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Jerry Barnes' Shay.

A home-built Shay

by Jerry Barnes
Lexington, Nebraska

Photos by the author

September, 2010

In 1996 I was looking for a new engine project. I wanted an electric Shay but, back in those dark ages of this hobby, no one made one. Then I started looking at live steam. I got all the back issues of Steam in the Garden from Ron Brown. WIth his help and some drawings that appeared in Outdoor Railroader I came up with a rough plan for my Shay. I wrote up articles for it, which appeared in Steam in the Garden in issues 35, 37 and 50 (I got the cover shot also! -- I think back issues are available.)

I made the trucks from brass, using Chicago Gears and Sierra Valley wheels. The U-joints I made from brass tubing. A small brass tube is mounted crosswise on each end, held in place with sewing pins that I beveled somewhat for a tight, interference fit. They stayed on all these years!

The frames are made of brass, too, with wood end beams. I made a cab of wood. Detail parts on the boiler and elsewhere came from Trackside Details and Ozark Miniatures. I try to keep the detail level down, since I seem to knock them off all the time. The smokebox is a Roundhouse SR&RL No. 24 part that I got when I bought a Roundhouse boiler and fittings from a dealer in Maine (no longer in business). I used a funnel for the stack, as you can see.

This is a very easy engine to fire and run. The Roundhouse boiler and fittings have been great. It lights right up, the fire usually flashing back to the burner with no problem. Pressure comes up in about 10 minutes (I usually start with distilled water warmed up in the microwave).

The engine will start off with as little as 10 lbs of pressure and that is about what I run it at. I really like the oscillating motor that Mike Chaney made for me. It runs like a sewing machine and I love to watch its action. I usually get about 30 minutes or so from a run.

Here's a movie of the Shay in action.

If, for some reason, you can't view it, click here.

Builder Jerry Barnes
Date built 1996-1998
Gauge 45 mm (gauge 1)
Scale 1:20.3
Boiler Single flue made by Roundhouse
Fittings Safety valve, pressure gauge, throttle
Fuel Butane
Blow-off pressure 30 psi
Cylinders Two, double-acting oscillators made by Mike Chaney
Reversing gear Rotary valve
Lubricator Displacement
Dimensions Length, 18"
Above: Business side of the Shay. Jerry made the clay figure. The cab is maple and redwood. Detail parts are from Ozark Miniatures and Trackside Details. Redwood end beams have link-and-pin couplers.

Below: The "other" side. A water reservoir surrounds the Roundhouse gas tank.

With the cab removed, the works are visible, including the Roundhouse gas tank, lubricator, boiler, throttle, and safety valve. The fake wood load (just visible to the left of the figure) is glued to a block of wood beside the water tank.
The cab roof is hinged for easy access to the controls.
Left: The front of the engine. The offset boiler is plainly visible.

Above: The steam motor, a twin, double-acting oscillator, was built by Mike Chaney. The reverser is the lever atop the motor.

The rear truck. Gears are held on shaft with small 4-40 set screw. You can see the pin heads that hold the universal joints together. On the frame is a metal plaque that says "Made by Jerry Barnes." If the engine lasts a hundred years, someone will know!
Top view. The hole near the throttle is the Goodall-type valve Jerry made for the engine.
The rear of the engine. Brass strips and angle were used for the rear step, bolted to the redwood end beam.
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