IBLS Journal 1950

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Sidetrack Doings

by George Murray

The Live Steamer, Jan-Feb 1950

Some interesting projects in the live-steam workshops this winter. Carl Purinton has a new loco project in mind and it will be a small Mogul.

Charlie Chabot of Worcester, Mass. will complete the tender for his new 3/4 inch scale Atlantic which put up a nice performance on its first steam run trail at the Lakeman track in Bellingham this past Fall. His New Haven Pacific has made a non-stop run of some 81 laps of the Lakeman track, which is about 525 feet in length.

Bill Van Brocklin of Boston gave his new English "Tilly" tanker a maiden steam run at the Purinton track recently and it did a good Curly steam-job, as was to be expected of any loco of Bill's. Friend Bill has an idea for a car brake, which, if successful, will do away with the rods and levers of the usual car handbrake.

Hope to see George Taylor of Jersey complete the nifty looking duplex steam pump he had on his switcher at the annual Danvers Steam Meet. It had piston valves, with inside admission to one and outside admission to the other and direct steam ports to each cylinder with a horizontal arrangement of the rocking levers across the top of the pump that made it a very neat looking job as seen on the loco.

According to the grapevine there are two 3-1/2 inch gauge honest to gosh diesel projects being built (hush, hush). One is a Canadian builder, it is rumored, and the other nearer home here in the East. Will this be the start of another Steam versus Diesel trend?

Haven't heard what projects the California steam men are working on, but hope to hear from them in future issues.

Also, the Canadian groups at Toronto and Winnipeg and Montreal are urged to send in interest about what they are doing up there. Hope to also hear from friend Cliff Blackstaffe & Jack Woods up in British Columbia.


N.E.L.S. Cellar Meet

by "Driver"

The Live Steamer, March-April 1950

On Saturday evening, March 4, 1950, the New England Live Steamers held their monthly Cellar Meeting at the home of Al Rothermel of Swampscott, Mass. It was well attended, and many Live Steam wives ventured out with their husbands and held a meeting of their own upstairs, at which I am sure many new pairs of socks began to take shape.

The star attraction was Bill Van Brocklin's English Atlantic tank engine "Tilly", all finished barring the striping on the tanks. This is truly a Father-Son project. Bill Jr. builds them, Bill Sr. lines them out, and Who will eventually drive them is anybody's guess? But joking aside, this is truly a magnificient locomotive, painted light green and delicately striped in black, white and red, maroon valances and orange buffer beams. The workmanship of both the Van Brocklins is superb, each in his own sphere, and you should all look closely at this engine when she is at Danvers next summer. It is on par with M.E. Exhibition standards.

Carl Purinton had the chassis of his two new Moguls on show. These will make up into fine little engines. The originals, two of them, were built by The Baldwin Locomotive Works for the Persian Government Railways in the 1930's. As Al Rothermel is building one, Carl has gone one better than Baldwin.

Al Rothermel's finished Nana chassis was there too. Nana being the twin sister to Carl's famous Granny, and the engine that was built from Carl's finished drawings, proving them en route. As there are one or two Grannys on the go here, the builders get a very clear idea of just how th eparts fit together and what things look like built up.

Joe Friend showed some slides from the "Snap-on" Tool Co., illustrating their products which are now being stocked at The Yankee Shop.

A most excellent supper was provided by Mrs. Rothermel and we hope the well-deserved praise got back to the kitchen.

Those who had come from a distance began to collect hats and coats and this was the signal for a general Exodus. Soon the last departing tail light had winked out in the distance, leaving the Cellar once again to the engines and mice. So ended another memorable New England Cellar Meet.

by George Murray

The Live Steamer, May-June 1950

There seems to be a growing popularity for the 1-1/2 inch scale railroads around the country in recent months and it surprised the writer to hear of so many having that size gauge. The West Coast seems to have a large number of them.

Of new interest around Danvers vicinity is the commercial 1-1/2 inch scale, 7-1/4 inch gauge railroad being set up by Lester D. Friend at Topsfield, Mass. The golden spike ceremony was to take place on or about May 29-30, 1950, and televised over a Boston TV station according to word from Joe Friend.

