Small-Scale Live Steam Locomotives

Things to do with the Accucraft Ruby --
photos and drawings

This is my first Ruby modification.  It's based on the Class 6-C engine shown at the top of the previous page.  I have added a boiler jacket and new boiler bands, steam dome appliances, headlight, builder's plates and a new number plate to the boiler. Norm Saley turned the stack base.  I added a firebox to the rear of the boiler, then raised the floor to the level of the running boards and built a wooden cab.  The tender is scratchbuilt from brass, with a wooden frame and decking.  After this photo was taken, I fabricated a pilot truck and added a wood "cowcatcher" pilot, feedwater pipes, etc.  The gold lettering on the cab and tender were done on an Alps printer.  She's FH&PB locomotive No. 1, named Miss Ruth Hill.

Below, you can get some of the drawings I used to make these modifications.

Another view of "Miss Ruth Hill", taken on the Ogden Botanical Railway, this time with the prototype for the FH&PB wood pilot kit.  Note how well the Hartford D&RG cars match the Ruby in size and feel.

And here's the final design, with the pilot truck, Trackside Details diamond stack and additional details.  I painted the smokebox and firebox with graphite.  I substituted a proper pop valve from Sulphur Springs Steam Models for the one Accucraft provided, which didn't have a stem on top and couldn't be tested before running.  I drilled out the bottom of a Trackside Details whistle and dropped it down on top of the valve stem, which extends above the steam dome.

Backdated to the 1870s
After the photo above was taken, "Miss Ruth Hill" was badly damaged in shipping home from a steamup. I let it sit for a while before I decided to backdate it with an extended smokebox (the original was crushed in the accident), 1870s-style fluted domes, a box headlight and proper looking valve chest covers.

Here's a CAD drawing of a new cab for Ruby, suitable for use with a tender.  It's based on the Class 6-C 2-4-0 tender engine shown on the previous page, with some influence from an Alco 2-4-0 (plans by Ed Gebhardt in the Gazette5).
The cab is built to sit on a footplate raised to the same level as the running boards, with a 2-inch diameter boiler jacket.  The jacket can be made using .005 sheet metal (steel or brass), and internal boiler bands made from .250" x .0625" brass strips, annealed and rolled to fit snugly around the boiler body.  Shim brass (.005") can be cut with scissors or metal shears and bends easily around the boiler.

Construction can be metal, wood, or wood over metal.
(Click on the image at right to retrieve the DXF file.  Or download the GIF image -- displayed here at 1/2 size -- and print it as a starting point.)

This cab also requires some serious fabrication of running boards, rear cab support beam, etc.

Ruby cab drawing.

And here's the tender for the same engine.  Note the elaborate journal pedestals.  They appear to be unique to the Baldwin 4-wheel tenders.  I used Hartford Products pedestals until I find the correct castings.  (Click on the image at right to retrieve a DXF file with the sheet layouts.  Or download the GIF -- displayed at half size on the right -- and print.) tender design for Ruby

plan for boiler jacket
Here are the measurements for the boiler jacket I used on FH&PB No. 1.  A 1/16" layer of insulation or spacers is assumed.  Ordinary wool felt works well as insulation and is readily available.  I have a slip roll, so my jacket is made from .020" sheet, then formed into a cylinder.  You could also make it from brass or steel shim stock.  You may need to fabricate new boiler bands, too, if the screws on the provided bands won't accomodate the larger diameter.  (Click on the image at left to retrieve a DXF file with the sheet layouts.  Or download the GIF -- displayed at half size on the left -- and print.)

This is a CAD drawing of a Porter saddle tank, based on the Lehmann Porter and a couple of plans in the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette3.  There were plans for an 8-ton Porter which is very close in size to the Ruby in Outdoor Railroader4 magazine.  Porter's 0-4-0STs came in different sizes, so while this drawing is a bit small for Ruby, it will give you an idea of how simple making such an add-on tank will be.  Five pieces of brass, a little soldering, and voilá! (Click on the image to retrieve the DXF file.  Or download the GIF image -- displayed here at half size -- and print.)

