“Oh Shay, can you see ”--a review of the K-Line
K3499-0028W Pacific Lumber Co. Scale Shay
By PAUL PULLEN
In the spring of 2002, the then new K-Line catalog showed a
new item, a two truck Shay was being offered. When I was serving
in the U.S. Army in the late 1960's, I was fascinated with the
Shay, and purchased an HO version manufactured by Pacific Fast
Mail. (Lionels and serving in Izmir, Turkey, did not mix too
I immediately placed an order for their Pacific Lumber Shay,
K3499-0028W. This was a step down from my three-truck Shay in
the 1960's, but I felt this one would run on my railroad, and
be a neat addition to the Buffalo Creek Railroad. The engine
is equipped with sound, smoke and a cruise control.
Photo 1 shows my Shay.
Three truck Shay's at Cass Scenic Railroad
are shown in Photo 2.
As soon as the engine arrived, I unpacked it, and dropped it
on the main line of the Buffalo Creek Railroad where I started
to put it through its paces. The main line of the BCRR is run
on O-42 curves, and the engine performed in a very satisfactory
manner on the main loop.
The engine is an excellent model of a Shay.
Photo 3 shows the cab and cylinder area of the K-Line Shay,
while Photo 4 shows the same area of a 3 Truck Shay at Cass Scenic
Railroad. The operation of the cylinders and gear are really
neat to watch as it runs. The engine responds well, although
it does seem to respond like my other "smart" locomotive,
a MTH PS-2 Consolidation. When you first power it on (in conventional
mode-my only means of powering my trains), the engine lights
come on, but nothing else seems to happen. Turn the power off,
and back on again, and the engine goes into the next operational
phase that the electronic e-unit has. Sound also starts with
the second power up of the engine. If you were last running in
forward, no matter how many hours or days ago, the engine will
next be in reverse. This operation is much like the old e-unit
from the pre and post war days.
Sound is O.K. on this unit. Steam sounds seem to distort a little
when running, and is present after the first power-up. Whistle
and/or bell sound with either a + (whistle) connection to the
ground rail or a - (bell) connection to the ground rail. On my
operation, I use 1.5 volt D cells to trigger whistle or bell.
I am using a ZW on the main line, so I could use it to trigger
a whistle, but have wired in D cells into all three main lines
to be able to run whistles from my old RW transformer. When I
purchased my Consolidation, I added a bell switch on to the main
line. The whistle and/or bell override the steam sounds when
triggered in conventional mode. I do find I will get phantom
triggers of whistle and or bell when the engine sometimes crosses
a UCS track or crosses an O-22 switch.
I will not comment on the operation of the smoke generator because
I have not run smoke at all. My wife has allergies, and I try
to keep the railroad as a politically correct "smoke-free" operation.
At the beginning, I alluded to problems on less than O-42 track.
The engine can easily negotiate O-31 track all by itself, but
it cannot negotiate O-31 curves with a train behind it. K-Line
has tried to fix this problem by including what they call an
O-31 coupler bracket, but I find it does not help the engines
on my main line bypass, which uses an O-22 switch followed by
a standard 10 inch O curve, then another O-31 curve. The bracket
moves the coupler pivot point, extending it out an additional
approximate ½ inch behind the engine. This helps get more
of a curve out of the engine, but does not help it make the curve
on my layout.
The engine's coupler position forces the second axle of the
truck off of the track, causing a nice sparking as it shorts
the central rail to the ground rail. Photo 5 shows this with
original end beam attached. The problem comes from the steps
that extend down from end beam. I worked with the end beam/step
combination by building a bass wood replacement for the end beam.
(Photo 6) No matter how narrow I made the steps, the engine would
derail the second axle on the coupled truck. This work was done
without K-Line's O-31 bracket installed. I find it also derails
the car with the coupler bracket installed.
I found that the end beams are mounted on the engine with just
two screws. I removed one of the end beams, and put the engine
on the track. I find it can run properly without derailing any
cars. I created new bass end beams to see if any steps could
be used with the engine, and found that in order to work with
on O-31 curves, the engine has to have no steps. Photo7 shows
the back end of the engine with my new end beam attached. (Maybe
I should set up an O-27 loop to try the engine on. I haven't
done that, yet.)
The engine, when running with the cylinders closest to the standard
position of the O-22 remote control box, on the curve side of
the track, hits the O-22 remote control box. It just grazes this
box, but it hits it when going around the curve track instead
of running the straight.
The engine has a very well placed set of controls. (Photo 8)
They are accessed by removing the coal load behind the engine.
Photos 9 and 10 show the nose view of the K-Line Shay and the
Cass Scenic Railroad Shay.
NOTE: I would like to thank fellow TTMLer Erney
Alewine for permission to use his pictures of a group of
12 inch = 1 foot Shays that I have used in this article.