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© January 6, 2004 

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"Back to Steam"
Part 1


The transformation and rebirth of two narrow gauge locomotives.

Written by Mike Decker

Our story begins with Chicago publishing giant, Elliot Donnelley, and his plan to donate a complete railway to (suburban) Chicago's Brookfield Zoo. Donnelley, a huge railway fan and avid live steamer, funded several railroad projects in the Chicago area.

Donnelly had envisioned a European-style railway at the 200 acre Zoo. He started by having two 60 cm gauge German locomotives imported to the US and contracting Norman Sandley and the Sandley Light Railway Equipment Works, Inc. of Wisconsin to bring the pair up to current US standards. New "welded" boilers, air brakes and other improvements were required.

One of the old locos was a World War I "Brigadelok" 0-8-0T (60 cm gauge). It was built by Arn. Jung, at Jungenthal an den Sieg, in 1918 as #2845. Donnelley was hoping to keep the original look of the loco while making it "US-legal". Norman Sandley, however, had other ideas for the locomotive and talked Donnelley into a major conversion to an American-style 2-8-0 "Consolidation".

One of the imported German locomotives; a 1918 "Brigadelok" 0-8-0T. that would soon become a Consolidation. Photo curtsey of the R&GN Railroad.

The Consolidation with a new "welded" boiler to replace the riveted one. Photo curtsey of the R&GN Railroad (click to enlarge).

The American Consolidation was agreed upon and conversion work began on the old 0-8-0T.  Unfortunately, the conversion was never completely successful. As it turned out, the new firebox is so big that it made the loco back-heavy preventing the lead truck from staying on the track.

Additional weight in the form of  3" axle material was added to the hollow front frame to help the "balance". The extra weight, as it turned out, really wasn't enough to ensure proper operation. In retrospect, some felt it may have been better to use a 2-8-2 Mikado design. The rear Mikado truck would have improved the weight distribution.

The 2-8-0 was named "Hiawatha" and painted "Milwaukee Road #1" (curtsey of the Tim Boshart's Home Page, from Tim Bainter's collection) Click to enlarge.
The second German locomotive, a World War II  0-4-0T was not used and ended up at the 60 cm railway at Heritage Square in Golden, Colorado.  Its current whereabouts are unknown.

Sandley wanted to design his own loco instead of using the 0-4-0T.  The 2-4-2 Columbia #242 was the result.  Norman Sandley was a "standard gauge" man first and foremost and liked the "high stepping" passenger design.

The loco was designed to be built with the materials already available at the Sandley shops.  The result, a frame made out of cast "pedestals" with flat stock holding it together and single cylinders individually bolted on.

Loaded on a flatbed and ready for the trip south to the Brookfield Zoo "Hiawatha" was named for Milwaukee Road's famous passenger trains of the 40s and 50s. Author Mike Decker is 5th from the left. (click to enlarge) Photo by Ollie Reese.
The "diesel", CB&Q #999 (bottom right) is a reinforced Alan Herschell "C. P. Huntington" chassis with our body and trucks. After Norman put the body on it, he discovered that the original axles wouldn't hold it up, so we built our own trucks for it. It is a gas engine, torque converter drive, to gear boxes on the axles.

The whole thing is held together with bolts and keys. It was a necessary compromise do to machine shop limitations. Sandley's machinery wasn't really big enough to build 2-foot gauge locomotives using larger frame sections.

The "roll-out" of the 2-4-2 Columbia, C&O #242 build from scratch at the Sandley Shops. Photo curtsey of the R&GN Railroad (click to enlarge).
All three locos are equipped with Westinghouse #6-ET air equipment and Sandley 4" Duplex air pumps on the steamers.

 The reason that the locos and cars are painted the way they are is that Elliot got the Chicago area railroads to donate the paint for advertising.

The 242's valve gear is called a "Sandley Rotary". It was design by Norman's dad and founder of the Sandley Shops; Elmer Sandley. The gear is chain driven off the main axle, and works by displacing the pin driving the valve rod to one side or the other of it's center of rotation.

A view of the Sandly Shops in Wisconsin. The #999 CB&Q switcher is visible on the left. (curtsey of the Tim Boshart's Home Page, from Tim Bainter's collection) Click to enlarge.
The next article in in this series.  "Back to Steam" Part 2 highlights the "Zoo" years from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s.  "Back to Steam" Part 3 will talk about bringing these locomotives back to life or into "steam service".


Written by Mike Decker

Thanks to the R&GN Railroad Railroad, Wisconsin Dells
Hesston Steam Show (Museum), Hesston Indiana
The Tim Boshart's Home Page and Tim Bainter's collection
The Jim Sanders Collection
Photographer Ollie Reese

If you are interested in visiting the old Sandley Light Railway factory, you can tour it when you visit the Riverside and Great Northern Railroad near the Wisconsin Dells.


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