Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Modeling SP's Road Switchers (Part 2) - Medium Steam Engines

This is the second post of Modeling SP's Road Switchers, which I would classify as medium size.  In Modeling SP's Road Switchers (Part 1), where I covered SP 0-6-0, 2-6-0, 2-8-0, 4-6-0, and 0-8-0s.

In this post, I will focus more on the next group of engines heavier, primarily the medium sized Mk (2-8-2) type.  When these engines were built they were among the SP's biggest steam engines and were used in freight and some passenger service for the engines with 63" drivers.

The prices listed below would be what I would consider to be "Fair" market value for a model in good condition in February 2017 without DCC.  In most cases the low price would be for a model requiring a new paint job and the higher price what a model with minimal repainting would be "fair".

SP 2-8-2 Mikes


SP 3208, a Mk-2 class 2-8-2.  Photo from Eddie Sims Collection, used with permission.

The SP's smallest standard 2-8-2s were the 57" drivered engines of the Mk-2 and Mk-4 classes.  These two classes of engine outlasted the larger Mk-5 and -6 class engines.  The Mk-2s and -4s lived until 1954 and 1955 the various locals around Oakland, Tracy, Mojave, and San Jose.  They also show naturally up as heavy switchers around Oakland and Los Angeles.

SP Mk-2 Class - Sunset ($400-450) & Division Point ($900-1100+)


The left side of an Mk-2 Class from Sunset Models.

The right side of an Mk-2 Class from Sunset Models.

The Mk-2's were assigned to numbers 3200-3215.  These were built in 1911 with 57" drivers, converted to oil firing in 1912 and superheated between 1917 and 1919.  Several were rebuilt to Mk-4 specifications between 1929 and 1931.  Several of these engines lasted until 1954 and 1956, when finally replaced by GP9s in local service.

SP Mk-4 Class - Sunset ($400-450) & Division Point ($900-1100+)


The left side of an Mk-4 from Sunset Models with an extra "120-C-2" also from Sunset from a 2-10-2.

The right side of a Mk-4 from Sunset Models with the corrected cylinders.

The Mk-4s were assigned numbers 3216-3235.  These were built in 1913 and upgraded several times over the years.  Five engines built for the Arizona Eastern (AE 901-905) were transferred in 1921 and 1924 and numbered 3236-3249, bumping five of the SP 3236-series Mk-5s into the 3271-series. 

One quirk of the Sunset Models of the Mk-2 and Mk-4 class engines that they imported is that they swapped the valve gear between the two classes.  The models of the Mk-4s came with the slanted cylinders, more like the Stephenson valve gear, and the Mk-2s came with the piston valves in the standard outer position usually associated with Walschaerts valve gear.

Thankfully I was had one of each on hand.  I at first hoped that I could simply swap frames and they would fit on the other class boiler.  That however didn't work at all because the Mk-4 was about 12" scale inches shorter than the Mk-2.  What I was able to do is swap the valve gear between the two frames in about 20 minutes.  The photos below show the models after the corrective swap was made.

I talk more in-depth about the Sunset Mk-2 and Mk-4 models in my blog Correcting Sunset Models SP Mk-2 & Mk-4.

SP Mk-5 & -6 Class


The Mk-5 & -6 class engines were built with 63" drivers for mountain passenger assignments and also soon down graded to medium freight service.  Many were assigned to the T&NO (Texas Lines) and models of these are available with the signature "Dog house" on the tender for the brakeman.  I will be focusing on the Pacific Lines Mk-5/6s which did not have the "dog houses" primarily the Balboa Models which were the more common models.  Alco Models imported 2-8-2s that were only correct for one SP engine and with major rebuilding a second engine.

SP 3269 - Mk-6 - ALCo Models ($350-400)


SP 3269 with the Elesco FWH and piping in front of the stack.  Ryan Dora model & photo, used with permission.

SP 3269 and 3270 were odd-balls among the Pacific Lines engines as they're fitted with Elesco feed water heaters mounted across the top of the smoke box in front of the stack.  Alco Models has imported a model of the SP 3269.  The 3270 also was weird in that it was fitted with a longer UP-style smoke box.

The rest of the Mk-5s and -6s were basically identical.  Some were fitted with "Sport" cabs with their slanted front wall, while others retained their square cabs.

Balboa Mk-5/6 ($325-450)


Returning helper SP 3259 drifts light through Bealville at LMRC, San Diego.

