John Hamilton's Phantom Locomotive

John’s new loco is of the Phantom designed by Dave Giles from Auckland.  John selected the design for its proven performance and the size of the completed model.


The original design is based on a Canadian loco, but as John liked the Colorado narrow gauge type of loco he gave his model this flavour.  The loco was built to be used so there are no fine details.  The running boards are 10mm plate and the cab made from 2 x 1.6mm plates laminated to give some detail.


The building took approx 10 years. John’s original plan was to have it ready for Canmod in 2006 but with life and work getting in the way it was finally ready for Canmod 14.


Construction of this loco is not too difficult says John and allows the builder to incorporate their own ideas.  John says it took ages to select the colours.  He finally settled on a dark blue boiler and red (the red being similar to the Honda Jazz) with stainless steel bands and some fasteners.


Choosing the colour was only part of the challenge and John was unsure as to the type of paint to use.  Naturally advice varied. On reading a book on restoring a Disney loco John noted that they used Du-pont Imron, and decided if that’s good enough for them then it must be OK for him.


John did have some assistance on the two biggest items. The first being the boiler.  This is 7” dia copper so a lot of heat is required. Fortunately Allan Stokes offered to help, and there were regular work nights until it was finally completed. The second was the tender tank,  John was keen to make it in s/s with 3 compartments. Front section for coal, water tank in the rear and between them an area for the brake air compressor and hand pump. The problem with the design was TIG welding it all together as John had no welder and even less experience. An experienced welder heard what John was going to attempt and for the payment of 2 doz tinnes offered to weld it up. Before he could change his mind all the parts were prepared and the job set up.  John was impressed at the fantastic job he made of welding it all up.


To John the loco and road names have to suit the style of the loco. A number of builders name them after their wife, but his wife's name, Kathy, I didn’t suited a western loco. Then one night inspiration happened while having dinner out and listening to a group were singing the Kenny Rogers song “The Gambler”, that was it.  The road name (Black Hawk Central) is made up from the Colorado Central RR that passed through Black Hawk, then a smelter town. Black Hawk is now a casino town about 30 miles west of Denver.


John was surprised (but happy) that on its first 3 times out the new loco ran faultlessly.  After that it did show a couple of minor problems. The radius of the front pony truck was a little small with the result the right hand cylinder stud was machining the outer edge of the wheel going round some of the curves. The second problem is with the steam pump but that will get sorted.


Also on the first run John had forgotten to set the air regulator pressure to the tender and riding trolley brakes.  As a result 60psi was applied on the 75 mm diameter cylinder instead of 10 psi.  That does tend to lock things up. Fortunately only the family was aboard and the air pressure was adjusted before giving the public a ride.