15" Gauge 1907 4-4-0 Project

Discuss park gauge trains and large scale miniature railways having track gauges from 8" to 24" gauge and designed at scales of 2" to the foot or greater - whether modeled for personal use, or purpose built for amusement park operation or private railroading.

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Topics may include: antique park gauge train restoration, preservation, and history; building new grand scale equipment from scratch; large scale miniature railway construction, maintenance, and safe operation; fallen flags; track, gauge, and equipment standards; grand scale vendor offerings; and, compiling an on-line motive power roster.
JR May
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:10 am
Location: NJ

15" Gauge 1907 4-4-0 Project

Postby JR May » Mon Aug 07, 2017 3:22 pm

With a nudge from Glenn, I thought I would provide an update on my 15” gauge locomotive project, a Herschell-Spillman 4-4-0 built in 1907 that ran at Cedar Point in Ohio. First though a bit of history, which in all honesty has an element of conjecture to it.

By all accounts, this is a 1907 Herschell-Spillman locomotive, built in North Towanda, NY, which ran originally at Cedar Point in Ohio on their 15” gauge Cedar Point Miniature Rwy, home today to the 3’ gauge Cedar Point and Lake Erie RR. The train was apparently operated by an individual named Henry “Heinie” Gross and it ran on a track which included a long tunnel and ran beneath the Cedar Point Leap and Dips roller coaster. Along the way, he created miniature stations and towns with wooden figures which were mostly based on German architecture and scenes. Whether Gross owned the train initially or not I am not clear on as the Ingersoll Amusement Co played a role here somehow as well. If I read things correctly he did buy the train from Ingersoll in 1923.

Each winter he would haul the locomotive and equipment to his shop on Franklin Street in Sandusky, Ohio for maintenance. In 1945 he sold the train to new operators from Freemont. When Heinie sold the Herschell in 1945 it was reportedly quite worn out and the new owners were not really all that mechanically inclined. The original boiler was replaced with a code boiler, with a lap seam none the less, by the Boom Boiler Company (no kidding – who names a boiler company Boom?) and was delivered in 1947. Paper work on the boiler supports this conclusion.

The above history is pretty well documented in a book on the Cedar Point amusement park dated 1989 and written by Glenn Everett. Some of his research came from Ray Moore, nephew of the late Heinie Gross and other family members of Mr. Gross so we have some faith in the story as a result. Post cards of the train, dated about 1914, support the conclusions as well.

But at this point though the story goes a little cold. Based on what we see today, the firebox end of the new Boom boiler did not, and does not, fit between the drive wheels. By my guess, this is when the new owners threw in the towel and gave up on the train and Heinie’s buildings. Now in pieces, the locomotive never ran again, ending up in Oregon before appearing on ebay, missing pieces by now, and purchased by Dom Visconti of New Jersey. At this point, it had the ill fitting boiler and was essentially a very heavy kit which was missing many key parts. Dom made great progress on the restoring the locomotive, but then passed away suddenly in 2010. Later that year, I purchased Dom’s Herschell.

As to what a Herschell-Spillman locomotive is, and why it looks like a Cagney, the short answer is that up in North Towanda, NY you had a machine shop owned by Peter & Thomas McGarigle. For some period of time they built miniature trains for park use for amusement park ride suppliers including Armitage-Herschell, The Miniature Rwy Co (which became Cagney), and then Herschell-Spillman.

So, who is Herschell-Spillman? Allan Herschell together with James Armitage, created the Armitage-Herschell Company in 1873 and remained in operation until the early 1900s. In 1901, Herschell left the Armitage-Herschell Company and created the Herschell-Spillman Company with his in-laws, the Spillmans, thus creating the Herschell-Spillman company.

While Cagneys and Herschells are very similar, the key visual difference is the long tapered boiler barrel found on the Herschell. It gives the locomotive a much bigger, huskier, look.

So, now the project is in my hands, roughly 70 years after the Freemont owners apparently gave up on the new ill fitting boiler and worn chassis. I’ll post a few photos in subsequent updates.

Enjoy,
J.R. May
Wall, NJ
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BigDumbDinosaur
Posts: 453
Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:19 pm
Location: Midwestern United States

Re: 15" Gauge 1907 4-4-0 Project

Postby BigDumbDinosaur » Mon Aug 07, 2017 8:45 pm

JR May wrote:With a nudge from Glenn, I thought I would provide an update on my 15” gauge locomotive project, a Herschell-Spillman 4-4-0 built in 1907 that ran at Cedar Point in Ohio. First though a bit of history, which in all honesty has an element of conjecture to it...

Very interesting story. Will be quite something for you to get this beast put back together and running. What are your plans regarding the apparently useless boiler?
Science makes it known. Engineering makes it work.

JR May
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:10 am
Location: NJ

Re: 15" Gauge 1907 4-4-0 Project

Postby JR May » Mon Aug 07, 2017 9:02 pm

A new code boiler, built to look like a proper Herschell boiler, is being built by the Strasburg RR. Its one of many projects at Strasburg so not moving on a fast track which is just as well as the chassis is not yet ready for it.

If the chassis is done before the new boiler, with some careful use of a grinder along the mud ring, and raising it a bit, I can make use of the current boiler to at least make it look like a locomotive, maybe run it back and forth on air perhaps. The current boiler is in like new condition having never been used so there is the potential to use it on something else or for stationary use. A lap seam barrel is indeed legal in NJ.
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Soot n' Cinders
Posts: 613
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:24 pm
Location: Georgia

Re: 15" Gauge 1907 4-4-0 Project

Postby Soot n' Cinders » Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:28 pm

I didnt think a single row lap seam boiler was legal anywhere, I think thats an ASME/NBIC rule. Granted for private use, they wouldnt care. They dont have jurisdiction on private property unless a formal complaint is filed.
-Tristan

Projects
-2.5" scale Class A 20 Ton Shay

JR May
Posts: 82
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 9:10 am
Location: NJ

Re: 15" Gauge 1907 4-4-0 Project

Postby JR May » Tue Aug 08, 2017 7:09 am

Its really an old wives tale that laps seams are completely illegal in the US. While certainly not allowed in many states, here in NJ if under a certain diameter (of hand I think its 30”) they are legal with a couple of caveats one of which is that the lap seam itself can not be repaired if a problem is found. In fact as of my last check with the State boiler people about two years ago, there are a couple of full size steam tractors running here in NJ with lap seam boilers. I had looked at modifying this boiler to fit between the drivers but decided against it due to the lap seam and the inability to run it in other states with the lap seam. I am a licensed NJ boiler operator (NJ Blue Seal stamped locomotive/portable, high pressure) and plan to operate the locomotive in public so need to comply with all the needed regs and such. Its always best to call the State office for the details.


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