Bill Van Brocklin

Revision as of 22:42, 3 September 2019 by Dnevil (Talk | contribs) (Loco 12)

Jump to: navigation, search

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

Photo Journal


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.

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


August 22, 1982


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

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.

Loco 9

Loco 10

Loco 11

Loco 12

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.

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

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 33

Loco 34

Loco 35

Loco 36

Loco 37

Loco 38 to 41

Loco 40

Loco 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.

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.


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

See Also


External Links