It been a while since we’ve seen a big articulated steam locomotive from LEGO® train builder Anthony Sava. But the wait is over as Anthony’s long planed model of the Duluth, Missabe, & Iron Range class M4 “Yellowstone” is finally completed.
The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway hauled iron ore in Minnesota. Iron ore is heavy and the DM&IR operated long trains of ore cars, requiring maximum power. These locomotives were based upon ten 2-8-8-2s that Baldwin had built in the 1930s for the Western Pacific Railroad. The need for a larger, coal burning firebox and a longer, all-weather cab led to the use of a four-wheel trailing truck, giving them the 2-8-8-4 “Yellowstone” wheel arrangement. They were the most powerful Yellowstones built, producing 140,000 lbf (620 kN) of tractive effort, and had the most weight on drivers so that they were not prone to slipping.
Eight locomotives (class M-3) were built by Baldwin in 1941. The Yellowstones met or exceeded the DM&IR specifications so ten more were ordered (class M-4). The second batch was completed late in 1943 after the Missabe’s seasonal downturn in ore traffic, so some of the new M-4s were leased to and delivered directly to the Denver & Rio Grande Western.
The next winter the D&RGW again leased the DM&IR’s Yellowstones as helpers over Tennessee Pass, Colorado and for other freight duties. The Rio Grande returned the Yellowstones after air-brake failure caused number 224 to wreck on the Fireclay Loop.[page needed] This was despite the Rio Grande’s earlier assessment that these Yellowstones were the finest engines ever to operate there.
DM&IRs were the only Yellowstones to have a high-capacity pedestal or centipede tender, and had roller bearings on all axles. Some of the locomotives had a cylindrical Elesco feedwater heater ahead of the smoke stack, while others had a Worthington unit with its rectangular box in the same location.
Only one Yellowstone was retired before dieselization took place on the Missabe; number 237 was sold for scrap after a wreck. The rest of the 2-8-8-4s were retired between 1958 and 1963 as diesel locomotives took over.
Of the eighteen built, three survive and are on display: number 227 at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth, Minnesota, number 225 in Proctor, Minnesota, and number 229 in Two Harbors, Minnesota.
Tony’s model is 9-wide (but fits in perfectly with surrounding 8 wide models), and is his first successful driver-driven steam locomotive. The locomotive is powered by two Power Functions L-Motors in the boiler, and a AA battery box in the tender.
The cab overhangs quite a bit on standard R40 curves, as one would expect, but the locomotive will negotiate them. Of course the real locomotive was never designed for track curves any where near that tight so a little overhang can be forgiven. The locomotive looks much more at home on the larger radius ME Models curves or on grand curves.
Terry Akuna provided the excellent work on designing and printing the logos on the tender, and road numbers on the cab sides and headlight number boards. Given the size of the tender logo, this was a great choice to go with printed brick. The logo looks crisp and really stands out, as it should.
Not only is this a great model, but it became a bonding moment for Tony and his Son AJ. Using Tony’s LDraw plans and online photos, AJ helped build a large portion of the boiler, as well as much of the detail inside of the cab.
You can find all of Anthony’s photos of his locomotive, including work in progress photos, on his flickr gallery.