zephyr1934

1815 Steam Elephant Locomotive

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I'd like to present my version of the Steam Elephant.

f10.jpg

The original locomotive was built around 1815 for the Wallsend Waggonway, near Newcastle England. That's 10 years before the first railway opened. The locomotive is believed to have served at least 10 years. It was the subject of one of the first color paintings of a locomotive and a working replica was built in 2002 for the Beamish Museum. It is there that I rode behind the replica and was transfixed by the motion of the rods.

WP_Steam_Elephant_Painting.jpg

I've been wanting to build a MOC of this locomotive for some time, but never had a good way to drive it, so it sat on the back burner for a few years now. When I saw the Circuit Cubes micro motor and controller, I had the solution to my power problems and started into building many prototypes. I've already documented some of this prototyping in my review of the Circuits Cube found here.

My build has progressed through many more prototypes, and I ultimately completed the final model last week. The proportions of the model were constrained by the space necessary for the motor (2x4x2) and controller/battery (4x4x2) and the minimum length necessary for BBB medium drivers. I made the height as short as possible given these constraints. Of course the internal cylinders had to avoid the electronics inside too.

The Beamish replica is all black, but appears to have a wooden jacket around the boiler. The original painting shows a nice silver locomotive, probably out of artistic license. I decided to take a little liberty of my own and went with a brown jacket, black for most of the front and rear, dark gray for some metal components on the boiler and light gray for the running gear. Today I took advantage of the weather and got a few videos of the running locomotive outside. I will take more photos soon, but in the meantime enjoy the videos,

 

 

 

 

 

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That is wonderful! I have 2 circuit cubes waiting for a project … great to see how well they work!

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Beautiful Historical Engine MOC! Love the mechanics, almost hypnotizing to watch. (pm sent)

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On 5/17/2021 at 6:32 AM, Phil B said:

That is wonderful! I have 2 circuit cubes waiting for a project … great to see how well they work!

Thank you. Indeed, this build only used one of the motors, it has a long gear train under the boiler to power all five axles, and then the cars all have technic axles. So they seem to be pretty powerful. I did have to gear down the drive 12:20 in order to physically get the motion from the motor down 5 plates to the drivers so that might help with the pulling power.

 

On 5/17/2021 at 9:27 AM, ritztoys said:

Beautiful Historical Engine MOC! Love the mechanics, almost hypnotizing to watch. (pm sent)

Your eyelids are getting heavy, you are falling into a deep sleep, when you wake up you will go out and spend a fortune on plastic bricks.... Seriously though, thank you.

 

19 hours ago, LEGO Train 12 Volts said:

This model is totally cool and see the lego locomotive in action is a miracle! :excited:

Great work on those piston rods ...who is your supplier? :grin:

LT12V you are too kind. I wanted to go with all lego but it would have made the engine a full stud wider and made the guides on the top another brick taller. So in an Indiana Jones "I've got a pistol" moment I just pulled the trigger and went on with it.

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What I like so much about this MOC is that it really gives the impression the pistons are propelling it.

Wait ... or do they? I couldn't tell - maybe they really do ...

Fantastic MOC. All this motion - and so close to the original.

But: To be "expected" from such an experienced and skilled builder!

Best regards,
Thorsten

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Wonderful - very close to the original.

I like the colors, it's great fun to watch the videos.

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Video of  Steam Elephant at Beamish Museum in action.

 

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16 hours ago, Toastie said:

What I like so much about this MOC is that it really gives the impression the pistons are propelling it.

Wait ... or do they? I couldn't tell - maybe they really do ...

Fantastic MOC. All this motion - and so close to the original.

But: To be "expected" from such an experienced and skilled builder!

Best regards,
Thorsten

Thanks! And no, the pistons are powered from a gear train running through the frame of the locomotive. I think the combination of how slow it moves and the fact that you can see both pistons really makes the motion stand out compared to a typical steam locomotive where you can only see one piston at a time and the fact that on most steam engines they've done away with the need for gearing.

That is one of the neat things about doing this build. I can totally see how a steam engineer (in the design sense, not the "engine driver" sense) used to building stationary steam engines would design their first locomotive like this with the vertical pistons, using gearing, etc.. And then I can see how subsequent designs would quickly move towards a more contemporary style- connecting the rods to the wheels to eliminate unnecessary mechanics, moving the pistons to the sides to get them out of the boiler for ease of maintenance, reduce the forces on the rods, etc.

 

7 hours ago, LEGOTrainBuilderSG said:

Fantastic job on this historic engine. The mechanism is just great to look at. 

 

9 hours ago, Asper said:

Wonderful - very close to the original.

I like the colors, it's great fun to watch the videos.

Thank you both. And yeah, I still can't get enough of the movement of the running gear. As noted above, it is amazing to see first hand how steam locomotives evolved.

 

6 hours ago, Doug72 said:

Video of  Steam Elephant at Beamish Museum in action. 

That's where the real action is!

