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Steam Locomotive for Small 1930s Coal Hauler

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Steam Locomotive for Small 1930s Coal Hauler
Posted by Late4Dinner on Saturday, April 10, 2021 5:06 PM

I'll keep it to the point. 1) What type of steam locomotive would be appropriate for a small 1930s Appalachian coal hauling railroad? 2) How bad would it look on 18" radius turns (HO)? More interested in watching it go than operations. 

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Posted by MisterBeasley on Saturday, April 10, 2021 5:29 PM

How many cars do you intend to pull, and are there hills to climb?

My BLI Hdson is too big and inappropriate for a coal hauling route.

My Proto 0-6-0 might work, but I suspect it's not from exactly the right era.

My Bachmann Mikado is nice, but perhaps a bit weak if you need to pull a lot.

My Bachmann 0-6-0 tank engine is a switcher, not a road engine.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

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Posted by Doughless on Saturday, April 10, 2021 5:51 PM

Whenever I think of a small, versatile, good looking steam loco, I think of a 2-8-0 Consolidation.

Not sure if models can handle 18 inch radius.

- Douglas

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Posted by dehusman on Saturday, April 10, 2021 6:16 PM

Probably a 2-8-0 would be most common.  A Bachmann Spectrum engine would be a good generic engine.

A USRA 2-8-2  would work also.

For the odder types, a 2-10-0 decopod or a 2-6-0 would work also.

Most would would work on 18" curves.  How bad it would look depends on your definition of bad.  The bigger the engine the worse it would look, and pretty much any engine would look bad on that tight of radius.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by tstage on Saturday, April 10, 2021 6:17 PM

For the Appalacians you probably want a geared locomotive - a Shay, Climax or Heisler - because of the steep grades and sharp turns.  If your layout or the area you will be modeling is moderately flat (i.e. slightly hilly) and you are only going to be pulling a few hoppers full of coal, a USRA 0-6-0 or 0-8-0 should be adequate for the job.

In regards to what's available, the Proto 2000 USRA 0-6-0s & 0-8-0s are very nice and would work well for you.  In regards to the Climax or Heisler, I've read mixed reviews on the Bachmanns.  You could find some good deals in brass, if you keep your eyes peeled and know what to look for.  (I picked up a roadname specific (NYC) 0-6-0 switcher that runs REALLY well and smoothly.)  You also didn't specifiy a scale or whether you would be operating your layout in DC or DCC.

Tom

[Edit: Doh!  You mentioned HO in your original post and I completely missed it]

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, April 10, 2021 7:15 PM

How small an operator is this?  That will determine both the type and size of power.

In my opinion, nothing without trucks leading and trailing (geared engines qualify by default!) has any business in this kind of service in the Appalachians.  Very few mines would be at either water level, or grade level away from where road power could spot hoppers and the mine staff could just use car movers or winches.  Even on the flat, I doubt there will be really good rail line and surface...Whistling

For fun, you could use a Besler or Sentinel engine, with a suitable backstory.  Or use an early homebuilt version of a Trackmobile, or an 'internal-combustion-engine' conversion of an older chassis (as so many shoestring operations did in those years!)

On the other hand, if you need 'really cheap' fuel and reasonably good water nearby, I suspect that's easy to arrange for a steam locomotive in this service...

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Posted by snjroy on Saturday, April 10, 2021 7:27 PM

I would go for a Mantua 2-8-2, which is a good puller, or a Bachmann 2-8-0 (might have to be double-headed). 

Simon

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Posted by Late4Dinner on Sunday, April 11, 2021 10:50 AM

Thank you for the help. This can get me started. As stated above, it will be in HO scale. I am thinking small, so maybe six hoppers. I am not sure what % grade, but I'd like a twice around, because a given is elevation. I am trying to work out all my compromises. I think I'd better stick to 22" minimum radius.

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, April 11, 2021 2:37 PM

I am going to toss my support in for a 2-8-0, they just look right on "small" railroads in the 1930s, and they run on 18" curves just fine.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Sunday, April 11, 2021 2:53 PM

The Western Maryland had an enormous fleet of 2-8-0's for both mainline and mine branch work in the coal fields.

It would be my choice, in fact it is one of my choices. My roster includes 10 Bachmann spectrum 2-8-0's, three lettered WM, two lettered B&O and the other five ATLANTIC CENTRAL.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, April 11, 2021 3:33 PM

Bachmann's Consolidation is a decent puller, but I'm not sure if it can handle an 18" radius.
Another option could be Bachmann's 10-Wheeler or a Mogul. 

I have an IHC Mogul that wasn't an especially good puller until I added some extra weight, and it's now able to handle at least 17 cars on a not-too-steep grade.

For some unknown reason, I decided to put a bunch of tank cars on one of the staging tracks of my layout, but as I added the last few, I realised that they would be blocking another track.  Since I had just spilled some coal out of one of my Mogul's tenders (and cleaned it up), I decided to use that locomotive to transfer the 16 tank cars, and a cabose, to a longer track in the same yard. 

