Large model Class J for sale

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Thu Aug 29 11:36:14 EDT 2013

Sorry for the long post here.

As Ed pointed out, the Cowling Class J was metal and had a tender. It was built by machinest W.E. Cowling in Bluefield, it was an 1.5 inch scale model, if I recall running on 7.25 gauge track. It was completed sometime in the very early 1950s along with a couple of lightweight "Arrow" rider cars. Cowling had earlier built another live steamer, I don't have my stuff with me, but I seem to recall it being a more generic Pacific.

As I understand it, Cowling made all his own appliances for the locomotive, such as pumps, fittings, etc. So nothing was standard. The company used the model a number of times in parades, a grade crossing safety promotion at Roanoke's Victory Stadium and other exhibitions. It was also used on a track at Camp Obidah, the N&W's executive retreat near Bluefield that was complete with scaled bridge signs, mileposts, etc. My favorite was a sign attached to the nearby tree that read something like "The Powhatan Arrow's little brother, a jolly lad is he, for he has never heard of the I.C.C." Obviously, that was a private location.

I think the date of the Bristol parade is actually 1957, as Class M 475 dressed up in fake period garb was also displayed. I believe it was also used on the same float at the Roanoke Christmas Parade that year.

With the advent of Stuart Saunders, of course, all those dirty steam locomotives had to go, this one included. Cowling was caretaker and operator of it when it was fired up. I assume that it remained as his own after the end of steam.

When I got interested in live steam in the late 1970s, I remembered the locomotive, and asked my father to see if he could find out where it might be on one of his trips to Bluefield. Cowling had passed away sometime before, but my father talked to his brother, who told him that the locomotive had been sold to a fellow in the Cincinnati area. We tracked it down, I forget the man's name, but he was not interested in selling it, we were welcome to come see it anytime, just let him know. It was stored in a warehouse, probably needed some work by then.

Bob Claytor was also interested in it, and tried to buy it as well a few years later, but was told it was not for sale. In the mid 1990s, the fellow called another friend asking how to get in touch with that Claytor fellow, he was ready to sell, for something like $35,000. My friend told him that Claytor had passed away.

Probably about 7-8 years ago, I was asked about it again, and was sent some photos of it. It was in terrible shape, missing parts, including the nose. It had not run in 25 years or more at that point. I think the asking price was like $50,000 then, I suspect it would cost you another $10,000 to fix it, maybe more depending on the condition of the boiler. I was not interested, just too much money. It ended up on ebay, and sold in the vicinity of $25,000 to someone in California. I have not heard of it since.

It is not the same live steamer as in North Carolina which appeared to be patterned off the earlier Bachman HO scale class J, with incorrect brow and other errors.

The 610 model was indeed wooden and metal, and made by the Timken Company Somehow, it ended up in the basement of the West Virginia Department of Archives, and, mistakenly, I suggested to VMT that it would be nice to have here. It was brought home, I touched up the paint on it, replaced some of the wooden parts and it went on display in the flood zone. The boiler jacketing was linoleum over a wooden frame.

While it was not totally destroyed by the flood, at least at my last report many years back, it remained in pieces at VMT. It would take a lot of work by some very skilled craftsperson to fix it, as a lot of the wood was warped and damaged.

Ken Miller

On Aug 29, 2013, at 6:57 AM, NW Mailing List wrote:

> If you are talking about the large wooden model of 610, that was locomotive only, and no tender, it was on display at the Wasena Park location of the Museum when the flood hit. I asked about it, and was told it was destroyed. J. Flummer


> From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] On Behalf Of NW Mailing List

> Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 11:28 PM

> To: NW Mailing List

> Subject: Re: Large model Class J for sale


> BTW – Back in the 1950s a shop man in Bluefield (Dowling? Cowling?) built a large scale J – at least 1.5 to the foot. I saw it carried on the back of a truck at Bristol’s Centennial Parade in 1956. I can’t recall seeing it since. Does anyone know where it is?


> EdK

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