Category Archives: CK Holliday build

Animated engine models

Let’s take a look at the progress (or the lack of progress) of the engine link and valve gear animation!

It looks great in Blender so far, until we get into UE5 and suddenly it’s a lot more complicated.

While I ramble about making this all work out “for the next version of the simulator”, don’t take this as any kind of announcement or hints. The “next version of the simulator” is still only a dream at this point, but sometimes dreams do come true!


Filed under CK Holliday build

Previewing the CK HOLLIDAY rebuild

Once every “few” years at the Disneyland Railroad, an engine goes off to a locomotive shop for a rebuild. The engine is taken apart, every component inspected, and either get refurbished or replaced new. With the sim being almost 6 years old now, I started to wonder if I could rebuild my own CK HOLLIDAY, using the current generation graphics engine.

Well, I did started the rebuild, and here’s a preview of it so far:

If you’re wondering what the real rebuild is like, I covered the last CK Holliday rebuild back from 2015-2016 here:

My rebuild is based on the the study model, using it as a template. It is so far all new, with new model and components made from scratch. Hopefully, we’ll cover this aspect of the build in more detail. For now, enjoy the video walk around!

Leave a Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build, Steam Engine Simulator

Old videos of interest reuploaded

These are not new videos but they are reuploaded back from when this site was just a (now gone) blog from blogspot.

The first two are probably the most interesting: they’re Steve D’s videos from the Ward Kimball dedication run in June 2005 early in the morning before the park opened. This was held after Boschan Boiler Restoration Inc. completed most of the work on the engine (few final bugs remained before full service) and the engine ran with one car around the park a few times for the DRR crew and those worked on the engine. The then-president of Disneyland was also present. You can read more about this dedication run in “From Plantation to Theme Park”.

The first video is the Ward Kimball rolling out of the roundhouse on the way to the dedication run. It’s interesting to see the actions around the roundhouse before it does not often welcome visitors. The #3 Fred Gurley is also on the near by track performing blowdowns as part of the preparation to roll onto the main line.

(There is also an upscaled and stabilized version of this video here).

The second video is a cab ride on the Ward Kimball during the dedication run. It’s interesting to see the park so empty in the early hours of the day. Note also that one of the final bugs mentioned above is the cylinder cocks being stuck opened, hence the insistent steam spewing out in the front of the engine. I don’t think the Ward Kimball ever had another cab ride (for non DRR crew) since this run.

(And another upscaled version here; whether upscaling was helpful or not—you decide!)

The rest are simulation videos during the computer model recreation of the CK Holliday. They’re less exciting but nonetheless mechanically interesting to see how the parts ended up working in the computer model just like the real engine.

The first one is probably the most ambitious (at the time), it shows how the eccentrics, rotated on the front driver axle, drive the rocker on each side of the engine alternatively to time the steam entrance and exhaust into each cylinder. It’s hard to explain until you’ve seen it in motion.

This second video is another view:

This video shows what’s going on inside the boiler when the throttle in the cab (left side of the video) is pulled. The throttle link opens up the “pop-valve” on top of the dry pipe, the vertical pipe on the right side. This lets the steam into the pipe and out into the cylinders (technically the steam chests first)—(also, this view looks weird before the boiler and steam domes are hidden/not shown):

Finally, here’s a study of what the throttle looks like when it’s pulled. It was made to study the arc of the small little links at the end of the throttle bar, which rotate so slightly when the throttle moves back and forth.

That’s all for now—but I may have some non-exciting news later.

Leave a Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build

the real deal

Drawings of the real steam locomotives are hard to come by. They are usually old, or have been lost, or incomplete, inaccurate, or over simplified. Whatever drawings that exist are usually guarded and “proprietary”, so there’s very little luck that you can get your hands on a complete set without knowing someone on the inside.

Perhaps a big attraction to the CK Holliday Plan Book is that you can get your hands on a fairly complete set of plans, based on a very popular engine, made in the same style as the “real deal” drawings.

