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.

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