Tuscarora Railroad

The Tuscarora Railroad is a 1:20.3 garden railroad located in suburban Denver, Colorado. The railroad is based on the East Broad Top RR which still operates today as a tourist line in Orbisonia, PA (south-central PA). Be sure to check out Garden Railway Basics , Kevin's book on building and maintaining garden railroads for information on how the TRR was built.

Location: Denver, CO

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Railfan Trip on the Tuscarora RR

It's been a while since new railfan photographs of the Tuscarora Railroad have come to light, but thanks to the publicity drawn to the TRR by the National Garden Railroad Convention, we've uncovered a few which warrant publication. These photos were likely taken between 1916 and 1920 or so, though the exact dates are not known. Given the variety of trains, these were shot on different days.

The first shows the morning passenger run at Neelyton. Passenger traffic was never particularly heavy on the TRR, so its trains usually consisted of two or three cars leased from the East Broad Top RR. Today's train consists of baggage #19 and coach #5. The baggage car handles mostly mail and milk with milk cans outnumbering passengers by a comfortable margin. The locomotive is 2-8-0 #5.

Presumably the same day, the same train, also at Neelyton. The stacks of timber will be loaded onto flat cars and shipTped to customers elsewhere along the line, or taken to Mt. Union where it will be transferred to standard gauge cars on the EBT's overhead crane, more famously known as the "timber transfer." Neelyton serves as the general offices of the Tuscarora RR, and today we catch a glimpse of the superintendent's Model T in the lot next to the station. Typically he walked to work, so its presence by the station must mean there's someone important coming in he needs to impress.

Here's #5 again, this time on the north leg of the wye at Neelyton, coming from Blair's Mills and turning to head west on the Shade Gap branch. In the foreground, the school at Neelyton. The depot/corporate office is pretty much right on the other side of the tracks.

Back at the depot, probably the same day as the earlier photo, but later in the day as there's now a flat car delivered to the lumber siding. The TRR seldom (if ever) ran mixed trains, so it's unlikely this flat car came in behind #5. The Neelyton Depot was originally built as a copy of the East Broad Top RR's Rocky Ridge depot, with the thought being that they'd build a separate freight depot. Management decided that was a bit too much, so they added a freight shed to the depot not but a few months after it was first completed.

This photo is unusual in that there's no hopper car spotted on the coal trestle, which gives the photographer a neat way to frame #5 pulling into Neelyton from Shade Gap. It can't be determined in this photo whether #5 was pulling freight or passenger duties on this day. TRR #4 was more typically used on the passenger runs, as she was just a little quicker (not that the schedule was hard to keep). 

Here's #5 again with a passenger train as it crosses over Trout Run. The schoolhouse is in the background. It's late summer judging from the lack of water in Trout Run. (Locals joke that they'd have called it "Trout Swim" if it had water in it on a routine basis.)

This is a rare view of the Locke Valley depot. Locke Valley was not much more than a flagstop; how it rated an actual station is something of a mystery. The depot was actually first built for Neelyton, but when the railroad decided to move its headquarters (such as they were) there instead of Burnt Cabins, they built a larger depot and moved this one up the line to Locke Valley. Gotta put it someplace, I guess...

TRR #5, this time on freight duties, eastbound coming into Shade Gap. The tank car belongs to the Atlantic Refining Co, and is a sister car to EBT tank 102.

TRR 2-8-0 #3 rounds the curve, approaching the Blacklog interchange track. This is where the East Broad Top and Tuscarora Railroad leave cars to be picked up by the other railroad, rather than tie up one of the EBT's tracks in their Rockhill Furnace yards.

TRR #3 passes the Blacklog water tower, which draws its water from nearby Blacklog Creek. In this photo, the spout of this tank has been removed, in favor of a water standpipe on the east end of the yard. Crews found it more logical to water their locos after turning on the wye, which put the locos on the opposite end from the tank. Crews would eventually replace the spout, giving crews flexibility with regard to watering their locomotives.

This photo shows #3 at the eastern water stand, though for some reason facing west, which was unusual. The Blacklog depot can barely be seen over the cab of the locomotive.

Here, TRR #3 is facing east, pausing in front of the depot. The photographer is standing near the doorway to the water tank, and the water standpipe would be on the other side of the locomotive, forward about 100' or so. In the background, you can see the tipple of Grove's Quarry, which supplied ganister rock to the fire brick refractories in Mt. Union.