So, once a complete set is up for grabs, I think it’s a pretty big deal, and I definitely want to let you know about it. This is a complete set of the Promontory locomotives. They are made available because these drawings were produced with public funds to construct the full-size replicas. So, indeed, this set is the real deal.

The full size replica of Jupiter… it has a similar Victorian American feel to a certain little engine, doesn’t it?…

You can head over to the International Brotherhood of Live Steamers’ page to download your own copy. It comes in two parts, covering a staggering 786 sheets! In comparison, the CK Holliday Plan Book has about 100 sheets but some of them are text. And of course, that’s without the tender. (According to me, my Holliday model had about 3500 parts with 676 of them unique—again, without tender).

Sheet 104 of 786

PS: The coding for the sim 1.0.2 update was 100% Unfortunately, during the update some bugs were introduced and prevented the sim from building/compiling, so it’s going to be a bit of a tedious work bug hunting/fixing some dependencies. But, yes. the good news is that the coding of new features is done and we’re almost ready to release the update!

1 Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build, CKH Plans, Steam Engine Simulator

up close with the ck holliday in fullerton

Last month, the CK Holliday made a very special appearance at the 2016 Fullerton Railroad Day. It was a momentous occasion because it was the engine’s first public appearance in quite a few years.

2016-04-30 09.36.09-me

Why the disappearance for so long? The Holliday recently underwent an extensive refurbishment at the Hillcrest Shop in Reedley, California. The engine received a new boiler, new plumbing and appliances, and many more improvements and changes. Indeed, she’s the “newest” that she’s ever been, since 1955 when she was “actually new”! This is truly an exciting moment for the engine.

Trivial rumors might also suggest that Pixar’s CEO John Lasseter had some say in the direction of the refurb, given that he’s an avid train fan and the Hillcrest Shop did work for him before.

Join me as I survey the engine up close and personal, and talk to the DRR crew. I also make some before-and-after comparisons to get an idea of what kind of work was done on the refurb (… and it’s indeed very extensive!)

In a later update, I’ll post a selection of pictures I find interesting. For now, enjoy the video…

…and this bonus picture (I had to do it!)

A picture of the CK Holliday cab with the Engine Study Plan Book (Author for scale)

A picture of the CK Holliday cab with the Engine Study Plan Book (Author for scale)


Filed under CK Holliday build, CKH Plans, Steam Engine Simulator

46: the eagles are coming!

Dennis (IDMT129) at the Burnsland Disney Railroads forum shared his very thorough research on the iconic eagles that mount each of the Disneyland Railroad engines (err… except for one).

Here’s one of the eagles he studied, with Dennis’ own picture. This one is on the Marsh engine:

In the post, he details the differences between each of the four eagles. Even what kind of damages and repairs each eagle obviously went through. For example, Dennis’ sharp eyes observed:

EP Ripley has an interesting feature. The feet have been re-weld backwards. The front 3 talons appear under the tail and only a single talon is viewed from the front. You can also see the perch is a separate feature from the ball and welded in place with a spacer or blank embedded in the weld. The Hex nut under the ball also appears to be another welded after feature.

Indeed, this writeup is probably the most detailed study on this subject yet. I won’t repeat too much of what he’s already said—you can check it out yourself. But the result of his in-depth study is that he came up with a 3D model of the Ripley’s eagle, and he was kind enough to share it with me!

2015-07-31 07_47_09-Greenshot

Wow! I already expected much before I saw the model but once I opened it, it completely blew me away! It’s just chock-full of details! The subtle details like each ruffle of the feathers, the eye depressions, the beak, and more, all come together to create this amazing replica. Check out how finely it’s subdivided:

2015-07-31 07_47_49-Greenshot

I would guess that it was made in ZBrush.

And so once I had the model, I of course had to render it 😀


The above is the classic profile you might recognize. And here’s a very majestic 3/4 shot of the finial.


And the hero shot:


There’s some real weight in the model, especially when rendered. Great job, Dennis!

