Monthly Archives: February 2016

Sausalito Yard Turntable

Prototype Information

This is the first turntable on the list as it is in the section of the layout I am working on.  Here’s a prototype image of that turntable.  You can see it in the background.

NPC Round House 1

Here’s an image of the NPC turntable at Cazadero.  Note both the Cazadero and the Sausalito Yard turntables are similar in design and are pit turntables.  I suspect all the NPC turntables had similar designs.  You can see that the cable rods are tightened using turnbuckles.  They appear to be installed by drilling a hole through the gallows base and probably adding a bolt and washer to the underside.  The bolts on the top of the gallows lateral elements appear to tie the turntable to the joists underneath.  The pit is relatively shallow — just enough to allow the joists to rotate.  The track appears to be nailed directly to the joists.  The turntable rotates on a central pivot and is held on the two ends by trucks that ride on a circular rail.  Rotation is accomplished by one or more trainmen pushing on the staves that protrude in either end.  I assume some casting is on the end of the stave nearest the turntable as you can see the bolts that attach the stave protruding on the inside of the lateral supports.

Cazadero Turntable

The A frames themselves are stabilized by a lateral support about 1/3 of the way up the stave.  I suspect a casting is used for attachment to the A frame as you can see the bolts on the other side of the A, placed too far apart to be directly attached to the cross piece.  Here is a second image of the same turntable.

Turntable 3

A cross piece at the top of the A’s keep them in alignment.  That cross piece is supported by a 45 degree diagonal on each side.  Once again it is likely castings are employed on the cross piece.  In a second you will see there is a marked similarity of the Cazadero turntable to the turntable at the Nevada Railroad museum we will look view a bit further down the page..

The Nevada State Railroad Museum has a turntable based in Southern Pacific drawings.


The Laws Railroad Museum in California also has one.


This image shows the Owens gallows turntable.  It is also based on the SP design.


The Model – Components and Design

While this post focuses on the Sausalito turntable, the approach to construction will be the same for all 3-4 turntables.  This turntable will be constructed using the following components.

  • Atlas Turntable and Motor Unit.  About $70 new.
  • NBWs were obtained from Grandt Line for $3.00,
  • Other castings can be fabricated using styrene.
  • Piano wire or heavy duty thread will be used to model the cables.
  • Turnbuckles were obtained from Grant Line makes a turnbuckle cored for 0.015 inch wire.  0.015 wire translates to roughly 1.2″ in HO scale.  24 in styrene were purchased for $3.30.
  • Track rails and the circular pit rail can be taken from a bit of HOn3 flex track.
  • Pit trucks will be fabricated from small pulleys.
  • Staves can be fashioned from stripwood.
  • Turntable wood elements constructed from strip wood – detailed later.

Because I expect to assemble 3-4 turntables, the parts can be made on an assembly line basis.  Those that are purchased can be purchased in quantity.

Turning the Atlas Turntable into a Pit Turntable

The Atlas is a flat turntable – no pit.  Here is what is inside the turntable box for a 9″ Atlas Turntable.  All components shown are included in the turntable box except the electric device that rotates the turntable.  Note the raised castings outside the platter that separate the 21 indexed positions on this turntable.  Users have the option of using a hand crank to rotate the turntable, which is included but is not very prototypical.  Or they can purchase the electric device separately to replace the hand crank.  The center pivot is a screw that takes a small square head screwdriver bit.

Atlas TT 1

The turntable is 1/4″ thick in the area where the hand crank mounts, and a bit thinner elsewhere.

Atlas TT 2

The reverse side of the turntable displays its electrical contacts.  A small nut in the middle is the underside of the pivot.  This next shot shows the electrical unit disassembled.

Atlas TT 3

The turntable power is transferred from the can motor to the turntable using a small worm screw.  What is really cool about this unit is that the turntable is self indexing.  Turn the handle or run the motor until the unit reaches the next of the 21 indexed positions.  It pauses there for a number of rotations then moves on to the next position.  So how about that – a reliable motorized indexing turntable for around $70.  The problem is the turntable is toy like and it is not a pit turntable.  It is our job to take advantage of the turntable’s mechanical capabilities while turning this into a craftsman pit turntable.  I was encouraged by the fact the pivot is screwed in place rather than riveted.  A bit later, we will certainly use it to disassemble the turntable to see what is inside.

