The "Sunshine Express" designed by Larry Hargis*
This view shows off how tight the curves are on that line. The train is making a U-turn!
"The H. K. Porter Company was one of this country's most well known locomotive manufacturers. It was the third largest producer, in terms of number of locomotives built, and was the leading producer of what Porter called 'Light Locomotives'. These were engines built specifically for industrial applications, mining, logging, plantations, or lightly built narrow gauge railroads. They helped to build the West, and are found in every country from Argentina to Zanzibar."
(From a publication and roster of the Porter Locomotives now available from The Kalmbach Memorial Library. The roster of Porters was developed by Larry Hargis.*)This Porter locomotive and cars were built in 1993 for a commercial operation attached to a Pea Soup Anderson's restaurant in Selma, California. The owner of the amusement center also owns some car dealerships and an antique auto museum, and the train runs past them all. It is 2-foot gauge, about a mile in length. The train is about 1/2 scale. The locomotive, passenger cars, and caboose, were all designed from the ground up by Larry Hargis.
The locomotive is based on a standard Porter 4-4-0 from one of their catalogs, the tenth edition, about 1902 or so. It is powered by a six cylinder industrial gasoline engine, turning a hydraulic pump, which powers four hydraulic motors, one on each drive wheel. Left and right sides are powered independently to allow it to make it around some 50 foot radius curves...ouch!
There are three coaches, each can seat up to 24, and the caboose seats 16. The caboose is also wheelchair accessable and has a fold away seat and wheelchair tiedowns on the floor, just like a bus. The train had to meet all ADA requirements, as well as California emissions. Larry also did some track work for the train, and built one of the switches.
This view, giving a more distant, but more normal, view of the train. The highway sign just in front of the train shows it's proximity to Hwy 99, about 6 miles southeast of Fresno, California. If you look very closely, you can read the name of the railroad on the passenger car...the Sunshine Express.
*Larry Hargis is a 737 Captain for Southwest Airlines and a graduate of the Air Force Academy with a degree in Military History. He also works part time designing large scale riding trains for amusement parks. In his spare time, he models a Mexican copper mining railroad in G scale. He has been interested in Porters for about fourteen years, and has been using his time on layovers around the country to visit libraries and train museums researching their history. He has written numerous articles for model railroading magazines pertaining to Porter locomotives. Larry lives in Palominas, Arizona. He has two daughters, Grace and Gloria, and a donkey named Niņo.
Check out Larry's lastest article in the
Jan/Feb issue of the "Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette"
on "Fireless Locomotives of the Apache Powder Company."
Send comments, suggestions or inquiries: Overland Trail
Created and maintained by Elizabeth Larson
Copyright © 1996-2001