Willamette Iron and Steel Company was one of the major heavy industries in the Pacific northwest when it entered the logging locomotive market in 1922. WISCO was manufacturing logging engines (donkeys), boilers for marine and mill installations, marine machinery, steel boats, performing machinery and locomotive rebuilding, heavy machining, etc. WISCO had its own gray iron foundry, and started a local steel foundry, ESCO, to meet its steel casting requirements. WISCO had been manufacturing for 55 years at this point, tracing its roots back to Willamette Iron Works, which began in 1867, less than a decade after Oregon became a state. By the time WISCO began building locomotives, it had become a firm with a solid engineering base. WISCO’s products were well designed and its capabilities respected. The Willamette locomotive carried this expertise in its design and manufacturing, and justly shared the reputation earned by the WISCO product line over the years. By the time the locomotive was released, Willamette was a much larger manufacturing firm that either Climax or Heisler, and second in size only to Lima.
Locomotive production consisted of 33 units, of which all but two were 3-truck models. Willamette raised the bar on the geared locomotive market by offering what was then largely optional equipment in the industry as standard on the Willamette locomotive. Willamette initially offered the girder frame, cast steel trucks, electric lighting, air brakes, enclosed steel cab, and the use of steel castings, and later also added superheat and piston valves to the list. Lima did not respond to all the changes until the release of the Pacific Coast Shay five years later, and Heisler responded after Lima by bringing out the West Coast Special, which finally embraced the piston valve and superheat in that model. Interestingly enough, shortly after the debut of the Willamette, Climax engaged in an upgrade program of its own which included by 1925 the improvements Willamette had offered as standard equipment.
The first 23
Willamette locomotives used a truck visually similar to the cast
steel truck used on the Shay. The last 10 used a redesigned truck that
is noticeably different than any of Lima’s offerings. 13 of the
first 23 were built with a Ball patented D valve, and the two of these
thirteen that were built with superheat had the cylinders replaced
with piston valve cylinders. The remainder of the run were built
with piston valves and superheat. All locomotives used Walschaert's
valve gear and outside admission steam, even though the patented Ball
D valve was capable of being used with inside admission. Willamette
did use the Ball valve with inside admission on some of the donkey
to the foot scale model of the Willamette has a bore of 1.6” and stroke
of 2”. Drivers
are 4.8” in diameter, and the gearing is a prototypical 19 to 43
teeth for a ratio of 2.26 to 1. Rigid wheel base is 6.93”,
locomotive length over the end sills is 77”. The model will run
around a 13.5 foot radius. All castings are investment cast steel,
stainless, and bronze with the exceptions of the side frames and
bolsters, which are sand cast bronze. The gears are investment cast
steel with the teeth precision cast to size of an alloy commonly used
for case hardening, should the builder wish to do so. The cylinder
castings are fully cored for the steam passages.