Additional Turntable Parts

I plan to support the turntable in the pit using 1/8″ lamp parts.  The nipples are hollow in the middle allowing wires to be fed from below.  Each turntable will require two cross bars and one nipple.  A bottom crossbar will be mounted to the rotating platter of the Atlas turntable.  A top crossbar will be mounted to the underside of the joists of the gallows portion of the turntable.  The threaded rod will run between connecting the two.

  • 1/8″ IP x 1/2″zinc plated pipe nipples – 12 ordered from e-Bay at around 60 cents apiece including shipping.
    Atlas TT Nipples
  • 4″ Threaded Cross Bars – pack of 10 ordered from Amazon at around 79 cents apiece including shipping.  Per unit costs drop dramatically with larger orders as the shipping is well over 50% of the cost of both nipples and cross bars.
    Atlas TT Cross Bar

Atlas Turntable Modifications

Judging from the prototype photos, the pit is likely to be 2-3 feet deep.  Check out the Cazadero photo.  The man in the background appears to be sitting on the top of the turntable wall.  I used that to estimate the height of the wall.  The floor joists rotate at the top of the pit with the top if the joists level with the top of the pit.  Here is the sandwich I am considering.  The pit height in this example is 40″.

The Atlas turntable is indexed to stop every 15 degrees.  The Banta Sargents Roundhouse has a stall every 9 degrees.  So a gearbox will be constructed that reduces rotation of the gallows from  15 degrees to 9 degrees.  I ordered the following two gears.  The left gear has 75 teeth,  The right has 125 teeth.  These gears are used in radio controlled race cars and are produced by Robinson Racing.

Atlas TT Gear 125Atlas TT Gear 125

The left gear will be attached to the center of the Atlas turntable.  The right gear will be attached to the underside of the gallows.  When the Atlas turntable rotates the left gear 15 degrees, the right gear will rotate by 9 degrees.  I’ll post photos of the gearbox and the under surface mount of the Atlas turntable once the gears are on hand and the design complete.

The idea for this modification came from an article found online.   The following is a photo of the gearbox in the article.  The left gear and shaft is mounted to the top of the Atlas turntable.  The right gear and shaft rotates the gallows.  His gear ratio is different as he used the old Atlas turntable with 30 degree rotation and wanted the rotation reduced to 10 degrees.  Note that the left shaft is offset from the right.  I suspect the distance between shafts in my case will be in the range of 1 1/2″  That means I can swing a longer bridge than 9″ without interfering with the motor unit on the Atlas.  That is an important advantage in that some of the locomotives I would like to run are likely to be longer than 9″.  I may go to a 10 1/2″ bridge.

Atlas TT Mod 1

This is the complete unit.  Mine will need to take less space vertically because of my layout sandwich concept.  But I have 3″ between the bottom of the layout surface joists and the top of the surface to work with, which should be plenty.  I can save vertical space by fabricating the gear box out of aluminum or brass

Atlas TT Mod 4

This is the top of his turntable pit.  Mine will be similar but will contain a gallows bridge.

Atlas TT Mod 3


This is the underside of the bridge that rotates.  Note the use of brass pulley wheels and clevis pins to interface with the track on the previous photo.

Atlas TT Mod 2

Small brass pulleys are available from Proctor Enterprises.   The pulley blocks below are $6.95 apiece and two would be needed per turntable.  Width at top of rail is 0.03″ so the pulleys would ride nicely in the wheels of the block.  Blocks would need to be disassembled to free up the wheels which could be mounted on clevis pins as in the above photo.


A Frame Modifications

If A frame vertical elements are end glued to the lateral element in the middle of the lateral element, the joint would be very weak.  I am concerned about the strength of the end grain glue mount and the fact the thread, while providing compression to the joints, does’t provide any lateral structural strength.  This drawing claims to be based on the same Southern Pacific prototype and would be much stronger than an end glued joint.  The horizontal elements are three pieces, allowing the vertical elements to be pinched between the pieces.  This design is consistent with the construction of Howe Truss bridges.  Note also that the floor joists are deeper in the center section than on the outer portions.

