Crown Metal Products

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Crown Metal Products
Industry Ridable miniature railway
Fate Bankruptcy
Founded 1959
Founder Ken Williams[disambiguation needed]
Defunct 1989
Headquarters Wyano, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Products Locomotives, passenger cars

Crown Metal Products was a manufacturer of steam locomotives based in Wyano, Pennsylvania founded by Ken Williams in 1959. The company produced steam locomotives and carriages of various sizes for amusement park railroads. The firm ceased production in 1989, however, many of the engines produced continue to operate at amusement parks across the country.

Tommy G. Robertson engine operating at Six Flags St. Louis, typical of Crown's 3 ft (914 mm) gauge offerings.

Background[edit]

The firm has its roots in the early 1950s, when Ken Williams, a machinist and railway enthusiast of Wyano, Pennsylvania, purchased a miniature steam locomotive, presumed to have been built by the Cagney Bros., and decided to construct his own engine of the same design. In the summer of 1959, Williams was visited by Gaylon and Sallie Borders of Flora, IL, who had taken an interest in his engine. Gaylon then placed an order for a locomotive of Williams' design, which would become the first locomotive to be built by the Crown Metal Products. This engine was given the name "Little Toot", and over the following decade, more engines would be produced for parks, zoos, and other amusement attractions.[1]

Designs[edit]

British styled Crown engine at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
2 ft (610 mm) gauge Crown engine at Hersheypark.

The locomotives produced by Crown were narrow gauge live steam engines of various sizes, ranging from 15 in (381 mm) gauge to 3 ft (914 mm) gauge. All engines built were of the 4-4-0 wheel arrangement, with the exception of Carowinds engine no. 1 "Melodia", a 2-6-2 rebuilt from a 0-6-2T built by Porter in 1897.[2] Most engines were styled after the typical American 4-4-0 type engines of the mid 19th century, with most having two domes, similar to the Jupiter engine, The General, and the Inyo. However, some of the 3 ft (914 mm) gauge offerings featured three domes in the vein of the William Crooks engine. The engines were built to burn coal or wood as fuel, though many were later converted to propane or compressed air. Busch Gardens Williamsburg purchased two 3 ft (914 mm) gauge engines that, while built to the same specifications as the typical Crown offerings, were given European style appearances. Similarly, their sister park in Tampa bought two engines of the same size, these having African styling.[3]

German styled Crown engine at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Decline[edit]

By the 1980s, tighter Federal Railroad Administration regulations for operating steam engines, the inherent dangers of boiler failures, as well as the significant amount of work required to keep steam engines maintained on a daily basis, resulted in the Crown engines falling out of favor, with more parks opting for diesel engines or steam-outlines (locomotives powered by diesel or gasoline engines but given the outward appearance of a steam locomotive) for their railways. The most popular steam-outline engine is the 2 ft (610 mm) gauge replica of the C.P. Huntington locomotive produced by Chance Rides, which continues to be produced for park railways around the world. Crown Metal Products was shut down in 1989, with all remaining orders fulfilled by 1990.

Crown Metal Products built 4-4-0 locomotive on display at the Underground in Atlanta, Georgia

Ken's son, Bert Williams, continued to support the Crown locomotives, providing replacement parts and service through his company, Castle Ridge Products of Claysville, Pennsylvania, until 2004, when the necessary tooling and machinery was donated to the Tweetsie Railroad, who currently handles the restoration and service of the engines.[4][5][6]

A large number of Crown-built engines continue to operate at amusement parks, recreational parks, and on tourist railways. Below is a partial listing of parks that currently operate, or previously operated, Crown engines:

Location Gauge Notes
Busch Gardens Tampa 3 ft (914 mm) Two built for park with South African styling, as well as two additional engines acquired from Six Flags St. Louis and Kings Dominion, respectively.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg 3 ft (914 mm) Two built for park, one German styled, the other British styled, along with a third engine acquired from Lakeside Amusement Park, of Salem, Virginia.
Dry Gulch, U.S.A. 3 ft (914 mm) One engine, with three additional engines not built by Crown.
Hersheypark 2 ft (610 mm) Two engines.
Historic Jefferson Railway 3 ft (914 mm) One engine, acquired from defunct Six Gun Territory park.
Kings Island 3 ft (914 mm) Two engines.
Knott's Berry Farm 2 ft (610 mm) One engine.
Al Zawra’a Dream Park 3 ft (914 mm) One engine, confiscated from Kuwait Entertainment City during Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait between 1990 and 1991.
Lagoon 2 ft (610 mm) Two engines operating, one European styled acquired from defunct Busch Gardens Houston park. A third engine is on static display.
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium 2 ft 6 in (762 mm) One engine, with two additional engines not built by Crown.
Six Flags St. Louis 3 ft (914 mm) Originally two engines, one sold to Busch Gardens Tampa, other continues to operate.
Worlds of Fun 3 ft (914 mm) One engine.
Fort Fun Abenteuerland (de) 3 ft (914 mm) One engine.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Crown Metal Products". infinitevillage.com. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  2. ^ Matt Conrad. "The Original Parktrains Website". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  3. ^ "Crown Metals". trainweb.org. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  4. ^ Matt Conrad. "parktrains/crown". web.archive.org. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  5. ^ "Our Famous Steam Locomotive Shop | Tweetsie Railroad". tweetsie.com. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 
  6. ^ "Tweetsie’s History | Tweetsie Railroad". tweetsie.com. Retrieved 2014-02-05. 

External links[edit]

 
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