Trip to West Coast

Jim Keith wrote

It was the Spring of 1950 when Carl Purinton managed a cross country trip from Marblehead, Massachusetts, to the West Coast, including stops at the Golden Gate Live Steamers and the Southern California Live Steamers in Lomita (a city in greater Los Angeles). That is where I met him ... and got these pictures.

GGLS Redwood Track

After two long years of construction, the Gold Spike was driven on September 2, 1950 at the new Golden Gate Live Steamers track at Redwood Regional Park. The track was approximately 1330 feet in length and had four rails for accommodating 2 ½, 3 ½ and 4 ¾ inch gauge locomotives and rolling stock.

In 1950, the club officers for the GGLS were Vic Shattock, President; Tim Reardon, Vice-President and Harry L. Dixon, Secretary. Harry Dixon was the person that secured the production of rail for the new club track. As he was the Secretary, he corresponded with many visitors, guests of the club and especially, other Live Steamers from around the North American continent. One day, Harry started to correspond with "Carl" Purinton in Massachusetts on a fairly regular basis and they became very good friends that lasted for many years. Carl told Harry about the BLS concept and the "mandate" that LBSC had inflicted upon him. He told Harry that the amount of correspondence was really increasing and he asked if Harry would be able to take over his duties for the Western part of the country. Harry readily agreed and right then became the new BLS secretary for the "Pacific Coast Region", a post he held until early 1973.

During Harry's reign, there were live steamers corresponding with him from various Western states and just not those on the Pacific Coast. So, the name of Harry's region of responsibility was changed to the "Western Region"-BLS.

BLS Meet at Danvers

Charles A. Purinton submitted the following to The Live Steamer, May-June 1950:

The 18th Annual Brotherhood of Live Steamers meeting at Davners, Mass. will be held on October 6, 7 and 8, 1950.

George Murray wrote in The Live Steamer, July-August 1950

The Toronto Society of Model Engineers will hold their International Live Steam Meet from August 26 to 27th (Saturday and Sunday) and invite all brother loco men to attend and bring their 2-1/2 inch and 3-1/2 inch gauge locos for this event.
Fred Jerome of Toronto is to install an electric block signal system on Bill Leggett's Toad Swamp & Punk Hollow RR.

George Murray, editor of The Live Steamer, published the following meet report in the January-February 1951 issue:

The 18th Annual Meeting of the Brotherhood of Live Steamers was held at the New England Live Steamers track at Danvers, Mass. on October 6, 7 and 8, 1950. This NELS track is located twenty-two miles north of Boston on the Friend Box Company property at Darners and is easily reached from Route 128 which is only one block from the track. The first day of the meet, twenty three regular members, and 40 visitors attended. Second day there were 48 regulars and 69 visitors and the third day 72 regulars and 72 visitors. Of the visitors, all were not live-steamers, but mixed guests and friends.

Locos that ran the three days were:

  • B. Barnfather, Springfield, Mass., 4-6-6T B&A, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • F. Batchelder, Haverhill, Mass., 4-4-2 B&M, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • W. Branham, Danvers, Mass., 4-4-T freelance, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • F. DiSantis, Wappingers Falls, N.Y., 2-8-0 B&O and 4-6-2 Pennsy K4, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • L. Friend, Danvers, Mass., 4-6-6T "Livvy", 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • J. Gardner, Marblehead, Mass., 0-4-0T "Juliet", 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • H. Hild, Haasbrook Heights, N.J., 4-6-2 B&O P7, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • A. Howarth, Providence, R.I., 4-8-4, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • R. Huard, Montreal, Canada, 4-6-4, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • C. Kingman, 2-4-4T Forney and 4-4-2, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • G. Murray, Manchester, Conn., 4-4-0, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • C. Purinton, Marblehead, Mass., 0-4-0T "Granny" and 2-6-0 "Red Hen", 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • H. Quick, Mahanoy City, Pa., 4-8-2, 4-3/4 inch gauge
  • P. Reithmaier, Chicago, Ill., 2-8-2, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • Rice, Lexington, Mass, 4-4-2 B&M, 3-1/2 inch guage
  • H. Robinson, Celeron, N.Y., 4-6-6T B&A, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • N. Robinson, Celeron, N.Y., 4-4-2 Maisie, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • D. Russell, 4-6-2, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • H. Sait, Old Orchard, Maine, 4-4-2, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • R. Stenholm, Chicago, Ill., 4-6-2, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • H. Turnbull, Montreal, Canada, 4-6-2 "Princess", 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • W. Van Brocklin, Roslindale, Mass., 4-4-2T Tilbury Tank, 3-1/2 inch gauge
  • S. Vaugn, Bridgewater, Mass., 4-8-4, 3-1/2 inch gauge