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I wasn't aware that the Beamish Museum had such an international profile. It's a fabulous day out and highly recommended. I was last there in 2008 but the Elephant was in the shed while they ran the replica of Puffing Billy. Sadly I didn't get the chance to ride behind it because I was with my ex and she wasn't very interested in the trains, so I couldn't really indulge my interest.

I love your recreation of this steam pioneer and the way that the motion moves. You've done a fabulous job with it. Pioneers such as this look so otherworldly now, but back then it would have been startlingly futuristic. 

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16 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

I love your recreation of this steam pioneer and the way that the motion moves. You've done a fabulous job with it. Pioneers such as this look so otherworldly now, but back then it would have been startlingly futuristic. 

Much thanks for your kind words. All of the beauty lies in the prototype, I just did a pretty good job of copying it (grin).

 

16 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

I wasn't aware that the Beamish Museum had such an international profile. It's a fabulous day out and highly recommended. I was last there in 2008 but the Elephant was in the shed while they ran the replica of Puffing Billy. Sadly I didn't get the chance to ride behind it because I was with my ex and she wasn't very interested in the trains, so I couldn't really indulge my interest.

I only know about Beamish because I spent some time in Newcastle (wistful sigh), but it is definitely worthy of an international reputation. When I mentioned Beamish to some of the older transport people in Newcastle one of them volunteered a bit of back story about the visionary behind Beamish. I don't remember his name, but he basically went to all the cities in the region and said, "when you rehabilitate your roads I want you to look for these bits of trolley (tram) hardware and I want you to set them aside for us." And he took deliberate care to find a spot where there were no flight paths and no power lines to pull you out of the time period. When I was last there I think they were working on a 1950's section that included an overnight hotel. If it has been 13 years (and one ex later) definitely worth swinging by next time you are in the area.

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Posted (edited)

I have book  "The man who made Beamish" it is Frank Atkinson Autobiograhy   ( ISBN 0 935730 01.)

I live about 12 miles away from the Museum which has now re-opened after Covid19 lockdown ended recently.

Beamish has fully working train, trams, trolly buses systems - and the 1950's town is currently being built with all sorts of actual buildings being moved to the site.

If you are ever in the UK its well worth a visit. 

The C2C cycle route runs close by.

Edited by Doug72

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7 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

All of the beauty lies in the prototype, I just did a pretty good job of copying it (grin).

That seems like a pretty good summary of our hobby. :classic:

7 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

If it has been 13 years (and one ex later) definitely worth swinging by next time you are in the area.

Oh yes, definitely!! I was up in the North-East last spring just at the start of the pandemic, but I didn't have a whole day free to devote to Beamish, so I went to Locomotion at Shildon instead on the trail of the last surviving Shenfield EMU. However, it is very much on my list of places to revisit, and it would be my third visit in total when I do get there. My first was as a young teenager in the late 1980s on a family holiday. Back then there wasn't much to see; just the tram line winding it's way down the hill to a fairly short Victorian High Street. It was impressive to see how the site had grown and it will be good to see how much more has been added since. Maybe next time I'll go on my own or with a group of like-minded friends, though.

7 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

And he took deliberate care to find a spot where there were no flight paths and no power lines to pull you out of the time period.

That feeling still persists, even as the modern world gets ever busier. Even though the site sits amongst County Durham's colliery villages on the slopes of the North Pennines there really is a wonderful feeling of isolation, as if the modern world no longer exists. It's a fabulous trick to be able to pull, and the many volunteers and actors really do give it an authentic life (well, all except the young lad inside the motor garage who had his hand inside a drawer so that he could use his mobile phone which is presumably otherwise strictly verboten :look:).

7 hours ago, zephyr1934 said:

... trolley (tram) ...

Tram (Trolley). :tongue: :laugh:

6 hours ago, Doug72 said:

If you are ever in the UK its well worth a visit. 

Seconded. In fact if industrial heritage is your bag the whole area is a gold mine of opportunities with museums and preserved industrial sites concentrated within a fairly small area.

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15 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

Oh yes, definitely!! I was up in the North-East last spring just at the start of the pandemic, but I didn't have a whole day free to devote to Beamish, so I went to Locomotion at Shildon instead on the trail of the last surviving Shenfield EMU.

Oh, yeah, tough choice. I was limited to what I could get to by train or foot (it's hard enough not to get hit by a car when crossing the road thinking "look left"). Anyway, I was limited to what I could get to and Shildon was right on the branch line from Darlington (Beamish is a 45 min bus ride). On the way to Shildon the train even passed the site where they were building the new Azuma (sp?) train sets. All this while traveling the line of the Stockton and Darlington.

 

16 hours ago, Hod Carrier said:

Seconded. In fact if industrial heritage is your bag the whole area is a gold mine of opportunities with museums and preserved industrial sites concentrated within a fairly small area.

