~ Updated September 30, 2021 ~
Any modeler worth his salt who's ever studied the likes of the "Geared
Locomotive" can tell you there were basically three different types of them.
Three types that ever gained any popularity anyhow. There were
(Willamettes, for all intents and purposes, were merely Shay
knock-offs..) Of these three type, by far the most popular was the Shay.
It might be said that Shay's only real threat came from the Heisler, manufactured by the "Stearns Manufacturing Co. of Erie Pennsylvania. And although the Climax never put much of a dent in the sales of the Shay locomotives, it's design, and surprisingly, that of the Heisler were both patented by the same fellow, a Mr. George Gilbert.
The first true Heisler bearing that name appeared in August of 1894. The prototypes of the models seen on these pages, Westside Lumber Company's #2 and #3 rolled out of Stearn's Erie plant only a few years thereafter: 1899 and 1900 respectively. And, unbelievable as it may seem, both survive to this day! #2 in rather shoddy condition in the "Tuolumne City Park" in Tuolumne California; #3 in magnificently restored, fully operating condition in Felton California where she is operated on a regular basis on the 6% (and greater) grades of the RC&BT RR'd! Not too bad for a 100 year old, eh?
“How’d they run” you ask? Well sir, anybody who’s seen our traveling display layout “Chama” in operation in the past several years has probably witnessed our #3 in operation. I'm sure these guys will attest to the fact that these little rascals REALLY RUN! As in Smoothly, Powerfully and Prototypically. With scale top speeds in the low "teens" there’s just no stopping ‘em! An excerpt from the newsletter we sent out on them in 1994 read:
Number 2 and her sister, the Number 3 were produced back in 1994.. We imported 230 of ‘em. 25 of the #3's were "Standard" or "Broad" gauged, as was the prototype in the fifties. At this point in time we are sold out. But rest assured that if you DO find one on the "used" or "secondary" market, it will make you grin! They were simply GREAT models!
Like Shays too? Click this photo for a look at Westside Lumber Co. Shay Number 8 and her siblings!
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