Turntable Drawing Southern Pacific


These are the takeoffs from a printout of the drawing.  The nine inch dimension in HO was used to derive all other measurements.

TT Takeoffs

This photo of a completed model shows how the short vertical post in the middle of the A frame is used to support the angled portions of the A.  Note also, the cables are mounted to the floor joists (small eye bolts?).  The center post of the A is extended to the full width of the horizontal element above the cross support.  this allows the cable to run on the inside and outside of the angled portion of the A.

A Frame Model Turntable Photo

I am also going to consider using a heavier duty sewing thread or music wire to provide reinforcement.

Strip Wood and Thread Required

I ordered the following strip wood from

  • 1/8 x 1/8 (6/bag) – Two bags – Used for outer floor joists, inner portion of horizontal members, A frame members, inner portion of short vertical member, horizontal braces.
  • 1/8 x 1/4 (5/bag) – Two bags – Used for inner floor joists, diagonal braces.
  • 1/16 x 1/4 (5/bag) – Two bags – Used for inside and outside of horizontal member, center vertical member, horizontal braces across track.

Thread Required – About 50 inches of heavy duty thread.  My wife who is a sewer gave me a roll of buttonhole twist thread that comes in at 0.014″ which should work beautifully with the Grant line turnbuckles.

Installing Track

Track could be spiked to the joists or glued to the joists.  It will need to be centered and gauged.

Building the Turntable

Now that the design is mostly finalized and materials on hand or on order, it is time to begin construction.  See the links just below this one for step-by-step on various phases of construction.

NPC Machine Shop

This map is dated 1890.  Within 10 years the NPC was building its own locomotive and extensively modifying another (NPC No 21).  A machine shop would have been necessary to do so.


I’m placing  machine shop in the layout map in the upper left corner of the Sausalito Yard section of the layout.  While the layout map shows two tracks going into the structure, the actual drawing shows only one.

PCN Layout 7 Sausalito Yards

I came across the McCabe Machine shop on eBay.  It struck me as a reasonable representation of what might have been.  Note the single track.

McCabe 1

Because this is a machine shop model, the NPC facility might lay out like this.  The Corliss engine is a stationary steam engine that drives the pulleys for the machine shop.  the only thing I would modify from the kit is to extend the track further into the building so it would fit an entire locomotive.

McCabe 2

This is the rear view, showing the steam engine room.  The room is empty because the machine tools and other components are not part of the kit.

McCabe 4

Machine tools would be along the other side of the building.  Parts and raw materials would be staged outside.      The machine shop has an overall footprint of a scale 63′ x 84′ (roughly 9″ x 12″)

Interior Details

The objective is to set up a boiler and stationary steam engine that power a set of pulleys that drive various machine tools in the facility.  Rio Grande Models provides the following in HO or HOn3.

  • Stationary Boiler – 3010 – $8.00
  • Blacksmith Shop Equipment Set – 3020 – $20
  • Overhead belt drive set. -3021 – $15
  • Air Compressor – 3022 – $15
  • Wheel Borer and Press – 3023 – $15
  • Hack Saw and Metal Shear – 3032 – $15
  • Metal Flanger, Trimmer & Drill Press – 3033 – $15
  • Bolt Threader and Lathe – 3034 – $15
  • Metal Planer – 3035 – $15
  • Stationary Steam Engine – 3040 – $20
  • Wheel Lathe – 3046 – $15
  • Grinder – 3143 – $12
  • Derrick Boom – 3147 – $20

The entire set would run $197.  Some carpentry equipment like a table saw would round things out.  Locomotive shop trucks could be bashed from inexpensive wheel sets.  Lighting would be Woodland Scenics.

Bashing the McCabe Kit

Tracks would include a long track running down the left side of the building and siding that runs outside the building.

The BTS McCabe Kit came today.  It is a gorgeous set of laser cut wood parts and white metal castings.  I can’t wait to get started.

