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Does anyone know if there is a standard, or at least common height for the deck of a 19th century 3' gauge American steam loco? I'm working on my scratchbuilding project, and the next big step is deciding on the height of the tender deck, which also determines the floor of the cab. I looked at a couple plans, but cannot form a conclusion fromt them. A Glover 2-6-0 of 1916 has a deck only 27" above the rails, while Tweetsie #11 (Baldwin, 1916) has a deck 44" high, almost as high as a standard gauge loco.

The Bachmann 0-4-0 that I'm starting with has a step on the back, 32mm high. In 1:20.3, that's 25.5". Adding 4mm for the back support of the cab & flooring gets it up to 29". Of course, since I'm scratchbuilding and freelancing, I can make it whatever I want, but I was hoping someone out there might have some idea what would be reasonable. The goal is a small 2-4-0, with 27" drivers.

As an aside, was there ever any sort of standard height for link and pin couplers on narrow gauge equipment?
 

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Hi,
It depends on the size of the wheels, which has a bearing on the depth of the frames, amongst other things. The cab generally sits on the frame tops at the rear, and the center drops down between them.

The size of the wheels is dictated by what the buyer wants to loco to do - for instance Colorado narrow gauge has some tremendous gradients so small wheels were a necessity; flat lands could have larger wheels which allowed faster speeds for the trains allowing for the ability of the loco to boil water!l There is also the variation between passenger (big wheels) and freight, which traveled slower ( small wheels).

The Bachmann spectrum 4 4 0 and 2 6 0 also have different tender heights to the cab height BUT the center of the cab is close to the tender that is 66mm for the cab (sides) and the tender front floor is at 47/48mm. The little Porters are small engines and those have a cabside height of 61mm and a tender floor height of 35 with the bogie tender; the 4 & 6 wheel tenders are higher at 40mm - different wheel diameters account for this.

The big (for 1884) Cooke Loco Works Mogul that I built on a Bachmann Annie chassis has a cab side height of virtually 70mm, with a tender floor height of 49mm.
The fall plate is generally fitted to the loco, and gives a relatively level area for the fireman to stand and fire the loco. You need to make sure that it can hinge upwards slightly which means that the front edge is set back to allow for this; they can be difficult to fit as a result.

Higher tender floor locos would have deeper (or multiple) steps for the crew to clamber on with; just think of the late (huge) steam locos and their sets of steps!

These measurements are from the top of the rail. These measurements are for 1/20.3 scale by the way, they can vary for other scales!

You ask about a height for couplers - this is more determined by the wagons and coaches (freight can have smaller wheels) you pull! A center height of the coupling is about 20mm from the top of the rail, the big couplers of Bachmann and such allow some leeway in this. Kadee are a smaller buckeye style, and more expensive but look very good.

Link & pin were and are dangerous things! The height depended on the under height of the floor for its measurement - D&RG folio sheets give a measurement of 26" to the center of the coupler for freight and passenger vehicles.


Happy building by the way! I do a lot of scratch building, so much so that most of my equipment is scratch built!
 
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