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About Jack Shall

I've been a model railroader and railfan for well over 60 years now. My interests lie in the steam era and the early diesel era. My modeling has been in HO, but I do have a closet interest in Fn3 :-) It's been a number of years since I've done any layout construction, and the new Louisiana Central pike under construction is by far my most ambitious effort. Follow along with me on this new adventure of the Louisiana Central.

Photos Past: Details on a Working Steamer

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a couple photographs of the Standard Gravel Company’s ex-T&NO (SP) 0-6-0 switcher. Today I thought I’d throw in a couple detail images of the #124. In this close-up of the steamer’s running gear we see the piston rod, and the crosshead and guide, along with the main rod which connects to the number three driver. It’s been a long time since this old girl has seen a steam/hot water bath, much less a paint job!

ex TN&O (SP) #124 Valve Gear

And here slightly right of center, we see the details of the water injector, along with (most of) the air pump, below left. At the top right (just in front of the cab) is the dynamo (the steam driven electrical generator). As bad as she looks, she is still functional.

ex TN&O (SP) #124 Injector

LCRR: Shop Cabinets Installed

I haven’t posted a progress report since late December of last year as there really wasn’t much to report on. Lots of small things were taking place, but nothing to post of “milestone” significance. However in this first progress report of 2023, I’m happy to announce that the new shop cabinets have finally been built and installed.

Shop cabinets, right side
At right: the workbench side of the cabinets. Model building occurs at the open area between the drawer stacks (I’ll use a drafting stool on casters here), and there will be a small sink near the wall at left.
Shop cabinets, left side
At left: this side is mostly storage, and for miscellaneous countertop “activities”.

I was able to salvage all of the hardware from the original cabinets, and most of the drawers (those with the white finish). The base board trim and shoe mold need to be applied next. I’ll be painting the new cabinets white as before. The countertops will receive plastic laminate, which worked very well for me in the past. I use a large cutting mat at my work position where the “rough” work occurs.

I’ve also purchased the flooring for the main train room itself. I chose to use LVT planks (each 9″ x 60″ in size) installed over a thin foam moisture barrier mat. These interlocking planks will give me a “floating” floor system. The layout has 52 support legs, so this type of flooring will (hopefully) make the job easier. I can remove a single leg or two at a time to enable sliding in a tile, and will have to plan the work carefully to get the flooring installed. I’ll start putting the flooring down right after getting these cabinets painted.

The light is showing down at the far end of the tunnel! 😁

Photos Past: Steam at Work . . . in 1965

The Standard Gravel Company, part of the Green Brothers holdings, used a number of steamers up through the 1960s. Here are a couple of old and tired ex-T&NO (SP) 0-6-0 switchers still in service at the pit near Franklinton, Louisiana in 1965. Engine #124 on the left has finished its work for the morning and rests patiently while the crew goes to lunch. If you look closely, you’ll notice the tender tank is upside down. The tender was leaking badly and some enterprising soul solved the problem by inverting the tank, modifying it as necessary. The engine #156 on the right has one of the unusual “sausage” tenders that the SP used.

Green Bros 0-6-0 Switchers

Photos Past: Union Pacific #3985

The Union Pacific Railroad ran an excursion special between Houston and College Station, Texas back in the summer of 1995. At the point was U.P. steam locomotive #3985, a 4-6-6-4 Challenger. At the time it was the largest operating steam locomotive in the country. Here she is pulling the train on the return leg of the journey heading toward Houston.


The Union Pacific side lined the locomotive after the 2010 season as it was in need of serious overhaul work. The U.P. instead decided to reacquire and restore one of their famous “Big Boy” 4-8-8-4 locomotives, the #4014. In 1962 it had been donated to the Railway and Locomotive Historical Society, and was on display in Fairplex at the RailGiants Train Museum in Pomona, California. As a result of this decision, the #3985 was officially retired in January 2020.

But there is good news for the steamer, as a deal was made with the Railroading Heritage of Midwest America to acquire the locomotive. It has been moved to the former Rock Island Railroad Silvis, Ill. shops, and its re-building is underway. The Challenger will eventually be back in service!

Photos Past: Texas State Railroad No. 500

The Texas State Railroad, a Texas state park, frequently runs steam powered trains on its system. Locomotive No. 500, a 4-6-2 Pacific of AT&SF heritage, is shown here rounding a bend in the late afternoon as she heads toward Palestine, Texas with its train in tow.

TSR 4-6-2 #500 Locomotive

The tidy little Pacific was built by Baldwin in 1911 as Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe #1316, Class 1309. She is currently out of service and on display at the Texas State Railroad.

Wiping Down the #3034 – An Addendum

I’ve shown several photos of women employed by the railroads during the war years of the 1940s, many of them as engine wipers. I came across this Jack Delano photograph recently that I didn’t recall having seen before. After studying it for awhile, I realized that I had seen both this locomotive and several of these ladies in other images.

The scene is at the Chicago and North Western’s roundhouse in Clinton, Iowa in April of 1943. The locomotive is an “H” Class 4-8-4 steamer, the number 3034. The team of ladies are coming out to wash and wipe down the locomotive. At left, holding an oil can is Mrs. Dorothy Lucke, and at center, also holding an oil can is Mrs. Marcella Hart.

Women Engine Wipers at Work, C&NW Railroad

Mrs. Hart, along with another lady Mrs. Viola Sievers, was previously seen in a photograph climbing the stairs of the locomotive. In another image Mrs. Sievers is again shown washing the locomotive’s running gear.

This image shows the ladies having their lunch in the lunch room. Mrs. Hart is the lady at left wearing the red head scarf. Mrs. Sievers is the third from left on the far row. An unidentified lady present in the photo above (at far right) is also seen in the lunch room photograph, the second from left on the far row.

I surely wish all of these ladies had been identified so that their memory would be coupled to this photograph.

1970s Memories: Review VII

The east end of the Illinois Central’s (now Canadian National) Hammond District ends at the McComb District in Hammond, Louisiana. This signal controls entry from this east-west line into the north-south mainline heading up to Chicago from New Orleans.

After the I.C. merger into the C.N. in 1999, the districts were renamed as subdivisions. This junction remains, but the signals have since been replaced by newer models.

Entering CTC Territory

1970s Memories: Review IV

The fourth in this series of photographs, this scene is also at the old Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad station (now the  the Louisiana Art and Science Museum) located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

For many years an old former Illinois Central 0-6-0 steam locomotive was parked on display at the north end of the station platform.  One afternoon while studying the locomotive I captured this view of the steamer’s driving wheels and valve gear.

IC 0-6-0 Valve Gear

1970s Memories: Review III

I used to occasionally drive over to the west bank of the Mississippi River across from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to do a little railfanning.  Of course I would always check out Plaquemine as part of my route.  The Texas & Pacific (now Union Pacific) runs right through the center of town, and with an abundance of interesting structures on either side of the tracks, there was always something of interest to photograph while waiting around for a train to rumble by.

Here’s one such subject that I caught one afternoon during the lull.

Plaquemine, Louisiana