How to Build a Faux Steam Locomotive Part 2


As a designer I’ve found one of the best ways to fully understand something is to build it.  While this is a faux steam engine, I still came away with a pretty good understanding of how a real one works.  Many hours  were spent getting the boiler and cab to this point.  The steps below show the process that followed the last installment of  “How to Build a Faux Steam Locomotive Part 1.5”

TLPrimeWith the weather improving, the boiler assembly was moved outside, primed and painted with several coats of a durable spray paint.

BoilerFinishOneThe assembly was brought back inside and the brass trim was bent and applied with brass screws.  Source:

FireBoxOneA faux fire box (the end of the boiler that heats the water) was created using MDF and bending wood panels around the form then bolting them into place.  A layer of Bondo was added for texture and then faux painted.

RunningBoardTrimDetails like copper pipes and valves were added.   A pressure gauge was made from a brass cup holder.   Graphics and a working dial completes the effect.

rrThe cab was next.  I selected clear pine for the structure and beadboard for the side and front panels.  Pine, Poplar and Oak are common woods used in vintage locomotive cab construction.

PocketJigPocket screw technology was used to join the rails and stiles together and then a second layer was added giving me a rabbet to hold the windows and beadboard panels in place.  This is the same method we would use in millwork construction.

CabSixA Sketch-Up model provided all the dimensions of the cab frame and details of the joints and connection points giving me a great deal of accuracy.

CabPaintAfter priming, the finish color was applied with a brush.  A traditional dark red for the exterior and a bright green for the interior.  Both satin exterior latex paint.

GraphicApplicationandFlagsBefore the cab was installed, graphics, pinstripe tape and flag holders were added to the boiler, sand and steam domes.

CabInteriorOneCabRoofBeamThe cab was assembled using screws.   The interior was finished and windows added and painted in a bright red for contrast.

Model2The chassis and tender for the locomotive will be constructed of welded steel and cast iron.  That work will be done by a yet undetermined machine shop like:  Hillcrest Shops.

LocomotiveCartViewUsing Photoshop I could test the cab signage and placement before making the real thing, giving me a lot of flexibility.  With the addition of the roof, trim and cab graphics, she’s ready for her chassis and the rails!  ALL ABOARD!  Walt Disney’s backyard railroad has been a big inspiration over the years.  Check out the Carolwood Pacific Railroad.

About PhillipFreer
Draws, paints and builds stuff. Designs Theme Parks, places and family destinations.

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