- Stan Galloway used to work for CN.
The North American Live Steamer, Volume 1 Number 9
After reading the article by W.W. Warden in the No. 6 issue of The North American Live Steamer and seeing the picture of W. G. Glassco's engine, it appears that there is some interest in diesel engines, too. Now, before you dyed-in-the-wool live steamers turn away in disgust, just finish this paragraph and see if the rest doesn't interest you just a little bit after all. Mr. Warden asked if there wasn't an electrical engineer amongst us who has tackled the electric drive problem and here he is ... me. I started this hobby in earnest as a live steamer, built a model of the CPR 484s in 3/4 inch scale, which I ran on the track of the Montreal Live Steamers. I then built a diesel electric and, believe me, it gave me far more trouble than the steam engine ever did. It does have an electric transmission with a gasoline engine as the prime mover, which is about as close to a true model as you can come in 3/4 inch scale. So perhaps the steam boys might allow me space to describe it.
The enclosed picture shows the engine which is unfinished as yet. From front to back the parts are a radiator, gas engine, ignition coil over the coupling, car generator with gas tank over, cab bulkhead with voltmeter ammeter control switches and throttle, then reversing switch over a crown gear with chain drive to both axles of the rear truck and finally another car generator reconnected as a series motor. The ignition batteries are carried in a gondola car upon which I ride. When covered in, the engine will be a road-switcher of freelance design, but based on the general proportions of an Alco engine.
The idea that such an engine might be possible first came to me when I found that Jim Turnbull of the Montreal Club had a Wall 4 cylinder 4 cycle 1 inch bore and stroke gas engine in running order, which solved the prime mover problem. Now it seemed all I had to do was hook it up to an old car generator and I was in the electric drive business. For propulsion I figured on four motors driving four axles a la prototype.
Well, I obtained the engine from Jim, hooked it up to an old generator, installed one motor in a truck for experimental purposes and then my troubles really started. It wasn't just that easy. The largest motor I could get in the truck, geared 3:1 to the axle wouldn't keep it moving after being given a shove by hand...and this with the generator putting twice rated current through the motor! It seems you just can't scale down electric motors the way you can a steam engine.
I'll spare you the tribulations of about three years' frustrations with "potters wheels", crown gear and V belts, clutches, etc. until the present drive was evolved. It isn't the perfect answer yet, but it has managed to pull me around my 315 foot loop of track in the back yard. At present I'm using a large field rheostat with the generator to allow for a miss-match in speeds between the gas engine and generator where I should have a 2:1 or 3:1 gear reduction. There are some other improvements to be made yet, but I wanted to let the live steam boys know that the building of a real scale diesel electric was no cinch, and thought that the information coming from one who has done both might be a bit more convincing. If anyone else wants to take a try at this kind of engine I'd advise a larger scale if they can find a suitable prime mover. If anyone else has an electrically driven engine, straight electric or "diesel", I'd be very happy to hear about it.
If there are any railroaders in the vicinity of Ottawa they would be more than welcome to come and operate on my track. At present it is 3-1/2 inch gauge, minimum radius 27 feet with a third rail for 4-3/4 inch gauge partly down. My next engine will be a CPR 4-6-4 in 1 inch scale. So far just the chassis is finished.
- S. H. Galloway
- 327 Marshall Court
- Ottawa, Ontario