The Beers & Green Woodworking shop proved to be a very steady customer for the TRR. Primarily a pin mill, turning out any manner of pins, spokes, and dowels, they also made barrel staves and other small wood fittings as needed. The TRR would deliver raw timber on flat cars, though the finished products would be carted from the shop across the street to the Blacklog depot to be shipped out.

The last photo is something of a rarity--a night shot at Neelyton. A photo like this wasn't a casual railfan undertaking, so it's unclear why (presumably) the railroad went through the trouble to set this up.

We hope you've enjoyed this latest batch of historic photos of the TRR in action. As always, if you come across others, we'd love to see them!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Ducks!

If there's one thing that can be said for the brass on the Tuscarora Railroad, they were quite well-traveled, and kept up on what other narrow gauge lines were doing. This seemed particularly true during the lean years of the Depression, when the brass took a trip to visit the Rio Grande Southern operations in Colorado. (We can only speculate how they were able to finance such a journey because times were definitely tight on the TRR, but years later when crews were cleaning out the offices, they found an unusually large collection of freight timetables stuffed inside an old suitcase.)

However they managed to pull off the trip, the RGS's operations seemed to have made quite an impression on them. The RGS had recently began using a collection of converted automobiles to serve the quickly-fading traffic along their route. These "motors" as the RGS called them would later become quite famous for hauling tourists along the scenic route, garnering the name "Galloping Goose" in the process.

Traffic on the TRR was equally sparse in the depths of the Depression. It didn't have the coal resources that the connecting East Broad Top RR had to keep it afloat. Its traffic was--like the Tuscarora Valley with which it connected to the north--largely agricultural. (The Tuscarora Valley, like many narrow gauge operations, would not survive the Depression. The TRR managed to hang on, but just barely.) By the early 30s, there wasn't a whole lot of traffic that warranted full-fledged trains operating daily over the line. The notion of using a small, self-contained car to carry what little freight and passengers there were the rest of the week really struck a chord. Management already had a model T they turned into a track inspection vehicle, so the concept of converting cars for the rails wasn't exactly new.

Not long after the brass's excursion west, the TRR shops turned out Motor #2, which bore a striking resemblance to the RGS's Motor #2. Rather than a Buick as the RGS used on their #2, the boys in the shop used a 1929 Model A they picked up cheap.  They liked this because there was ample room in the car to carry passengers if needed, while freight and mail could be carried in the back The Model A engine proved to be a little lethargic, but no one seemed to be in a hurry when they were riding this anyway.

It didn't take too long for Motor #2 to garner its nickname. Owing to the same ride characteristics which would give the RGS's "Galloping Goose" its moniker, the TRR's motor tended to rock back and forth as it went down the track. Onlookers said it looked like a waddling duck. The particular shade of green chosen for the motors (quite coincidentally) looked every bit like the green head of a male mallard duck. It's unknown who coined the name "Meandering Mallard," but it stuck, and management (having a sense of humor and a knack for catchy marketing adopted the moniker officially.

Not too long after Motor #2 was built, crews got busy on a second motor, this one pretty much a direct copy of RGS Goose #6, which they used for track maintenance. Tired of the lethargic nature of the Model A, the boys in the shop pressured management to just bite the bullet and get a Buick as the RGS had been successfully using. Management was reluctant do so for something that was just going to be used for trackwork, but somehow the shop got its way. Oddly, the boss's Model T inspection car found itself mothballed right after #3 was finished. Coincidence??? Number 3 never officially got the "Meandering Mallard" moniker, but owing to its number "3", crews quickly began referring to it as "the odd duck."

Throughout the 30s, both #2 and #3 would be frequent sights on the TRR rails.

The Models:

Despite my longstanding interest in the EBT and eastern narrow gauge railroading, I must admit always having a fascination with the RGS's "Galloping Geese." I first encountered them (in print) in an article in the June 1986 issue of the Narrow Gauge and Shortline Gazette. RGS Work Goose #6 was featured, and for some reason it just resonated with me. About that time, the pages of Garden Railways magazine were filled with "Stomper" conversions. Stompers were small battery-powered toy trucks which were particularly well-suited to use as power trucks for G-scale critters. One simply needed to remove the original wheels and replace them with railroad wheels.

That was a craze which was right up my alley, so I decided that RGS Work Goose #6 would make an ideal candidate for such a project. I had already built a few other such critters, so after finding a 1:24 Model A truck kit, I set about building my own version of RGS #6. It and the other critters I built would soon find themselves languishing on the shelf in favor of newer, more ambitious projects, and before too long I had pretty much forgotten about them.