Here are some pictures...(click on them to get a larger view - my apologies for the somewhat blurry photos, as the tripod isn't tall enough to shoot aerial views of this part of the layout)

The Mogul has coupled onto the drag (16 tank cars and a caboose)...

....and backs out onto the northbound east-mainline, rolling past the recently completed butterfly-type sheds over the station's platforms...

...then crosses-over to the west-main....

...and continues around the curve and downgrade on the now single track...

...with the caboose now clear of the crossover, it's time to push...

...I did manage to catch the 37 as it crossed the Liberty St. bridge...

...and also got a couple of shots of the cars as they rolled into a longer track...

I had posted some of these photos in the General Discussion thread late last month, but have added a few, as the original post didn't show all of the views as the train was moved.

Apparently, the IHC/Mehano locomotive is still available, although I'm guessing that it's a little more than the $15.00 that I payed for mine.

Wayne

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Posted by Late4Dinner on Sunday, April 11, 2021 3:54 PM

Wayne,

Beautiful layout. Thank you for sharing the pictures. 

Tom

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, April 11, 2021 4:54 PM

doctorwayne
Bachmann's Consolidation is a decent puller, but I'm not sure if it can handle an 18" radius.

My Bachmann/Spectrum (a very early edition) 2-8-0 handled 18" curves easily. I believe I bought it in the late 1990s.

My brass MARYLAND AND PENNSYLVANIA (United/PFM model) 2-8-0 will also go through an 18" radius curve with no problem.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by doctorwayne on Sunday, April 11, 2021 6:34 PM

Late4Dinner

Wayne,

Beautiful layout. Thank you for sharing the pictures. 

Tom

 

 
Thanks for your kind words, Tom.
 
SeeYou190
My Bachmann/Spectrum (a very early edition) 2-8-0 handled 18" curves easily. I believe I bought it in the late 1990s.
 
Thanks for that input, Kevin.  The tightest curves on my layout  are a 3O" radius, which pretty-well anything should be able to navigate.  Most are at 32" and 34", although there are a couple in the low 40"s.
 
My first two Bachmann Consolidations were bought shortly after a nearby hobbyshop got in their first order of them, and I've added another six since then.  Mine all have added weight...the five in-service ones each weigh-in at 23oz.(loco & tender), while the other three are destined to replicate three specific prototypes.  They'll all likely weigh at least a couple ounces more, as all three will be getting feedwater-heater systems, plus a few other detail parts.
 
Wayne
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Posted by NVSRR on Sunday, April 11, 2021 7:37 PM

For an idea of smaller 2-10-0 locos, look at Strasburg #90  not much bigger than a 2-8-0 0r 2-8-2.    Of course to make it interesting, if it is a lot of tight curves, a Shay, climax, or hiestler would have been used.

Actually, the entire Strasburg roster is a good approximation of what a 1930's coal hauler might look like

 

SHane

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, April 11, 2021 10:07 PM

doctorwayne
The tightest curves on my layout  are a 3O" radius, which pretty-well anything should be able to navigate.  Most are at 32" and 34", although there are a couple in the low 40"s.

My most recent HO layout was built in a small bedroom, and 18" radius curves were utilized on hidden trackage.

I learned a lot about the realities of tight radius curves.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Late4Dinner on Monday, April 12, 2021 10:03 AM

Back to the drawing board - literally. I think I need to find how to get 22" minimum radius turns. I'm leaning toward the Bachman Consolidation. To start.

I appreciate all the input.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 12, 2021 10:25 AM

Late4Dinner

Back to the drawing board - literally. I think I need to find how to get 22" minimum radius turns. I'm leaning toward the Bachman Consolidation. To start.

I appreciate all the input.

 

Larger curves are better in any case if you can swing it.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, April 12, 2021 11:35 AM

Late4Dinner
I think I need to find how to get 22" minimum radius turns.

There is a HUGE difference between 18 an 22 inch radius curves when it comes to what will run on your track.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Monday, April 12, 2021 7:26 PM

I'll add one more factor to consider.  If your railroad is hauling anthracite (hard coal), a camelback loco would be correct.  Anthracite is only mined in NE PA, basically in Lackawanna, Luzerne, Carbon, Schuylkill and North Umberland Counties.

If hauling bituminous (soft coal) which is far more common, then rear cab steam locos would fill the bill.  

Jim

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, April 12, 2021 10:33 PM

If 22" fits, then go for it. But if you have a small surface, smaller engines will look better on a smallish layout and will work fine with 18". Athearn's 2-8-0 will work on 18", as well as most steam with 6 drivers. I can't speak for Bachmann's model, I don't have one but I'd be shocked if it didn't. Big engines with few cars just look odd on a small pike IMHO.

Simon

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Monday, April 12, 2021 11:10 PM

Another vote for the 2-8-0.  They were the most common steam locomotive as a type.

 

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by Late4Dinner on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 10:04 AM

Once again, my grand plan has proven to be not so grand after all. Based on some comments here, I think I will regret trying to wedge in a continous run with hills. I think I need to go with a shelf layout, relatively flat. I have a space where I can go 2.5' x 16. Subject to approval.

As a beginner, I appreciate the guidance.

