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This advertisment for the "STILLWATER MILLS" 3 foot gauge, 2 cylinder, vertical boiler Shay has always intrigued me. I have had it stored in my "Model Ideas" folder in my computer for years, along with other photographs of modelling ideas. When I need inspiration, I open up this folder and scan through it.

Over the past years, I have purchased three of the 2'6" Bachmann 'On30', 2 cylinder Shays. One I have already converted to a Michigan / California No. 2 and the other into an open cab early version. See "A Tale of Two Shays". It was time the third of my Shays faced its fate and was converted, this time to my version of the "Stillwater Mills' Shay.

First, I needed a set of plans to work by. These can be seen larger by clicking on the plan. They were drawn using a Computer Aided Design program.



Because all computers will bring this plan up in different sizes, I have included a scale bar in the plans. It is located at the bottom in the middle. This allows you to save the larger plan to your  computer by right clicking with the mouse and selecting "Save Picture As". You can then save the plans to a folder on your computer. You are then able to do either of two options to get these plans to the scale you want to build your model in.

For 'O' scale "to the foot, the bar has to be 50mm long. For 'Ho' the bar should be 28mm long and for " scale the bar should be 100mm long.

Option 1: Using 'O' scale as an example, open the plan photo in a computer program like MS Word, MS Publisher or in a Photoshop type program. Draw a line 50mm long and enlarge or reduce the image until the scale bar is the same length as the 50mm line. Then print the image. In 'O' scale the plans will fit on A4 size sheet.

Option 2: On the larger plan, right click the mouse and select  "Print Picture". This will print out the plans on your computer printer. Measure the scale bar, which may for example be 43mm long on your print. You need to now enlarge or reduce the plans on a photocopier. The percentage of enlargement or reduction for an 'O' scale set of plans can be worked out by dividing 50 by our example length of 43 which equals 1.16 or 116% enlargement. The same example for 'Ho' would be 28 divided by 43 which equals 0.65 or a 65% reduction.

click for enlargement

Or taking to a perfectly good model locomotive with a high speed Dremel and cutting tool

Remove the water tank by undoing the screws underneath, and the cab by pushing it sideways (I had to use my track laying hammer). The top half of the boiler is separate from the bottom half so is easy to remove. You will need to remove the horizontal part of the boiler by plying off the firebox door and undoing the small screw. Once the model has been leveled to the top of the chassis (except the motor which you leave alone), the brave part begins. The chassis has to be narrowed to 35 mm wide by removing 6 mm from each side using the Dremel cutting tool. It is a good idea to masking tape around the motor, cylinders, running gear and bogies to keep out the fine dust of the white metal. The result can been seen at left. You will need to keep the vertical boiler, the bell, all the pipes and other useful bits, the whistle and maybe the light if you want to use it.


Using scale basswood 12" x 2" for the sides, 18" x 6" for the buffer beams and 8" x 1" for the floor, line the chassis to form a flat bed with the motor, cylinders and circuit board exposed. The circuit board can be reattached to the flat bed. This can be seen in the photograph opposite.

I normally weather, stain and paint all my wood and other parts before I adding them to the model.


The water tank is the only reasonably complicated part to fabricate. I cut a piece of pine timber to the size  of the tank and rounded the four vertical corners. I used 5 thou styrene on top of the tank and as a wrapper around the tank. The two ends have a second layer that wraps around onto the sides about 10 mm. No.1 Grandt Line NBW's are then inserted into small drilled holes around the tank. These can be seen as black dots in the photograph opposite. The tank filler is some styrene tube and flat styrene.

The light is a white metal casting, and could be lit if the wiring is allowed for. The hand rail is brass wire.

One of the first remaining main pieces is the wooden fuel bunker which is made using basswood 12" x 2", styrene strips and No.1 Grandt Line NBW's. I know they are a pain to install but the result is worth it.

The cab is quite simple also. There are six uprights of 3" x 3" wood with a wooden frame on top. Brass corrugated iron sheets are used as the roof. On top, a short piece of styrene tube completes the chimney, and the whistle from the original model completes the roof.

All the metal bits are painted matt black and dusted with BRADGON INDUSTRIES rust powder.