Monday, December 19, 2011


Something seldom seen are the brake cylinders on the K-36, they being snugly tucked away between the frame members and under the smoke box. They are mounted on a bracket attached to the engine saddle.

As you can see, they are mounted vertically and require a bit of leverage to direct the braking force in the right direction.

By the use of a pretty nifty mechanical design(not shown), the stopping force generated by the two brake cylinders is applied equally to all eight drivers. When I get the rest of the brake system drawing completed and rendered, I'll post it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Just a quick post to show that the K-36 tender drawings are nearing completion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


left click to enlarge

This is a completed drawing of three valve gear components on the K36. This rendered drawing is 3-d and can be rotated to view from any angle. All the dimensions are accurate to .0312, or 1/32nd of an inch. This is a good as it will get.

This link yoke was the most difficult component to draw... dozens of different X,Y,Z coordinates for the UCS to create the proper planes for all those curves.

The rest of the valve gear is there, but on different layers that are turned off.

Friday, October 07, 2011


The Mount Lowe Incline, Pacicic electric Railway, California

This card, mailed from South Pasadena, Calif., on Nov 3, 1906, is 105 years old.

The Pittsbburgh Incline:

Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain, Chattanooga, Tenn.:

This card was mailed August 8, 1907, from Chattanooga, Tenn.

Price's Hill Incline, Cincinnati, Ohio:

This card was never mailed.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011



Atlanta was once the largest rail crossroads in the south. Travelers could get virtually everywhere quickly and conveniently by rail. Built in 1905, this Terminal was the grand portal to the city. It had two Italianate towers and a huge train shed behind. This structure was torn down in 1970, and Atlanta lost a sizable chunk of its architectural history.

Nowadays days Atlanta’s intercity rail depot is a small former commuter rail station located far north of downtown, adjacent to a 16-lane highway.


In 1894, most of the central portion of the original 1881 depot was destroyed by fire. A larger replacement depot in the Romanesque style was built in 1891

In 1912, A new central portion, designed by Denver architects Gove & Walsh, was built in the Beaux-Arts style and opened in 1914.

During its heyday, the station served 80 daily trains operated by six different railroads. Today, one daily Amtrak train runs from Chicago to the the Bay Area and passes through this station.


Nashville's terminal opened in 1900 to serve the passenger operations of the eight railroads then providing passenger service to Nashville, Tennessee.

The station reached peak usage during World War II when it was the shipping-out point for tens of thousand of U.S. troops and the site of a USO canteen. The formation of Amtrak in 1971 reduced service to the northbound and southbound Floridian train each day. When this service was discontinued in October 1979, the station was abandoned entirely.


This station, also known as the Broad Street Station, was built as the southern terminus for the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad (RF&P) in 1917 in the neoclassical style by the architect John Russell Pope.

The station also served the trains of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad (ACL), the Norfolk and Western Railway (N&W). Eventually, the Seaboard Air Line Railway (SAL), which had formerly used Richmond's other union station (Main Street Station), switched to Broad Street Station.

Passenger service to the station ceased in 1975. The station is now the home of the Science Museum of Virginia.


South Station opened as South Central Station on January 1, 1899. It became the busiest station in the country by 1910. A station on the Atlantic Avenue Elevated served the station from 1901 to 1938 and what is now the Red Line subway was extended from Park Street to South Station in 1913. It's train shed(the world's largest) was razed in a 1930 renovation because of corrosion caused by salt air.

South Station was sold to the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) in 1965. Portions of the station were demolished and the land was used to build the Boston South Postal Annex and the Stone and Webster building.

Friday, September 30, 2011


This is a wireframe view of my 3-D rendition of the K-36, showing only stuff basically below the running boards and without the rear frame and pilot frame. I turned off the layers for the wheels, axles, counterweights and a few other layers so the print would look something besides a mass of undecipherable black ink.

Working on this particular drawing for more than 30 minutes a stretch is a good way to go blind.

I keep asking myself: "Why am I doing this?"

