Black Beetles and Stanton Drives

I’ve been occupied with other model railway projects lately, including speaking at the NMRA Lone Star Region annual convention in Texas, and setting up my home layout (Port Rowan) to be used as a location in a film. So work on anything related to the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway has taken a back seat.

But I have been busy acquiring things that I’ll need in order to model the line in 1:64.

Before I commit to building an NS&T layout, I have four criteria to satisfy. One of my criteria is to build the kits for various freight motors that I’ve acquired from William Flatt, and get them running to my satisfaction.

In order to achieve this goal, I have been creating a parts list for each freight motor (which I will share in future posts, once the lists are complete). At the top of each list is suitable power trucks: These are essential to getting them running, after all.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve placed orders with two suppliers, as recommended by William.

The first is Steam Era Models – an Australian company run by David Foulkes. Steam Era Models has been around for many years: In fact, back in the 1990s when I modelled the Boston and Maine Railroad in HO scale I acquired one of David’s plastic kits for a Victorian Railways Diesel Electric Rail Motor (DERM). At the time, Walthers had not yet introduced its model of an EMC gas-electric, and this was the most suitable starting point I could find to model the EMC doodlebugs that ran on the B&M:

Boston Maine Claremont Branch - Staging Yard
(The Steam Era Models doodlebug at right blends in nicely with my Boston & Maine equipment. You would never know its an Australian prototype. This was the staging yard on my HO layout.)

The model included a Black Beetle – a power truck of David’s own design. It was wonderful.

Fast forward about 20 years, and David has achieved international recognition for these power trucks, which he offers in several options. One picks the wheelbase, gauge, wheel type, wheel diameter and profile, and the gear ratio, and he builds them to order. William has used these under several of his models, and designed his white metal side frame castings to fit them.

I ordered two Black Beetles for Number 17 and a pair for Number 20, so I can now start work on those two motors:

Black Beetles
(Black Beetles for Number 20 (left) are built to 31mm wheelbase, while the trucks for Number 17 are 33.5mm wheelbase. Both locos ride on 14mm diameter disc wheels. I chose the Code 88 wheel profile (Proto:64) to match the NWSL finescale wheels I use on my freight cars, and the 27:1 gear ratio because that results in a slower, smoother drive. David installed the wires between the motor and pickups to test the trucks, but left them long so I can cut them and use them as leads for the DCC decoders. Normally they would be tight to the truck body.)

Interestingly, when I contacted David about these power trucks he asked if I had bought a Victorian Railways DERM from him many years ago. Great memory!

The NS&T also had three freight motors (8, 15, and 19) with trucks featuring an eight-foot wheelbase. For these, I decided to use Stanton Drives from Northwest Short Line. These run faster than the 27:1 Black Beetles, but I’m confident I can knock down their top speed through CV settings in my DCC decoders. I have acquired two Stanton Drives, which will do one of the freight motors. My order is in for four more to cover the other two. (UPDATE: These arrived July 30th)

Stanton Drives
(Stanton Drives from NWSL. As the packages note, they’re eight-foot wheelbase, with 36″ diameter code 87 wheel profiles, and DCC ready.)

While it doubles the expense, I decided to power both trucks on each freight motor. They will be pulling trains – admittedly short, but possibly up and down grades – so the extra horsepower will be welcome.

NS&T sweeper 22 – St. Catharines

The Niagara St. Catharines and Toronto Railway owned a variety of non-revenue equipment, obtained from a variety of sources. Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NST 22 - Car barns

NS&T 22 – St Catharines. Photographer and date unknown

NS&T built the 22 in 1920. It was 44′-9″ long, weighed 58,800 pounds, and rode on a pair of 6′ Taylor trucks. The unit was rebuilt in 1946 and sent to the Oshawa Railway in 1960. Originally, this unit had wooden end hoods to cover the sweeper motors. In later years, as seen here, the hoods were removed.

Number 22 is seen here in the yard at the Welland Avenue car barns in St. Catharines. To its left is NS&T freight motor 20, a 55-ton GE model about which I’ve previously written.

To its right, there’s a decent view of the section of the building that was devoted to maintaining CN Transport Ltd buses. (The CGTX tank car is a mystery – I’m not sure what it’s delivering to the car barns – possibly fuel for the buses?)

At the extreme right, another freight motor slumbers. It could be NS&T 18 or NS&T 21: Both featured unique bow-shaped handrail supports, and one of these is visible in the photo – to the left of the hood.

I’ll share another photo of a sweeper tomorrow.

NS&T 82, 20, 17 – Welland Avenue car barns

The Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway had an eclectic collection of equipment, often on display at the car barn – a city block-sized yard on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines. Here’s an example from the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt:

NS&T 82, 20, 17 - Welland Avenue Car Barn

NS&T 82, 20 and 17 – St. Catharines. Photographer and date unknown.

The photographer is standing near the front of the car barn at the east side of the yard, shooting northwest. Welland Avenue is on the other side of the fence, behind the equipment.

I’ve determined that this map conveys a pretty good representation of the trackage and facilities in this yard:

Welland Avenue car barns - map

1923 St. Catharines fire map – Brock University historical maps digital collection

I do like the paint scheme on these three units. While it’s a standard CNR green, the window frames and doors on the freight motors are nicely picked out in orange – and those black and white sills and pilots sure eye-catching.

Number 82 can barely be seen at the left (west) side of the photo. This car was built by the NS&T in 1925, for the Toronto Suburban Railway. It uses a standard underframe designed by CNR for its self-propelled diesel electric rail motors. As built, the car seated 72 passengers, was 61′-9″ long, and weighed 80,000 pounds. Sharp-eyed readers will note it has a baggage door in its side. Car 82 was rebuilt in 1956 as an express motor. It was scrapped in 1959 – so that narrows down the year for this photo.

