About NLW
6/26/2003, last updated 04/17/2005

Drawing from first Shay Patent -- see http://www.shaylocomotives.com/

Nelson's Locomotive Works is devoted to live steam geared locomotives.    The term Works is appropriate since my primary interest is in the construction of the locomotives.   Don't be misled,  the works is located in the basement workshop and I'm the CEO, CFO, Chief Engineer and most importantly, the janitor.  My background is electrical engineering with a 30 year career in R&D followed by a 9 year career teaching at a local community college.  My only current  employment is with NLW (no paycheck - and I hope to keep it that way).

Some 30 years ago I constructed 1/4" scale models of geared locomotives that were electric powered --- the classic model trains.  At the time I thought that I'd like to make a live steam model someday.  However, the project seemed just too big with family and career.   Then, in one of my mid life crisis's, I bought a used British Roadster, a Triumph TR6.  The TRs have occupied much of my spare time on and off since.  My main Triumph interest was the restoration.  (Six months after I bought the first one it was in the basement in pieces.)  Once a TR was restored I lost interest.  They are fun to drive, but not near as much fun as tearing apart and rebuilding.  So, before one was finished, another one was on deck.   I ran out of room to work on the TRs in the fall of 2002.  There was near panic as winter was approaching and I had no project.  Then I thought of building a live steam Shay locomotive and peace came.   

Shortly after starting the Shay project some Triumph buddies inquired as to the progress. Turns out, many of them are also interested in live steam locomotives, especially the geared locomotives.  I initially added some pages to a Triumph website (which I webmaster) to track the progress  of the Shay.  As the locomotive project grew I split off the locomotive pages and started Nelson's Locomotive Works

Many people (especially spouses) underestimate how much hard work is required to make  a  live steam locomotive.   Both backbreaking manual labor and  intellectual activities such as research are involved. (And the spouses think we're having fun.)    The photo shows the NLW Chief Engineer (on the left) doing laborious research -- in this case,   gleaning information from one of the "experts" at the Shops in Cass, West Virginia.  (That was really hard work!)  One of the goals of the website is to pass on some of this research.   

The website has a storage limit many times greater than I'll ever be able to fill so I encourage folks to send along (email or snail mail) photos of their geared locomotive projects to add to the Photos section.   Also, please send along suggestions to add to the References & Links section.  While my engineering  background helps with many aspects of locomotive construction,  machining parts on the lathe and milling machine are the most important skills.  My limited skills in that area are self taught by trial and error, with many errors per trial.  So, most importantly, send along corrections and suggestions of the easy or best way to do the fabrication as I most likely found a sub optimal way.  

Nelson A. Riedel