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My Pickled Cabbage Railway "PCR"
in 2.5"/3" scale on 7.25" gauge track




I caught the bug for backyard railroading in 1982 at the Intermodellbau'82 show in Dortmund. Close to my booth, a backyard railroader was carrying some kids on his 5" gauge live steam train. One day, he invited me to run his engine and after the first try I could not stop until my wife came to tell me she needed help in the booth.
For space and financial reasons, I had to postpone building a locomotive for many years.

Then, in 1996, a friend in Kiel, who is a carpenter, started building his engine in 3" scale on 5" wooden track in his backyard in Kiel. In 1997, I visited his layout and he invited me to run his engine. That was when the bug bit me again.
In January 1998, I participated at the 2nd Indoor Live Steam Festival in Sinsheim and on Sunday morning, I operated my friend's train for more than two hours.
After that show, I decided to switch over to 7.25" gauge track for increased stability.
In October, I started to build my engine. I had been searching for an interesting prototype that would be large enough to hide the batteries I intended to use.
Normally, I'm a meter and threefoot gauger so I looked for prototypes there. I choesed a German engine that I had built in On39 3/8 but the hood was too small. The next prototype was the D&RGW #50 but siderods proved to be too difficult and I could not find wheels of the correct size. As I searched through my old Gazettes, I found the Joe Crea's article where he described his modification of the RSSB diesel engine to 1:22.5n30 and that was it.
I decided on 3"n30, enlarged the plan and started construction but I installed a wooden Porter cab instead of a steel cab.

My engine ready for the show on the workbench

My engine ready for the show on the workbench

 A view into the cab

A view into the cab

The maiden run was on Thursday, January 07, 1999. As expected, it ran very well but I discovered a problem with the drivetrain which caused the axles to jump when speeding up or slowing down. .

The complete drive-system, before modifications.

The complete drive-system, before modifications.

After returning home, I inspected the chassis to see why it was jumping. I had used light angle iron to stabilize the wheel bearings which were installed with rubber mountings as springs. The angle iron had bent so I replaced it with heavier metal and shortened the chain. That allowed me to remove the wood supports shown in the photo. I also found that there was 40 kg of weight on the front axle but only 25 kg on the rear.

My engine in the yard area at Sinsheim with the rented riding cars.

My engine in the yard area at Sinsheim with the rented riding cars.

Me, running my train at the Sinsheim-show.

Yes, that's me, running my train during the Sinsheim-show.

During the past few weeks, I repaired the drivetrain, installed about 15 kg of lead under the cab and prepared new steel buffer blocks. I also filled the wood corners with putty and sanded it smooth and found some sheet metal with louvers for the hatches in the hood.

After installing the buffer blocks and an imitation anti-slip plating on the deck, I painted the chassis, as it was a bit warmer for a short period here in Germany.

The chassis painted with the white-primer.

The chassis during the paint-job with white primer on it.

After the paint was dry, I reinstalled all the parts again on my work-bench. The following photo shows, how the engine looked at that time:

The engine on the workbench with painted chassis.

The engine with the painted chassis, back on my workbench.

On the above photo, you can see a small similar engine resting on the running board. This is the little sister of my 1:4 critter, built in scale 1:32 for 16.5 mm gauge (3/8n18). This engine has more air-miles than track-miles survived during it's short life (construction july/august 1998), because it was in the contest at the 18. National Narrow Gauge Convention in Colordo Springs September 1998. It's built after the same scetch of Joe Crea's Pitkin #5 as her bigger sister. The only difference are the side rods on the 3/8 scale engine, which is the 1:4 critter missing.

In the meantime, I glued the louvers onto the side-hatches and built up and installed window-frames with Plexi-glas. Also I changed the large hinges to a more prototypically style. During some sunny days in march 1999 I primed and painted the hood. After that, I put all the parts back together and made the first official rollout under paint on a peace of wood-track.

 The painted engine.

The painted engine.

After painting the engine, I visited a 7.25" light railway layout at the light railway museum Oekoven. And again, the chain jumped of the sprocket, just after only one mile. The reason was, that the motor was installed with rubber inlay. That wasn't strong enough, and the motor moved for and back, and so the chain was able to jump off. After that, I installed the motor with steal-angles, and now the debugging is over. In may, I visited my friend Holger Jeworowski in Kiel. On his backyard-layout, I drove my engine around 15 miles without any problem.

My engine with boogies of  Holger Jeworowksi in Kiel.

My engine together with boogies of Holger Jeworowski during my visit in Kiel.

It seems, that the engine is finished, but there are still some parts missing. In future, I have to install correct headlights, a bell, a exhaust-stack, handrails at the cab, curtains for the cab and the rofing-material. More pictures about the 1999 Indoor Live Steam Festival in Sinsheim can be found here.


I have to thank my friend Bobber Gibbs for the correction of my original text. It's good to have such friends.

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Copyright © 1998 Hubert Wetekamp, hubert@wetekamp.de[ last update: 11.24.2002 Hubert Wetekamp ]