A MODEL OF STRASBURG’S #90

1 / 5
This is the real one.
2 / 5
350 pounds on the clock. Little test pump on the right.
3 / 5
And another model is born!
4 / 5
This picture shows the fire box. The hole in the crown sheet is for safety plug. Finished cab and fire grate in vise at rear.
5 / 5
The finished job. In reality, such giants will never be built again.

233 Country House Road, Clarkboro, New Jersey, 08020

The contents of our great magazine deal primarily with traction
engines, sawmills, steam shows and such. With the editors
permission, I would like to deviate and tell you the story of my
No. 90.

No. 90 is a 2-10-0 of the Strasburg Railroad (Pa.) still running
today, and according to Ron Zeil’s book, The Twilight of Steam,
it was used in Colorado for hauling sugar beets. The first time I
saw this engine, I was fascinated with it for here was an engine
quite unique. That long extended smoke-box and all those 52 inch
drivers that give one the impression of a caterpillar when in
motion. It expresses power from no matter which end you view it,
and, I says to myself, ‘I’m going to create you in
1?-scale’! I have built quite a few 11/2
inch engines but this was the toughest!

During September and October 1985 I took numerous pictures of
90, also a few measurements with a tape. During October I spent
several nights on my drawing board with pencil, dividers, and a
calculator transferring the information I had gathered into a
1?-inch likeness. Trying to measure from a photograph is rather
difficult, for when you take the photo you are never at absolute
right angles to your subject. This makes the right wheel say a size
different to the left.

During November 1985 I started the frames, and the top half was
3/4 x 1 cold-rolled steel. The lower half was ? x 1. Pedestals were
? x ? inch and all welded in place. For quite a lot of information
I found those International Correspondence Books very helpful for
No. 90 is much stock Baldwin. I carved my own cylinders from solid
and I cheated regards the valves, for I made mine plain slide
rather than piston. They are disguised though and one cannot tell
only upon close inspection. Cylinders are 2 3/8 x 3 inch. Trying to
purchase wheels I came upon a problem. 90 has 52-in. drivers with
13 spokes and I inquired around the hobby for such a wheel or
similar. No one had anything like this, yet this is the standard
size for the American freight engine wheel. Another thing with
90’s wheels is that the counterweight of the main drivers takes
almost half the wheel. The second and fourth drivers have about a
quarter of the wheel in counterweight and the first and fifth have
very little at all.

The only way I could think of to obtain the wheels I wanted was
to make a pattern and have them cast. A pattern was made containing
the 13 spokes but no balance weights at all. My idea was to fill
them in with lead after turning. I got in contact with our casting
engineer at my place of employment, and through him I was able to
speak with the foundry-man who would do my casting. After a week I
received a phone call to collect my wheels. I must say they were
beautiful casting and the cost suited my pocket very well.

I couldn’t wait to get a tool on them. So, setting up a
carbide Kenametal, I proceeded to cut. Really I hadn’t much
need of the carbide cutter for a high speed would have done the
job. There was no terribly hard skin as one encounters with some
castings. Anyway I turned the whole lot and bored the centers for
the axles in no time at all, and during that time I was thinking of
how I could fit those balance weights. Finally, I came up with the
idea of using Black Magic which is used as a body filler on
castings and auto bodies. This did the job and I’m sure that
bedded between the spokes, it will never come out.

The valve gear I worked out in cardboard and the base of the
model glued to a piece of 1/2 inch plywood.
Upon construction of the motion work the only tough job was
fabricating the guide bar yokes as these are castings on the actual
engine, with all sorts of webs and shapes. I copied the shape
fairly well by welding. A small Sears arc welder and a 6013.3/32
rod can sometimes do wonders. After all was complete, a few pounds
of air pressure was all that was required to turn it over. There is
always a little stiffness in a new machine but it will soon wear
out.