There were coal mines, led mines, maybe even copper mines, but I didn't see any gold mines there (grin). Just rail related sites are amazing, e.g., Bowes Railway, a preserved cable railway where the cars were pulled upgrade using stationary steam engines and gravity did the rest.

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Nice choice of a very unusual prototype. Strange to see the cranks rotate in the opposite direction. I couldn't easily tell from your video whether you have the gear reduction between the cranks and the wheels.

Any plans to build the rolling stock that the replica is pulling at the museum?

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On 5/22/2021 at 8:14 AM, Duq said:

Nice choice of a very unusual prototype. Strange to see the cranks rotate in the opposite direction. I couldn't easily tell from your video whether you have the gear reduction between the cranks and the wheels.

Thank you thank you. Yes, the cranks are part of the appeal of this unusual prototype, I'm still tickled that I was able to build it, I never thought it would have been possible as a self-propelled MOC.

The front and rear axles are 1:1 with the cranks, but for the middle axle I had to gear up due to the uneven spacing (20:12:20) and the fact that motor location prevented putting a second set of gears in (16:16:16). Sigh.

On 5/22/2021 at 8:14 AM, Duq said:

Any plans to build the rolling stock that the replica is pulling at the museum?

That's what I was aiming for with the coal trucks. They are not a perfect replica, I had to choose between an open hopper or coming up with some snot technique that would be a bit more realistic at the expense of being a solid build. I can't tell if the real cars have both ends sloped or one end sloped, but either way, to get that effect I would have had to made a solid build and I wanted to keep them open. As for the passenger cars, best I can figure is that those are a modern addition simply employed so that passengers can actually ride what would otherwise be a freight train. The prototype probably only had coal wagons, a unit train in modern US terms (grin).

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Very nice! I haven't actually yet commented on this thread despite seeing it practically every day, but this an excellent MOC and the self propulsion is a brilliant achievement for a pre-1850 locomotive.  It's also been interesting simply as one I didn't know - I have London's Science Museum only an hour away and the NRM and Locomotion a few hours away, but as it hasn't been preserved apart from the replica it's not very well known, me included.  The piston rods must have looked brilliant back then, but today they just look ridiculous!

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Posted (edited)

The coal wagons are called Chaldons and sloped at both ends & sides.

Each coal wagon had a long wooden pole used to brake the wagons which acted on one wheel by a man rider pushing it down.

The passenger coach is a replica of that used on the Stockton & Darlington railway 1829 to 1831.

The tall pale blue cabin car carries an air compressor to power the modern braking system required today.

For £100 you can book a slot & drive the train.

Edited by Doug72

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On 5/23/2021 at 1:33 PM, Vilhelm22 said:

Very nice! I haven't actually yet commented on this thread despite seeing it practically every day, but this an excellent MOC and the self propulsion is a brilliant achievement for a pre-1850 locomotive.  It's also been interesting simply as one I didn't know - I have London's Science Museum only an hour away and the NRM and Locomotion a few hours away, but as it hasn't been preserved apart from the replica it's not very well known, me included.  The piston rods must have looked brilliant back then, but today they just look ridiculous!

Thank you. I look at the prototype and I see a brilliant first draft, with rough spots that were quickly edited away in subsequent drafts (i.e., locomotives), specifically the internal cylinders, the crank arms instead of powering the wheels, and the lateral bars which become redundant with the axles. An interesting feature of this locomotive is the horizontal boiler, they were still building vertical boiler locomotives for another decade or two after this was built. I suppose it took a little longer to figure out how to use exhaust steam and the Venturi effect to create sufficient draft for horizontal boilers to work properly.

 

On 5/24/2021 at 3:34 AM, Doug72 said:

The coal wagons are called Chaldons and sloped at both ends & sides.

Each coal wagon had a long wooden pole used to brake the wagons which acted on one wheel by a man rider pushing it down.

The passenger coach is a replica of that used on the Stockton & Darlington railway 1829 to 1831.

The tall pale blue cabin car carries an air compressor to power the modern braking system required today.

For £100 you can book a slot & drive the train.

Haza! Thank you, I knew someone around here would know the details. It looks like Chaldon was a unit of volume and the brake levers were used to position the cars individually via gravity. Get a load of this image from the preceding wikipedia link, purportedly from 1813.

The_collier.jpeg

 

 

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17 hours ago, ritztoys said:

@zephyr1934 I wanted to thank-you for your assistance on your "Coal Wagons", I have them coupled to a Studly Locomotive.

You're welcome! They make a great set with the tiny Shay.

 

3 hours ago, Paperinik77pk said:

I really lost this thread at the time *huh* !!! Congratulations @zephyr1934 for the fantastic rendition of the Elephant Locomotive - a machine I did not know before and it's really fascinating! :wub:

Thank you for the kind words, I'm still amazed at the prototype, it really gives an insight into the rapidly changing early days of steam locomotives. And the movement is so hypnotic to be able see the quartering in action (on most steamers you only see one piston at a time).

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Very nice design! Look like you used some old triangle pieces for the freight. Clever:laugh:

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