Motor #2

Fast forward a few decades, with Accucraft and Berlyn both marketing brass models of the various RGS Geese. They still caught my fancy, but they were brass models at brass prices, and not something I was going to spend my money on when I was still building a stable of proper "eastern" locomotives and rolling stock.

Then one day, I'm crusing the 'net, and I come across a listing on ebay for a fire-damaged Accucraft model of RGS #2. It didn't look bad--scorched paint and the listing said some mechanical issues. I figured there was nothing wrong with that model that I couldn't fix, and most of it (the cosmetic fixes) I'd do in the course of painting it for the TRR anyway. Still, I couldn't bring myself to put a bid on at that moment, so I decided to wait... too long. By the time I went back, the auction had ended. Someone got a very sweet deal, but that someone wasn't me.

Still, I couldn't get that notion out of my head, so I took a look inside my scrap box to see what was available. I had a small motor and gearbox, and some Delrin chain and sprockets I could use for the trucks. I had brass for the frame. The only thing I was missing was a suitable donor for the front of the Goose. Once again, I turned to ebay, this time looking for old Hubley kits. I found a "scratch and dent" Model A sedan for a really good price, so I swooped it up. Little did I know at the time the overall impact that specific purchase would have on the whole storyline behind these critters. 

Here's Duck #2 (aka "Meandering Mallard") prior to being painted. The frame is brass, while the freight box on the back is styrene. The "skin" of the freight box is .010" styrene with nails embossed from behind. These sheets were then taped to the core of the box with 2-sided tape set along the lines of these nails. I'll explain why in a later photo.

The rear truck was built from a surplus Bachmann freight truck, and some spoked wheels from Slaters in the UK. (I've had them for years.) The gearbox is from Northwest Short Line. The delrin chain and sprockets are from Servo City. The truck bolster was narrowed so that the frames would set behind the wheels. Brake detail is from my scrapbox.

The front truck is built from brass, and also uses wheels from Slaters, albeit smaller ones. You can also see the front cowcatcher design, soldered from brass. Control is via an old Airwire receiver feeding a Soundtraxx "Tsunami" DCC decoder. All the electronics are hidden in the freight box.

I mentioned above how the Hubley Model A I bought for this really shaped the backstory for this project. The reason--the particular shade of green the car was painted. It was a peculiar shade of green, with a slight bluish tint to it. That with the black trim just looked neat to me. I knew when I saw the car that I wanted to try to preserve that color combination.

That green also reminded me of the green of a mallard duck's head, so I knew when I saw it that my version of the "Galloping Goose" would have a duck theme to it. A quick Google search for duck clip-art turned up the artwork for the logo, and a few moments of pondering alliterative monikers resulted in "Meandering Mallard."

Getting that shade of green turned out to be a bit more problematic. It wasn't close to any "railroad" color that I could get at the hobby shop. I saw (coincidentally) a Ford in a parking lot that was very close to that shade of green, so I bopped into the auto parts store to try to find it in a spray can. (My airbrush and I have parted ways.) I did manage to find it. Problem is, when I went to spray it, I discovered it had a metallic finish that wasn't going to work. I ended up at my local Ace Hardware, where I had them make me up a sample of latex paint that was the right color (chosen from one of their color cards.) I then used the Preval paint system which Ace coincidentally had hanging on the shelf. This system wasn't without its challenges, mostly stemming from trying to use it with a very thick latex paint which had to be thinned down significantly.

It took me a little bit to realize spraying with this system with the latex paint isn't like painting with Krylon. Because the paint is thin, your best results come from spraying one side at a time, with that side being horizontal. Spray the paint, and realize that it's going to look a little "blobby" and uneven at first. However, since there's a lot of water in the paint, let it sit for a few minutes and the paint will settle and even out. It will still look like you painted it on too thick. Patience, Grasshopper. As the water evaporates, the paint settles down into a very smooth, even coat. The dust and dirt apparent in this photo is the result of me learning this process and wiping the sides down when I thought the paint was too thick and uneven at first; not doing a good enough job of wiping away all the lint. The angle of the sun accentuates this, so it's not quite as noticeable in real life, and this being the first side I tried (why didn't I try the front first?) the other sides and the carbody is much smoother. (I also tried this system with Badger's "ModelFlex" paint straight out of the bottle, and it sprayed very smoothly.)

