styrene sheet which I embossed with rivets around the outer edges. An auxilliary air tank was mounted on the apron, salvaged from an HO kit from years past, and a control valve was mounted on the top of that using a dress snap painted red. New longer brass support rods from the boiler to the cowcatcher were added, and the new pieces received a generous covering of matt black, topped with dirty thinners to bring out the highlights.
Got to be the best weathering stuff around, dirty thinners. I use it to distress balsawood too, gives an excellent instant 50 years-old appearance.
(For a good example of the effectiveness of weathering with dirty thinners, see the sides of my Class 'A' Climax

Next modification is to add remote control to this little loco, as currently it is controlled by a DPDT switch hidden in the coal delivery chute at the front of the tender. This allows forward/off/reverse but requires the intervention of a 12 inch to the foot finger.
My son Terry, who is an electronics tech, has made for me an infrared circuit that will allow the same control plus I've added a capacitor network to the power board that will facilitate slow power-up and slow-down, somewhat like a momentum circuit. Most recently I've added a little electronic circuit comprising one transistor, one resistor and a diode, which slowly applies power on start-up. The loco now takes about 15ft. to reach its normal operating speed after switch-on, and 10 feet or more to stop after power is cut. It's taken me a while to work out where to hit the off switch so the consist finishes up in front of the station instead of halfway through the switch!

Infrared outside?
Yup, I've heard all the cons about this method of control, especially that of ambient sunlight, however, the infrared receiver is to be mounted deep inside the cab on top of the boiler and the controller will need to be aimed straight into the lens to work. So I'll still need to follow my train around and lean over to aim the controller when I want to stop or reverse the loco.
But I've never been one to enjoy sitting back while my trains run, much prefering to walk beside them and control them directly. Possibly a frustrated live-steamer in there somewhere!
The controller is  enclosed in one of those car security system plastic boxes, about the size of a Zippo. And because it requires direct line of sight to control the loco, more than one engine can be operated using the same transmitter, so I'll be able to turn one of my 10-wheelers loose on the mainline with its consist while I'm switching the Fenster cheese factory with another.

Update, December 30th, 2001
Haven't been really happy with the appearance of the cab, so I got out the 1:20.3 scale rule and made a new one. You can see the results of that modification  here.

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