Happy new year everyone!
With the Chloe completed and a resounding success (I ran the pants off of it during the fall with little trouble after a few 'teething' meets) my father and I decided on a second project, something to have in addition to the Chloe that is bigger and more comfortable to operate, and would pull a lot more for times when hauling a good size train around is desirable.
The other major idea behind acquiring a second engine is to prolong the life of the Chloe by alternating between the two as long as we have them both. A larger engine would be more suitable for very large tracks such as Maricopa Live Steamers and Train Mountain, while the Chloe would visit smaller home and club tracks.
For a while I had thought that either a Keith Watson Lil' Lima / Lil' Mogul or a MEG Steam Wendy would be the ideal big scale, simple engine that you can sit on upright. I had run a friend's Wendy and found it very enjoyable to run and very comfortable.
MEG Steam, a Canadian company, went out of business in the early 2000s, but not before maybe a dozen or so Wendys and Uncle Sams were built. (the two are virtually identical in Chassis, with different cab, tank and tender features.) The MEGs feature a simple frame made out of two pieces of rectangular steel stock welded to square tube spacers / spreaders. The valve gear is Hackworth. The boilers are marine boilers with no water legs and a semi-circular firebox that is surrounded 360 degrees by water. In short, as simple and easy to build as possible, but when completed look reasonably like a real European style industrial locomotive if built to plan. They are also powerful haulers. There are many variations, three of which were featured in a live steam article in the recent past.
During the late 1990s, a member of Golden Gate Live Steamers purchased plans and castings for what would become the third Wendy built. At the time, the early cylinder castings from MEG had problems with air voids, so Gene Allen cylinders were used for this one and proved to be a good replacement. Before the engine could be completed, and for reasons I do not recall, it was sold to my friend Jeff Badger, who completed it and sold it as a quick turn project.
Jeff gave it side tanks and a single-truck tender cart with additional water available in the tender, plus a heavy duty welded steel flat car body with a wood boxcar shell built on top of it, to serve as a propane tender. Jeff pioneered the use of a weed burner as a propane burner for these engines, which were originally designed to fire on coal. A number of MEG owners have since copied Jeff's approach with great success. The propane burner and coal grates / ash pan can be swapped out with about 15 minutes worth of work when set up correctly.
This engine then passed through two owners before it came to us, and during that time was I have to say it was fairly neglected. The result is that 10 years on, the hackworth slide is worn out and all the plumbing and accessories needed an overhaul, and the whole thing cosmetically needs some TLC (new cab, tank, a few other things.) The upside is that the engine was kept well oiled and put away dry, so the cylinders and slide valves etc. are in excellent shape and the boiler is great shape. For a less than a princely sum, we became the next owners of the MEG Steam 'Wendy' I had originally run and enjoyed.
Our lesson learned with the Chloe went into the purchase of this engine. When we originally bought a used Chloe off of Discover Live Steam sight unseen, we had intended it to be a short term project much like this one. Refinish all the cosmetics and plumbing and get it out there. The old Chloe turned out to be mechanically unserviceable and and we scrapped it. Three years later we rolled out a brand new engine that only used the drivers, cylinders and a few other castings from the old engine. It was a great learning experience and we got to build an entire new engine from the ground up, but not what we had originally intended. After having done that, we are not eager to do it again so quickly.
The lesson is, never buy any locomotive sight unseen.
This new engine I had experience with and knew exactly what was wrong with it and what was right with it, so I could make an informed offer. We are now on our way to refurbishing it with the goal of having it out of the shop sometime in 2011.
Here is a picture of the Wendy as it existed just before we acquired it, with the side tanks and somewhat thin looking plantation cab.