The Mk-5's were built by Baldwin in  1913 and assigned numbers SP 3236-3249, but in 1921 and 1924 the first five were moved to the 3271-3275 series.  Most were rebuilt over the years with higher boiler pressures and other changes like super heating.  Most were retired between 1951 and 1953, with one lasting into 1956.

SP 3270 was also built in 1914 and loaned to Baldwin for the Pan Pacific Exposition in 1914 It finally entering service in 1915 on the SP classified as a Mk-5.  Its first rebuild saw it equipped with Elesco FWH in Dec 1920.  The SP 3270 was retired and scrapped in 1953.

SP 3271-3275 were the renumbered SP 3236-3240 which lasted into the 1952-1954 time frame.\

SP 3276 & 3277 were originally built as the AE 906 and 907 in 1917 and retired in 1953 and 1952 respectively.  The AE engines were fitted with a smaller sand dome, more like what SP 2-8-0s were fitted with and the position of the bell and the sand dome were reversed from other Mk-5s.

The Mk-6 class were built by Lima in late 1914 and were numbered in the series 3250-3269.  The Mk-6's were rebuilt back and forth to coal and oil over the years.  SP 3269 was fitted in 1921 with a Elesco FWH, one of only two SP Pacific Lines engines fitted with this type of feed water heater.  Most of the Mk-6's were retired between 1953 and 1954, with one lasting into 1957.  Many lost their FWH's during the early 1950s.

SP 3251 - Mk-6 - with Sunset 120-C-2 Tender ($100-150) 


SP 3251, an Mk-6 that lived for a long time based at SLO, and used on the King City Turn.

This model shows the forward sand dome and "Sport Cab" with the 120-C-2 tender from a Sunset 2-10-2

SP 3259 - Mk-6 - with Sunset 120-C-2 Tender ($100-150)


The left side of SP 3259 with changes including replacement MDC "Harriman" cab andwalkway changes.

The right side of SP 3259 with Sunset 120-C-2 tender.

SP 3266 - Mk-5 - with Athearn-Genesis 120-C-6 Tender ($80-90)


The left side of SP 3266 with FWH above the 4th driver and Ath-Gen 120-C-6 tender.

The right side of SP 3266 with Athearn-Genesis 120-C-6 tender. (weathering not complete on tender)

Other SP 2-8-2s


The SP also had some non-standard Mikes that they acquired second-hand from other RR's.  I will cover them briefly.

SP Mk-10 - Ex-Minarets & Western # Engines (SP 3296-3297)


The Minarets & Western Lumber Company at Pinedale, CA (near Fresno) was abandoned in 1935.  SP bought the two small 51" drivered Mikes and quickly assigned them to heavy yard switching duties in Northern California, at Dunsmuir.

Westside Models (WSM) imported (Sam. built) models of this class.  These models are more common to find than the Sunset Mk-2/4s, but unfortunately are much less useful if you're modeling areas other than Northern California or Oregon.

SP Mk-11 - Ex-Newaukum Valley # 521 & 522 (SP 3298 & 3299)


SP bought two more Mikes from Wm. Shenker, an equipment broker.  These two engines came via the dealer Georgia Car & Loco Co. in November 1940.  Both had 51" drivers and were retired in 1953 and 1954 in Brooklyn, OR.

SP Mk-7/8/9 - Ex-EP&SW Engines (3300-3324)


SP 3305 running as an Extra.  Eddie Sims Collection, used with permission

The Mk-7/8/9s were built for the EP&SW at ALCo in 1913 with high square cabs, which was a signature of the EP&SW's larger engines including the Mt-2s (4-8-2s).  The Mk-7/8/9s were assigned numbers SP 3300-3324.  Around 1930 they came west and were rebuilt to burn fuel oil.

These engines were retired between 1950 and 1955.  Many photos of them can be seen around Los Angeles, Oakland and Altamont Pass in the post-WW2 to mid-1950s retirement dates.  In later years these engines were also fitted with large 120-SC-class "Whaleback" tenders off retired AC-3s and AM-class engines.

North Shore Lines imported models of these Mikes, which are rather expensive if they can be found.

In Closing


SP 3202 switching at Owenyo, 143 miles from Mojave.  Eddie Sims Collection, used with permission.

That covers the mid-range of SP's Steam Road Switchers.  I'll cover working on some of these models in more detailed blogs in the future.  Next time, I'll cover some of SP's bigger engines, and some of the heavier passenger engines.

Jason Hill

Related Links:


Modeling the Shasta - A Passenger Assignment for an Mk-5/6

Modeling SP Mail Trains (Nos.55 & 56), the Tehachapi - Also used Mk-5/6s near the end in 1954.

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