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January 2009

Dutton Foster's Americanized "Pooter"

by Marc Horovitz

The model
This interesting and charming locomotive started life as a Roundhouse "Pooter." (You can read the story of the "Pooters" by clicking here.) It's an 0-4-0 tank engine with Hackworth valve gear and a pot boiler fired by alcohol. Its original styling was decidedly British. The boiler is fitted with a pressure gauge (defunct), a throttle, a safety valve, and a blowdown.

Dutton Foster is a garden railroader in Minnesota, whose well-known Paradox, Dilemma, and Quandary Railroad has appeared in the pages of Garden Railways magazine off and on over the past 20+ years. The locomotive under examination today was first mentioned in the May-June 1986 issue of GR. When first acquired, Dutton found that it tended to fall between the rails of his handlaid track, partly due to the track and partly due to the fact that the drivers had narrower treads than LGB stock. Once that situation was remedied by the track crew, modifications commenced.

The theater is part of Dutton's background, and his conversion was approached in a somewhat theatrical way. This is not a finescale conversion by any means, but it is a highly effective one. The original body was replaced by a new one made of brass, wood, and aluminum. A new "boiler tube" pilot was made (see drawing below), as was a new cab made of stripwood that Dutton cut up on his table saw. The cab roof is made of planks, covered in muslin stretched over wet enamel for waterproofing. The hatch in the top opens. A variety of other details were added to the engine, including a sand dome made of copper tubing, held in place by the sand pipes, which engage the engine's heat shields. The original Roundhouse builder's plates were reinstalled on the tank sides.

The tender was made of a plastic food container that sits on a scratchbuilt wooden frame, which, in turn, sits on an "expanded" LGB truck.

The locomotive was originally radio controlled. Dutton installed an engineer and fireman, with various parts amputated as necessary so they'd fit. R/C didn't work out so well -- too much glitching -- so the radio was eventually removed and the engine converted to manual control. Extensions were added to the reversing lever and throttle, making them accessible from the cab roof, under the hatch. The fuel-filler pipe was also extended up to that space. An extension was fitted to the blower valve, bringing it out to the back of the cab for convenience.

Old No. 6, as the engine was now known, was painted with spray bombs, mostly red-oxide primer and flat black, high-heat enamel. The cab-side number and the railroad's herald on the tender were cut out of gummed label paper, then stuck to their respective surfaces, which had previously been painted white. They were then painted black and the paper was removed, revealing the white lettering beneath.

To both display and transport the engine, Dutton came up with the solution of building a gallows, similar to that of a turntable, complete with track. The top crosspiece of this wooden structure acts as a handle. To prevent the locomotive from rolling off at inopportune moments, an ingenious latching device was employed (see photos below). In one position, it trapped the engine in place; in the other position, the engine was free to move.

The run
Run day on the Ogden Botanical Railway was cold and blustery. This engine had run many miles on the PD&Q since it was first shown over 20 years ago, and it definitely showed signs of use. I prepared it in the usual way, then lit the fire. The pressure gauge had given up the ghost back in the mists of time somewhere, so was out of the running.

After a reasonable amount of time, pressure came up. I opened the throttle, using the lever protruding throuhg the cab roof. Steam immediately condensed in the cylinders, requiring me to push the engine to clear the condensate. Once that was done, the engine took off. I found that it ran better in reverse than forward (forward being a little lumpy), suggesting that perhaps some linkage adjustment might be in order. In reverse it ran sweetly.

The run lasted 20 minutes or so. It would have gone on longer, but I was getting too cold and the fun was seeping away with the heat. A successful run was pronounced and the fire dropped. No. 6 was retired to the workshop for a little necessary maintenance. It was great seeing this relic of the venerable PD&Q resurrected on the OBR.

Builder Roundhouse Engineering -- modified by Dutton Foster
Date built 1986
Gauge 45 mm
Scale 16mm originally -- converted to 1:20.3
Boiler Pot
Fittings Safety valve, pressure gauge, throttle, blowdown valve
Fuel Alcohol
Blow-off pressure 45 psi
Cylinders Two, double-acting D-valve
Reversing gear Hackworth gear
Lubricator Displacement
Weight 6 lb., 4 oz. (loco and tender)
Dimensions Length, 17-3/4" (loco and tender); width, 4-1/2"; height, 6-1/8"
The fireman's side of the engine. Though the entire engine might be considered fanciful, it hangs together visually quite well. The little tender is nicely proportioned to the locomotive.
The cab interior is pretty crowded. The tube going up the middle is the fuel filler pipe. The red wheel is the blowdown control. An unused R/C servo is still in place below the fireman, who is truncated just below the belt but still manages somehow to get the job done.
Domes are made of copper pipe fittings. Both are removable. The engine has a dirty, well-used appearance that contributes much to its charm. Note that it still has its British-style stack cap.
The smokebox front. The headlight is wired to a battery box and switch in the tender.
The cab roof is planked, as per a full-size cab, and covered with muslin. Paint seals it and makes it waterproof. The lever protruding from the roof is the throttle; the one under the open roof hatch is the reverser. The fuel-filler pipe can just be seen near the hatch hinge.
Dutton Foster's drawing of how he made the pilot, from the May-June 1986 issue of Garden Railways.
The tender was made from an anonymous freezer container mounted to a wooden platform, which was mounted to a modified LGB truck. It ws first painted white. Logo and lettering were applied to the white surfaces in the form of gummed paper, cut out with an X-acto knife. The tender was then sprayed the final color and the paper template removed, exposing the white lettering beneath.
The underside of the engine is pretty much stock "Pooter." The thinness of the wheel treads is apparent here.
The engine is both carried and displayed on this gallows, similar to a turntable structure. The loco is kept in place by the ingenious latching mechanism shown below, which engages the rear beam of the engine.

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