by Neil Knopf

Several days ago, I was reading of promotions put on by the Union Pacific Railroad. Much to my surprise, there on the “project photos” page ( was a photo of a locomotive I thought I recognized. A quick email was sent to Chris Brew of Vancouver, Washington, to see if his was the featured locomotive. Sure enough.

Could you tell us a little more about the engine and the project?

I learned of the UP ‘whatdidyoubuild’ PR campaign after a member of the Large Scale Railroad Builders group that I administer posted the link. After looking it over, I decided to submit a picture of my highly modified Allen Models Ten-Wheeler. Here’s a little background.

The ten-wheeler is my second steam locomotive. When my train length and weight started to exceed what my first locomotive could handle, I knew it was time for a larger/heavier locomotive. The project was started in the fall of 2011. A friend of mine had a frame and cylinders for sale and I figured that was the perfect place to start. I had the frame finished enough to use it for a flat car load at the Train Mountain 2012 triennial. I did take a year off from building after I heard the chassis run once on air. The locomotive debuted in the spring of 2014 at my home club at Pacific Northwest Live Steamers.

What sets this locomotive apart from the standard Allen Models Ten-Wheeler?

1. Using the Allen Baker valve gear. After some careful thought and a few hours studying the drawings, I figured out what needed to be changed. But it was still an exercise of trial and error.

2. I decided to use the square counter weight drivers normally offered for the Allen American. With the larger casting and the use of 1018 steel tires, the drivers finished out to 9.25 inches.

3. Blind center driver.

4. Lengthened the frame by three inches; this allows the cab to be slid back allowing for a more prototypical layout.

5. Replaced all structural aluminum castings with laser cut steel parts, I also added ~120 lbs of lead down low in the frame. After all this, I rolled the loco across the scales. It has ~230 lbs per drive axle and ~100 lbs over the lead truck.

Post-Build Notes

I am a little concerned with the finished weight of the loco; it’s almost a little too heavy. But, it’s nice to be able to grab the throttle, pull it to the corner and walk the Johnson bar up as the locomotive is bringing a heavy train up the track. Here is the link to a video that was captured on the first day of shakedown tests.

Congratulations on your award, Chris! And, thanks for sharing your adventure with us. Your subscription to LSOR will be extended two issues.


This  content originally appeared as a Pass Along Email in March 2015. If you would like to receive our monthly Pass Along Emails (newsletters), you can sign up using this form.