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.

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