Less than ten months (294 days, to be exact) after starting working on the 0-6-0 engine, I was able to run it on steam the very first time, on June 16th, 2004!

(The 3003 took me 726 days, so you can all calculate how soon my next engine will be finished - extrapolating linearly, I get a negative number... ;-)

Well, this 0-6-0 switcher engine, based on the Finnish State RR no. 666, and which I thus call "Little Beast", is by no means finished yet - quite a few things are missing. This test run, for instance, was made with the latent heat in the water in the boiler only - I left the propane bottle behind, since I have the 3003's propane car in Hango at the moment - this test was done on a 50-ft length of portable track outside my basement workshop in the Helsinki apartment building where I live. The side tanks are also not attached (where would I keep my feet otherwise?), so no water is pumped into the boiler during the run.

Below are a few pictures of the work that had to be done to be able to get it under steam - albeit only for a test run...

Left, the throttle valve at the smokebox end - this is the same design as on the 3003, i.e. a "bullet plug" type valve, see sketch below. On the right is the throttle gland and the burners at the backhead end of the boiler.

Steam and exhaust connections are with ordinary plumbing compression fittings.

Parts of the water pumps can be seen on the running board at right. The piston rod forward extensions function as water pumps!

Some of the backhead fittings under construction. Note the gas shutoff valve to one burner - the other is shut off with the main gas valve in a new flatcar, yet to be constructed, with a seat for the driver and space for a propane bottle.

The interior of the cab with some of the stuff installed. Whistle, water bypass and and brake valves are still to be made. I re-made the reverser bar to a more proper prototype-like design (compare with previous photo), even though this one is also generously oversize.

NOTE: I will change the upper connection to the water glass. The manifold (or turret) has connections to other equipment (brakes, pressure gauge, whistle), and the water level jumps up in the glass whenever steam is used. This is NOT a good practice. In my case, the whistle gets water in the steam! If there would be a blower or any other equipment using steam on a constant basis, the gauge glass would erroneously show too high a level instead of just a jump up and down - and this is outright dangerous! (Thanks, Ross Forsyth, for your comments regarding this!)

The burners give a nice glow, but I'll have to make some adjustments still, they flutter quite badly when I close the smokebox door. Probably too restricted exhaust flow, a somewhat larger smokestack diameter should fix that...

By the way, the first picture on this page doesn't really show how awkward it was to run this first trial, sitting on the cab roof. Precarious balance, to say the least. But at least it proved that the suspension and equalisation worked!

I was pleasantly surprised with how nimble the loco was - it ran, admittedly with little power, on a steam pressure of less than 1 bar (14 psi) - and this without any lubrication, just a squirt of oil into the valve cylinders before the run! This must be attributed to the Viton O-rings in the cylinders, and the Teflon piston valves.

There is a slight unevenness in the exhaust beats. That's because I haven't set the motion work properly, yet. I expect to be able to get it really even, because I've left some adjustment margins in a few places...

... which I took advantage of during the following weekend, when I tried out the loco on my 400 ft. track in Hango, just taken out of winter storage and put up on the lawn and gravel walks the previous weekend. Having a bit more than 50 ft. of track to run on, and using the 3003's propane car, I was able to make some 10 laps around the track before the boiler needed topping up - the feed pumps are still not connected...

By adjusting the Walshaert motion properly, I was able to get the exhaust beats evened out so you can't hear any syncopation at all, and was surprised at the power of this little switcher engine, compared to the 3003!

With no slipping at all, I was able to haul the pictured "load" up the 4% grade with power to spare. In fact, with a nice stack bark, I could inch my way slowly up the grade - which always had to be run with quite some speed with the 3003 - and this even with a steam pressure as low as 2 bars (30 psi). I wonder what grades I could make at the full steam pressure of 7 bars (100psi), before slipping starts to occur? Traction is so much better with 100% of the loco weight on the drivers, compared to only around 60% for the 4-4-0 - and the 0-6-0 is some 30 kgs (50 lbs) heavier, to boot.

However, since it has no front truck, the 0-6-0 is a bit more prone to derail - I still have a few spots on the track that will need some adjustment - I put up the track very quickly, in order to cater for a gathering of animators this weekend. We ran all 3 locos: the 3003, the "Quickie" and the still-not-quite -finished "Little Beast". The youngest visitor, little Rudolf, was no older than 1.6 years, but very interested in all of the locos and cars. This certainly is the right age to ignite the spark of interest in model railroading and live steam! ;-)

I also started to build a proper driver's/propane car for the 0-6-0 during the weekend. Here you can see the frame, made simply, using 5 x 25 mm flat iron, with 12 mm (1/2") square pedestals welded to the frame (using a simple jig for correct spacing during welding).This week, I'll make brass axle boxes with ball bearings, to fit the pedestals. The six tabs are for attaching the frame to the rest of the car.

Using water proof, resin coated plywood (my favorite car building material), I built an enclosure to hold the propane bottle as well as providing a seat for the driver...

... when the lid is put on. Still to be attached: seat padding, gas pressure gauge and shut-off valve, couplers and footrests, and a hand brake - I already have the wheels and axles turned, so I expect to be able to use this new car perhaps already next weekend...

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