Bill Van Brocklin
Bill Van Brocklin Jr. was a prolific live steam locomotive builder. Perhaps he is best known for his steam pump designs.
- 1 Photo Journal
- 2 D&SERR
- 3 Two "FireQueens"
- 4 Speed Record on Number 22
- 5 Locomotive List
- 6 Locomotive Photos
- 6.1 Loco 1
- 6.2 Loco 2
- 6.3 Loco 3
- 6.4 Loco 4
- 6.5 Loco 5
- 6.6 Loco 6
- 6.7 Loco 7
- 6.8 Loco 8
- 6.9 Loco 9
- 6.10 Loco 10
- 6.11 Loco 11
- 6.12 Loco 12
- 6.13 Loco 13
- 6.14 Loco 14
- 6.15 Loco 15
- 6.16 Loco 16
- 6.17 Loco 17
- 6.18 Loco 18
- 6.19 Loco 19
- 6.20 Loco 20
- 6.21 Loco 21
- 6.22 Loco 22
- 6.23 Loco 23
- 6.24 Loco 24
- 6.25 Loco 25
- 6.26 Loco 26
- 6.27 Loco 27
- 6.28 Loco 28
- 6.29 Loco 29
- 6.30 Loco 30
- 6.31 Loco 31
- 6.32 Loco 32
- 6.33 Loco 33
- 6.34 Loco 34
- 6.35 Loco 35
- 6.36 Loco 36
- 6.37 Loco 37
- 6.38 Loco 38 to 41
- 7 Loco 40
- 8 Loco 41
- 9 Steam Pump
- 10 Coles Feedback
- 11 Obituary
- 12 See Also
- 13 Bibliography
- 14 External Links
The cover photo of the July-August 1950 edition of The Live Steamer features a detailed view of the well known 3/4 inch scale Boston & Maine Atlantic type locomotive built by William (Bill) Van Brocklin Jr of Roslindale, Mass., and it is shown with the builder at the 1949 N.E.L.S. annual Live Steam Meet at Danvers. This is Bill's second locomotive.
Shot taken at the Danvers MA track around 1947 with Bill Van Brocklin himself as engineer. Pat Fahey notes that the loco was rebuilt twice; 4 ½” boiler, Baker gear. Photo taken from Purinton’s Live Steam of Years Gone By, pg. 100. This is Bill's second locomotive, and the first built in 3/4 inch scale.
IBLS 1972 Meet at Pioneer Valley Live Steamers. In the center, kneeling & looking at the camera is Bill Van Brocklin with his beautiful 4-4-0 named "Fire Queen." It ran like a watch, as all his engines. To the left of Bill is Paul Ealsons Pacific 6870. The gent without a hat is the late Frank Dreshler from Whitestone, NY. Behind Bill Van Brocklin is Keith Muldowney form New Jersey Live Steamers. In the white sweater with his back to the camera is Ben Nixon talking to the late Jim Maxheimer.
A beautiful Illinois Central 4-4-0 "Fire Queen" built by Bill Van Brocklin and owned by Elmer Roth as of 1995. It feaures a coal fired copper boiler, 2 injectors, 2 cyl. steam water pump, 2 injectors, mech. oiler, whistle,hand pump and hydraulic brakes on the tender. She was rebuilt in 1995 by Elmer. Photo by James W. Leggett. From TrainNet.org.
Bill Van Brocklin at the last Waushakum Live Steamers meet held at the old track location. The 1996 meet was the last and final meet at Norfolk Street track site. Courtesy of Patrick Fahey.
William Van Brocklin, Jr engine house at Waushakum Live Steamers. Photo by Arthur Butler, from collection of Patrick Fahey.
No. 17 - This very dark photo was published as part of a classified on the Discover Live Steam webpage. Has an axle and duplex pump with injector. Copper tender and boiler, piston valves, Baker gear.
Bill Van Brocklin's No 17 taken at the Norfolk Street track of the Waushakum Live Steamers by Pat Fahey.
Bill Van Brocklin at Pioneer Valley Live Steamers, May 1970. Photo by Arthur Butler.
You will notice several tenders lettered with "D.&S.E.R.R." The D&SERR was Billy's railroad, and it stood for Dover & SouthEastern Railroad.
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
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.
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.
Patrick Fahey of the Waushakum Live Steamers provided scans of Bill's locomotive list.
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).
Bill Van Brocklin's No. 2 started in 1944 and completed 1946. Photo taken at Waushakum Live Steamers, Holliston, Mass.
No. 2 - The cover photo of the July-August 1950 edition of The Live Steamer features a detailed view of the well known 3/4 inch scale Boston & Maine Atlantic type locomotive built by William (Bill) Van Brocklin Jr of Roslindale, Mass., and it is shown with the builder at the 1949 N.E.L.S. annual Live Steam Meet at Danvers.
Bill Van Brocklin's No 6 started in 1956 and completed 1957. It is a 4-4-0 in O-Scale, 1-1/4 inch gauge. The photo is missing from the Waushakum Live Steamers collection.
No. 8 - Bill Van Brocklin at Carl Purinton's track at Boxford Mass., about 1960.
Pat Fahey wrote 9 August 2019:
- This morning I did a run with Billy's number 8 at the track, I have been meaning to send you some photos of her under steam. Well, here we go, if you can use them, please feel free. The engine once did belong to club member Howie Bailey. He donated the engine to the Waushakum Live Steamers club. Our current President Jim McGrath did not the engine to sit idle, the engine is under my care and club member Bob Foster.