NPC No 14 – Brooks 4-4-0


In the 1890s the NPC acquired three Brooks 4-4-0s No 14, 15, and 16.  They had 48″ drivers, 16″x20″ cylinders, and weighed 70,900 and 70.100 pounds.  They were built by Brooks in 1891 and 1894. In the second renumbering on the NWP they carried numbers 92, 90, and 91 respectively.  Two were the last engines to run on the narrow gauge.  This is the builders photo of NPC No 14.

NPC 14

This was after she became North Shore No 14.  That was around 1902.  Notice the celestory vent at the top of the cab.

North Shore 14

This is her sister, No 16 after being renumbered to NWP No 91.  That happened around 1910.

NWP 91

The existence of three virtually identical locomotives certainly argues for having one or possibly two in the PC&N locomotive roster.  Two were the last engines to run on narrow gauge track.

Model – FED Spartan HOn3 4-4-0 in Brass

The Far East Distributers Spartan HOn3 4-4-0 was based on Brooks prototypes and bears a sharp resemblance to the prototypes.  Today these models are 30+ yeas old.  Dome shape and position match the prototype as does bell location, stack, and headlight.  The pilot is close.

Brass 4-4-0_1

A second view.  Tender and cab appear to be a good match.  Top tool boxes may need to go.  One of the NPC engines was converted to run on oil.  See bunker in middle prototype shot.  I may want to add an oil bunker,

Brass 4-4-0_2

Certainly some detail needs to be added – piping, whistles, LED headlight, etc.

Brass 4-4-0_3

This and the following photos are from an earlier auction on the same model.  I’ll need to check driver, truck wheel, and cylinder dimensions.  Valve boxes over the cylinders are taller on the prototype.

Brass 4-4-0_7

Note that the drivers are driven by a large brass gear.  The side rods transmit the power to the other pair of drivers.  Two of these drivers have to be insulated along with the wheels in the front truck.  Otherwise there would be a dead short across the engine.  So it should be possible to fabricate a suitable wiper to pick up power from the drivers and possibly the lead truck.  Here is a link to a tutorial that includes fashioning wipers from Kadee #5 Centering Springs.

Brass 4-4-0_5

This shot shows the underside of the tender.  The copper sheet is the electrical pickup to power the motor.  The brown floor is actually printed circult board.  Note that only two wheels on each side are used to pick up electricity.  This needs to be improved on as electrical pickup is one of the problems with this engine running smoothly.

It can’t be seen on this photo but this is a tender drive locomotive which is why the main electrical pickup was in the tender.  I see no evidence of any electrical pickups on the engine.  So you can see why this engine acted up when it went through switch frogs.

Brass 4-4-0_6

Approach to upgrading this locomotive

I have been able to find three resources that lay out approaches to upgrading and tuning performance of this locomotive.

SuperGlideDrive Conversions – This is a set of parts and instructions for upgrading this loco and its companion 2-6-0.  There are two variations.  One kit, the K-2, leaves the tender as the motor location.  it is simpler to implement but costs $120, $200 with a DCC decoder mounted.  The second kit, the K-2S, relocates the motor to the engine and uses the tender for a DCC sound decoder and speaker.  This kit apparently is not in release.  here is what the manufacturer says about the K2S kit.

