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The "General"


This is my version of the "General" of Civil War fame. See the story of the General below.


The engine uses old lego wheels for all eight of the engine wheels, the motor is located in the tender. To keep the rods 90degrees out of phase with each other the rear wheels are connected by a central axle. (If the wheels are not out of phase then the rods jam easily.) The wheels are connected using 2 x 3749 Technic Axle Pins and a 6538 Technic Axle Joiner. But careful selection must be done to choose the axle pins, there are at least two different molds for this piece.
The pin with the smaller inside pin diameter will not work for the connection because the metal pin expands the joint to much to allow free movement in a technic beam. The larger pin is a little to large to keep the wheel in the pin, but a single layer of tape solves that problem.
For working rods the entire body of the train must be kept straight. (ie the engine can not be articulated, and the rear wheels must always be parallel with the engine.) To keep the engine straight, and allow the train to go around the tight corners on Lego track, the front wheel set is allowed to swing left and right as well as turn.
The cylinders are mounted just above the height of the wheels so they do not interfere with the turn. This is a little inaccurate becuase a real 4-4-0 has cylinders that overlap the front wheels slightly so they are more centered on the rear wheels. But this compromise does allow the pistons to move and the engine to negotiate tight corners.


The Story

The "General" was built by the firm of Rogers, Ketchum & Grosvenor of Paterson, N.J., for the Western & Atlantic Railroad at a cost of $8,850. Her construction number is 631, and she was completed in December 1855. She was built as an eight wheel, wood-burning locomotive of the American type, with a 4-4-0 wheel arrangement, weighing about 50,300 pounds, with a gauge of five feet and cylinders 15 inches in diameter and a stroke of 22 inches. On the morning of April 12, 1862 here crew stopped in Big Shanty (now Kennesaw, Ga) for breakfast, and James Andrews and his raiders boarded and stole the engine. His plan was to continue north to Chattanooga destroying communication lines and tracks for General Ormsby Mitchel who was hoping that the chaos of the stolen engine and the destruction of communication lines would ease his plan to take Chattanooga. But the plan would not happen without a hitch.

William Fuller, the "General"'s conductor, noticed the theft and took off after her on foot for two miles. Later he and other procurred a handcar to continue that chase. All the while Andrews and his men were destroying telegraph lines and track. When Fuller reached Etowah he procured the switch engine "Yonah" and a few maintainace crew members. They abandoned the "Yonah" at Kingston in favor of the "William R. Smith". That engine was also abandoned also becuase of the torn up track the General was leaving behing her.

At Adairsville, Fuller took the "Texas" and pursued the "General" in reverse. When Andrews noticed he was being followed he attempted to lift a rail, disconnect boxcars, and torch a bridge with no effect. The chase ended just before Ringold Gap when the "General" gave out. Andrews and his men were captured, several were kept as prisoners, Andrews and 7 others were hung in Atlanta. Congress gave the Medal of Honor to several of the raiders, not including Andrews because he was a civilian. The "General" survived the war and continued in service for 30 more years. Today it has been fully restored and is located at The Kennesaw Civil War Museum. The "Texas" has also been fully restored, it sits at Grant Park in Atlanta, near the Cyclorama and Zoo.
For more information on the "General" or on the Great Locomotive Chase see:
  The Great Locomotive Chase
  Kennesaw Civil War Museum



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