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Open Houses and Nordel MRRC Picnics


Utah Mountain Railroads


The layout consists of a single track main line with a return loop on each end and a small yard. The main line is 225 feet long. The locomotive pushes the switch points to the correct alignment as it completes each loop so continuous running is possible without attending to switch alignment. The track drops in 7.2% grades from the loop switches at both ends to a low-level meeting place at the pedestrian crossing on the steps near the center of the layout.


About 3/4 of the main line track is laid on 1" unfinished cypress. The rest sits over a 2" deep trench with a 0 to 1-1/2" deep sand sublayer covered by chicken grit ballast. The track and switches are Aristocraft with brass rail. A long trestle crosses a waterfall and skirts a fish pond.

The Ravages of Nature


The car roster includes a variety of freight and passenger cars and a TV camera car which transmits to a trackside TV set.


Power & Control
Having return loops on each end of the layout prevents the use of conventional DC track power for continuous unattended running because of the need for polarity reversal whenever a train runs through a loop. The solution I adopted was on-board battery power and radio control. The locomotives are equipped with radio receivers which receive signals from a hand-held transmitter having a range of about 75-100 feet.


The prototypes for these two locomotives were designed for use on short, narrow-gauge, branch lines with heavy grades and sharp curves, and where speed was not important. Their coal and water loads could be relatively small, due to short runs, allowing them to be carried on-board the locomotives where the extra weight helped to increase the tractive effort. This also eliminated the need for a trailing tender—which is typically required for steam engines—which would just be dead weight to be dragged up the steep grades. These are very important features on heavy grades where a tender would restrict the number of cars a locomotive could pull. The location of the mallet's water tanks alongside the boiler, instead of in a tender, makes it a "tank type" locomotivehence the "T" designation in "2-6-6-2T."

In order to take advantage of the extra weight over the driversin the form of tractive effortthe Shay uses geared drivers which convert the piston strokes to a very powerful, but slow, driver rotation. The Mallet has small diameter drivers which likewise convert the piston strokes to a high tractive effort at the expense of speed.

Typical users of these locomotives were not railroad companies, but mining and lumber companies whose commodities were located deep in the mountains. The challenging nature of these rights-of-way and trackage, which required the use of Shays and tank-type Mallets, was a consequence of minimal spending on building trackage that was considered to be temporary.