K-2S (Sound). The Far East Distributors (Spartan Series) 2-6-0/ 4-4-0 are very nice size locomotives and the wheels and gearing are far better than the Ken Kidder 2-6-0 and can be made to run supurbly. I have just figured how to mount the motor/flywheel in the boiler so the tender will be empty and a sound system can be wired in. This kit requires more work to install than the K-2 kit, the top of the loco frame must be ground down flat to above the bottom edge of the boiler then a circular grove is ground down the middle of the top of the frame to fit the motor shape, it took me 30 minutes of hand grinding with a Dremel and routers and frequent test fitting of the motor.. The kit is a Faulhaber 1319 motor with a worm on the front and flywheel on the back. These are cemented on a mounting plate that has a NWSL delrin idler gear mounted under the worm, You drill a hole up through the frame for a 2 MM screw that will hold down the motor to the frame. Following the complete instructions you carefully adjust the motor fit to the frame to get perfect idler to axle gear mesh. The grinding does not have to be precice, you have to grind enough to get the motor and idler gear down for proper gear mesh but if you grind too much, just add paper shims under the motor to move the motor back up for proper mesh. then remove the motor assembly. Since the boiler and cab floor are very narrow, the motor, flywheel, idler gear and mounting bracket are inserted through the cab back then the boiler and motor are mounted down to the frame which ties all the gearing together. The tender wiring is modified the same as the K-2 kit to give 4 wheel electrical pick-up off each rail and 2 two wire TCS plugs will transmit power from the tender back to the locomotive for the motor and the LED headlight. The kit also includes sheet weights for the cab roof and inside the cab underneath the windows for better traction. Last detail is a C-16 backhead casting and a half circle of brass tube for the boiler shape inside the cab which is just wedged in place. Everything above is included in the kit.
Even though I figure sound is the main reason to install this more complex K-2S kit, the sound system in the tender will not be part of the basic K-2S kit though I can supply these items if you want to order them as a kit supplement, lets call it the Spartan Sound kit.
This kit has quite a few steps to install although it is not overly difficult and does not require special skills. Tools almost required are a Dremell motor tool with routers similar to #115, #124, #193 and #198, a #46 and 3/16″ drill, a flat hand file, a pencil soldering iron and a Verneer or DIGITAL CALIPERS is very useful but an included gauge can do this job. If you are afraid you can’t assemble it, TRUST ME, YOU CAN AND AFTER YOU COMPLETE IT YOU WILL BE A BETTER MODELER and have more confidence. If you absolutely freak out after starting I can complete it but I will bill for my time and YOU MUST START IT AND GET AS FAR AS YOU CAN, BELIEVE ME, YOU CAN DO IT. Don’t chicken out, you will be proud of what you do.
The instructions will fully explain how I fitted into the Spartan Series tender a Soundtraxx ECO 100 decoder, a “sugar cube” high bass speaker and a TCS Keep Alive KA-1.The time it takes me to build this kit will price the K-2S kit at a much higher price than the K-2. The Spartan Sound Kit with full instructions will just be the total of parts prices. STAY TUNED FOR RELEASE.”

This second kit will go for substantially more – how much is not stated.  The whole approach seems expensive.

NWSL Project Page – I found this project page (click link on the left) on the Northwest ShortLine web site.  It promotes use of the following to upgrade this engine.

  • NWSL motor – the biggest that fits the boiler
  • NWSL Gear – 10 tooth 72DP spur gear
  • NWSL Gear – 20 tooth 72DP spur gear
  • Drive line pickups to improve electrical continuity.

This solution continues to use the Spartan’s gear box.  Parts numbers are out of date but a written step by step is given.  This solution relocates the motor to the engine, freeing up the tender for a DCC control board and sound.  This solution is in the $60 range.  The instructions in this resource might be used in conjunction with this next resource.

Mark Schutzer Approach – Mark has given a number of regional and national clinics on troubleshooting and rebuilding brass locomotives.  Mark’s approach is generic but would apply to this locomotive.  Taking this approach would involve the following parts.

  • NWSL motor- the largest that would fit – $22-$25
  • NWSL Gear Box – Some variation of the 0.3 Mod – $40-$50
  • NWSL Couplings – Universal Joints and Shafts – $15
  • Torque Arm – Fabricated from scrap brass.
  • Electrical pickups – some variation of the Kadee #5 Centering Spring or pickups

Total component cost – $80-$90.

The sound board (Soundtrax Tsunami 750) and Sugar Cube Bass speaker might run another $140.

My first FED Spartan Hon3 4-4-0 came to me on eBay for $129.  It looks to be in excellent condition with little use.  Total engine cost including upgrades, DCC and sound – $360 plus paint.  Not out of line for a brass 4-4-0 with DCC and sound assuming I can turn it into a smooth runner.  There is even some money in a $400 budget for detail parts.

Conclusion: The FED 4-4-0 is a pretty good starting point for an bash into NPC 14, 15, or 16 – possibly more than one of the three.  It falls within my engine budget of $400 per engine or less.  The drive line is also a potential solution for turning Wiseman’s NPC No 21 parts set into a working model.  I may end up with three of these FED models.