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Posted by snjroy on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 10:54 AM

That space is indeed tight in terms of width. You could model some kind of mining operation, with locos going back and forth, with some switching. You could create some kind of tunnel at one end to create the illusion of trains going towards a mainline that is not visible...

Another option is to go for another scale/track, like N or HOn30 (HO narrow gauge that runs on N track). These would allow for continuous operation as curves would require about 22 inches for a half circle, which fits in your space.

I have a few strips of HOn30 on my layout, but keep in mind that rolling stock for HOn30 is expensive and limited. And I don't think there were any narrow gauge (24 inch gauge) operations in US coal mining - but I could be wrong. 

Anticipating future needs is a consideration. If you think you will eventually have access to more space, then some kind of switching layout in HO could satisfy your needs temporarily. Your "continuous" operation needs may also be met at a local club, if you live near one. 

Simon 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 10:56 AM

Late4Dinner
I have a space where I can go 2.5' x 16. Subject to approval.

My first HO layout was about 2 by 8, and then another few feet were added. I enjoyed it for over ten years. It was actually my longest-lasting layout.

I could not do continuous run, but I found out I did not need continuous run to enjoy it.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by jjdamnit on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 1:57 PM

Hello All,

How "small" is your definition of small?

On my HO 4'x8' coal branch loop has a 3% grade up to the unloading platform. 

This grade is also on an asymmetrical curve; the first half of the curve is a 22-inch radius and the second half of the curve is an 18-inch radius.

A loaded coal drag of eight 34-foot Tyco operating hoppers is pulled by a single GP-30 with a pusher set of a GP-30 A-B consist.

Occasionally an "Olde Tyme" excursion train pulling five 42-foot passenger cars and a bobber caboose navigates this curved incline.

A USRA 0-6-0 with a Vanderbilt tender (converted to burn oil) is on the head end with a 0-6-0 Side Tank porter (also converted to oil) acts as a helper.

The USRA 0-6-0 is a DCC Bachmann unit fitted with a Vanderbilt tender. The 0-6-0 Side Tank Porter is also a DCC Bachmann.

Other responders to this post have recommended a 2-X-0 wheel arrangement. On uneven track, the pilot wheels might cause a problem with tracking.

Shays, Heisslers, or Climax's would be preferred given the railroads (or your) budget.

Hope this helps.

"Uhh...I didn’t know it was 'impossible' I just made it work...sorry"

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 2:12 PM

The reality of model railroading is unrealistic curves. It's basically a given unless you have a LOT of space.

Tight radius curves are ultimately unsatisfying.

If you can build to a 22" minimum you should. 24" minimum is a better target.

If you can't fit decent radius return loops for continuous running then a point to point layout is a good solution. For quite short,  usually themed, layouts have a look at the UK practice. Homes are generally much smaller, rooms are smaller and return curves are often impossible, not just impractical. 

With enough length you can simulate decent amount of operations by running point to point. Consider facilities to turn locomotives if steam is your thing. Turntables were very common. Often a loop can't be built but a turning Wye can be.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 3:38 PM

I have visited countless layouts where the owner had built with 18" radius curves, and they were happy. You just need to limit yourself to models that will operate fine on that radius, and then enjoy yourself.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by hardcoalcase on Thursday, April 15, 2021 11:39 AM

Late4Dinner
    How bad would it look on 18" radius turns (HO)? More interested in watching it go than operations.   

Regardless of the size of the curve radius, allowing for an easement curve between the basic fixed curve track and the connecting straight track, will greatly improve the appearance of the train in motion.  

This is easy to do.  As an example, using an 18" radius curve made with sectional track:

  1. Lay-out or draw the centerline of the full curve of the track, then mark where the curve ends and the connecting straight track begins.
  2. Move that mark (the centerline of the straight track) about 1/4" or 3/8" to the outside of that original curve mark, this will shift the location of the straight track.
  3. Mark where the fixed 18" radius curve would end if you remove the last 2 sectional track pieces before the straight (typically 12" to 18" of track).
  4. Use a half-section of cork roadbed as a guide to draw the easement curve that connects the centerline of the shortened fixed radius sectional track to the new centerline of the straight track (usually referred to as the "tangent track").  The bending of the cork will create an easement curve.   Install the roadbed and flextrack.  Do this at both ends of the curved track.

If you're doing all flex-track, you simply do all this by drawing the curve and tangent centerlines and lay the cork roadbed accordingly. 

The result is a gradually increasing radius curve going into the straight, which the real railroads do to avoid sudden impacts on the rails.  For model railroaders, it eliminates the "old toy train look" of the train making a sudden "jerk" at each curve-straight connection.  Visually, it's better to have a 18" radius curve with easements, than a 19" or 20" radius without.  
 
Jim
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Posted by Lastspikemike on Thursday, April 15, 2021 2:04 PM

The OP asks how bad the recommended locomotive will look on 18" curves.

 2-8-0 from the 1930's era will not look good on 18" curves.

4 or 6 drivers is about the most you can reasonably run on such tight curves unless the toy train look is OK in which case I doubt the OP would have asked.

 

Alyth Yard

Canada

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