Pat Fahey wrote:
- Now a bit of information on Tom Otis, Tom was the club secretary when I joined the Waushakum Live Steamers back in 1971. After Tom retired he bought Billy's No.12 and moved to Salsbury, NC. The reason why Tom converted the engine over to propane, he did not want to bother with coal.
- Billy was not sure how his engine would work on propane, he was afraid that the fire would be so hot, it would melt the silver solder in the firebox, or the rear tube sheet. From what I can remember, Tom did not have an arch in the firebox, he just removed the grates and went to propane.
- The engine ran on propane until Tom passed away, then got resold, and converted back to coal.
- The coal we had, we called it Hill coal, we got the coal for nothing, and it was really smokey and would plug up the tubes really quick, but it would burn Hot. The smoke out of the stack was yellow, The coal got its name because it sat on the hill, next to the good coal box.
Bill Van Brocklin with his Locomotive No 17. Photo taken at the Norfolk Street track of the Waushakum Live Steamers, Holliston, Mass, by Pat Fahey.
At Nick Edwards' 1986 Gold Spike Meet, Bill VanBrocklin Jr. running #28, a 1-1/2 inch scale 4-4-0. (October, 1986 at Nashua, NH. Photo by John Kurdzionak).
No. 31 - Bill Van Brocklin's 31st locomotive. Shot taken at Waushakum on 26 June 2016, and placed on the ¾” Facebook page by Mike Boucher. Baker valve gear, 5 ¼” boiler. Owned by Joe Cordelle of Waushakum LS, MA as of 2016. According to Pat Fahey’s roster, this one used the wheels and frames of Van Brocklin’s 4-4-2 #22, which had been completed in 1982.
From Pat Fahey:
- Well I have another one to add to the Bill Van Brocklin list. I found this through another member of the WLS. It turns out Billy had built another locomotive named Amabelle, now this locomotive I never did hear about. The locomotive is of course built to 3/4 inch scale and was his number #32. If you look at the photo of number #32, there is no name on the locomotive. But it does show a name on the plans, made out by Bill Van Brocklin.
- I did ask WLS Mike Boucher about this, Mike wanted to build one of Bill's engines in 3/4 inch scale, and asked Bill Van Brocklin, if he had any plans for any of his locomotives. Well, Bill came up with some plan mainly a side elevation, from this Mike could build his locomotive.
Loco 38 to 41
Tim Vaughan currently owns Bill's No. 41, which was only finished to a running chassis. Tim provided a photograph and description in Live Steam and Outdoor Railroading, May/June 2019, page 33. He plans to finish the locomotive.
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".
Advertisement found in The North American Live Steamer, March 1956
Advertisement found in The North American Live Steamer, 1957
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.
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
- Sep. 26, 1919
- Dover, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
- Jul. 17, 2000
- Dover, Norfolk County, Massachusetts, USA
- Van Brocklin Mechanical Lubricator
- Injectors - A Blessing or a Curse?
- Automatic Cylinder Cocks
- A Window Water Gauge
- Cab Operated Cylinder Cocks
- Union Nuts & Fittings
- Visit to Bill Van Brocklin's Shop
- "Handy Gadgets", Construction article for dual check valves, The Miniature Locomotive, Jan-Feb 1953, page 26
- Van Brocklin Mechanical Lubricator, The North American Live Steamer, Vol 1 No 5, 1956
- "Album: Trio of Locomotive Builders", George C. Handley, Alfred Jungenize and Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, June 1977
- "Fabricate Cylinders", William S. Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, September 1977
- "Fabricate Axleboxes", William S. Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, June 1978
- "Get Positive Oil Feed with a Hydro-Force Lubricator", William S. Van Brocklin, Jr, Live Steam Magazine, November 1978
- "Wheel Quartering Fixture", William Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, December 1986
- "Water Gauge Location", William S. Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, July 1988
- "One-piece Firebox Loco Boiler: Design Simplicity", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, January 1990
- "Checking Your Wheel Load", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, February 1990
- "Simple Stop Valve", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, February 1991
- "Use of a Trammel in Valve Setting", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, July 1991
- "Slip Eccentric Valve Gear Drive for Small Locomotives", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, April 1992
- "Automatic Cylinder Drains", William Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, July-April 1993
- "Building a Small Oscillator for Marine or Other Uses", William Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, January-February 1995
- "Building a Small Oscillator for Marine or Other Uses: Errata", William Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, May-June 1995
- "Notes on Steam Distribution Part 1; From The Locomotive (Apr-Sept 1949)", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, July-August 2001
- "Notes on Steam Distribution Part 2; From The Locomotive (Apr-Sept 1949)", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, September-October 2001
- "Notes on Steam Distribution Part 3; From The Locomotive (Apr-Sept 1949)", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, November-December 2001
- "Notes on Steam Distribution Part 4; From The Locomotive (Apr-Sept 1949)", Bill Van Brocklin, Live Steam Magazine, January-February 2002
- Van Brocklin simplex and duplex pump castings, Friends Models
- Bill Shields redesign on the Van Brocklin duplex pumps
- Construction photos of 3/4" Van Brocklin pumps
- Additional information on Bill Shield's Van Brocklin pump heads
- Machining Van Brocklin pumps
- "Some thoughts on building a pump" (PDF), Tom Artzberger, GGLS
- "VanBrocklin Duplex pump", Chaski.org
- "The New Van Brocklin Steam Pump", Facebook
- "3/4 inch Scale Van Brocklin Duplex Pumps for sale", Chaski.org
- "Roll Call on Bill Van Brocklin locomotives", Chaski.org