Equipment Portraits :: 15

The further away from mainstream subjects one travels, the more one must depend upon the kindness of strangers. That’s a fitting description of how I was able to build the subject of this entry in my ongoing series of equipment portraits…

NS&T 18

As a Canadian operation in an era long before the first Canada-US Free Trade Agreement, the Niagara St. Catharines & Toronto Railway rostered equipment primarily built by Canadian manufacturers. In addition to freight motors built in its own shops on Welland Avenue in St. Catharines, the NS&T acquired electric locomotives from National Steel Car and the Canadian Locomotive Company. Some of these were clones of American designs. But a few were straight up imports. NS&T 18 is one of these – a standard Baldwin Westinghouse Class B design.

This 55-ton freight motor moved around – a lot. BW outshopped it in 1918 as Auburn & Syracuse Railroad 105. That New York State railway sold it in April 1919 to Ontario’s Hydro Electric Power Commission. As HEPC E-21, it helped build the Queenston power canal to harness the energy from Niagara Falls. In October 1921, HEPC E-21 moved to the Sandwich, Windsor & Amherstburg Railway in southwestern Ontario. But it was back with the Commission by December. In 1924, the HEPC sold E-21 to the Toronto & York Radial Railway, where it became Number 2. T&Y sent it to Canadian Westinghouse Corporation in 1927 to refurbish it and find a new buyer. That buyer was the NS&T 18, where it operated from 1927 to 1960. When the NS&T’s power was turned off, Number 18 joined many other NS&T freight motors on another CNR electric subsidiary – the Oshawa Railway.

NS&T 18 escaped the fate of many of its siblings, which met the scrapper’s torch in the mid-1960s. Win Manchester, a volunteer at the Connecticut Trolley Museum, bought Oshawa Railway 18 in 1964 and had it transported to the museum. It still there, in East Windsor CT.

I’ve desired a model NS&T 18 for several years. But finding the starting point – a set of Class B etches produced at one time by Model Railroad Warehouse – was proving elusive. I eventually started posting want-ads on S scale and traction groups and was delighted when Eric Hopkins got in touch to offer me his set. I think Eric saw my posts about other NS&T freight motors and recognized that – unlike many in this hobby – I was actually going to build the model. I was determined to not let him down. (Thank you, again, Eric!)

When buying parts for other freight motors, I’d optimistically assumed that – eventually – I would find the etches, so I had everything else I needed. The model rides on a pair of Black Beetle power trucks from Australia, fitted with side frames supplied by William Flatt. William also supplied the trolley pole and a number of detail parts. Other details came from a range of sources, including Q Car Company, BTSRR, and Precision Scale Company. I also scratch-built many parts, including the 2×2 and sliding windows on the cab sides. I painted the brakeman, who is from the 3D printed range of North American train crew figures by Modelu in the UK.

My model is controlled via an ESU LokSound V5 decoder enhanced with a PowerPack module and loaded with a customized sound package. One of the nice treats about Number 18 is that while all of my other freight motors are fitted with air horns, the prototype had an air whistle – so the model sounds really distinctive.

I’ll continue to add more entries to this series of equipment portraits as time permits. If you’ve read this far, thanks for sticking with it. I hope you’re enjoying these photos and notes.

Published by Trevor

Lifelong model railway enthusiast and retired amateur shepherd who trained a border collie to work sheep. Professional writer and editor, with some podcasting and Internet TV presenting work thrown in for good measure.

6 thoughts on “Equipment Portraits :: 15

  1. Hello Trevor, I see that you are using Black Beetle power trucks and side frames by William Flatt.
    Are there any other sources for Interurban drive components, freight or coach, in S scale?

    Ian McKinley

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Ian:
      So far, I’ve used Black Beetles under two pieces of equipment – NS&T 18 and 20. The others – NS&T 8, 15, 19, and 21 – all have pairs of Northwest Short Line “Stanton Drives” underneath. You can order them directly from NSWL – a search should turn up the homepage.
      I do not know of any other sources in S scale for power trucks. Side frames may also be difficult. You might be able to modify passenger car side frames, or find something that’s been 3D printed. Asking on one of the traction modelling newsgroups would be a good place to start…


      1. Thank you Trevor, I tried a couple of the general traction modeling FB groups in the past with out success. I had about given up on S scale interurbans and was designing a S scale short-line layout in a spare bedroom. I was influenced by your Port Rowan layout. Then a new acquaintance on a S scale FB group saw that I was interested in freight traction and offered a KND Piedmont & Northern Box Cab kit (no trucks or side frames). So here I am again trying to figure out how to power it. It may mean totally scratch building the frames but I think I will get there eventually.

        Also trying to gain understanding of how interchanges between short-line RRs and traction/interurban RRs were laid out and operated.

        Thanks for your reply


        Liked by 1 person

      2. I use a simple sub-frame – just a sheet of 0.020″ brass – and mount my power trucks to that. I build the superstructure as a single piece – cab, hoods, frame, pilots, and so on. I then screw the sub-frame to the model’s frame, inside the cab area where the screw ends won’t be seen. It works well for me.

        A pair of power trucks provides decent pulling power and won’t draw too much current. I use DCC so I wire them in parallel then use the various decoder settings (CVs) to limit the top speed and add momentum for smoother starting and stopping. The ESU LokSound decoders I use have a simple process for tuning the decoder to specific drive train characteristics. I don’t know if other brands have something similar but I imagine they do – and tuning the decoders this way really helps with power truck performance. So does adding a Power Pack (ESU’s version of an electronic flywheel) to keep electrons flowing to the power trucks over turnouts, etc.

        Interchanges: There wouldn’t be any difference between an interchange with a traction operation and an interchange between two steam- or diesel- powered railways. The interchange track(s) and any other track used by both railroads would have wires over them. That’s about it. Any decent article about interchanges in the hobby press will give you what you need. Asking for ideas on the Layout Design SIG newsgroup or FB page might also prove useful.



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