Bill Van Brocklin

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Bill Van Brocklin Jr. was a prolific live steam locomotive builder. Perhaps he is best known for his steam pump designs.

Photo Journal

Two "FireQueens"

Pat Fahey wrote, 3 July 2017:

I was just up on the IBLS website, and I would like to make a correction. The correction is this, dealing with Bill Van Brocklin and "FireQueen". Bill did have two locomotives named "FireQueen".
The first being his inch and half scale Number 11, a 4-4-0 which you show a photo of on the website. The second locomotive to be named "FireQueen" is a locomotive I once owned which is Number 20. Number 20 was built to 3/4 inch scale and was a 4-8-0 Camelback, this is only one of two 4-8-0's that Bill built.
I am attaching photo's of number 20 as built, with Stevenson valve gear, and rebuilt with Southern valve gear when I owned the locomotive.
I found a nice clear shot, taken by Bill Van Brocklin showing the plate on number 20.

Speed Record on Number 22

NEWS ITEM

August 22, 1982

LOCAL MAN ATTEMPTS TO BEAT SPEED RECORD FOR STEAM LOCOMOTIVES

by Bob Dustin

On Sunday, August 22nd, 1982 William Van Brocklin of Dover, Massachusetts attempted to break the speed record for steam locomotives established at 127 miles per hour by the Pennsylvania Railroad many years ago.

At the prodding of fellow railroaders, Van Brocklin agreed to put his ultra modern, roller bearing equipped steed to the test. He mounted to the command module of the locomotive and with advice and verbal assistance from Robert Dustin, increased the energy factor of the gaseous vapor which propels the locomotive and otherwise readied the machine for test.

The Timing Committee, consisting of Wayne Hills, wound its electronic time piece and gave the signal to start. Van Brocklin recessed his directional bar and adjusted his proceed lever to "go". Th energy produced by the gaseous vapor used to propel the locomotive finally arrived at the wheels of his blue steed and it began to move. While the pace was slow at first, the speed increased as Van Brocklin descended a long curving down-grade. As level track was approached speed decreased perceptibly. However, the direction of the locomotive changed shortly and Van Brocklin found that he now had a brisk wind at his back and that with no adjustment of the directional bar or of the proceed lever his speed was increasing dramatically. While his gaseous vapor meter indicated a depletion in the gaseous vapor container, speed continued to increase until it appeared a world record was about to be set.

Eighty four seconds after crossing the starting line, Van Brocklin crossed it a second time indicating a scale speed of 124.7 miles per hour. AS the wind died down and before the roller bearings seized up, Van Brocklin was able to bring his fast moving locomotive to a halt with the aid of the retardation lever. He dismounted from the command module to the cheers of the observers.

While he missed beating the record by 2.3 miles per hour, it was nevertheless an outstanding speed run, proving that a strong wind and roller bearings are the answer to high speed operation.

Copy of original article provided by Pat Fahey

Number 22

Bill Van Brocklin's Number 22 started out as an Atlantic and then was rebuilt as a 4-4-4 "Jubilee" in 1982. The engineer in this photo is Steve Kelly. Photo by Pat Fahey, May 2, 1982.

Bill VanBrocklin ultra modern locomotive # 22

by Pat Fahey, WLS

26 July 2017

This is a short story of how Bill Van Brocklin and the number 22 came about. It all started at the end of year in 1981. By that year, Bill already had built 21 steam locomotives, either the American, Atlantic or Ten Wheeler.

Bill was puzzled and wasn’t sure what to build next, so he was looking for suggestions. So I was asked for an opinion and I suggested a Hudson or a Pacific, and finally, I suggested a Jubilee type. Well, I must of have struck a cord, because, in the Spring of 1982, number 22 came out of Bill’s car as the ultra modern steam locomotive.

