Balanced Air Brakes from Scratch

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by Daris A Nevil

Fall 2015

During the summer of 2015 I began studying air brakes and how live steam modelers incorporate working air brake systems on their trains. I was well into building a Kitsap Live Steamers caboose kit and decided to add a fully operational balanced air brake system to the caboose.

This is my first attempt at building operating air brakes, and I am quite pleased with the results. Air brakes will certainly be added to my other equipment.

Summary: This article describes how to build Pull-to-apply balanced air brakes.


Here is a spread of Clippard parts used for the balanced air brake system.
  • Clippard parts:
    • UDR-17-1 : Stainless steel double-acting cylinder, 1 inch stroke, 1-1/16 inch bore, 5/16 inch shaft
    • CT4 : #10-32 to 1/8” ID Hose Connector, designed for Clippard's Polyurethane hose
    • T44-4 : Tee fitting, 1/8 inch ID
    • URH1-0804-BKS : Urethane tube 1/8 inch ID
    • TV-3SP : 3-Way Toggle Valve, ENP Steel Toggle, 1/8" NPT
    • MCV-2 : Check Valve, #10-32 Ports
    • 15090-1 : 1/8” NPT to #10-32 “L” Fitting

Tools and Supplies

The following tools were used in the construction of the truck brakes:

Build Gallery

Air Tank

Brake Shoes

Mechanical Drawings

Assembling Brake Shafts

Brake Pads

Final Assembly

Video Demo

This video demonstrates the failsafe operation of the balanced brakes, along with how to disable the brakes once activated. Video by Daris A Nevil, August 2015.

External Links