Rail history revived
It’s been 36 years, and the intrigue of a model locomotive is finally returning to public display.
Clintonville’s own Harry Peotter, an incredible machinist and rail history aficionado, created the model locomotive known as the H.E.P.R.R. 158 Jr., and it is now on display for residents to admire at the history house in Pioneer Park.
Peotter, who was described as business owner, designer, builder, fireman, engineer and grease monkey, went to great lengths to create an exact replica of the old No. 158 passenger locomotive that ran through Clintonville, operated by North Western railroad.
There is no beginning or end to the story of No. 158 Jr. and its creator, but down the track there are evidences of art, skill, and patience. No. 158 Jr. is no toy. It is a real steam locomotive, one twenty-fourth as small as the original No. 158 in every last detail. There are only two compromises. Junior has no whistle and its brakes operate with steam instead of air pressure.
The model is 41.5 inches long, 6.25 inches wide and 9.5 inches high. It weighs 94 pounds with water and fuel. It operates at 200 pounds of steam pressure, and is the product of no less than 5,000 hours of work. The model train has an operating water pump, water gauge, steam gauge, a regulation cylinder lubrication system, regulation brakes, and a safety valve.
There was no cheating anywhere. The locomotive has springs with just the right tension, cast and machined drive and other wheels. The brakes are like the original and can put the locomotive on its ear. Cow catcher, couplers, cab and every other feature of a locomotive are evident, even down to the steam operated bell. Brake, throttle and reverse bars extend through the ceiling of the cab, a single compromise.
Originally, the model was set up on 40 feet of steel track in Peotter’s basement. Eventually, it was retired and hung above Peotter’s desk. It was purchased by Mark Thomas after Harry Peotter’s death in 1975 and has not been on exhibit since. It was one of two models Peotter built. The other, much larger, was used to give rides to neighborhood children in Peotter’s back yard. Thomas also owns this train.
The train will be on exhibit every Sunday through Labor Day from 1-4 p.m. Pioneer Park is also open on Labor Day. Mark Thomas, son of the late Dr. Lewis Thomas, lives in the Detroit area but the family still owns a residence at Cloverleaf Lakes.