The drawing at right shows two parts I made for my Ruby's boiler.  (Click on the image to see it full-size.)

The part on the left is a resonator which improves the "stack talk" of the engine.  This involves modification of the exhaust tube.  Remove it by unscrewing it and then cut it off such that its end is approximately at the midline of the smokebox -- leave about 15/16" above the threads. 

(Note: this may have the effect of reducing the steam plume from your stack.  If you change your mind later, you can replace the cut off top of the tube and silver solder a sleeve of tubing over the joint.)

Making the resonator tube is very simple: cut a piece of 3/8" brass tubing to the dimensions indicated and then cut or file a notch in the tubing as shown.  Dimensions of this notch are not critical but its relationship to the top of the exhaust tube should be close to what's shown.  Drop the brass tube down the stack, so it fits around the exhaust tube and rests on the bottom of the smokebox.  This flute-like arrangement gives a louder and deeper chuff.  Crimping or plugging the top should also cut down on the amount of condensate ejected out the stack when the engine is cold.

.The part on the right is a plug which fits into the hole in the steam dome.  It's possible that you could do this on a drill press with a file, but a metal lathe is much better.  Make the plug to the dimensions indicated, then silver solder a brass whistle and two pop valve castings into three of the small holes.  (I used a Trackside Details whistle and made pop valves from brass rod.)  This design permits the steam from the safety valve to escape, while giving a prototypical appearance (photo).

Exhaust resonator and dome plug.  (Click on drawing for full-size.)

Dome plug with whistle and pop valves soldered in.

Speaking of the steam dome and safety valve, Sulphur Springs has a replacement safety available which boosts the working pressure to 40psi.  This really makes a difference in the engine's performance.   John Thomson has found a simple way to raise the working boiler pressure by modifying the Accucraft safety.  Disassemble the safety valve and stretch the spring so it's 3/4" long (18mm).  Reassemble the safety valve, using a small washer to help compress the spring (the hole should fit over the 3mm shaft; I think a No. 2 would work, if you're using US modeling fasteners).  Stretching the spring like this gives you very close to 40 psi.  According to Accucraft, one Ruby boiler was tested to 250 psi to see if it would fail catastrophically, and it did not.  So, 40 psi should be perfectly safe.  (Test it, if you feel any doubts about this.  John reports much improved performance.  As always, I just repeat these techniques, but don't guarantee they'll work and certainly bear no responsibility for results, etc. etc..)

The file at right shows another Ruby fan's take on the possibilities.  Click on the thumbnail to see the file full-size.  (Thanks to C. Cleat for sending the drawings.) Possible alternate Ruby configurations.

This shows a Forney conversion by Larry Bangham.  What you can't see in the picture is Larry's momentum device, which is built into the bunker.  (Larry described the principle in Steam in the Garden magazine, March/April 99, "Simulating train loads and momentum". (Click on photo to view at full size.)
Forney conversion

Jon Bloom's Forney conversion
Jon Bloom is another of the many Forney fans who has transformed the Ruby into this charming type.  (Click on photo to view at full size.)

John Thomson added pilot and trailing wheels to create a 2-4-2 "Columbia" type.  (Click on photo to view at full size.) 2-4-2 Ruby conversion

Kevin Strong's Hawaiin 2-4-2
Kevin Strong is doing his usual top-drawer job bashing this Ruby into a model of the Lahaina, Kaanapali & Pacific Railroad's 2-4-2.  He's using many cool techniques that should inspire and encourage us all.  Look at the extensive web page he's put together on his Ruby modifications. There are lots of great tips and techniques there. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Lloyd "Salty Chief" Fogelquist has done another fine Forney conversion by modifying commercial products (cab and pilot) and scratchbuilding (stack, headlight, bunker).  (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Lou Banning's 0-4-2
Lou Banning's lumber mill 0-4-2 is looking sharp with a new pilot, cab and paint job. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

John McGann has done a spectacular job on this Ruby conversion.  Scratchbuilt wood cab and pilot, fluted domes and a lot of detailing make this into a totally different locomotive.  (Click on photo to view at full size.) John McGann's 0-4-4 conversion

Clem Ojevich's Forney
Clem Ojevich's stylish realization of the FH&PB Forney kit.

