Saturday, January 07, 2017


It always surprises me those rails haven't sunk into the ground

Shows just how big a Union Pacific "Big boy" was. This one is at the Forney Museum in  Colorado.
Wife was 5" 4", about the height as one of those drivers. She was often with me on my railroad excursions and enjoyed them almost as much as me.

Same visit, different locomotive

When I went on one of my "photo and measurement" trips, she would always come along with the yardstick:

It was wonderful to have a wife that enjoyed my hobby as well as I. Good times, good times.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016


Those of you following this blog are aware of my wife's health challenges and how it has affected my drawing projects. Sadly, she passed away this year on June 24th, two days after our 42nd anniversary.

Handling all the myriad details after a death in the family is mind-boggling, particularly when you have always assumed  you would be the first to go and not have to worry about all those details. Fortunately for me, my son and his wife have been life-savers for me through all this.

Things are pretty much settled down now, and my son has been quite active in seeing what is needed to get these books and drawings published.  Hopefully, all the hurdles will be overcome soon.

Keep your fingers crossed.

In memory of better days and better times.

Saturday, May 07, 2016


Creating complex objects in 3-D is challenging enough,  but since everything has to live in its own 3-D space, rotating your view early and often can prevent my little mess-up shown below.

It can still be aggravating, since moving the latest pipe can often mean re-creating the entire thing. Particularly since the top and bottom of the pipe are on completely different 3-D planes with separate origins.

pipes look fine in this view

Rotate things and oops.....

Just moving it back a tad makes it run into another pipe and both the top and bottom no longer mates up with its fittings.

Ignore it and hope nobody notices? Nope, that compromises the whole drawing, Can't do that.

Wednesday, April 06, 2016


I've got things under control enough now to do a bit of work on the K-36 3-D drawings. Below is a bit of the plumbing on the backhead.

Some details of the K-36 backhead

Included here is the water column and it's three drains, the brake valve, the firedoor, and the two glass indicators. Much is left out for clarity, but most of it is on other drawings layers turned off at the time.

This plumbing is just plain a mess to replicate on paper, particularly in 3-D, but one  pipe at a time and sooner or later, it gets finished.

Working from photos like the below doesn't make the job any easier.

Not as complicated as it first looks

As I've said before, none of these locomotives are plumbed the same way, having been repaired willy-nilly over time at different shops and highly dependent on the financial health of the railroad at the time, so what I am ending up with is drawings that shows plumbing routes that can be quite different from anything you may see on a particular locomotive, but it will exist on another.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


Life gets in the way of many a dream, forcing us to change course and give up on many of our goals.

In my case, I have spent the last  40 + years photographing and measuring various narrow gauge equipment - locomotives, rolling stock, maintenance-of-way equipment, buildings, all things narrow gauge - starting back in the early seventies while living in Santa Fe.

 I became an avid fan of the narrow gauge railroads inching around and through the Rocky Mountains, and along with a few other fellow enthusiasts, became a regular at the Cumbres & Toltec terminus at Chama, New Mexico.

As an NMRA contest modeler, I need some accurate information for my modeling efforts.

One thing I quickly discovered: There were plenty of books full of chit-chat and photos of the narrow gauge world, but nothing - zero, zip, nada - available about measurements, something a one-time modeler like myself needed. There were lots of "scale" models that had hit the market of course, but a really close examination of them would show all manner of inaccuracies. So even the suppliers were fudging on the models whenever no accurate information was available.

Since my job included the use of AutoCad on a regular basis, I was familiar with the program and eventually purchased it for myself to use for my drawings. Since my original purchase, my son, at regular intervals for things like Christmas and birthdays, would upgrade the program to the point I presently have AutoCad 2013 with the latest upgrades.

Needless to say, that is an expense I could not indulge myself to, so I have been eternally grateful that my son has maintained the program for me.  And believe me, its not cheap.

I finished a highly accurate collection of drawings of the D&RGW folio six, using  copies of the original drawings dated September 1904, 62 pages of  the rolling stock in use at that time. It was to be available in either a 8.5 x 11 sized book or a full B-sized 11 x 17 book,  drawn in HO and O gauge scales respectively.

However, my sons lawyers - he has several for his company - have warned us that publishing the books could easily generate lawsuits from individuals who may claim to own any and all rights to everything to do with the narrow gauge railroads, photographs, drawings, you name it.  Whether they do or not, the resulting legal battle would not be worth the time or money.

Another challenge that arose to completing the detailed erection prints of the locomotives was when my wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer, which she beat, but while in treatment for the cancer she had a massive stroke that wiped out her entire left side.  During therapy, she was dropped and broke her back. she is now in a nursing home some thirty miles away, consuming a lot of my daylight hours trying to ensure she is being treated right, something that can be wildly challenging at times. As you can imagine, there is no money left for things like trips to Chama.

So, the drawings have stopped, the trips to Chama for measurements and photographs have stopped. I have tried in vain to get information from those collectors that may indeed have the information I need to finish the locomotives - accurately - but no luck. And at this point, I do not see much chance of a restart.

I have no desire to release drawings that are inaccurate at any point. Although much of what I have completed is quite valid, it is by no means complete.

All I originally wanted back in the 70's was a set of accurate drawings so I could  built a model of K36 #484 for an NMRA contest entry. None were available, so I decided to do them myself.

I never dreamed it would take all this time and still not be complete.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


I've been working on 3-D component drawings for the K-36 backhead, the latest being the brake valve.

The K-36 brake valve so far. Plumbing problems 
off of every port.

All the K-36 locomotives had essentially the same equipment on the backhead and were probably plumbed the same by Baldwin when the locomotives were manufactured.

However, over the years, as the locos were repaired in various maintenance shops, at different times and by different mechanics, each locomotive took on its own unique arrangement of pipes, tubes and fittings. sometimes keeping closely to the original configurations, other times they pretty much cobbled together anything that would keep the locomotive running, particularity during times of financial stress, something the railroad experienced over and over.

I have photographic records of five of the ten K-36 backheads, and for certain none of the five resemble each other.

What to do? I can't draw up all five versions, too much time would be needed. And those versions probably only existed until the locomotives next visit to the shop. What would be nice would be to depict the backhead as Baldwin originally manufactured them.

I would like to find a photograph or accurate drawing of the "as built" backhead. I've been looking, but so far no luck. I'm sure there are a few photos out there in private collections, but my past experience with owners of these collections indicates that actually being able to borrow and use such a photo is, well... not very likely, and I have neither the time nor resources to go research various State and local libraries and museums for information that may or may not be there.

If I have no luck in finding some reliable information,  I will most likely use - from each backhead - what seems to be the most likely and reasonable path and fittings for the plumbing.

This is not a solution I am very happy with, but one that may be necessary if I ever intend to finish this project.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


Drawings are now all 3-D, with measurements taken from the completed 2-D engineering drawings.

Each component, part or gadget is separately drawn and then fitted to the master.

Shown below is the Throttle assembly as a separate 3-D drawing.

Mostly finished, the round device is the boiler pressure gauge with no face as of yet.

Neat thing about these drawings is they can be rotated in any axis to view the part from any direction.

That means no cheating on the backside of any view.

I'm thinking that - when the drawings are all done - I might construct a model K-36, maybe 3/4" to the foot.

Won't need new glasses with that scale.