Some Little Known Little Locomotives

| September/October 1990

233 County House Rd Chrksboro, New Jersey 08020

I came by a 1923 Baldwin catalogue a few years ago of small narrow gauge locomotives built for the sugar plantations and such. The book is printed in Spanish so if I decipher something incorrectly, you'll have to excuse the lack of knowledge. All in this catalogue, some 70 of them, are really cute little machines and probably only one of each kind were ever built.

They came in many gauges and wheel arrangements. There were Fourneys, 0-6-0's on up to 2-8-2's and quite a lot were equipped with 'Rushton' gear which was a flexible drive-wheel mechanism for negotiating sharp curves. Shown is an 0-8-0 wheel arrangement with the two center axles rigid (illustration #8). An 0-6-0 would need only the leading or the trailing axle so fitted, for these plantation locos were built for tight places.

Perhaps a word about the designer would not be out of place here. According to Mr. Fred Westing in his book about the locomotives that Baldwin built, Mr. K. Rushton, Vice-President of Engineering, designed this gear for some consolidation type engines built for Ecuador in 1921. After 38 years with Baldwin he passed away after a short illness at the age of 60 years. With the invention of this gear it must have placed the company on the top of the narrow-gauge line, for much more powerful engines could be used. The little 0-4-0 could now be put back in the engine house.

There are 62 steam illustrations in this catalogue and to show them all would be impossible. I have gone through the pages and I've chosen six which I hope can be printed. There are also fireless locos and gasoline locos too, all made for the narrow gauges and listed metric. Using a tape measure that's printed with inches and meters, it was easy to transfer.

The first picture (No. 1) shows a cute little 0-6-0 with a very diminutive type tender, built for James Charley in Jamaica. This I can visualize in inch scale, gauge. What a beautiful little model this would make, with the Walschearts valve gear and the large cabbage stack. This engine would not have the Rushton gear with its inside frames, and would more than likely have the flanges turned off the middle drivers. The boiler was designed to burn LENA, which I take to mean waste from sugar-cane. I looked in a Spanish dictionary and the word Lena was not in it. The track gauge was 30 inches, cylinders 9' x 18' with 33 inch drivers.