by Neil Knopf, Editor

“When talking about narrow-gauge steam locomotives, almost everyone refers to the engines of the Denver & Rio Grande Western as an example of the most popular ones.” Kozo Hiraoka explains as he begins the introduction of his next locomotive series starting in the July/August issue of Live Steam & Outdoor Railroading.

With five construction series (and subsequent books) as his accomplishments, Kozo is one of the most followed builders of miniature live steam locomotives. Each of his preceding locomotives was constructed in 3/4″ scale to run on 3-1/2″ gauge track. The K-27, his newest project, will also run on 3-1/2″ gauge track, but is built to approximately 1/10 scale. The result is a hefty model that will be nearly 70″ long, 11″ wide and over 15″ tall…an impressive locomotive indeed!

Kozo continues, “While engineering this working model, the basic point kept in my mind was to achieve an optimum balance between: (1) prototypical accuracy, (2) high running performance, (3) easy fabrication and maintenance. It was a challenging job, and the results are presented in the drawings.” As in the past series, his drawings are second to none. Exquisitely done by hand in ink, each component is thoroughly described in both orthographic and isometric views. Nothing is left to the imagination.

Kozo’s approach to the fabrication of each component makes his projects ideal for beginning builders as well as for the advanced machinist. Wherever a special jig or fixture can facilitate the fabrication of a component, Kozo describes in detail just how to build and utilize these time-saving devices. His approach to special tooling applications can be modified for use in other projects making those items a desirable feature to the reader.

While Kozo was doing the drafting he relates, “Tameto Nakahara, a master builder in Japan, has been building this engine and has been verifying my design/drawings in the same way as he did for my New Shay. In addition to the verification, almost all the photos in this series were taken by him.” Tameto’s skill as a photographer is as good as his skills as a machinist. I’ve seen the photos for the following segments and they are first-rate!

Live Steam & Outdoor Railroading magazine is very proud to be able to present the readers with Kozo’s sixth major project – the Rio Grande K-27. Follow along with us as the construction of this fascinating locomotive takes place within our pages. Clear off the workbench and sharpen the drills; your skills will improve as you build your very own locomotive – from the railhead up.