2511 N. Waco, Wichita 4, Kansas
On January 10th, 1957, I started putting ray copies of the 56
Iron-Men Album Magazines away for future reference. This should
have taken about ten minutes but I started looking at this article
and that one, and they’re not put away yet!
There was a time when Willys Knight cars were compared to
whisky, that they both got better with age. I will let some one
else argue the merits of whisky (at any age) but as to these old
cars, I owned one of them and I’m sure it was a better car new
than it was five years later. This will not be true of the I.M.A.
Magazines. Twenty-five years from now they (the present copies)
will be real treasures.
It’s cold this morning in Kansas (close to zero) and the
ideal time to be working in a heated shop on these models of the
ever-thrilling old steam traction engines.
I am doing it every day and wish to say that life is not dull
for me. I am building a boiler and making up a new supply of 3 inch
scale CASE 65 machined castings and other parts.
Recently I received some fine pictures of a 3 inch scale Case
engine built by Eugene Dawson of 5700 First Ave. South, Seattle,
Washington. He is very accurate in his workmanship and precise in
all details of the models he builds.
He has proved to be a good friend of mine and has contributed
much help to me and my model making efforts. This includes some
pattern making and very fine detailed prints and drawings.
Some dimensions of his engine are as follows: Drive wheels
18′ dia.; Front wheels 12′ dia.; Length of boiler 42′;
Dia. of shell 8′; Length over all 62′; Width over drivers
24′; Heighth to top of stack 32′; Bore and stroke 2/2 x
3/4′; Boiler copper.
I would like to make some remarks about model making and
observations related to this subject that I have become aware of in
the past five years.
First, I would say that the man who builds a model in close
detail and copies some original engine closely will be recognized
as a top model maker. Many fellows who would like to build models
like this do not have the time, equipment and in many cases, I
fear, the money and skill necessary for this quality of miniature
For anyone wishing to build a model or miniature engine, this
certainly need not be the end of the story. A miniature engine in
three inch scale of the average original steam traction engine will
cost from $100 to $3500. This is indeed spreading the cost over a
large area but $100 engines have been built many times.
The first value of building an engine is for the benefit of the
builder. If he does the best he can with the skill, money and time
he has, he need not fear that his friends will not like it and
enjoy watching it run, wherever he shows it. I have seen crowds of
people gather around small engines that were far from being all
that was desired in design and workmanship compared to the
almost-perfect model at the same show. It would be a sorry
situation if the model lover would not build an engine because he
could not match the perfection and style of the better-equipped and
I say build your engine, you will enjoy the work and the
Suggestions for Cutting the Cost
We have two model supply companies in the United States that
offer for sale, and at very low prices too, a wide variety of
engines and engine parts, machined and in-the-rough castings. (I am
not referring to supplies I sell which are actually not in the low
price bracket.) From these companies can be bought cylinders and
other engine parts up to 2 1/4 x 2′ bore and stroke. These are
the important parts of a steam engine and they can be used with
whatever type or free style engine you want to make.
As these are not scale models of any particular engine, you may
use salvage parts of old cream separators or other machines for
gears. Gears are very expensive when bought new from gear supply
companies. Use some ball bearings in the valve linkage and other
small working parts that usually wear fast, cause lost motion and
racket. (The true scale model maker is stuck with small bushings
and other poor-wearing parts or he will lose true prototype.)
Ball bearing races bought new cost from $2.50 to $4.95 each.
Almost any aircraft salvage supply company will have them for
Keeping your engine in good proportion with full size engines is
the first consideration if you want your engine to be one of the
really attractive miniatures. It will cost you nothing to take a
few measurements from any engine in your neighborhood, scale it
down for size, not detail, to the size engine you intend to build.
I refer especially to length of boiler and shell diameter, diameter
of front and rear wheels and if the engine is side or rear mounted.
Also the diameter of flywheel. Build free style from there without
regard to detail of grouters, style of stack or other small
This can be made of steel and if you are capable of doing a good
job of electric welding your boiler will cost you practically
nothing except for Flues which should be of good quality and are
Regardless of what size boiler you make, up to 12′ dia.
shell, use 1/4′ thickness plate and shell material. There are
certain qualities of steel recommended for electric welded boilers
but usually it is not easily available to those not living close to
large steel supply places. Do not use type 4130 or other comparable
qualities of steel that would heat treat or change its qualities of
hardness from the effect of electric or other types of welding.
After all welding on the boiler is completed, normalize the welded
places with the gas torch by heating one inch each way from the
welded area to a very dull red. Better than that method is to have
it normalized in an oven supervised by a professional heat treater.
Bevel all joints for a hundred percent weld. Don’t use a weld
from each side of the joint with an unwelded place between. It will
hold moisture and allow rusting in a place that cannot be
Give your boiler a 400 lb. per sq.in. hydro test and, in my
opinion, it will be much safer in use than most of the full-size