An Nn3 Model of the Class A “Shay” – Part 1

The “Shay”s are the American locomotives I like most and also one of my all-time favourite steam engines. Soon after learning that one such locomotive was once used on my homeland’s narrow gauge lines, I dreamt about building a small logging layout. With ‘2mm to a foot’ being my scale of choice, I started looking for a kit to build. It wasn’t difficult to find and settle for the “Showcase Miniatures” offering. Compared to the usual bras or N/S kits this is an expensive one and having it delivered to the UK left a rather large hole in my wallet.

The kit comprises of parts cast in pewter (some sort of white-metal) while some details are etched brass. The recommended method of putting it together is by using cyanoacrylate (CA) glue. I tried in the past to use “Super Glue” to build brass or white-metal kits but I always failed: immediately or very soon after joining two parts together they came off. I am very comfortable soldering so I started experimenting with low-melt solder (70°C) and some scrap metal (the sprue holding together the parts of the kit). Setting the temperature controlled soldering iron at 140°C gave the best results so I began to build the kit according to the instructions supplied.

I started with the frames and the drive shaft for the rear truck assembly which will replace the retaining plate of the Searails PowerMAX! motorized truck:

The rear truck frames and overlay; four components are soldered together in this small part.

This was followed by the two-cylinder engine (the etched brass crank shafts are located at the bottom):

The two cylinder Shay engine

Two cab versions are supplied in the kit. The prototype I model had a cabin made of wood.

The cabin.

And the boiler:

The boiler.

A “Shay” Locomotive in Romania

“The Shay” is one of the very few American locomotives I like. A while ago I learned that two of these delightful machines designed by Ephraim Shay (17 July 1839 – 19 April 1916) were shipped to Europe. What surprised me most was that one of them ended up in Romania.
The engine having the shop number 2504 was built in 20 March 1912. According to the Lima class listings in 1911, this was a Class A (Able), 18 ton, two trucks, and two cylinders. More technical details can be found on the excellent web site

The company commissioned to ship the locomotive to Europe was “The Cunard S. S. Co.”, New York City, NY, for “Karl Petrachek”, Vienna, Austria. In the next years the locomotive was sent to different locations in Central and Eastern Europe but she didn’t see much service:

  • 1912: Lokomotivfabrik Krauss & Co. (D), Linz, Austria, sent for demonstration purposes
  • November 1912: Put in storage, unsold, Linz, Austria
  • August 1917: Torda Cement, Torda, Transylvania, Hungary (Austro-Hungarian Empire)
  • October 1917: Stored unused
  • 1 December 1918: Turda Cement, Turda, Transylvania, Romania (company, town and country name changed); still stored unused
  • Bosna Forestry RY, Begov Han, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Yugoslavia

She was tried out initially on the Salzkammergut Lokalbahn but didn’t meet the expecations. Subsequently it was offered to the Cisna-Kalnica railway (now in Poland) and also the Steyrtalbahn without success (source). She was scrapped before 1940.