15 Ton Class A Climax – Keith Christensen Memorial

Prototype Research

The reason for modeling this engine is mostly emotional.  A good friend who passed last year owned the last surviving Class A Climax.  We are taking 1:1 scale.  Here is a photo of Keith Christensen’s engine.  His was builder number 313, a 15 ton Class A Climax initially sold to the Golofin Bay Railway, Council City, Alaska.  The Climax site indicates it was last operated in 1910.

Keiths Class A Climax

Here is a drawing of a 15 ton cllimax.

Class A Climax Drawing

Here is another 15 ton Climax drawing.

Class A Climax Drawing 1

The vertical steam engine used by the Class A Climax.

Class A Climax vert-cyl


An in service photo.

Class A Climax Photo1

Note where the fuel is carried.  And a second in service photo.

Class A Climax Photo2

A third in service photo.  Note the link and pin couplers.

Class A Climax Photo3

Keith collaborated with David Fletcher and i on the back head drawing for NPC No 21.  Keith was very helpful in assembling the Mason Bogie Archive at this site.

The Model

This auction is currently on eBay.  This is a Westside WMC /Nakamura engine that is 30 +/- years old.  Here are three images of the model.


A view from the rear.

Keith Memorial 2

From the front.

Keith Memorial 3

As I write this post the auction price is $156 with about two days to go.  I expect it to go much higher.  I plan to snipe at $355.  Hopefully it will come to me for less.  If it doesn’t come to me at $355 I’ll wait for another.  They have been coming up around once a month.

2/16/2016 – Got lucky on this one.  My snipe prevailed at $280.

I think about this as my Keith Christensen Memorial engine.

It is my intention to paint and letter the model to make it more similar to the prototype.  I need to dig for photos.  I intend to turn this into a smooth running engine that initially serves as the switcher for the Sonoma Magnesite and Duncan Mills section of the layout.  Later, it will serve one of the lumber mills.  In order to do that, It will need some of the following modifications.

  • Paint and lettering
  • Re-gearing
  • Re-motoring
  • Conversion to DCC with sound

In investigating these upgrades, I have found the following.


The best solution here is likely to be a NWSL 0.3 Mod GearBox and gears.  There are a number of variations available ranging in price from $39.95 to $46.95.


NWSL offers a variety of can motors that are DCC compatible.  I won’t know the size until I check out the existing motor.  I’m also going to need universal joints and shafts.  Budget $50-$60.

DCC With Sound

The best decoder boards out there are SoundTraxx TSU-750, the Logging Engine version.  The board retails for around $119.  I’ll need to add a speaker and a LED.  The speaker will be a variation on the Sugar Cube High Bass Speaker ($20).  I can probably place the speaker under the tank.  The decoder and sound board could be concealed in a wood load along side the boiler.

Painting and Lettering

I am not even close to being competent with an airbrush.  I’ll need to seek out a local painter.  I’m not sure what to budget.

So the total cost could be as high as $525 plus paint.  That is pretty expensive for a yard switcher but as I say this is an emotional buy.

PC&N Locomotives – Blackstone C-19 D&RGW No 345

Prototype Research

Shortly after the North shore took over from the NPC, management purchased three Baldwin 2-8-0s.  No 40 came from the Denver & Rio Grand.

North Shore 40

Note the fluted domes.  This engine was built by Baldwin in 1880 and was slightly smaller than the other two engines.  In this shot it has been converted to an oil burner.

Numbers 31 and 33 were identical Baldwins built in 1885 purchased from the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic.

North Shore 31-33

Note the rounded domes.

C-19 D&RGW No 345 – The Prototype

I’ve been looking for a yard switcher to serve the Sausalito yard and docks.  Would the PC&N use a 2-8-0 as a yard switcher.  Certainly the D&RG did as this prototype photo shows.

D&RGW C-19 No 345-Proto Photo

This from the Blackstone Web site.