I found a little difficulty constructing the front truck, but
again, those International Correspondence books were very helpful.
I was very lucky in having a whole set given to me, 1946 edition.
They are, of course, out of print. They make wonderful reading
besides containing much information on steam the ory, horsepower
and steam boiler appliances, also injectors and whistles, etc.

With the chassis in a running state I was now anxious to put a
boiler on it so as to see a real locomotive outline. The steel
tubing I used was D.O.M. tube with an outside diameter of 8 inches
and a 3/8 inch wall thickness. This I
considered a little on the thick side so I cut an
1/8 inch off the outside diameter. The ends
were also faced off and one end turned to fit the inside of the
smoke-box. Sawing the piece out of the tube for the fire-box was an
arm busting job. I was breathing sighs of relief, 3 hours and 3
hacksaw blades later. Those Chinese blades are not what they are
cracked up to be. Anyhow the amount of metal cut out can be
visualized from the photos.

I managed to get the fire-box sides and the throat-plate welded
to the shell but by now winter was gone and R & T, Kinzers,
Spring Meet was coming up. Usually I take something to display so I
asked Paul White of our model shop if he intended to have steam. He
assured me he would, so I thought here’s a good chance to give
90 a good run on steam. I made a temporary steam pipe arrangement
and displayed the model with the bare shell on top. On Friday
evening at our Picture Night, Mr. Everett Young stood up and told
the audience about No. 90 and my model making activities and I
graciously wish to thank him for his comments.

Throughout the summer I did practically nothing to the engine
for with jobs around the house, doing work on my old tractors and
the steam roller, I found little time. Eventually R & T and the
N.J.L.S. Meets were over. No more grass to mow so I started to work
in earnest a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving. It took me a week
to weld, stay and complete the boiler, but I’ve got to tell you
folks, my arms were TIRED after continually lifting and heaving
that lump of iron around! I was also retired by then and glad of
it.

Dimensions of the boiler are: length 42 x 8-inches dia. actually
77/8, tubes-32 of 5/8
inches dia. stainless steel rolled into the plates and beaded over.
Fire-box length : 11x 7-inches wide with 5/8
water legs. Looking closely at the fire-box photo you will note
that the back head is dry. This space gets filled with a piece of
1/4-inch plate containing the fire-door. At
the end of a run this plate can be removed and the ashes cleaned
out easily. Grate can also be removed and the tubes cleaned in that
way.

When I have a steel welded boiler complete I usually hook it to
the air line, plug all the holes first though, and put on about 50
lbs. Pass your face close to the welds, if there’s a little
hole you will feel the air blowing out. All that has to be done is
grind a little metal away around the faulty place with a hand
grinder and hit it again with the welding rod. As I was now sure
there were no major leaks, I filled the boiler with water to the
very top and screwed in my big 600 pound test gauge.

The test pump seen in the photos has only a
3/8-inch ram, but is plenty big enough for a
job like this. Many people say to me ‘Test a boiler with that
little thing?’ Piping it up to the check valve I proceeded to
pump away. After a couple-dozen strokes the pressure started to
show but I could see that I wasn’t going to get very far. I had
some tube leaks in the front end, a couple of stay heads on the
inside of the firebox.

The stay heads were easily fixed by peening around the pin-hole
with a blunt center punch. The tubes, of course, had to be
re-rolled and soon the boiler was ready for testing again. I
started to pump and it wasn’t long before I had what I was
aiming for– 400 lbs. In the picture, the gauge is showing 350 lbs.
It had dropped 50 lbs. while I set the camera and took the picture.
I had to call my pal Scotty Anderson to come over and take a
look.

Perhaps a little information on the fire-box construction would
be of interest here. The plates were welded up using low hydrogen
rod and each seam had three passes. As you can see by the drawing,
a bridge was built on top of the crown sheet with a piece of
1/2 x 1/2welded to the
very top. This was tapped with 1/4 x 20 in
six places. To locate the firebox in the shell, all I had to do was
put the 1/4 x 20 screws in from the top of
the shell, tighten them up and that was it. These screws were
stainless. Once in place, the mud ring was filled in with
1/4-inch material, ‘V-ed’ and welded
in place.