Beats watching TV all day.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


just a few of many:


It's main claim to fame was that it sported a new type of shock absorber that provided a smoother and quieter ride. Seems to me that it would be the rail that did that.


This was the world's first coal-burning steam turbine-electric locomotive . It was 154 feet, 9 3/4 inches long, including it's water tender, and had a top speed of 100mph. The engine alone weighed 411 1/2 tons.

Why was it named the "500"? Well... that was 20% better than calling it the "400", shown above.


Adjustable coach seats - indirect lighting - complete air-conditioning - ash trays at every seat - radio in every car - stewardess - registered nurse - beautifully appointed lounge car - delicious inexpensive meals - tickets at ordinary fares.

That's what it says on the back of this card.

NO, the headlight was not referred to as the "Green Lantern".


"Haiwathas"? Yes, there was more than one. At the time, they were considered as the most popular trains in the world.


For a long time, I thought that there was only one "ZEPHYR" and that it went between Denver and somewhere else, that it was the only ever train made of stainless steel, and that it was the only one with that unique front end. Silly me. The railroads, like any other company, were quick to jump on a popular concept and ride it into the ground.

A few of the many ZEPHYRS below:

Yes, it's the "Denver and somewhere" ZEPHYR of my childhood days.

Then there's the below ZEPHYR that did not even get near Denver: The Chicago, Omaha and Lincoln unit.

But it looked like what a true ZEPHYR should look like.

Then came along the Texas ZEPHYR:

Definitely not a true streamlined stainless steel ZEPHYR, it was an attempt to cash in on the magic and allure of the ZEPHYR legend. Perhaps those cars were stainless steel, but I'll bet some very serious money(up to a maximum of one federal reserve dollar) that those very ordinary A and B unit diesels were most likely just painted silver.

And then there's those strange people back on the East coast that wanted their very own ZEPHYR, but just couldn't abide calling it what everybody else did, so they named their ZEPHYR the "FLYING YANKEE". Heh... Maybe they were secretly wishing for more airplanes.

This ZEPHYR was owned and operated by the Boston & Maine RR.

I suppose I should be a bit more diplomatic when bringing up Texans and Yankees - since my wife was born and raised in Boston - and we both live in Texas now.

As usual, you can left click to enlarge all the photos.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


I'll post one every now and again...

The Albuquerque & Ashfork RPO:

Ash Fork, Arizona. A few miles west of Williams on U.S. 40. Population in 2007: 573, consisting of 353 males, 220 females. Not a good place for bachelors.

A water and fuel stop for the ATSF, it's apparently a place that never suffered growing pains.

As usual, click on the pics to enlarge.

Sunday, September 04, 2011


Here's a quick print of about 25 layers of the K-36 drawing put together.

Eveything matches up... I'm as suprised as anybody.

Only one layer of dimensions is visible, turn them all on and nothing is readable.

Been a long, long haul doing this.

Saturday, September 03, 2011


The back of the card pretty much says it all...

It's a chuckle to read that this was thought to be the "last of the Western Narrow Gauge".


Awhile back, I posted a view of some trains at the "Century of Progress Exposition, reposted below:

It prompted this reply from Randy:

Bob, the "Century of Progress" was the 1933/34 world fair held in Chicago, at which the Burlington's Pioneer Zephyr was also introduced. Since your postcard does not have the Zephyr (which was on display during the summer of 1934) I think it's from 1933.

I was recently rummaging through the post card collection and sure enough, there was a card with the Zephyr shown and dated as 1934:

It takes hours to go though the collection just once, so it's not surprising that I missed this card earlier.

I have often thought to index and organize all the cards, but I don't think I have enough time left to to that on top of the other things I'm trying to finish up.

Truthfully, I'm just to lazy to do it.

Thursday, September 01, 2011


I've added more to the backhead while at the same time some pipes and fittings have been moved a bit to aid visualization of how and where things are going.

After looking over a lot of my notes and photos of various K-36's, I'm not a bit concerned if what I show is not like any particular locomotive. Seems all of the locos were plumbed any old way handy. My only concern at this point is to make certain (as possible) that the connections are correct.