I mentioned above how I used 2-sided tape set along the nail lines to laminate the styrene "skin" to the core of the freight box. That's because I wanted to try to "warp" the skin just a bit. On the prototype geese, this skin was just that--thin sheetmetal nailed to a wood frame. As time passed, the wood would shift slightly, and the metal would get little bulges here and there. I wanted to try to simulate that, along with occasional dents and scratches. Once I stuck the sheets onto the core, I took a heat gun and blew hot air onto the sheets. The thin laminated panels expanded and warped quite nicely, with the tape keeping the nail lines firmly attached to the core.

The rust is a mixture of paint and weathering powders. I painted the rust spots, then dabbed the powders onto the wet paint. This pic also shows the denting on the corner, which I did by rapping the corner with various blunt instruments. The fuel tanks (surplus air tanks with a fuel cap added) fill the wheel wells. The car looked naked without something filling that space, so I figured fuel tanks would work very well.

All carry-on baggage must fit in the overhead storage compartments. At the slow speeds this thing travels, I figured there's no reason to have to tie things down, but the sides keep the luggage from falling off. I figured the fender would be a logical spot for folks to stand to reach up into the luggage bin, so I figured the paint would be worn off from continual climbing.

Motor #3

About midway through building #2, a friend of mine came to me with a collection of trains he had just acquired, some of which needed some repairs in order for him to resell them. Included in this collection was a Berlyn Locomotive Works "Goose #6" (aka "the one that started all this madness almost 30 years ago"). I decided that one was staying in my workshop, so after a little "iron horse trading," I had a model of Goose #6. It needed some light repairs, but nothing difficult.

I decided that the "Meandering Mallard" moniker would be applied only to #2, since that was the one passengers would be riding in. Number 3 was a work/inspection car, so would be used only by the crews. Like #2, though, it got the same green paint with gold lettering. The Buick carbody was easy to remove and repaint (except for those friggin' microscopic screws holding things together), but the frame required careful brush painting. For the black, I used Badger's ModelFlex paints, as they brush on very smoothly and the dark colors cover very well with only one or two coats. (Black is a one-coat color.)

This being a work vehicle, I figured the back would be full of track-repair tools, which fortunately I happened to have lying in abundance in my scrap bin. Of course, I spent a lot of time weathering the bed of the truck with rust spots, scrapes, etc., only to then cover them over with tools and a big load of ties, but at least I know it's there.

The wood sides are actually removable. They replaced the original brass ones which looked too spindly to my eyes. I first started to build the sides one board taller, but that just didn't look right to my eyes, so I stopped it at two boards. You can see the rust along the back lip of the bed.

The big pile of ties aren't just for looks. They hide the batteries. This is a 14.8 volt pack. The control electronics (Soundtraxx "Tsunami" DCC decoder and Airwire "Convertr" wireless receiver) fit neatly under the frame. The only thing that had to be hidden was the battery pack. I had hoped to get away with an 11.1 volt pack so that whatever was hiding it could be a bit smaller, but the gearing of this model is such that 14.8 volts only gets it to around 20 scale miles per hour. There's no "on/off" switch for this; if you want to turn the power off, you unplug the battery.

That's not to say there isn't a switch. The toolbox opens up, and this switch allows me to choose between track power and battery power. I occasionally do product reviews of DCC control systems, so this way I have a model that runs off of "traditional" track-powered DCC that I can use for testing, but with the flip of a switch, run the decoder off of a battery-powered wireless receiver instead.

More fun with rust effects. Again, brown paint as a base, dabbed with rust-colored weathering powders. Any resemblance between the rust patterns on this and my venerable '97 Nissan Pathfinder are purely coincidental.

If the car's got a windshield wiper, you've got to model wiper streaks, right? I "washed" the windows with dilute black acrylic paint and let it dry, then went in with a Q-tip to clean the windows so the driver can see through them. I don't know what voltage the lights are, but they're not very bright. I thought about replacing them with LEDs as I have on #2, but that wasn't possible with that particular installation. Besides, who does track inspections at night, anyway? They're bright enough to see them when they're turned on, but they're not going to scare any deer at night.

