I have completed the assembly of the model locomotive and tender that I received as a Christmas gift. As I pointed out in my last post, I had not built a model since I was a teenager back in the middle of the last century. There are eighteen separate steps in the assembly process, and it took me an hour or more for each step. In total, I completed the project in about thirty hours. The kit is manufactured in China by Rokr. The parts are cardboard-thin, fine-grained plywood. I broke a couple of the fragile laser-cut pieces in the process, but was able to glue them back together satisfactorily. The instructions are excellent, with detailed illustrations for each step.
Although the packaging claims the model is an 1860s locomotive, it is not. The 2-6-2 wheel configuration (two small leading, six large driving, and two small trailing wheels) identifies the locomotive as a “Prairie” model. Such locomotives did not appear in the United States until 1900. Eventually, more than a thousand “Prairie” locomotives ran on US rails. As I assembled the kit it became obvious the primary design of the model was European. The addition of a diamond smokestack gives the impression it is a wood-burning locomotive. The “Prairie” had a straight stack because it was a coal-burning engine. Another addition is a cowcatcher. A cowcatcher was seldom used in Europe because they did not have to push free-ranging cattle or roaming buffalo off their tracks.
Great fun! But now I must get back to writing. The locomotive sits on my bookcase right above my computer–a fitting tribute to my trilogy The Iron Horse Chronicles.