Illinois Central 4-8-2 Mountain Type #2350 . This is my new Illinois Central 4-8-2 Mountain Type #2350. I started building it in November of 2009 and I finished in February of 2010. The model is 8-wide, but reaches 10-wide at the pistons. It is about 11 bricks tall and a little over 21” long. This model features the large drive wheels and train wheels from Big Ben Bricks LLC. The locomotive is fully operational on Lego track including switches and cross track .
See the 2350 in action in the trailer I created below.
The 2350 was built by Lima Locomotive Works in 1924 and it was scrapped in December of 1956.
The 2350 had 70” drive wheels.
The engineer oiling the bearings on the drive wheels.
The 2350’s tender could hold 16500 gallons of water and 24 tons of coal.
I must confess to the only non-Lego thing. I used two green LEDs that I filed down to fit as the marker lights on the front.
The locomotive and tender together weighed 699000 pounds.
A clear view inside the cab with the roof removed.
In real life, the 2350 was designed for an 18-degree curve. My design can handle a much sharper curve.
Out on the catwalk.
The Making of the 2350
Through building the 2350, I learned that Lego steam locomotives are some of the most rewarding things that a fan of Lego trains can build. Not only is the end result an amazing creation that also functions, but also the process through which the end result was achieved is amazing. To build a successful Lego steam locomotive, a builder must over come large and small problems. Lego steam is a challenge only for the determined builder. The finicky nature of Lego steam can be maddening. I do not wish to turn anyone off to Lego steam. I wish to encourage people to try it, because when they succeeded, they will understand the great feeling of satisfaction that I felt and still feel.
When I started the project in November of 2009, I had been reading the “Building Up Steam” series of articles in RailBricks Magazine. These articles helped me along the way, and also gave me some of the original inspiration. In the articles, it suggested starting out with an easy wheel arrangement such as an 0-6-0 switcher for your first locomotive. The logic behind this suggestion made complete sense, but I didn’t want to waist my time starting out easy when I knew exactly what I wanted to build. The 4-8-2 wheel arrangement has no ground on a 4-8-8-4, but it is still one of the more challenging wheel arrangements.
I once again took a route different from what was suggested by building most of the locomotive body and tender before working on the wheel arrangement. This can cause problems later on, but I did not want the wheels dictating the locomotive. I wanted it too look realistic and then shape the wheel arrangement to fit with the locomotive.
Soon after receiving the steam engine wheels as a Christmas gift, I started work on an operational 4-8-2 wheel arrangement. The stacked bricks are measuring the tender since at around the same time I was seeing how much space needed to be between the wheels and the main body of the locomotive. The tender height helped to dictate the height of the rest of the locomotive.
An early problem that I encountered with the locomotive was that as I tested my ever-changing designs on my layout, the locomotive tended to derail at the curves. This told me a lot. I knew what was causing the problems thanks to Physics. I put my favorite subject to work and considered two concepts: momentum and center of mass. Momentum told me that P(momentum)=M(mass)*V(velocity). It hit the curves and was forced to change direction and that caused the derailments. To ease this, I knew that I either had to drive more slowly (impossible because I was already going as slow as I could and in the end I wanted a wide range of speeds for the locomotive) or I had to decrease the mass. I chose the second option and worked to eliminate any piece that was not essential. While doing this, the second concept became important. Keeping as much mass as I could away from the ends of the locomotive would make it more stable as it went through curves. This scientific approach brought me through my first set of hurdles.
With derailments plaguing my every attempt to move the 2350 though diverging switch points, I decided that my train layout was not an ideal place to observe what was going wrong. Uneven track and a bad view of what was going on were not conditions that would solve the problem. I searched for a well lit, flat, and controlled environment to examine the issue. After carefully clearing everything off my Mom’s desk in the heart of the “Lego Room” I set up some track and began to work.
I sat for a very long time, running the wheels with out the locomotive body back and forth through the switch point by hand. Eventually I saw the problem. The coupler on the trailing truck was not able to handle going through the curve immediately after the switch point. The magnet wanted to stay coupled to the tender and so the trailing truck derailed.
In the photo above, you can see the new coupler design that allowed for more rotation and movement compared to the disassembled former coupler design (laying in pieces). Problem solved…at least for the moment.
In the photo above the new coupler design struts its stuff as trial after trial returns positive results and the wheel arrangement snakes through the switch.
As the months wore on and the 2350 continued to derail in my layout and perform perfectly outside of my layout, I began to realize that the problems were not always in the locomotive design. Uneven track became my new enemy and as in the photo above, I worked for weeks (not much free time with so much school work) to level the track throughout my layout to the 2350’s delight.
Eventually in February of 2010, I ironed out all of the problems and the 2350 was complete.
Thanks for visiting and please tell me what you think!