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The author's Shay, hard at work on his railroad.

A scratchbuilt Shay

by Jiri Sajbrt
Czech Republic
Photos by the author

May, 2013

This locomotive isn't an exact model of a prototype. I didn't have any plans of Shay #129, just a single picture, so the model looks similar to Shay 129. Below are some photos of its construction.

The running time on one fill is only about 10 minutes. This is because boiler of those engines have to be small. Refilling water and gas is possible with the engine sitting on the track. It's a fast process, only about 15-20 seconds.

The engine is radio control, using a 2.4GHz radio that controls the rotary reversing valve (which controls direction and speed) and the whistle. The headlight is manually controlled via a switch under the wood pile.

Many gas-fired engines have a problem with gas that remains liquid (after a short time, the temperature of the liquid gas in the tank goes down to the point that the gas won't vaporize). In my Shay, the liquid gas is taken from the bottom of the gas tank to a vaporizing pipe inside boiler. The vaporizing pipe is hot. The vaporized gas then continues through a regulator valve to the ceramic burner.

Below is a video of the engine at work. If, for some reason, you can't see it, click here.

Builder Jiri Sajbrt
Date completed December 2010
Gauge 45 mm (can be adjusted to 32 mm)
Scale 1:32
Boiler type T-type with water tubes and superheater; ceramic burner
Fittings Steam regulator, whistle, water glass, safety valve, pressure gauge, water-feed valve
Blowoff pressure 4 bar (60 psi)
Fuel Butane
Cylinders Two, double-acting oscillators
Reversing gear Rotary valve
Lubrication Displacement
Dimensions Length, 360mm; width, 90mm; height, 170mm
Weight 3.1 kg without water & gas
The finished model. The gas tank, radio control, and servos are hidden in the water tank (rear superstructure). The switch for the headlight is hidden in the toolbox.
The off side. The throttle, water gauge, and pressure gauge are visible on the back of the boiler. Under the frame is the second gas valve.
The top of the boiler. The engine sports a new headlamp, dynamo, and bell. The safety valve is now under the steam dome.
The parts of T-boiler before silver soldering. I soldered the boiler in five phases. Heat the work, solder the joint, cool the parts, clean the pieces, then add the next part -- five times. It took all day.
The inside of the boiler, showing the superheater.
The basic painted parts before assembly less some details, radio control, and the engine driver (1:32, of course). Altogether, I made 691 parts, used 124 screws and nuts, and 131 rivets (exclude the embossed ones).
Semifinished parts for the bearings prior to silver soldering.
The bearings and couplers for one truck.
The first steaming. The boiler worked perfectly, with the superheated steam not showing a trace of condensation. The engine runs a little tightly, as does every new engine, so a long running-in period is necessary.
The foreman of the Noname Lumber Company examines the headlight atop the boiler. Total time expended in building the model was 215 hours.
The finished locomotive, fully painted and detailed.

To see more photos of this engine under construction, visit the author's web site.

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