Don Cornell’s Shop

The first time I got to ride on a Live Steam train was at the Waushakum Live Steamers old track on Norfolk Street in Holliston, MA. That is how I met Donald Cornell. I’ll never forget the thrill of riding behind Eustis #8, his beautiful 2″ scale, 4-3/4″ gauge, narrow gauge replica live steam locomotive.

Today, I headed off to Don shop to get a look at his current project and get some hands on learning. Don is one of those guys who builds an engine to envy. He is a professional machinist and a true craftsman. His work is top quality. A visit to Don’s shop is an inspiration and I’m sure all who visit leave with a desire to build their own locomotive. Don has built two 7-1/4″ gauge locomotives which now live somewhere out west.

Don is currently building a 0-4-4 R.T., forney, 2′ Gauge, 4-3/4″ Track, 2″ Scale, Sandy River #1. This engine was former Ariel of Billerica & Bedford. What an impressive work of art.

First look at this locomotive draws your eyes to the cow catcher which is made of cherry wood. The head lamp is an actual oil burning lamp. His recently completed cab is built of maple. All of the wood is mortis and tendon.

The inner panels are milled to give a nice angle. The roof is made with scored plywood to give it flexibility, leaving the impression of individual planks across the inside. You can easily pull or push the loco by the front pilot and it rolls along very smoothly. The trailing truck has a unique look with a reverse spring, just like the original locomotive when it was with the Billerica & Bedford.

Don is one of those guys who doesn’t use prints or castings. Everything is built from scratch, based on a picture of the desired locomotive. The only castings on his current locomotive project are the drive wheels.

If you ask Don for advice in building a Live Steam Locomotive, he will tell you: “keep it simple”. He would prefer to have something that works well and is practical than to have an exact replica with every detail.

When asked how much it cost him to build the locomotive, Don will tell you that he only put about $500.00 out of his own pocket. We all know that the hours spent building this work or art make his locomotives worth much more.