MONTANA'S MINIATURE 'CANNON BALL'


| November/December 1968


Story and photo by Bob Olson, and permission of The Spokesman Review paper. Courtesy of Clarence E. Mitcham, Route 1, Mead, Washington 99021

'RAILROADIN', once you get into it, stays in the blood,' says Roy Mabary, 71, a retired railroad machinist at Hamilton, Mont.

Mabary's little South Hamilton farm-where he and his wife Beryl have lived 35 years  features a miniature train which he built piece by piece over some 15 years.

The train is not a toy that a child can pull around by a string. It is a genuine transportation unit, with a coal-burning steam engine, that pulls a string of four cars along 3,000 feet of track. The steel engine draws its coal car, a flat car, a gondola, a seat car and, of course, a red caboose. Mabary built every inch of this rare railroad equipment. He patterned the steam engine after 'Old 2223' a big locomotive that his father, George A. Mabary, piloted to pull No. 3, and old-time passenger train, out of Helena. His father was an engineer, Roy was a machinist, and Roy's brother George was a brakeman, so the Mabarys were truly a railroad family.



The Miniature Train's engine is 15 feet 10 in. long, including the coal car. There is a hand-operated switch on the track and the cars can travel a great deal faster than kids can walk or even run. Height of the engine is 3 ft. 3 in. and it weighs 3,200 pounds, has a 16-in. gauge and 16 flues with diameter of 1 in. Coal capacity is 300 pounds and water capacity 80 gallons. There is also a water tower.

'Coal power? Sure. Nothing diesel about my train,' Mabary beams. The steel to complete his engine was hard to come by during World War II. By 1942 he still had considerable work to do before his engine was railroad proof. But eventually the situation cleared away and the small locomotive, like its big regular model engine has the number, 'Northern Pacific 2223' for all to read. The Swiss sheep bell that clangs when the train moves may be a little out of railroad order, but it does the trick. Its companion noise-maker is a steam whistle which once capped a Model T Ford














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