A New Challenge in Locomotive
The Electronic Steam
Locomotive Part 2
Builder Jeff Badger runs a double header with his much modified
Meg Steam “Wendy” along with the new Climax Locomotive at the Bitter Creek &
Western Railway. Arroyo Grande, CA
Written by Jeff
continued from Part
With the boiler mounted,
the remaining wiring was finished and provisions made to install a Sierra
Soundtraxx Climax sound system. I found a compact 120 watt amplifier on
the E/Bay auction website for $5.00 brand new. I also found speakers: a 6”
mid-range that is fitted in the balloon stack and an 8” sub-woofer mounted in
the steam dome. In setting up the sound module, I synchronized the chuff
rate to the speed of the wheels. I also deleted the bell as most Class A
Climax locomotives came without them. The whistle is a single chime and I
mounted a small flat-top imitation on the top of the cab roof.
Finished frame with trucks mounted ready for wiring
With the boiler mounted, the remaining wiring was finished
and provisions made to install a Sierra Soundtraxx Climax sound system. I
found a compact 120 watt amplifier on the E/Bay auction website for $5.00 brand
new. I also found speakers: a 6” mid-range that is fitted in the balloon
stack and an 8” sub-woofer mounted in the steam dome. In setting up the
sound module, I synchronized the chuff rate to the speed of the wheels. I
also deleted the bell as most Class A Climax locomotives came without them.
The whistle is a single chime and I mounted a small flat-top imitation on the
top of the cab roof.
Looking into the tender showing the 4QD controller, batteries,
and the homebuilt handheld throttle
|All electrical systems checked out and
the cab was installed. I decided that it was time to test the locomotive out at
the Portola Valley and Alpine Railway in Portola Valley, CA where I am a member.
October 3, 2002 was a bright sunny fall day, and since it was a workday at the
club, not much was going on. After unloading, I ran up to the main line from the
yard, and posed the locomotive for its first official photographs. After that
the locomotive ran for over 2 hours with several of the club members present
taking a turn at the throttle. The ride is as smooth as a Cadillac. The fuel
gauge at the end of running hadn’t even moved. The dynamic braking on the 3%
downgrade was very evident even with only one car. I could hardly wait for the
regular run day to get some real weight behind the locomotive and see how it
Robert Staggs assists as the boiler is mounted and electrical
wiring is run through
|I was very satisfied with the
performance and looks of the locomotive. I spent the next couple weeks before
the regular run day at the PV&A finishing off the lettering, number plate, foot
boards and grab irons. I made sure the cord for the controller was long enough
so I could sit in a riding car or even operate it from my live steamer. As you
can see, everything I build is narrow gauge 3” to the foot.
It was time to
reflect on the project to see if the goals I had set for myself had been adhered
First run of the Class A Climax #4 at the Portola Valley & Alpine Railway
The first two and a half months went
well. I probably spent more time setting back in my chair looking at the
locomotive and contemplating the cosmos. Due to my job as a camp manager, I had
to put the project on hold until the summer camp season was over. I got busy in
September again and the locomotive was complete by October 28, 2002. I figure I
have around 165 hours into the project.
With the variety of suppliers used,
the most machining work I had to do was with a file. No lathe or mill was used.
Lots of drilling and welding though.
As far as how much money spent, when
you look at the time I could have expended in machine work on raw castings, I
saved money. If I charged out the time at a local machine shop rate to build the
locomotive, it would have been cost prohibitive. I own a lathe and mill, and
they both sat still through the whole project. The 4QD controller from England
saved money over most of the competitors here in the states, and I am very
pleased with its performance so.
|The challenge is over and I am now
ready for the next one. Since the completion of this locomotive, I have had many
people take turns at running it. One such person fell in love and had to have
it, so it went home with him. I keep challenging myself with each project since
this one and have managed to build a jalopy rail truck, a center cab diesel,
several flats, one gondola, a tank car, and a neat logging caboose. One of my
friends lamented that he did not get the chance to buy the Climax, but
challenged me to build a Heisler using the same formula. I did and here are the
results of that. Began in January and finished in August of this year.
Battery Electric Powered Heisler with Sound System built by Jeff Badger
|I guess I am very lucky to
have a wife who allows me to do this, and a job that gives me the shop area to
work in. Hopefully some of you are inspired and are up to the challenge of
building a car or locomotive for your railroad over the next few months.
Currently in my shop I have under construction another Jalopy Rail Truck, a live
steam powered donkey engine, and a 15” gauge critter locomotive.
Written by Jeff
web publisher to ask about use of this article.
Have an idea for an article? We need your article on
such as problems and solutions associated with , steam locos, hydraulic drives,
electric drives. track laying and maintenance, signal systems.
Projects, mostly looking for car projects (let's leave the steamer building
to the print magazines). How about scenery construction or building a hand car?
railroads and museums. If you work for or volunteer for a railroad,
if you've visited one recently and have a few photos and can write up a half
dozen paragraphs on it, we'll be happy to put it up on the web.
Railroads. How about a little background and a tour of your railroad or one
Please share what you know with us.