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Built-From-Scratch Railroad Replicas
Dennis Evers, the go-to guy for railroad replicas, runs his shop on a ranch in southwest Colorado. The former policeman got into the business by accident in the 1980's. Since then, he has been building exact scale replicas of signals, baggage carts and even locomotives to ship to customers all over the world.
"After I built a 440-ft. railroad in my yard with a simple crossing signal, I sent a photo in to a magazine. They ran it and I started getting customers," says Evers.
Under the company name Scale Products, he has since built various replicas including pirate ships and even a 9-ft. gorilla. However, railroad replicas are his specialty.
"Almost every railroad company in the country uses our scaled down crossing signals for training purposes," he says.
One of his biggest jobs was a 5/8-scale 1860's steam locomotive and coal car. It was commissioned by the Canadian Lottery for display at a casino. The 35-ft. long project stretched from one side of his 1,500 sq. ft shop to the other.
He calls his place the Recycle Ranch because when he builds something, he uses as much recycled material as he can. For example, in building the locomotive nearly everything was built from scratch on the ranch from scrap steel or "repurposed" parts.
"The brass gauges in the cab had been trashed by a local company who makes them for the oil industry," says Evers. "I took them apart and made new bezels so they look like they were from the 1860's."
The boiler was an 8-ft. long, 24-in. dia. pipe made from oil well pipe. "There's a tremendous amount of waste when companies are building things. To them it's scrap; to me it's virgin stock," says Evers, who estimates he normally buys steel for 50 percent of the price of new.
Cylinders on the engine were recycled propane tanks. Steam lines and valves were from old plumbing. Connecting rods from the cylinders to the wheels were fabricated from lengths of pipe wrapped in bronze-plated aluminum. Evers cut the sheet to fit, rolled it and pop riveted it on the backside.
"I used a plasma torch to make components out of scrap and melted down small motors and cast parts out of the aluminum," says Evers. "I used a door from an old ornate wood stove for the firebox door, putting Eisenglass in the holes with a flickering light behind it."
Sometimes Evers found what he needed in unusual places. "Walmart fry pans were ideal for the back end of the cylinders where the connecting rods come out," he says. "The whistle was originally a toilet paper holder, and the headlight was an ornamental casting from a fence company in Texas."
Everything was based on photos and drawings of old locomotives. Plans were drawn to scale using a $19 CAD program. From start to finish, the project took 6 months of Evers' and his son's time. Even with their time, using the recycled parts, he was able to bid the project at 35 percent less than a British firm.
"You have to be creative in building things like this," he says. "You can run into trouble on new projects because you have no idea how many hours or months they can take. There are no guidelines for building replica locomotives."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Recycle Ranch, 7054 C.R. 521, Bayfield, Colo. 81122 (ph 970 946-4180; dennis@trainsignals.com; www.therecycleranch.com or www.trainsignals.com).

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2010 - Volume #34, Issue #3