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GRAVATTE CENTRAL: The Loco Fleet

By alicebg, Nov 28 2017 08:52PM

Part 1: Reliance Rock #1; Eastern & Portland #'s 6 & 8


Gravatte Central is ostensibly an all-steam layout, but in addition to the 40-odd steam locomotives in the motive power pool, there are also two diesel railcars, one electric loco and four trolleys. This series aims to present the collection in a haphazardly numerical order beginning, obviously, with #1.

Reliance Rock #1: This 0-6-0 saddle tank is representative of the basic switcher type employed by major railroads and industrial concerns alike. It is a Rivarossi model, one of the oldest memebers of the fleet. I originally purchased it from the model railway shop at Bourton-on-the-Water, a major Cotswold tourist trap. It cost me £10, which struck me then and still strikes me now as an absolute bargain. When, over a decade ago, I returned to railroad modelling after a prolonged absence, #1 was the only member of my carefully-stored collection that wouldn't operate. After coaxing a pale glow from the headlight, I deduced the model was still 'live', but the motor had seized. After dismantling and careful mainpulation of the moving parts, #1 was returned to service - my first proper restoration job!


E & P #6 & #8: These two IHC (Mehano) models were purchased together, and were formerly owned by Ely Model Railway Club. I got them at the ridiculous price of £20 each (I would have happily paid £40 for eitehr one of them), and both filled important gaps in my collection, representing two key wheel arrangements from the formative years of American railroading. Incidentally, 'E&P' - at least in my mind - stands for 'Eastern & Portland', the fictitious railroad depicted in the 1959 Doris Day movie It Happened to Jane.


#6 is a 4-4-0, the wheel arramgement that became so ubiquitous in North America in the 19th century that it was named 'American'. The very first locomotives to run in the US were British imports of the then universal 0-4-0 arrangement (ie, four coupled driving wheels). These were found to be unsuitable for the light and often poorly-laid rails in America, and after some experimentation the installation of a four-wheel lead truck was found to alleviate the problems. The 4-4-0 was as critical to the opening of the West as the Conestoga wagon - its dominance of railroads through the 1800s was total. What is less appreciated is that, on branches and secondary lines, the 4-4-0 soldiered on until the end of steam. #6 represents a 'modern' 4-4-0 but still demonstrates the ancient lineage of the type.


A step up from those initial 0-4-0s, as noted above, was the more powerful 0-6-0, and the addition of a single-axle lead truck to these created the 2-6-0 or 'Mogul', a type that dominated freight operations until the advent of the 2-8-0 'Consolidation' changed railroading forever. E&P #8 is typical of the sort of locomotives still operating at the dawn of the 20th century. Both E&Ps are, typically of Mehano, superb runners.


Stop press: I have recently learned, via the excellent book The Georgian Locomotive by H Stafford Bryant Jr, that the 'Katy' (Missouri-Kansas-Texas) railroad operated both Americans and Moguls deep into the 1940s - it may just be that a couple of repaints are in order...


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