The number 22, started as an Atlantic and was rebuilt as a 4-4-4 type locomotive, known as a Jubilee. This engine had a four wheel trailing truck. The last locomotive he build with this type of truck was an O-scale locomotive, Bill’s number (1), a 4-6-4 Hudson in 1943.

The engine and tender were all roller bearing equipped, the main and side rods also. Where Bill could not use roller bearing on some of the smaller valve gear parts, I think he used either Teflon or something else. The only parts that needed oil, were just the lubricators, and that was it. The locomotive almost rolled by itself, the engine was so free of resistance, that it had no problem in Steaming.

Bill ran the locomotive as a Jubilee only for one season. For some reason Bill was never a fan of a four wheel trailing truck. Either he had trouble with the truck, tracking, or it kept derailin, I just don’t remember. But the following year the engine, become a totally new locomotive.

The Jubilee was gone, the 22 got a new frame, the engine became what is known as a Mastodon type locomotive, a 4-8-0. The engine did retain its roller bearing side rods and axle boxes. But now the engine built for speed is now a freight hauler.

As for number 22, the story isn’t over. The frame from the locomotive became Bill’s number 31, a 4-4-2 that is now owned by WLS member Joe Cardelle.

So that’s the story of the ultra-modern steam locomotive, went from Speed Queen, and a became a freight hauler.

Locomotive List

Patrick Fahey of the Waushakum Live Steamers provided scans of Bill's locomotive list.

Bill Van Brocklin loco History Page 1.jpg
Bill Van Brocklin loco History Page 2.jpg
Bill Van Brocklin loco History Page 3.jpg

Locomotive Photos

Patrick Fahey wrote, 12 July 2017:

For the past three days, I have been working on a project, for the IBLS, and for my records. OK what I have for you, are photos of 35 of 37 locomotives that Bill Van Brocklin Built. The photos were taken from Bill's own records. These photos were hanging in his cellar machine shop, at Pine St in Dover, Mass.
After Bill passed away in 2000, the club acquired most of his equipment, notebooks, etc. These photos have not seen the light of day in a long while. The photos were buried for safe keeping in our meeting room, known as the Hilton (at Waushakum Live Steamers).

Loco 1

Loco 2

Loco 3

Loco 4

Loco 5

Loco 6

Loco 7

Loco 8

Loco 9

Loco 10

Loco 11

Loco 12

Loco 13

Loco 14

Loco 15

Loco 16

Loco 17

Loco 18

Loco 19

Loco 20

Loco 21

Loco 22

Loco 23

Loco 24

Loco 25

Loco 26

Loco 27

Loco 28

Loco 29

Loco 30

Loco 31

Loco 32

Loco 33

Loco 34

Loco 35

Loco 36

Loco 37

Loco 38 to 41

Steam Pump

One of Bill Van Brocklin's steam pumps was listed on eBay in December 2013. Here is the description, along with photos.

This little pump will scale properly in both 1" or a smaller 1.5" scale engine. Steam bore is 13/16" and water bore is 1/2". Stroke is approximately 1-1/8".

Coles Feedback

From the Coles Power Models 25h Anniversary Catalog:

Bill Van Brocklin, Jr., of Mass., writes: October, 1952:
Very pleased with last order. I tried the whistle on "Jimper", my 3.5 inch gauge Atlantic, and it worked swell although high pitched like an English one. This was at Carl Purinton's at Marblehead. All the boys like it. The "Truscale" valve is very well made.

Obituary

From The Waushakum Journal, September 2000

Billie Van Brocklin passed away recently and Waushakum Live Steamers lost a loyal and long time member. Billie built over forty good running miniature locomotives that make their owners happy every time they take them out to run. He also helped many members to get their locomotives running right. He was an important part of the club and will be missed by all who knew him.

From Find A Grave:

William Seymour Van Brocklin, Jr

Birth
Sep. 26, 1919
Dover, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
Death:
Jul. 17, 2000
Dover, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA

See Also

Bibliography

External Links