Home Motive Power Papillon Gardens Our Papillons Stained Glass
Forge Woodworking Carving Miscellaneous Railroad & Other Projects



This little car has a five foot long deck made of plastic decking boards, also. A friend donated the ten inch diameter cast iron wheels including axles, which allegedly were from brick yard equipment. These all required remachining for gauge and wheel wear. The axles run in inverted self-aligning pillow block bearings bolted directly to the oak frame. The car has no problem staying on the tack even though it is unsprung.  A hand brake only was installed, allowing it to be pushed by hand where needed and held in place. The brake shoes are hickory and work great.





This is the only car for passenger service, at this time, and is twelve feet long with five bench seats holding ten adults. One unique feature is the deck on this car is made of plastic decking boards. They are color fast and show no effects from wear. The S spoke wheels are ten inches in diameter, grey iron cast from a homemade wood pattern. The axles run in self-aligning, flange mount pillow block bearings, which are sprung. This arrangement is inexpensive and very simple to make.


The gondola was originally built without brakes. However, a trip down a 5 percent grade with only engine brakes resulted in pushing the Shay, locked wheels, and more than got my attention. The photo of one of the arch bar trucks above shows the hickory wood brake shoes and coiled plastic airline, prior to reinstallation under the gondola. Hardwood has the same or better coefficient of friction compared to cast iron shoes, although wood obviously wears faster. But a new set can be band-sawed out in minutes.





This car has proven to be the favorite part of the train for children, even over the locomotive. It too started out on a set of ten inch diameter wheels and axles complete with journal boxes and frames donated by a friend. This is the latest photo showing the addition of a brake hand wheels on either end.

The caboose is sided with common bead board paneling and has working oak doors on both ends. All of the grab rails and other iron work were forged in our blacksmith shop. The marker lamps are a fabrication using PVC pipe, cooper sheet, wood and stained glass.

This caboose has a second purpose beside defining the end of the train. A high pressure bottle of CO2 with regulator are housed inside to provide gas pressure to operate the brakes on the gondola. The gas, regulated to 60 psi, is piped forward to the train valve in the locomotive, providing a clean, dry pressure source for braking. It’s a lot cheaper than an air pump. The cylinder and regulator were borrowed from where I work. All I pay for is the product. A portion of the bottle and regulator can be seen through the window.



Weed control along the right-of-way has become an exspensive operation, even more so now as oil prices continue rising. Recalling that some full scale railroads burnt weeds instead of using herbicides, I gave heat a try. The first experiment was a commercial propane weed burner alledged to be the best. It was a dismal failure and was shortly thereafter sent back to the manufacturer for a $100 refund. The burner also gobbled up propane. It would have used up one tank every time.

One fuel source for developing high BTU output is used motor oil - and it is free. Used oil is currently fireing some large comercial crucible type foundry furnaces and with no smoke or odor, if everything is adjusted properly. This caused my dim bulb to light, thinking why not build a foundry furnace on wheels that doubles as a weed burner. The total out-of pocket cost was just over $18 and fuel is free. And to my surprise it actually works!

I had a 5 hp gas engine salvaged from a chipper/shredder. This drives a homemade blower providing combustion air to the furnace. The blower bolts directly to the side of the engine block and has a swinging cover over the intake to control air volume. The air output pipe from the blower enters the base of the furnace tangentially. Oil is gravity fed into this air delivery pipe via a 1/4" pipe entering at a 20 degree included angle. The 1/4" pipe terminates at mouth of the air pipe inside the furnace.

The furnace body is a large propane tank cut down in lenght; one end being used for the top lid. These tanks can usually be had for the asking once they are out of date. The lining is a piece of 10" diameter chimney tile. The bottom and space between the tile and tank is filled with a wet mixture of 60% motor mix and 40% vermiculite. The vermiculite, available anywhere planting materials are sold, helps act as an insulator as well as saves weight. The following photos show inside the blower and furnace.

blower furnace

The discharge is designed to swivel 180 degrees to change from one side of the track to the other. This pipe also has a long gradual taper making it twice as wide at the bottom to cover more area. 

The furnace is started with newspaper and wood. Once the wood is well ignited I start the gas engine and let it run at an idle while cutting back the air intake almost 90%. I throw in a few larger chunks of wood, put the lid on, crack the ball valve below the oil reservour (used, free propane tank) and open the air intake all the way. The furnace will smoke at this point until everthing comes up to temperature and stabilizes. This whole process takes less than five minutes.

The furnace, when properly adjusted, burns with no smoke and just a slight orange flame. The temperature and BTU's developed  take no prisoners when it comes to weeds, as shown. I haven't spent anything on weed killers this year, for once.


burner use burner use