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.