Monday, August 31, 2009


The Santa Fe Railroad's Belen, New Mexico roundhouse has/had quite of few relics from it's past tucked away inside. Included was the M190, a two-car unit often referred to as the "doodlebug".

The reason I say "has/had" is because I have not re-visited this place for over thirty years, so I have no idea if The SF RR scrapped this de facto museum and its contents, or if it still exists.

In the seventies, the New Mexico Railroad Commission Director, who happened to be a member of our local railroad club, arranged for the Santa Fe to pull the M190 out of its roundhouse stall so we could get some photos and measurements of the unit. the task took most of a whole day.
Some of the photos:

Look at that pilot... Straight off an old steamer.

This unit had the "War Bonnet" paint scheme found on all of the Santa Fe's crack streamliners.

That's the rear unit of the M190 just below the center support of the turntable. Beyond it you can see the GP unit that was used to pull the doodle bug out.

The catwalk on the front unit. The small structure down and to the left is the turntable operators shanty. In the background, you can see a portion of the turntable's concrete pit wall.

These a just a few of the photos I have. These photos - and the measurements taken - resulted in 1/4" to the foot scale drawings, ultimately used by an overseas brass modeling firm that manufactured an HO brass model of this unique and one-of-a-kind locomotive.

The factory-painted HO model was fantastic.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Originally a throttle valve was a plain slide valve that moved upon a seat in which were ports similar in operation to the steam ports in the valve chests, just smaller in size.

The problem with that kind of valve was that the pressure of the steam on it when closed made it very difficult to open the throttle gradually, or to regulate or adjust it while open.

These difficulties were solved with the invention of the double poppet valve, seen below.

The valve J, has two circular disks, J1 and J2, which cover two corresponding openings in the upper and lower portions of the valve body, which is attached to the dry pipe L.

When the valve is opened, steam flows around the edges of both J1 and J2 equally into the dry pipe, balancing the forces acting on the valve.

Steam pressure from the boiler acts equally on the top of disk J1 and on the bottom of disk J2, making the valve a balanced valve, tending to keep the valve in whatever position the engineer placed it in, open, closed, or any position in between. This made the valve very easy to operate.

However, disk J1 was made slightly larger than disk J2, since - during the assembly of the valve - disk J2 had to be inserted through the opening for disk J1. As a result, there was a bit more pressure on the slightly larger top surface of disk J1 than on the bottom surface of disk J2. This tended to keep the valve closed when the locomotive was not moving. This was a good thing... No engineerless locomotives drifting off down the tracks slowly gathering speed.

The throttle rod K, passed through the rear of the boiler head through assembly K1, called a steam-tight stuffing box, then attached by various linkage to the throttle lever in the locomotive cab.

Friday, August 28, 2009


This is about as far as I can go with what information I have been able to gather. Info on the cyclone and petticoat has been most difficult since just about all photos the the smokebox interior have been taken after those items were removed, like the photo below. There must be hundreds just like it.

While on a Chama visit some time ago, I had received permission from the main office to look through some erection prints they had on file, but the man in charge of those prints was just too busy that day to give me a bit of his time, and during other times I had visited Chama, no K-36 had an open smokebox with it's petticoat and cyclone still in place.

So the drawing shows them in size and position - as near as I can surmise - from two photos taken by Carlos Llama he had posted on his site.

Being the tickler for accuracy that I am, this print - with it's obvious inaccuracies - will be going into the dead file.

A few throttle details

The below drawing of the firebox is incomplete since the dimensions of the ashpan and the wheel well are only approximated. The one time I had been informed that a K-36 had it's rear truck out and available for photos and dimension taking was an opportunity that didn't pan out, since it took me three days to get there. By that time the truck had been re-installed.
I have discovered while attempting to complete this documentation project - no matter how many trips, photos and measurements one takes - It's not enough.

And if there's anything I have learned over the years, it's that narrow gauge modelers and affectionados will go into low earth orbit over a dimension off by a sixteenth of an inch.