Going back to the test again, perhaps I should mention this,
otherwise you folks out there will be asking ‘what’s the
other hand on my pressure gauge for?’ Well, this gauge is a
proper test gauge with a cursor or an extra moveable hand that can
be set for reference. Mostly I steam my engines at 80 lbs. So the
cursor is set at 160–double the working pressure. And that’s
what it gets left at. I usually test them once a year to twice the
working pressure.

With the boiler all complete and mounted on the chassis, I
started piping and the adding of all the appliances. The steam
turret has a master shut-off valve with six control valves and a
whistle valve. The whistle being disguised as the right-hand air
tank, fixed under the running board. There are also connections for
the pressure gauge and steam brake. The Johnson bar is on the right
side of the cab and the small knob operates the cylinder drain
cocks.

To construct this engine I built a special 2×6 bench, and when
the engine was finished I began to wonder how the dickens I was
going to get it out of my basement. I was sure I had a good 500
lbs. of iron there and this had to go up the cellar steps.

First thing to do was to get the engine and bench over to the
stairway, and this was done by sliding the bench from one end of
the basement to the other, hoping the engine wouldn’t tip over.
Finding some 1/2-inch plywood and some old
2×4’s, a ramp was built up the steps so that the engine could
go right out the back door. I have a friend who has a jeep-type
vehicle with a wire winch on the front. This was placed out and the
hook attached to the front of No. 90. Slowly but surely she was
lifted out and once on the back step it was easy to roll her down a
sturdy board and right onto the track.

With a new engine you can’t wait to steam it. The thrill of
opening the throttle for the first time, then, if all has gone
well, what you have created moves! Well, it moved O.K. but I had
several things that would need attention. The steam feed pump
didn’t work, the axle feed pump didn’t work, and neither
did either of the injectors. I had a sticky throttle, and as I was
riding around the track I could hear this scraping sound.

The first thing to do was to find out why the axle pump was not
doing its job. The engine was rolled over on the grass and the pump
removed, nothing could be found wrong with it so I replaced it.
More than likely it was just air bound. With the engine on its side
I could see exactly what was causing the scraping noise. The
drivers were rubbing the bottom of the ash-pan. I had forgotten
something important. I had forgotten just how much
51/2 gallons of water weighs. All the
drive-wheel axles’ springs were tightened up while it lay in
the prone position and this corrected the problem.

After steaming again, the axle pump decided to work and, in the
meantime, I sent to Don Young, over in the Isle of Wight, for two
of his 24 oz. injectors. I took quite a few pains in building those
that I made from instructions in the ‘Model Engineer’, but
somehow, something was amiss with them. I also encountered quite a
bit of boiler priming. I didn’t fit a super heater as my
11/2 Flying Scotsman doesn’t have one and
it steams like crazy. I think that although we consider the shell
to be fairly clean before welding, there is always some foreign
matter remaining. I lightly grease the tubes as I fit them through
the tube plates to eliminate them from sticking. That small amount
of grease wouldn’t help matters either. This spring when the
weather gets warmer I will be steaming No. 90 again because sitting
over the winter, those foreign ingredients should have neutralized
themselves.

Since building 90 I have taken her to the Strasburg Railroad to
show the boys in the machine shop and as I previously said, taken
it to Rough and Tumble and the N.J. L. S. No. 90 was the 25th large
scale project I have constructed and since completing it I have
built a 11/2 scale 0-4-0 for my friend Scotty
and one just like it for myself. Last fall I started a 4-6-0 in
1-inch scale of a freelance English type engine. That is now
completed and so is the chassis and trucks for an L.N.E.R. 2-6-2
Green Arrow type express engine. This makes No. 29 from the Fox
Locomotive Works. No, really, I don’t have a Company, just
jesting!

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