Friday, January 7, 2011

Amusement Park 9 inch Gauge 4-4-0 Locomotive

   Here is rare amusement park type live steam 4-4-0 locomotive in 9" gauge. A truly amazing find! After some research I found out only a few supposed facts about the locomotive. I acquired from a gentleman who purchased it more than 30yrs. ago at auction with the intent to restore. I am glad he never did restore it because some toys or collectables should not be touched (altered or restored) for any reason. Of course this is my personal opinion.  One of the dilemna as a collector is the choice to restore or leave as found. What would be the wisest choice? That depends on the collector and the toy. It is good to have a few experts or so called reliable sources that can aid and offer sound advice when in doubt about restoring any toy, especially a rare one.

  This locomotive measure 40in. x 17in. x 12in. Solidly built brass shell 1/4 in. thick that houses  a 1/4 in. thick steel boiler. Comes with its tender that is 26in. long and 1 flat car that is 5ft. long. The shell, cab and domes are all hand made. One can appreciate the effort and craftsmanship involved in the construction of this locomotive. I particularly love the cone shaped rivets used in the smoke box area. This is a first for me, seeing this type of rivet. I am used to the more common dome or truss shape rivets used on many kinds of live steam models. The entire train set weighs aprox. 350lbs.


  What makes this locomotive special? Well, the fact that it predates most live steam building methods of the 20th century and the fact that some of the most experienced live steam modelers have never seen an engine quite like this one. About the history of Amusement park trains I learned that the first built trains were in the 8 to 9 inch gauge. As parks became larger in the early 20th century so did the need for more pulling power. The parks soon switched over to 10 inch gauge and larger through the decades. This increased revenues as the larger and more powerful locomotives were capable of hauling many more passengers at a time.

  I am sure there are some 9 inch gauge trains out there but I have yet to find one. This particular loco was never ran on tracks, no wear marks whatsoever on its solid brass or bronze drivers. The locomotive has scribe marks where parts were supposed to be added and a driver arm is not fully machined. One if its cylinders is severely rusted which indicates that at least it has been tested. Apparently after some testing, it was taken apart for repairs but was simply put away wet. The damage is more noticeable on the outside of the cylinder than on the inside, also indicating it lay in a pool of water. One can only guess what happened to the locomotive and its builder. Previous owner acquired the train in this condition. He then dry stored it for the next 30 plus years.

  From one source I did get a name of the possible builder and that he only made 3 locomotives like this one. I will not include names of source or builder because I cannot confirm this information. I will just post what I was told. Supposedly the gentleman built locomotives for amusement parks in the late 19th century into the early 20th century. He passed away in 1905 so the train is at least that old? One of the three locomotives was spotted in Florida many years ago but no current contact information is available. I am hoping that the images provided in this site can help to locate the other model for comparison. It would be amazing to get any information that sheds more light on this fantastic model.

Fully Sprung Tender

Steel Boiler

Flat Car Bogie

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