This no-nonsense saddle tanker was built by Jeff Young, and modeled after the Huntsville & Lake of Bays Railway in Ontario.  The gray paint makes it look deceptively simple, until you start looking at the detailing or counting the individually-inserted rivet heads! (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Would you believe a Ruby Garratt?  Clark Lord sent this picture of Dave Hottmann's creation.  Though the cosmetics have been kept very close to the original, the boiler is a completely new fabrication, along with the bunkers.  Wow! (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Winn Erdman's Forney conversion uses the metal Ruby cab, ingeniously covered with iron-on real wood strips.  This material is used to apply an attractive edging to plywood shelves, and is available in rolls at home improvement and woodworking stores. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Here's my conversion to an 0-4-2ST. The model is based on an 1890 sugar engine for the Kahuku Plantation in Hawaii (and currently pulling trains in California). Plans came from the Narrow Gauge and Short Line Gazette. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Here's another of Kevin Strong's fine locos for his Tionesta Valley Railroad. Some interesting features include the extended smokebox, scratchbuilt rear truck and "Russia iron" boiler jacket. (Click on photo to view at full size.) TVRR 0-4-4

Scot Lawrence's "Angel" Scot Lawrence took a Ruby, a cab and truck made by Fall River Productions and a FH&PB pilot kit and came up with a gorgeous executive inspection locomotive. Wow! . (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Allan Cash has gone far beyond the typical modifications by making an articulated steam truck from the Ruby frame, then building a Mason Bogie locomotive from it. Wow! (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Howard Maculsey's 0-4-2 And here's another 0-4-2 conversion, also based loosely on the "Kahuku" (now at the Roaring Camp & Big Trees tourist railroad). Howard Maculsey has done a fantastic job on this one. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

This beautiful 2-4-0 is loosely based on the Denver & Rio Grande's loco Montezuma. Jay Kovac used a plan in the Narrow Gauge & Short Line Gazette, as well as the tender plan above, to construct it. And what a beautiful paint job! (Click on photo to view at full size.) Jay Kovac's "Montezuma"

This British, standard-gauge model was built by John Rogers of the Gauge 1 Model Railway Association. It represents a class B4 shunting engine used on the Southern Railway. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

David Fletcher's Nefertiti is a gorgeous conversion using a Bronson-Tate cab, Cedarleaf decals and a huge amount of creativity. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Sonny Wizelman combined a Ruby, a GAGE single-cylinder stationary engine and parts of a Missouri Loco Co. Falk to come up with this splendid logging engine. The winch works, and will pull an impressive load. Photographed at the 2010 International Small-Scale Steamup.
(Click on photo to view at full size.)

Is it still a Ruby, if the running gear is scratchbuilt? Chris Sortina created this 2-6-0 using a lot of Ruby parts, and a lot of scratchbuilding. You can always tell Chris' work by the lovely patinas he uses on the brass and copper parts. Photographed at the 2010 International Small-Scale Steamup.
(Click on photo to view at full size.)

These are just a couple of the fleet of Ruby-based locos by the prodigiously prolific Norm Saley. Photographed at the 2010 International Small-Scale Steamup.
(Click on photo to view at full size.)

Richard Jacobs turned this Ruby into a beautiful saddle tanker. He used a plating process to get the surface finish. Photographed at the 2010 International Small-Scale Steamup. (Click on photo to view at full size.)

Larry Newman's single Fairlie is based on a small prototype,  the Mason Bogie "Onward". It's a perfect fit! Like Al Cash, Larry used David Fletcher's master class on for guidance.(Click on photo to view at full size.)

Jim Schulz used a Ruby as the basis for this Chicago elevated railway loco. Nice work! (Click on photo to view at full size.)

For more photos of Ruby modifications, see my photos of Ruby projects from 2001 International Small-Scale Steamup.

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Last updated 02 November, 2021
Copyright © 1999-2021 by: Vance R. Bass. All rights reserved. Photos on this page are the property of their creators.  Please use any and all information contained herein for your hobby enjoyment. If you're going to make money from it, talk to me first.