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September 2009

Rishon's 2-2-0 "Coffee Pot"

by Marc Horovitz

The prototype
This locomotive and its trailing coach, built by Kitson & Company of Leeds and Metropolitan Amalgamated Railway Carriage & Wagon Company of Brimingham, respectively, started life on the South Australian Railways in 1906 as Motor Coach No. 1. It later worked for the Commonwealth Railways, where it was known as NJAB-1. It was here that it acquired the nickname of "Coffee Pot." It was retired in 1932 and stored. Later, in 1960, it was put on (non-operating) display in Alice Springs. In 1975 it went to the Pichi Richi Railway, where it was restored to operating condition, entering service there in 1984. It is still at the Pichi Richi Railway today, though, I believe, not in service, awaiting a new boiler.

The model
Rishon's model, while not exactly to scale, certainly captures the character of the prototype. The model has a fatter boiler and is reversed via slip eccentrics, not Walschaerts, as was the prototype. The boiler is a single flue, gas-fired job. The gas tank sits in the cab to the right of the boiler. Boiler fittings include a safety valve, throttle, pressure gauge, and a Goodall-type filler valve. Instead of a traditional water glass, this engine has an electronic water-level sensor. This is powered by four AA cells carried in a battery box below the floorboards of the coach. When water gets low, a red LED on the front wall of the coach will begin to blink. I chose not to use this feature.

The locomotive has a pair of D-valve cylinders, situated between the engine's axles, that power the rear axle. The front axle is unpowered, making the locomotive an unusual 2-2-0.

The coach, which is articulated to the locomotive, is a simple wooden affair that features a complete interior. There's a coupler on the back, enabling it to haul a trailer, but probably not much else.

The run
I decided to give this engine a run on the bench first, which turned out to be a good thing. The first thing I noticed was that the pressure gauge didn't work. This was apparent, as the safety valve was blowing off while the gauge still read '0'. I opened the throttle, cleared the condensate from the cylinders, and away it went (on blocks). Next, a wrist pin from one of the rods fell out. I shut the engine down at that point.

I removed the pressure gauge and tested it alone. It was fine, which meant that the line to it was blocked. Fortunately, I was able to clear it with a thin wire -- probably just a bit of flux. I then repaired the wrist pin and gave it another go. All seemed well, so we went out to the track.

Run day was cool and cloudy. I prepared the engine and fired it up. Steam came up and I opened the throttle. I discovered that the throttle lever didn't have enough throw to fully open it before the lever fouled the floor. That was the first problem. Then I found that the safety valve liked to stick open, relieving the boiler of its pressure. Finally, the thing wouldn't stay on the track. This was partially the fault of the track and partly the fault of the rear truck, which didn't have enough clearance to move properly.

Over the next couple of runs I got these problems sorted out. Finally, the unit performed as intended. This engine has an exceedingly high charm factor. It just looked great trundling through the miniature countryside of my railway and was a pleasure to watch.

Here's a movie of the engine in action. If it doesn't work, click here to go to YouTube.

Builder Rishon Locomotive Works, Australia
Date built 2000
Gauge 45 mm
Scale 1:20.3
Boiler Single flue
Fittings Safety valve, throttle, pressure gauge, Goodall-type filler valve; electronic water-level sensor
Fuel Butane
Blow-off pressure 45 psi
Cylinders Two, double acting, D-valve
Reversing gear Slip eccentrics
Lubricator Displacement
Weight 9 lb., 4 oz. (locomotive and coach)
Dimensions Length, 23-1/2" (overall); width, 5"; height, 6-3/4"
Rishon's model captures the proportions and charm of the prototype. The profile of the battery box can bee seen under the coach floor.
Left: The cab is plain and simple. The pressure gauge shines out the left side of the cab while the gas control is accessed from the right. The long wire is the throttle lever. It had to go, though, in favor of a wheel that could be more easily rotated. Ahead of the steam manifold is the Goodall-type filler valve. Note the wire, to the left of the burner in the backhead, leading to the water sensor.

Below: The pressure gauge. Note the red LED on the coach wall, which, when powered by batteries, will flash when water gets low.

Left: The dome lifts off to reveal the safety valve. The valve can be removed for water filling if desired.
D-valve cylinders with valves inside the frames power the second axle on the locomotive. The extremely short main rod adds to the whimsical character of this vehicle. The displacement lubricator sits on the right footplate, in front of the cab.
The railcar looks as charming in retreat as it does advancing. The coupler makes pulling a trailer (just) possible.
The underside. The black box under the coach is the battery case for the water-level indicator. The coach attaches to the locomotive at the cross member immediately in front of the rear axle on the locomotive.
The inside valves can be seen clearly in this picture, along with the steam distribution. The pipe connecting the two cylinders is the exhaust line. The line leading from its middle goes to the stack.
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