Other engines not completed or running were on display in the Yankee Shop exhibits, including Les Friend's articulated 4-6-6-4 July and 1 inch scale Atlantic. Al Rothermel's fine little mogul chassis and a Granny tanker well along were interesting to see. Al Milburn's cut from the solid Atlantic a beautiful job to see and Carl Chase and an excellent looking Langworthy Hudson that showed very nice workmanship, as also did Al Roedding's 4-8-4 chassis. Rickson had a B&A 4-6-6 tanker well along that also looked very good and Roy Stewart's Pacific was a swell job also. Ray Peck, another of our Connecticut boys, was very willing to demonstrate his little O gauge 4-8-4 on air running tests and it had pleny of go for such a size. Bob Hannum's 2-1/3 inch gauge Forney tanker sitting on the tender of Lee's big articulated job made quite a contrast for size and your Editor took a second look and wondered if that little mite had actually given him a ride just a few weeks previously on what was estimated to be at least 2-1/2% grade (she did it alright boys, even though here drivers are only 2 inches).

One of the most interesting exhibits in Yankee Shop was Bob Stenholm's 1 inch scale Case Traction engine. The detail and workmanship on this little engine was just about as perfect as could be built into a model of this kind and although it looked almost too pretty to run, Bob assured one and all that she steams and goes in excellent style. In the 1 inch scale size locos besides Les's Atlantic and Harry Quick's big 4-8-2, there was one other Hudson chassis on show in the roundhouse (partly seen in cover photo of this issue) by William Mark of Schenectady and looked to be a good job and these men are to be complimented on turning out such size engines so well built.

The new 1800 foot mainline now in operation at Danvers in addition to the inside 680 foot loop, makes an interesting long ride with its curves and grades and loop around through the grove and back over the bridge and upgrade to end of the turn. The 1 inch scale track is also being laid around the big loop, but a long wheelbase engine in 1 inch scale may not make the curves as Harry Quick discovered when he tried to make it with his 1 inch scale 4-8-2, but I presume that a smaller wheelbase Atlantic probably would do alright.

Most of the engines that ran did so successfully, but in a few cases slight troubles were met with. George Murray discovered a leak in the smokebox of the 4-4-0 from a cracked fitting, but after Frank DiSantis got busy on it in Yankee Shop with the torch and some silver solder, we got up steam and did some running. Herb Robinson made one lap of the big loop with his new B&A tanker, but quit when he had pump trouble. Norm Robinson tried his new Maisie Atlantic for the first time at the meet and made a fair showing but was not satisfied with her performance. Norm has since written in to say that he now has her doing her stuff in fine shape, so next meet we should see some real good running from her. Norm's old reliable Fayette (3-1/2 inch gauge, not the usual 2-1/2 inch Fayette size) was missed at this year's meet and Norm is to give her a good shopping this winter and she deserves it after years of hard use without much attention. Frank Batchelder's Atlantic primed the first day of the meet, but after a boiler wash that was cleared up.

A ride around the big loop with Paul Reighmaier's big Berkshire was much enjoyed and this engine sure packed a real steam punch. Frank DiSantis B&O 2-80 was another perfect performer that made steam like nobody's business. Carl Purinton and Granny did plenty of running and gave George Murray a surprise at what she can do. Other interesting engines were Harry Sait's high drivered Atlantic which I believe has a 6 inch size driving wheel. One of Harry's latest type steam pumps under the cab deck certainly was doing the job in fine style. Harry says his next project will be a 4-4-0 and you can bet it will be "really something" when completed judging from all of Harry's past loco successes.

