- John Bull Locomotive Scale Model
- About Fine Art Models
- History of Scale Models
The John Bull is an English-built steam locomotive assembled by Isaac Dripps. Dripps furnished a pilot, running on an axle of its own in front, which both steadied the engine and saved it from derailment if it encountered a stray cow; hence the often used term “Cow Catcher” for a locomotive pilot. The locomotive operated for the first time on September 15, 1831 and became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world (150 years) when the Smithsonian Institution operated it in 1981.
Built by Robert Stephenson and Company, the John Bull was initially purchased by and operated for the Camden and Amboy (C&A) Railroad, the first railroad built in New Jersey. The railroad rostered it as locomotive number 1 and used it heavily from soon after the railroad's construction in 1833 until 1866 when it was removed from active service and placed in storage. After C&A's assets were acquired by the Pennsylvania Railroad (PRR) in 1871, the PRR refurbished and operated the locomotive a few times for public displays. The John Bull was steamed up for the Centennial Exposition in 1876 and again for the National Railway Appliance Exhibition in 1883.
The locomotive was purchased by the Smithsonian Institution in 1884 as the museum's first major industrial exhibit. In 1939 the employees at the PRR's Altoona, Pennsylvania shop built an operable replica of the locomotive for further exhibition duties as the Smithsonian desired to keep the original locomotive in a more controlled environment. The Smithsonian commemorated the locomotive's 150th birthday in grand style. The locomotive became the world's oldest surviving operable steam locomotive when it ran again under its own power in 1981. Today, the original John Bull is on static display in the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, and the replica John Bull operates regularly at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
About the Model…
Fine Art Models has produced a limited edition, 1:32 scale John Bull made entirely of brass and wood. It has a genuine wood clad boiler and water barrels sitting on a wood tender deck. The headlight lens and boiler door opens, just as on the real locomotive. The model runs on a 12-volt DC current.
And, just as interesting as the locomotive, is the classic bridge it ran over in the 1830s. When Fine Art Models located the plans for the locomotive, they also, accidentally, found the plans for this bridge. The bridge features individually spiked rails, tapered oak beams and stone abutments on either end. The two bridge beams are brass and assembled just as the real beams were. Each John Bull model comes complete with the bridge, mounted on a Black Walnut roller base and leaded glass display case.