So, that's how the Tuscarora Railroad got its ducks in a row. I don't foresee the flock increasing any, but having said that, if you asked me two years ago if I'd even have these two, I'd have laughed. But that's the fun of modeling. While I do have a very specific theme that I'm modeling, I'm also modeling a railroad that has 40 years of operating history to cover. That's why the story of the Tuscarora Railroad is ever-evolving. I try not to re-write the history I've already put on paper (silicon) to accommodate new models, but there's nothing keeping me from adding new chapters as I go.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Perry Lumber Company Climax #265

The Whoozit Lumber Company? And what--pray tell--does this have to do with the Tuscarora Railroad? The Perry Lumber Company operated in Perry County, PA from 1901 to 1905, connecting with the Newport & Sherman's Valley RR. Sherman's Valley was one valley to the east of the Tuscarora Valley, so practically neighbors. (There were dreams afoot to connect the N&SV, Tuscarora Valley, and East Broad Top Railroads, though none remotely came to pass.) In any case, the Perry Lumber Company ordered this 25-ton Climax in 1901. (One source lists this loco as 30 tons, though the 25 tons comes from Climax company records.) For whatever reason, they did not specify a road number for the loco, so when it arrived, they gave it the Climax builder's number, #265.

This was their only locomotive. The name "Alfarata" which adorns the side of the cab comes from the poem "Blue Juniata," in which Alfarata is an indian princess. These two photos show the locomotive in service on the Perry Lumber Co.

In 1905, the locomotive was sold to the East Waterton Lumber Co for use on their East Waterton & Kansas Valley RR. (Pretty big name for a small logging line with one loco.) It wasn't a long move for #265, as East Waterton was not only the terminus of the EW&KV, but also a stop on the Tuscarora Valley RR.

Here is a detail from the only known photo of #265 on the EW&KV. Nothing much has changed, though the spark arrestor on the stack is gone. Curiously, the EW&KV never repainted the locomotive. It retained its Perry Lumber Co. markings, number, and "Alfarata" name. It's plausible that the crew came with the locomotive from one operation to the next, though that's speculation on my part. That would explain their affinity for its original markings. #265 served the East Waterton Lumber Co. until 1908, when it was sold. It would serve at least two more lumbering operations in Pennsylvania and Maryland, according to published reports.

So, why a model of #265? From a historical (or--relative to the Tuscarora RR--semi-historical) perspective, it left the valley a mere 2 years after the TRR got going, and unlikely that it ever strayed onto the TVRR's rails much less would have been in a position to be "loaned" to the TRR.

Well, ever since I sold off Tuscarora Timber Co. Heisler #4 (see photo in the previous post), I've been at a loss for a "not going to derail on me" steam locomotive that I can run on the railroad. Yeah, I've got the M-1, but it's a diesel. I wanted a steam loco so I can listen to the gentle chuffs while I'm mowing the lawn or doing other mindless yardwork where I'm likely not to keep too close an eye on the trains as they go around.

When Bachmann first introduced their Climax, I was pretty much disinterested in it. It was "too small" to my tastes. But for some reason, when I received their updated version to review for Garden Railways, I saw it in a different light. When I did the review, something clicked. I knew it would have to stay on the roster.

I decided I didn't want to do this as a freelance Climax. I did that to a large extent with the Heisler. While I was very pleased with how it turned out, I never felt much of a "connection" to the locomotive. It was very much a matter of "I can't think of anything else to do with it..." I knew for this locomotive, I wanted to find a true prototype for it, preferably one that had a tie to the railroads I'm modeling. A little research turned up two possible Climaxes; the Perry Lumber Co. 25 ton Climax, and an 18-ton Climax owned by the North American Refractories Co. (NARCo.) which operated a ganister rock quarry just north of Neelyton, PA, and served by the EBT.

My preference always leaned towards the NARCo engine, but it had two things going against it; first, it was only 18 tons, and the Bachmann model was of a 25-ton loco. Second, it was a T-boiler Climax. While I had no issue with replacing the boiler, the firebox was integrated into the frame of the Bachmann loco, and would have been a bugger to re-work into the cylindrical shape of the prototype. And when a friend e-mailed me a photo of the Perry Lumber Co. Climax with the very unique lettering on the tender, that sealed the deal.

That didn't mean I didn't have my work cut out for me. While the Bachmann model was based on a 25-ton Climax, and the Perry Lumber Co. Climax was a 25-ton Climax, that's pretty much where the similarities ended. The PLCo loco was a much earlier vintage, with wood cab, flared fuel bunker, and--most notably--a straight boiler. Pretty much everything above the frame had to change in some fashion.

First up was the matter of the boiler; going from a wagon-top to a straight boiler. If you look at the photo of the stock locomotive, you'll notice there's no difference in the size of the boiler where the smokebox meets the boiler itself. While not unprototypical for Climaxes, in the case of this specific prototype, there was a slight increase in the diameter due to the thickness of the boiler lagging. I got lucky on two fronts. First, the width of the firebox was 2", which matched some 2" diameter acrylic tubing I had laying in the workshop. Second, the stock smokebox just fit inside that pipe, saving me the trouble of having to make a new smokebox.