No need adding fuel to that fire.

I recall that I started this documentation project of the K-36 because as an award-winning NMRA contest modeller, I had wanted to scratch-build an O-gauge K-36, and any useful information on the locomotive was practically non-existent. Information that had been gathered by professional model builders - the ones that sell us those brass and plastic models - was held tighter to the vest than the crown jewels of England were. It's easy to see why... Getting that information - accurately - takes incredible time and effort, and at 72, I'm running out of time.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Following are a few samples of Railroad Business cards I have stashed away here and there. Many - in fact most - of the cards in the collection are those of individuals from railroads that no longer exist.

As usual, you can left-click on any image to enlarge it.

This first one was handed out by a delegate to the Brotherhood Of Railroad Trainmen Convention (BRT) in Buffalo, 1905

This next one, distributed by J. A. Kinder, neglects to mention whether he belonged to a railroad or a Union.

Below, Mr. Schilla shows us he worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. He further tells us that the 1905 Buffalo Convention was the 7th biennial convention of the BRT.

On the below card, Mr. Wm. Brennan indicates that perhaps his wife did not trust him out of town for any period of time. Seeings how he did not bother to print her name, maybe she wasn't his wife after all.

Mt. R. L. Willis believed in brevity. No wasted ink on this card.

Note the very early herald on this card for the Union Pacific. It called itself "The Overland Route", and claimed of heady title of "World's Pictorial Line".

Another one of those "let's not waste any ink" cards:

This last card, although a part of the collection, doesn't appear to be a railroad card. But it can make the claim of being a part of America's first "Hooters". I wonder if Waldo was a waiter.

It's was a bit difficult to pick a few out of so many. The one card I will not post is the one with the names of two ladies and their room number... They may have descendents.

It was, after all, a convention.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


I didn't realize Galveston had any kind of tracks in 1900. That looks like a two-unit trolley. The first car has a lot of windows still in good shape, although it looks like both cars were blown of the tracks (up on the trestle) and landed in the sand.


There is no information as to where this breaker was. Somewhere near Sabina, Ohio, one must assume. Or perhaps Leesburg, wherever that is, the writer mentions that. But then again, the writer also mentions spending Thanksgiving in Washington. Apparently quite the traveler.

This card was so heavily modified during it's colorization process that its a bit difficult to establish if it originally was a photograph. Probably was, but most of the detail has been washed out.

Saturday, August 01, 2009


All three of these steam locomotives are barely large enough to be considered as such, but none the less they are. None of these cards have any writing or addresses on the back, nor do they have any dates. The top two seem to be of the 1940-1950 variety, while the bottom one has the look and feel of a card printed in the early 1900's.

The first here, called the "Oregon Pony" is described as the first locomotive in the northwest. It operated in 1862 and 1863 in both freight and passenger service for Oregon's first railroad. The railroad was on the southern bank of the Columbia river between Bonneville and Cascade Locks. A bit of checking reveals that more than one Oregon railroad makes the claim to be the first, but most were not in existence in 1862 or 1863.

This card is a Mirro-Chrome card by H. S. Crocker Co., San Francisco 1, Calif.

(left click to enlarge)

Below is a photo of a locomotive labeled ARR 1, or Alaska Railroad No.1. A quick check shows that the ARR considers their N0.1 as an 0-4-0-T similar to the one below, but one with three domes. Whether this photo is actually the real original AAR N0.1, I have no idea. The kid standing on the pilot hides the number plate that would be situated on the smokebox front.

Ths card is a Kodachrome Reproduction by Mike Roberts Studios, Berkeley 2, California.

(left click to enlarge)

This last one is of a steam-powered something-or-other on a railroad somewhere hear Santiago, Chile. Salto del Soldado y Cerro Hercillas translates roughly as "Soldiers Leap and Hercillas Hill". This particular postcard is a long ways from home.

This card was published by Hume & C0,. Santiago, Chile.

(left click to enlarge)