John "Scotty" Garnder ran his Juliet backwards on the last day of the mett to the amusement of everyone. One of John's eccentrics slipped so Judy wouldn't perform in forward motion, but she did very well in back motion. George Murray nearly had a real pileup while tearing along with the 4-4-0 opened up good and not watching the track ahead. On glancing up from the cab dials and seeing a stopped engine only a few lengths away there was a quick application of brakes and no time to shut off steam until stopped inches away from the other engine. Whew, that was a close.

Friday evening of the first day of the meet a group gathered at Carl Purinton's residence at Marblehead and a pleasant time was had looking over various engines and projects there, with discussions of this and that live steam interest. After some light refreshments late in the evening everyone went their respective ways happy. On Saturday evening after the day's running movies were shown in Les Friend's Box Company by Larry Duggan our genial live steamer from California. The movies showing the Golden Gate Live Steamers track opening were interesting to see as well as other reels of past Danvers Meets and of tracks in other parts of the country and Canada taken by Carl Purinton on trips to these places. All in all, everyone had the usual swell time running engines and three days and talking themselves out. Twenty three states and four provinces represented.

IBLS Meet Danvers 1950.jpg
Photo taken by A.W. Leggett at the 1950 Annual BLS Meet at Danvers, Mass., showing ROger Huard of Montreal and a friend operating Roger's fine 3-1/2 inch gauge Hudson at the meet. Both Roger and the engine are a familiar sight at the Danvers meets each year along with others of our Montreal friends: the Leggetts and Turnbulls and their engines. From "The Live Steamer", Mar-Apr 1951.

From Jim Leggett, 23 December 2010:

Tonight I was going through some of the 8 X 10s looking for a particular loco that Keith Wood and I have been restoring (that's another story) and I came across this photo of my Dad at the 1950 BLS Meet. There's Al Milburn's beautiful Atlantic and a nice Hudson under construction by C.W. Chase of Rochester, NY, with what looks like a working feedwater heater. But look up on the wall!! A water-colour painting of the Danvers track!

Wheel Standards

by Charles A. Purinton

The Live Steamer, November-December 1950

During the past fifteen years or so, the builders of 1/2 inch, 3/4 inch and 1 inch scale locomotives have pretty well standardized on the width and depth of wheel flanges, the width of the wheel treads and the back to back spacing of the flanges. Some of the builders cone or taper the wheel treads about 2 degrees, but a parallel or straight wheel tread runs just as well and is easier to make.

"Scale" is a badly used term in connection with the construction of small working steam locomotives and is used here only as a means of distinguishing between the different sizes of engines.

For those who are just starting with our live-steam hobby, a little table giving the most generally used sizes should be in order. One of the most important reasons for sticking to these standard sizes, is to make sure your locomotive will fit the other man's track when you go visiting. The sizes that are given for the 1 inch scale locomotives are those used by the Southern California Live Steamers who probably have more 1 inch scale engines than any other group.

At the present time there is a noticeable tendency among many of the live-steamers to go to 1-1/2 inch scale. In this size there is a deplorable lack of standardizing on a common track gauge. Some builders use 7-1/4 inch gauge and others use 7-1/2 inch gauge. It would seem as if the pages of The Live Steamer would provide the logical place for this to be worked out. One does not carry a 1-1/2 inch engine around much, but that is no reason why the track gauge, wheel spacing, etc. should not be the same. Granted that a Boston & Maine engine does not run on Southern Pacific track, but if it did, it would fit.

3-1/2 inch gauge track is quite often laid to 3-17/32 inch gauge. On track for the 1 inch scale equipment the S.C.L.S. recommend 4-3/4 inch gauge on straight track and 4-13/16 inch gauge on curves. A 30 foot radius on curves is their recommend minimum.

SCLS WheelStandards 1950.jpg