The Swan: P.C.R.R. Edition
Attention has once again turned to the No. 3, our poor little white elephant. She bailed us out when the 1 went out of service, and after having some sense knocked into her by an “Iron Bar” (and, of course, our trusty CMO), the 3 is proving to be a good engine for our railroad.
Those of you who have been following our operation are probably well aware of the 3’s reputation. When it arrived on the property, it “could barely pull its own shadow,” not the 5-car photo freights it did last May. Among Phil’s biggest gripes was the tender, the standard Crown variety that sat on stock Crown trucks several inches below the cab deck. The narrow gangway was open to the rail on both sides, a serious safety issue. Phil brought the tender level by switching out the Crown trucks for a pair of Denver & Rio Grande arch bars, also greatly improving the locomotive’s appearance.
As the No. 3 operates only a handful of times each year, projects are typically prioritized to the Nos. 2 and 1, the mainstays of operation. High on Phil’s priority list, however, was to set up the 3’s tender with brakes, something it has never had its 40+ years as a tender engine (It spent the previous 66 as an 0-6-2T.)
Phil had spent the past several weeks on the project and, with assistance from Jeff Badger, it is now complete, and the 3’s tender now has brakes. Jeff, who lives in the Santa Cruz area, was in town for Karl‘s big narrow gauge meet and had his new 3″ scale live steamer in tow. A cute little 2-4-2 with a cool logging look to it.
Not quite ready for a “brake,” Phil then turned his attention to reworking the locomotive’s brake system. As the #3 was built for plantation service, it probably didn’t receive air brakes until it’s c.1964 rebuild by Crown Metal Products, operating with steam jam through the course of its working career. The existing brake system on the locomotive was very poorly thought out and hastily thrown together during one of the #3’s two rebuilds, not a surprising discovery on our resident shopless “shop queen!” As it was, the cylinder was mounted forward on and above the frame, with the rigging taking up space between the main frame and the boiler. The arms hung downwards, holding the shoes almost dead center on the drivers. This not only looked goofy, but was incredibly unreliable, making only barely satisfactory contact on two drivers. After enough problems, Phil decided it was time to flip everything over and design a more normal arrangement, such as exemplified on SLORRM’s “Dagny” a few hundred feet away. Speaking of the devil, Brad LaRose has recently been sprucing up this little Baldwin – a veteran of Japan’s Kiso Forest Railway – which is being stored on the ranch until a permanent home is built for it in San Luis Obispo.
“Grumps” Badger at work
Last Friday, with the arms and cross beams in their arrangement, Phil and I took measurements for a new brake rod. Unfortunately, the closest spare we had, with the turnbuckle expanded, was just an inch or two short, so a new one would have to be made using the old ends. A quick run to McCarthy Steel brought the necessary materials to finish the project. The new brake beam was cut from a 7′ piece of 1″ round stock, which, with 7/8 threads, worked just perfect. A contortionist move, bent cotter pin, and a few wiggles found a nice trial fit. What better place to hide from the scorching Santa Margarita sun than under a narrow-gauge steam locomotive? (sure, the accommodations are little tighter and gravel-y than on the standard gauge, but a shop is forthcoming soon enough!)
As of this weekend, the pillow blocks and cross shaft are in place. The project will continue with fabrication of remaining parts and placement of the cylinder, followed by some test runs. Dave Swift, the project supervisor from Sharp & Fellows, our track contractor, is also back this week to complete the final survey and grade for the new yard/outer loop.