As mentioned previously on this blog, NS&T 20 was built by General Electric in 1914 as South Brooklyn Railway #6. The NS&T acquired it in 1938 in a trade with a dealer in Toronto. It was a 55-Ton steeple cab, which was scrapped in 1960. A few years ago, I acquired a photo-etched kit for this locomotive designed by William, so it’ll definitely show up on any layout I build.

I also have a photo-etched kit from William for NS&T 17 – a handsome freight motor with pronounced curves on the ends of its hoods, and cab-side doors. Number 17 was a 50-ton freight motor built by National Steel Car in 1918 for the Queenston Power Canal Construction Railway as that line’s number E-9. It was one of two freight motors acquired by the NS&T from the construction railway in 1926 – the other being the NS&T’s second Number 16. While the second 16 was rebuilt with a new cab in 1930, the 17 retained its original configuration. Number 17 was transferred to the CNR’s electric line in Oshawa, Ontario when the NS&T converted to diesel in 1960, and was scrapped in 1964.

As I ponder possible scenes to include on a layout, the Welland Avenue yard and car barn is tempting. That said, if I end up not building a layout (still a possibility), it would make a nice diorama – a great place to display the variety of equipment once owned by the NS&T.

NS&T 20 – Port Colborne

I’ve shared a lot of images of equipment in the north end of the NS&T system. Let’s look at the south end now…

I’m working my way through the collection of photographs, maps and other materials I’ve recently acquired from William Flatt. In a post a couple of days ago, I shared a photo of a freight headed to Port Colborne. Let’s go back to the south end of the Welland Division now:

NS&T 20 - Port Colborne

NS&T 20 and CNR caboose – Port Colborne. Photographer and date unknown.

NS&T 20 was built by General Electric in 1914 as South Brooklyn Railway #6. The NS&T acquired it in 1938 in a trade with a dealer in Toronto. It was a 55-Ton steeple cab, which was scrapped in 1960.

A few years ago, I acquired a photo-etched kit for this locomotive designed by William, so it’ll definitely show up on any layout I build.

This location is identified by John Wigt in a similar photo as the “layover spur” in Port Colborne. This is the present location of Princess Street, between King and Catherine. There was a business on the lot across King Street, where the 7-Eleven convenience store is now located.

The following photo shows the same house in the above photo in more recent days. It’s now the Port Colborne Historical and Marine Museum:

Port Colborne - Layover Siding - Google Streetview

Location of NS&T layover siding, Port Colborne – Google Streetview 2014

Comparing these two photos, it’s clear the NS&T layover siding must’ve run where this segment of Princess Street is now located.

UPDATE: Thanks to reader Gregory Ayres, I’ve now learned that’s incorrect. Greg contacted me via the comments for this post and I took another look. I also consulted maps and vintage aerial photos of Port Colborne, including those at Brock University and at the Niagara Region Navigator. Based on this, I’ve concurred with Gregory that Princess Street existed to the north of the tracks. Here are some aerial views:

Port Colborne - layover - Aerial photo 1934

Close-up of 1934 Aerial Photo – Niagara Region Navigator.

I have labelled Princess Street and the CNR depot. The track closest to the depot is the CNR line, while the NS&T is the next line to the north. An NS&T passenger car is in front of the CNR depot – as evidenced by the shadow it casts. Note the NS&T line comes in from the north on the left side, curving east to parallel the CNR, then curves north again at the canal (extreme right edge).

(As an aside, on the south side of the CNR line just west of the depot, there’s a large structure and two spurs entering the property from the west. That’s the CNR freight shed. At least seven boxcars are spotted at the shed and in the team area behind it.)

Based on the 1934 aerial photo, here’s an aerial courtesy of Google Street View, on which I’ve drawn in some trackage:


Princess Street, Port Colborne – Google Street View.

The white lines represent the NS&T main track and layover spur. The NS&T also had a crossover in this area to connect with the CNR. CNR lines are drawn in green. The CNR freight shed would’ve been in the large parking lot on the south side of the tracks – and I’ve included a pair of lines to represent the approximate locations of the spurs serving it. The CNR station is out of view to the right.

I based the updated location of the layover track, in part, on a second photo of NS&T 20 from the collection I recently acquired:

NST20+CN77234 - Port Colborne

NS&T 20 and CNR 77234 – Port Colborne. Photographer and date unknown.

The building at left, in the shade, is the red building seen in the preceding photo. There are vehicles parked in front of it, and obviously they would access this parking area via Princess Street. The weed-covered track in front of the freight motor is the NS&T main track, while the well-groomed track in the lower right corner is the CNR main track.

As explained elsewhere, any CNR vans assigned to an electric line such as the NS&T would’ve had their caboose stoves grounded for safety under the overhead wire, so once they were so assigned they would tend to stay on the property. Therefore, CNR 77234 would’ve been a regular visitor to Port Colborne.

This broader view illustrates the relationship between the house (now museum), Princess Street, the parking area on the south side of Princess (formerly the NS&T RoW), and the the CNR track and station (at right).

Port Colborne - NS&T and CNR - GSV

Port Colborne – Princess Street and CNR station – Google Streetview 2014

Today, the CNR track swings north onto the line that used to belong to the NS&T. The lift bridge at the extreme right carries Clarence Street over the canal. At one time, the CNR had its own lift bridge to the left of this one.

Port Colborne was the site of Robin Hood Flour Mills – a major customer for the NS&T. I discussed the mill in an earlier post.