on video Firing up the Allen Models Fitchburg Northern Live Steam Locomotive


Around four years ago I started studying up on this long-planned-for project by purchasing copies of Joseph Foster Nelson's So You Want to Build a Live Steam Locomotive, Kozo Hiraoka's The Pennsylvania A3 Switcher, and Frank Marlow's Machine Shop Essentials and Machine Shop Know-How.  Hours pleasantly spent surfing the web brought "Discover Live", Live Steam and Outdoor Railroading magazine, the Fitchburg Northern discussion group, and lastly, Allen Models of Michigan LLC.  I have the greatest respect for Kozo Hiraoka and his absolutely priceless "how to" books on building live steam locomotives.  The A3 switcher really caught my eye, but I really wanted a loco with six driving wheels, not just four.  As I was born and raised in southeastern Louisiana, just north of the sugar cane plantations, the narrow gauge plantation locomotives, still in operation in my younger years, have always been of great interest.  The nearest live steam railway to Jacksonville, Florida, where we now live, is the East Tocoi and Bostwick Railroad, an hour's drive south of here.  Their mile or so of 7.5 inch gauge track through the pine woods along the St. John's River determined that I would build in 7.5 inch gauge, and the Fitchburg Northern 2-6-0 fired on propane would satisfy all requirements.

Thanksgiving weekend 2013 I started work on the running gear for the tender of the Fitchburg Northern.  My order for arch bars, journal boxes, bolster ends, bolsters and a set of plans had arrived from Allen Models a few days previous.  My first task was to file the journal box lids and mating surfaces flat and to trim the lids and matching "nibs" to fit.  I used super glue to hold the lids in place while I drilled the 1/16 inch holes for the hinge pins (1/16 inch diameter cotter pins).  A heat gun applied to the journal boxes released the super glue after drilling.  In retrospect, I perhaps should have first machined the journal boxes before drilling the lids, so I would not have to keep track of what lid fit what journal box.

I have access to a Maximat 7 lathe/mill which I used to machine the journal boxes per the drawings supplied by Allen Models.  Here is the procedure that I followed:

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