I also got "lucky" with the cab on this loco. While I'm no stranger to scratchbuilding cabs, why do work you ain't gotta? The cab came off of another loco I had scrapped. The width and height were pretty much spot on, though it needed a new front cab wall since the boiler on this loco is much smaller than the boiler opening on the stock cab kit. You can see the holes where the old handrail stanchions attached. I like to leave details like that on a model, as it illustrates the point that locomotives were almost constantly changing.

The fuel bunker on the stock Bachmann has straight sides, so I had to flare the sides out just a bit. I cut off the corner, then applied a judicious amount of "friendly persuasion" to bend the tops out just a bit. It was actually a lot easier than I had anticipated.

Other details had to be changed as well. The pilot got toolboxes (from an old Delton C-16 "kit" I had in lying about). I replaced the electric headlight with a kerosene headlight. Alas, as much as I liked the cabbage stack, it wasn't prototypical, and I wasn't in the mood to take that much modeler's license. But the stock straight stack looks like a soda straw, it's so narrow. As luck would have it, though, I had a spare straight stack in my scrap box had sufficient girth for my tastes. That, and the stock stack was a snug fit inside it, so it held it in place!

The stock domes were placed on the new boiler, though there are no air pumps and unlike the "modern" stock Climax, the steam delivery pipes on this prototype are hidden inside the cab.

For the couplers, I modified an Accucraft 1:32 coupler (accurate for a 3/4-sized narrow gauge coupler in 1:20.3) to fit on the stock Bachmann coupler shaft. This kept me from having to modify the draft gear--another convenient bit of luck. Rust-colored paint and a coating of rust-colored Bragdon's weathering powders while the paint was still damp gives the coupler its rusty appearance.

While difficult to see, the cab fittings are based on those on a prototype Climax. I think the engineer is from Ozark Miniatures, but don't quote me on that. I thought his paint job turned out particularly well, though one of these days I'll get a good paint job on an engineer's face who's looking out the window. At least I modeled his door open so you can see it a bit more from the front.

The lettering on the loco is from custom dry transfers I had made. To get the lettering right, I took one of the prototype photos into Photoshop and stretched it until it was square. I then searched the internet for fonts that were close-ish to what was on the prototype. I then took the photo into Adobe Illustrator to use as a background, typed the letters, then converted them into vector artwork. From there, I could bend and warp each letter to match the prototype. I'm glad "Alfarata" only had As.

Due to the small size of this loco, I couldn't make the battery pack removable as I do in the tenders of my other steamers. There's a 14.8 volt Li-Ion battery pack inside the boiler. The smokebox door reveals the charging jack and the power switch. You can also see some of the coal dust I sprinkled on the front deck to give it a more realistic appearance, and if you look between the cylinder saddle and the smokebox, you can see some 1/16" cork sheeting I used as filler so that the new boiler sits level between the smokebox and firebox.

I took off the sand boxes from the rear of the fuel bunker, and filled in the openings that were originally for various control switches. I hard-wired those connections on the stock PC board, allowing me to remove the switches. The water hose hanging on the back is made from electrical wire insulation threaded over 1/8" diameter plumber's solder. That allows me to "hang" it to shape.

Control of the loco is via a QSI "Titan" motor/sound decoder and a G-wire receiver. In yet another bit of luck, the "rod clank" sound on the new Titan steam file sounds reminiscent of gear noise, so when I slow the locomotive down and the chuff fades away (as it would on the prototype), all you hear is the loco drifting by with a subtle rumble of gears. It's pretty cool. The Titan allows you to use two speakers for a "stereo" output. This means you can map various sounds to one of the two speakers (or somewhere inbetween) and shape where the sound sounds like it's coming from. On this loco, I've got one speaker in the bunker, and another one in the smokebox. I would have loved to set the sound balance such that the chuff was coming only from the smokebox, but the small speaker doesn't have enough bass for it to sound realistic. That, and for all practical purposes, you can't really tell which of the two speakers from which the sound comes from more than 10 feet away anyway. Still, it's cool to have the bell and whistle sound like they're coming from the bell and whistle.

I'm still not what I'd consider a "big" geared steam fan, but I think this model scratched an itch that needed scratching. I've got a loco I can put on the rails and know that it will make it through my spring switches without incident. Control is top-drawer, and it's fun to listen to the chuff get louder and softer in response to changes in the throttle. Here are some video clips of #265 in action.