The black-and-gold Tyco General, which was given to me as a gift ready-made, was apparently part of a Civil War set available more than three decades ago, probably to commemorate the centenary of that conflict. When I first planned my fictional late-nineteenth-century Rhode Island railroad, the Albion, Pawtuxet, & Galilee, I worked out a history that would provide a rationale for the locomotives and rolling stock that rode its rails. I assumed that the AP&G and its perpetually insolvent managing director, Augustus Melmotte (named after Trollope's railroad swindler) would have been forced to use older, even obsolete, motive power. This 4-4-0, in other words, would perfectly suit such a small, underfinanced railroad. However, as Edwin P. Alexander's Down at the Depot (1970) shows, very similar 4-4-0s were still being built well into the 1880s and appeared on railroads in the North East in the '90s and afterwards. One could, therefore, replace, the link-and-pin with Kadee or other knuckle couplers.
Modifying and detailing the locomotive
When I began to modify this locomotive, I had not thought of using the Kemtron handrail posts to create old-style grabirons, so I simply drilled holes in loco and tender and inserted brass wire. The raised coal bunker and brake wheel were all easy to add, and the only ambitious modifica- tions here were the addition of hand-rails on the locomotive.
Having already discovered when building my weed-sprayer [see September 1975 Railroad Modeler] that making railings was easy, I decided to butt-solder the brass wire into one piece rails and supports. The only trick is to tin the end of the wire, put flux on the long piece to which it will be attached perpendicularly, and then with a clean soldering iron heat the joint until it bonds. Holding the pieces with weights or a jig makes the job easier. The clean iron prevents you from adding additional solder and making a sloppy joint.
A number of black-and-white and color photographs of this locomotive appeared in my 1978 photo-article "Details Make a Difference."
Alexander, Edwin P. Down at the Depot: American Railroad Stations from 1831 to 1920. New York: Bramhall House, 1970. Despite its title, this book has many photographs of locomotives, even isolated from stations.