Tom Mix’s Exquisite Proto:48 Locomotives

Author gene48

The art of scratch building is alive and well in Colorado

Photos and models by Tom Mix with commentary by Norm Buckhart and Gene Deimlin

Tom Mix’s scratch building efforts first appeared in The Proto Journal in the fall 1994 issue. The article showed has layout and the start of an impressive Burlington M-4 2-10-4 “Texas” type. The article promised a follow-up on progress made by Tom. The follow material is the first part of three articles detailing the magnificent work of Tom Mix.

Tom Mix is a retired US Marine Corp officer who currently lives in Monument, Colorado. He has been a longtime proponent of P:48 and its predecessor 1/4″ AAR. His first attempts appeared in the Model Railroader many years ago.

Tom models the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy and some of their subsidiaries. While the Burlington was a large railroad, it didn’t attract a lot of imported models to work with. Scratch building was the only alternative if you wanted accurate models of your favorite roads and its engines.

The first model to be featured in The Proto Journal is the Burlington O-2 Mikado. It was a most unusual prototype since it was designed and built in 1912 to burn a rather low-grade coal called lignite. The Burlington compensated for the poor qualities of the fuel with a few design changes to the locomotive such as the extended smokebox. This one feature had a large impact on the appearance of the engine. Some of the early Harriman and later UP power had this feature as well.

The O-2 was built from brass and nickel silver material using commercial cast and parts where possible. The drivers started out as O gauge drives sets from Precision Scale Company intended to go in an older model AC cab forward.

Tom disassembled them making new counterweights, axels and stainless steel tires. The rods are fabricated from nickel silver and include forked ends. Tom fabricated the crossheads and valve gear as well. The power reverse is also scratch built and it is functional to the extent that the linkage actually shifts the valve gear motion when the engine changes direction.

Tom points out that the O-2 had another unusual feature in that the cylinders lacked the normal pipes connecting to the smokebox. Apparently the engine must have had some form of inside exhaust outlet.

The Burlington used an unusual headlight on their older power. It was called a “cuckoo clock”, and identified it as a Burlington locomotive. It looks like it was converted from an old arc light. I am not sure if they ere converted to electricity in the early part of the 20 th century.

The second model to be featured in this issue is a diminutive K-2 class 4-6-0 for the Burlington from 1892 to 1895. These little kettles served the Burlington as branch line powered for many years after more modern power bumped them from mainline assignments. Tom was fortunate in that this prototype still exists in the form of one locomotive at the Illinois Railway Museum located in Union, Illinois northwest of Chicago.

Tom followed his traditional approach to building the model starting with the drivers and the frame. The drivers are heavily modified centers obtained from Precision Scale Company with new counter-weights, axels and stainless steel tires. The chassis is milled from brass and is fully sprung.

Tom fabricated the rods from nickel silver sheet. The boiler, cab and tender are fabricated from sheet brass. You will note that the boiler was a Belpaire style similar to what was used on the Pennsylvania Railroad and the Great Northern. This detail does add to the complication of fabricating the boiler. Tom even fabricated a pair of Burlington # 102 trucks for the tender.

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