“Arriving from Baldwin as D&RG No. 401 and originally named “Grand River”, this diminutive teakettle certainly led one of the more interesting lives of the Class 70/C-19 locomotives. Famed early Colorado photographer William Henry Jackson first recorded the 401 working near Marshall Pass in 1882. Seven short years later, the Grand River would be converted to standard gauge and re-classified as Class 74 No. 803. When the year 1900 arrived, the 803 was needed back on narrow gauge rails and was once again re-built, this time as D&RG class 74 road number 405. After years of continued service, the 405 was re-numbered 345 in 1924 and designated as class C-19. Along with sister locomotives 343 and 346, it was leased to the struggling South Park Division of the Colorado & Southern Railway from 1936-1937. While working out of Denver to the fabled South Park region, the 345 chugged its way through the Platte Canyon and over Kenosha Pass en-route to Como and Leadville. In April of 1937, the C&S terminated its lease of the D&RGW 2-8-0s and the 345 headed back home to Alamosa with the two other C-19s. After returning to the D&RGW, the 345 often worked out of Montrose and over Cerro Summit throughout the war years and was eventually sent down to Durango, Colorado.

Engine 315 had been assisting the 453 in the daily switching duties for Durango. On October 13, 1949, the 315 did a “double shift” of Durango switching, and that evening the old F&CC consolidation unceremoniously ended its many decades of service. That same day, the old 345 was being hauled dead-in-consist from Mears Jct. to Alamosa after a trip over Marshall Pass from Gunnison. Arriving in Durango a few days later, she was readied for switcher service and on Saturday November 12th, the 345 went to work on the 7:30 AM shift at Durango with engineer House at the throttle. Over the next year and a half the 345 and 453 would share the daily duties of turning the Silverton Mixed and San Juan consists as well as switching out the various Durango industries and customers about town.

As the 345’s role as a Durango switcher declined in the spring of 1951, a final twist of fate for her checkered career loomed ahead. In 1951, Hollywood producer Nat Holt brought a tinsel town entourage to Durango to film a somewhat fictitious account of the D&RG’s Royal Gorge “war” with the AT&SF backed Canyon City and San Juan Railway. In the cinema’s grande finale, two consolidations destined for the scrap heap were used to stage a head-on collision on the Silverton Branch. The 345 was chosen to be a stand in for C-16 268 in this much anticipated “spectacular” crash staged on July 17th. With a splash of bright yellow paint, black pin striping, and the number “268” added to her cab sides, the old Grand River’s throttle was finally opened wide for the last time as she raced head on toward D&RGW #319 near MP 475. The fiery result was captured on celluloid and the movie Denver & Rio Grande remains a western cult classic to this day.”

Blackstone C-19 D&RGW No 345

How about leasing that engine from the D&RGW?  After all, they were running an engine from the D&RGW.  Maybe they lease one at the same time.  I love the look of this model.

D&RGW C-19 No 345-1

Yes, that is a yard switcher pilot.  And the same is true of the front.

D&RGW C-19 No 345-2

If this engine looks at all familiar, maybe this paint scheme is why.  Yes, No 345 was the real bumble bee engine, wearing a different number.  Of course that paint job happened much later so I ordered the non-colorful version.

D&RGW C-19 No 345-3

Here are the specifications.

Blackstone C-19 Specifications 

Scale: 1:87.1
Gauge: 36″ Narrow Gauge
Die Cast Metal with plastic, metal and wire details

C-19 Features
Multiple Road Numbers and Paint Schemes
Also Available in Painted, Unlettered Versions
Precision Can Motor with Balanced Flywheel
Cab Interior
Individual Grab Irons and Hand Rails
Piping and Valve Detail
Operates on both DCC and DC
18″ Operating Radius

Sound Decoder Features

  • Tsunami Digital Sound Decoder by SoundTraxx
  • Sounds Recorded from the Prototype
  • Whistle
  • Bell
  • Exhaust
  • Dynamo
  • Airpump
  • Blower and more!
  • Directional, Constant Lighting
  • Headlight
  • Backup Light (where prototypically accurate)
  • Maintenance-free Golden White LEDs

Model Details:

  • Fluted Style Sand and Steam Dome
  • Pyle Visor Headlight
  • Flared Side Tender
  • Wood Panel Cab Sides
  • Two 11-inch Single Stage Compressors
  • Switcher Style Pilot Tender Footboard
  • Prototype Specific Running Board Arrangement
  • Pyle Visor Tender Backup Light
  • Flying Grande Herald

So my quest for a yard switcher ends for now.  At some point I may want to convert her back to a road engine, should a suitable switcher become available.