The backhead so far:
left click to enlarge

I have now positioned it in reference to the cab and frame since many of the items to be added are cab or floor mounted, such as the now added Johnson Bar.

There are still lots of pipes and outlets going nowhere, and the throttle lever is just an outline for position.

The side elevations are coming along... Although a bit slower.

Monday, August 29, 2011


The below photo is of 480(As I recall) taken some years ago when it was on the rip track in Chama being used for parts. It does show the haphazard - but successful - methods used by mechanics trying to keep trains running when there was little or no money for the job. The photo shows the Automatic Brake Valve with everything else pretty much stripped away.

As for the drawing:

Working with color and layers helps keep things a bit easier to track. I create layers such as Piping, Fittings, Brackets, Etc., assign different colors to each, and this helps to keep the drawing from becoming a jumble of black lines.

This is all pretty easy at this point, since most of these pipes aren't going anywhere and are not hooked up.

Combining everything so far and we have:

Getting a bit crowded, that's why color helps. There is still a lot of stuff to add... just to this one elevation. And then there's the side elevations and top/bottom views to do yet.

For any purists out there, keep in mind this represents piping routes and fixtures from three different K-36 locomotives, so it does not accurately depict any particular loco.

Nonetheless, it's still a pretty drawing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


It didn't take long to realize that just trying to connect all the piping correctly by looking at a few photographs wasn't going to cut the mustard, so I decided to research the braking systems of the era and settled on a more recent system (circa 1916) that was "designed for any locomotive regardless of its type of service without modification or change, and could be used in any kind of service such as high speed passenger, double pressure control, all ordinary passenger and freight and all switching service without any changes of special adjustments."(1)

The below drawing is of such a system called the ET equipment system. On the surface it appears to be very similar to what I am seeing on the K-36, so for the purposes of creating drawings for my K-36 scale model, this is the system I will employ.

Some items on the K-36, such as the air pump, the airpump governor, the distribution valve, and other components are obviously later versions than those shown in these drawings, but for the purposes of understanding the operation of the brake system, it should make little difference.

About the only way I can get more accuracy is to go camp out in Chama or Antonito and create more reference sketches and take many more photos. That's out of the question nowadays, and at age 72, I'm running out of time anyway.

I will most probably never build such a model, I no longer belong to the NMRA and don't build contest models anymore, but I want to complete and record all my research anyway.

I have several unfinished models already. One such is the ON3 scale rotaty shown below:

And this ON3 scale caboose:

There has never been enough time... Never will be.

One other thing I have discovered... Many train buffs I have come across that do have valuable collections containing some of the information I have needed to complete my documentation seem steadfastly unwilling to share. That's a shame because many of these one-of-a-kind collections will be - and have been - discarded as useless by the survivors of the collector. I've seen it happen.

A friend of mine I knew in the NMRA once went to a flea market and discovered a cardboard file box full of HO scale brass locos and tenders, all just tossed in, all severly damaged. He bought the box full for five bucks. To the gal selling her Dad's "toy trains" and his collection of photos, articles, etc., it was all mostly obsolete junk, and worthless.

Sad but true.

However, once you post something on the Internet, it's there forever.


Sunday, August 21, 2011


A photo of my book of the 1904 roster of passenger cars found in the D&RW Folio six. 68 drawings, not including drawings of stuff like the Baker Heater, doors, windows, couplers, trucks, etc.

All the drawings are scaled and dimensioned using my drawing program, which means I now have very exact measurments of all those cars.

Not the prettiest of pictures, but it does show the progress.

Left click to enlarge

A typical page. (above)

I printed out the drawings on my Lexmark 3400 and took the prints down to Staples and they put the spiral binder on.


This valve has four operating positions which are, Running, Service, Lap and Release.

This is the position this valve should always be in when not in use. In this position, a connection is made between it and the application chamber of the Distributing Valve and then to the Automatic Valve.

This position will hold the independent brakes applied after the desired cylinder pressure is reached.

