Mel Harris
Harris Locomotive Works
Master Machinist - Inventor


Please see below to see how our (Dave & Becky Hemp's) Grand Scale Live Steam Engine "Bubba" was built. We are neophytes to Steam Engines & especially trains this size! Welcome to our new page! It is noncommercial as are all our many other hobby URLs in BAD Chariots!

Our train is a home town built original. It is a very stable 3" bore 4" stroke oscillating steam valve engine using Mel's unique sliding valve! Mel has designed a system where the weight is evenly distributed to the front trucks in the turns for more stability by using walking beam construction. The engine is also articulated to keep all 8 wheels on the track even in uneven & high speed situations ..... (Note - 12/99 .. After several hundreds of miles of use I must say this does work very very well!) The engine and tender prolly weighs a couple plus ton or more.
The top picture is of the trucks & chasis being built. All bearings are sealed ball bearings requiring limited lubrication!
The next picture is of the boiler. It is capable of 3000 lb/sq inch pressure. We will use only up to 150lbs pressure, giving us a 15/1 saftey margin! It is tested annually. It has 28 one inch tubes with twisted stainless steal ribbons in each tube. (Note - 12/99 It pulls grades and does the entire loop with 20 adults with as little as 60lbs steam pressure, so we run it at the lower pressure and use the higher pressures to inject the cold water into the boiler thru the Penberthy LIfting Steam Injector from 150lbs down to 100 or so lbs.)
Our engine & 8 wheel tender were built in Mountain Gate, CA by Mel Harris. Mel is a Master Machinist & inventor! He has built many steam tractors, trains, etc. He has also been working on his own Shay since 1991. At his family ranch he has designed & built from scratch a steam driven saw mill! It is in use today for demonstration & special orders only! They can handle trees 4' in diameter!

The pictures below show it on the track for the first time in it's most primitive form so it could be tested on air to be sure it worked, 3/6/98. The pistons are raised & at an angle so the trucks can make tighter turns through the oak trees at our house - it does work great. It's the differences that give all these trains character. Some of the scale guys don't like it.

12/99 (Note) After several hundred miles of use Mel did have to rebuild the front truck on the engine .... the axle was smaller than the wheel diameter pressed on the bearing ... a wheel came loose and traveled across the smaller axle ... he also added all new bearings and turned large axles on the lathe for itl. Dave Moellar and I put it back on the engine ... jacks, leverage bars, etc. .... that is one HEAVY engine.

3/15/98 Below you can see the cab taking shape. Mel designed it so 2 adults can sit entirely inside the cab. The front windows will be longer so we can see the wheels too. They will be heavy glass with wood trim & hinged to be opened on hot days to let a breeze through. Becky is sitting in the Engineers seat in the last picture. The pipes & hoses are only temporary & will be connected permanently in different places along side & under the boiler with new hoses & connectors. A insulated covering will be placed around the boiler. Rivets will be added around it too & around the fire box. (an added note later) As it ended up ... Mel designed and built our head light too.

The torch & pilot now in place - 12/3/98

Above photo by one of my best friends Mel Nethery

11/28/98 - Below are pictures of Mel's diesel locomotive Mel is building right now - It is 12' long & huge! 50" wide - has a 780 pound counter balance weight in the center at track level which allows the cab to rock above it with out putting any tension on the wheels on cornering or getting in or out. Also see his track layout which now goes up the hill at a 7% grade to his sawmill. This monster with the 20 hp motor & variable hydrolic drive pulls that hill like gangbusters! ..... comes down like gangbusters too in the snow .... hee-hee

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since April 5, 1998

Logs for Mel's Steam powered saw mill

This is Mel's own Shay engine above. He started it in 1991. It sits on a side track he has at his place. He took measurements, (and many trips to Placerville) of a Shay they had on exhibition there. That engine is now at Turtle Bay here in Redding CA.
Mel made all the wheels & gears from scratch out of a solid block of steel.

This is a very unique single cylinder steam engine that Mel built for the Berskin's back yard. They also have his latest outside frame engine and 0-4-0. They have steam everything! Over 30 steam tractors, steam threshing machines & steam hay balers that they still use & take to the various ranches around.
They also have one of the greatest museums I have ever seen that shows the individual ingenuity needed to survive at the turn of the century! Maybe I can put a page up to share with the rest of the world some of these wonders they are preserving for future generations!
Doc Hemp

New Berskin Web Site (click here)

4/17/05 ... a new updated section on Harris Locomotive Works getting ready to deliver our small electric switcher engine "Davey Boy" .... you might have seen his friend Tomas?

This site is part of the B.A.D. CHARIOTS Homepage! Please visit Dave & Becky's other 150 urls in BAD Chariots - Trains, Planes & Automobiles - Harleys too! & our DENTAL SITE! - (over 1 million visits!) after visiting this page I made for Mel.

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