PC&N Locomotives – MDC HOn3 2-8-0 Consolidation kit

Prototype Research

Shortly after the North shore took over from the NPC, management purchased three Baldwin 2-8-0s.  No 40 came from the Denver & Rio Grand.

North Shore 40

Note the fluted domes.  This engine was built by Baldwin in 1880 and was slightly smaller than the other two engines.  In this shot it has been converted to an oil burner.

Numbers 31 and 33 were identical Baldwins built in 1885 purchased from the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic.

North Shore 31-33

Note the rounded domes.

The Model – MDC Roundhouse HOn3 2-8-0 Consolidation Kit

This is an engine produced from the kit by a modeler.  It is a much closer match to Nos 31 and 33 than the Blackstone model.

MDC 2-8-0 Kit

This is the box containing the kit.  It is an outside frame 2-8-0, more consistent with the greater weight of Nos 31 and 33.

MDC 2-8-0 Kit 2


And the following is the kit contents.

MDC 2-8-0 Kit 3


North West Short Line makes an upgraded gearing kit for this engine, which I will install as I build.  I’d like to locate an identical kit so I can build them both together.

PC&N Locomotives – Blackstone C-19 Unlettered

Prototype Research

Shortly after the North shore took over from the NPC, management purchased three Baldwin 2-8-0s.  No 40 came from the Denver & Rio Grand.

North Shore 40

Note the fluted domes.  This engine was built by Baldwin in 1880 and was slightly smaller than the other two engines.  Numbers 31 and 33 were identical Baldwins built in 1885 purchased from the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic.

North Shore 31-33


Note the rounded domes.

The Model – Blackstone HOn3 2-8-0 Consolidation Unlettered

This model is on order.

Blackstone 2-8-0 Unlettered

Blackstone 2-8-0 Unlettered 2

General Specifications:

  • Cab Interior
  • Individual Grab Irons and Hand Rails
  • Piping and Valve Detail
  • Operates on both DCC and DC
  • 18″ Operating Radius

Sound Decoder Specifications:

  • Tsunami Digital Sound Decoder by SoundTraxx
  • Sounds Recorded from the Prototype
  • Whistle
  • Bell
  • Exhaust
  • Dynamo
  • Airpump
  • Blower and more!
  • Directional, Constant Lighting
  • Headlight
  • Backup Light (where prototypically accurate)
  • Maintenance-free Golden White LEDs

Model Specific Specifications:

  • Blackstone B310214-S HOn3
  • Russian Iron Boiler Color Jacket
  • Diamond Stack – Fluted Style Domes
  • Box Headlight – Flared Side Tender
  • Wood Panel Cab Sides – Single 11-inch air compressor
  • Road Pilot – Early Baldwin contoured smoke box front

Modifications and Kitbash:

There is not a lot of work needed here.  But some of the differences may be addressed including:

  • Lettering
  • Smoke stack
  • Headlight
  • Cab
  • Fuel – Convert to oil
  • Air compressor and tank


PC&N Duncan Mills Scene – Sawmill & Wood Products

This is the small sawmill shown in the Duncan Mills track plan (top center).  Why build a small sawmill when later I’ll have a big one?  To provide an industry while Duncan Mills is functioning as a switching pike.  Besides, Duncan Mills actually supported at lest four sawmills, one in town.

I am going to assume this was a small mill serving a woods products industry (moulding, sash, etc.)  Incoming loads will be logs.  Outgoing loads will be box cars.



The sawmill will model the structure without the water wheel of Mabry Mill, a real mill in Virginia.  Here are some prototype photos.  The first is a distance shot of the mill.

Mabry Mill


The second shows the flume.

Mabry Flume

This is a cutaway showing internal operations.

Mabry Cutaway

A HO kit was produced by Muir Models.

Mabry Kit 1


And internal sawmill equipment is available from Woodland Scenics.

Woodland Scenics Sawmill Equipment

I wood model without the fume and divert the fume to Patriot Paper in Point Reyes Station.

The wood products manufacturing facility would be a face frame structure – source to be determined.