The Marblehead Railroad

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The Marblehead Railroad

By Mr. Charles A. Purinton

The Modelmaker, Volume 9, Number 10, October 1932

The Marblehead Railroad, so named by L.B.S.C, consists at present of eighty feet of permanent 2-1/2 inch gauge track and sixty feet of portable track, which can be set up in the driveway. Brass rail is laid on the permanent section. When the track was first put down, aluminum rail was used. Due to being so close to the ocean, it soon became badly pitted and it also developed that the aluminum rail was far too soft for passenger carrying.

The portable track is mdae up of ten six-foot lengths of channel iron, which has had the edges planed down far enough to give the correct track gauge. At each end of the channels is a piece of angle iron through which a long bolt goes to hold the channels together. The supports are pieces of 4" x 6" hard pine, the top ends being cut out for the channels to seat in. One bolt goes through the top of the support, cross-wise to the track, and clamps the channels in place. The bolt, which goes through the angle irons, also goes through the support. The bottom of the post is clamped between two feet and thus is adjustable for height and vertical alignment.

For the construction of the permanent track, angle iron is used for the longitudinal supports. These angles are supported at four foot centers by lengths of 1-1/2" by 2" iron pipe set in the ground. Flanges are screwed on the tops of the pipes to which the angles are bolted. Pieces of wood are fastended to the angle iron members and to these the ties are nailed. The brass rail is spiked to the ties with galvanized iron nails, about 1/16 inch in diameter and 5/8 inch long. These nails have a good sized head and are what are known as "Pot" nails among the lobster fishermen, who use them for making their lobster pots.

CarlPurintons Coventry Pacific 1932.jpg

The motive power and rolling stock consists of one locomotive and one passenger carrying trolley. The locomotive was built from Mr. Coventry's castings and drawings. While the locomotive is finished and in running condition, some of the smaller details have been omitted, such as the train control box, automatic couplers, turbo-generator and the air pump. Not much success has been attained in using coal, but the locomotive steams fairly well on Ford briquetes. No injector has been fitted. To feed the boiler, a tender hand pump and an experimental tender truck pump, which in external appearance resembles a Franklin booster, is relied upon. The mechanical pump is two cylinder, 1/4 inch bore by 1/4 inch stroke, driven by two eccentrics on the rear axle of the rear truck. It will deliver water against 80 lb. boiler pressure without sliding the truck wheels and with no other weight on it except tender and water. The greatest difficulty with this arrangement is the flexible connection between engine and tender. At present, a piece of rubber tubing, as used on vacuum windshield wipers, wound with a layer of black tape, is being used. This combination seems to give the necessary strength and flexibility, and is used on both the mechanical and hand pump delivery lines. One reason why the automatic couplers were omitted was the feeling that a bolted coupler would not come apart and let the locomotive make a dash for the bumper and heavy repairs. The locomotive will handle two average weight adults. The trolley is eight wheeled and is mounted on ball bearings.

In conclusion, the writer wishes to state that this track is open to running by appointment. If anyone would like to make use of it, please address Charles A. Purinton, 251 Pleasant St., Marblehead, Massachusetts.


Charles A. Purinton

The Miniature Locomotive, September-October 1953

In The Miniature Locomotive for July-August 1952 I told a little about the first BLS meeting in 1933 and at which there were fifteen Live Steamers present with nine exhibits, five of them in operation. The second annual meeting was also held in Marblehead on October 14, 1934. It was very evident at this one that the interest was growing as shown by the new faces on hand for the event. At this gathering more than twice the number of locos increased to a total of thirty-two and it was a pleasant task to find a place to put them. My back and forth track was a busy stretch of road as there were ten or eleven engines in steam. Between the 1933 meeting and October 1934 I had installed a third rail thus making the track available to the 3-1/2 inch gauge locomotives. Most of the locos were still 2-1/2 inch gauge, but the trend to 3-1/2 inch gauge around here was beginning to show.

Final Run

The Purinton family moves from Marblehead, Mass to Boxford, Mass in 1954. Ground was broken and the first sections of track laid at the Boxford residence during the summer. The last run at Marblehead is held by the family on December 26.