Used to release pressure in the application chamber when the Automatic Brake Valve is not in running position.

This position will apply the independent brakes when moving the Brake Valve to the application position. The supply pressure is then regulated to a maximum level as set by the reducing valve, preventing overpressure of the cylinders.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


This valve has six operating positions which are, Release, Running, Holding, Lap, Service and Emergency.

Provides a direct passage from the main reservoir to the brake pipe that permits a rapid flow of air into the brake pipe, allowing for a quick release and recharging of the train brakes without releasing the engine and tender brakes.

This position releases the engine and tender brakes and also charges the brake pipe, releasing the train brakes.

This position is so named because the locomotive brakes are held applied as they are in the Release Position, while the train brakes feed up to the feed-valve pressure.

This position is used to hold the brakes after a Service application, either to make a further brake-pipe reduction, or to release the brakes. It also prevents the loss of main reservoir pressure in case of an event like a burst hose. LAP Position is also used on an engine in a train not controlling the train brakes.

SERVICE POSITION (automatic service)
This position gives a gradual reduction of brake-pipe air and allows it to flow to atmosphere. When the pressure is reduced to the desired amount, the handle is moved to the LAP position, stopping the discharge of brake-pipe air.

This position is used when the fastest application of all brakes is needed.

The valve also contains ports to provide connections to gauges and governors.

This valve works in conjunction with other devices such as the Independent Brake Valve, the Distributing Valve, the Equalizing reservoir, the Pump Governor and various smaller valves such as the Feed Valve and the Reducing Valve.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

THE K-36 BACKHEAD - Part 1

Anyone who has looked into the cab of a K36 walks away with the impression of a nightmare of pipes, fittings and fixtures. What is all that stuff, and why does it take so much of it just to make a steam locomotive move?

In my many photo-taking and measuring visits to the Cumbres & and Toltec, the Royal Gorge(where 486 used to be on display), and Antonito, I managed to amass a large selection of material on the backheads of the K36.

The creation of accurate drawings of this piping nightmare is something I have - for better or worse - put off for years, but now its time to "get 'er done".

First, just finding out what and where all the pieces of equipment is and goes required an accurate rendition of the stripped down backhead so I could determine where all the rivets, staybolts, openings and mounting bolts are.

With that in mind, I took several photos of the the 487 backhead when it was stripped down for a major overhaul.

Here's one of them:

This is of locomotive 487, and in no way assures me that any other K36 has an identical layout, but nonetheless, it is my master pattern for everything else that follows.

The first drawing is below:

Then the sheet metal jacket which covers and protects the insulation is added.

Included on this drawing is the small shelf on the left in which typically you would find things like oil cans, etc., and a bracket on the right side which supports the Automatic Brake Valve.

The next drawing shows most of the "fixed-in-place" items that would be found on any K36: The Butterfly Fire door with its hand lever and the foot-controlled actuator for powered operation, above it the two sight glasses for boiler water level observation, the three petcocks that physically test for water level, the catch pan for the petcock drain tubes, the Independent Brake Valve, and finally, the Automatic Brake Valve.

After this, it gets pretty hairy. Seems that every locomotive is plumbed differently, some using a vast array of iron pipe and associated fittings, others using a lot of flexible and easily bendable copper tubing. Different repair shops and different maintenance crews used whatever parts and material was at hand to keep these locomotives running. The result is that today each locomotive is unique.

The reference locos I will be using are 486, 487 and 488 to plumb up the backhead, so the drawings will not be any one locomotive exclusively. However, all the connections will be correct as possible.

One other disclaimer...

The names I attach to any particular item in a drawing is the name used in the 1916 Cyclopedia of Locomotive Engineering, and may not be what today's trainmen call something.

More on Part 2.

Monday, February 07, 2011


Below is a more accurate rendition of the La Veta. The first drawing used standard D&RG library blocks I have created and have on file.

This new drawing has the correct trucks and corrected windows and window trim. Also included are the air hoses and the remaining paint trim.

This will probably remain the final version unless I find new and more accurate data.