Leave a Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build

45: tender frame

I bet you didn’t think you’d see another CK Holliday build update! There’s so much going now on this blog between the virtual build, the simulator, and the Haunted Mansion. But, I thought I’d go ahead and post some pictures to show what I have so far for the long-waited Holliday tender.

2015-03-13 16_37_36-SolidWorks Premium 2012 x64 Edition - [1.1001_chassis _]

There are just four steel beams supporting the tender “tank” above. Can you tell which end is the front? Yes, there’s a difference!

2015-03-13 16_38_10-SolidWorks Premium 2012 x64 Edition - [1.1001_chassis _]

The trucks are detailed with their springs and pockets and saddles.

2015-03-13 16_38_46-SolidWorks Premium 2012 x64 Edition - [1.1001_chassis]

And of course the “Disneyland Railroad” and “Lovsted, Seattle” stamping!

Leave a Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build, CKH Plans

poster update

The posters finally came in today, and boy it’s pretty big!




The paper is medium-weight and semi-glossy, and you can see the clarity of the printing yourself. The poster is available for ordering now at

Leave a Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build

the little details

There are a lot of things to consider when making a scale model.

When people see the computer build of the Holliday I did on this site, most people would think that they should be able to just send it to a 3D printer or a CNC machine and have their own scaled copy of the famous engine to sit on their desk.

But there is a lot more work than that–a lot of issues to consider. The most governing issue is the size. Larger model will accommodate more details, but is expensive and inconvenient for most people. A model too small won’t have many of the details that are unique to the engine. So there’s a balance somewhere.

What about the materials? People think metal like aluminum, steel, and cast iron are authentic and durable, but they have terrible details and tolerance, and are hard to modify.

I also have to redesign the parts to make them suitable for small scale. This is because very small details like bolt heads or cotter pins can not be reproduced by machines. So, I have to take the full scale parts and delete or simplify the details (of course, I’m working with a different copy of the part!).

And the material? Plastic gets my vote. It’s the easiest to work with and modify and add details. They’re also lighter in weight which saves on shipping.

And which parts are important to the modeler? With a copy of the engine plan book, one could build a model with every single detail that is found on the real engine. But, when scaled down, some of those parts are impractical. And scratch building it would be tough. How would you go about making the drivers, boiler, saddle, etc.?

But, there can be a CK Holliday semi-kit, and modelers wouldn’t have to worry about any of the above. And maybe it will look like this:

Note that the parts like footplate, side sheets, running boards, and deck are very flat pieces that I think the modeler can fabricate himself (just cut them from a styrene sheet, or even thin metal sheet). The parts will be made of polyamide (PA2200) plastic–strong but flexible enough to work with (they’ll take some abuse).

The intention also is to allow the modeler to build his kit like the real engine, which means the saddle you see above is just that–the saddle. The modeler will have to furnish his own finishing, such as steam chest cover, on top of that, which I think is great so anyone can customize the finishing to match his favorite 4-4-0. Also, the modeler will understand how the engine is really put together–he’ll have to assemble and key the drivers to the axles, and place the axle boxes in their jaws, etc. Not much is “pre-done”, except the boiler is “pre-jacketed” which one can paint–or even better, wrap it with thin metal sheet–just follow the contours!

(Speaking of the jacket, you can see how it has cutouts for the domes and the running board brackets already!)

There are still a few more parts I want to add to the above (crossheads and rods comes to mind). Then, I will experiment with some laser cutting wood to provide for the cab.

The above picture is just a computer preview. I’ve sent a few parts to be fabricated so we’ll see how they turn out. Standby for updates and more details on the semi-kit!

UPDATE: New rendering of the prototype below. The 1:20 semi-kit will contain just about what you see below, except for the cranks and the crosshead guides, which anyone can make (they’re included in these pictures just for purpose of completing the assembly).

The cylinders and domes covers can be painted, or better yet, wrapped in gold foil to look like real brass.

Note the backhead has cutouts for the throttle plate, washout plug, and some of the plumbing.


Filed under CK Holliday build, CKH Plans

44: tender details

Some stamping details on the tender truck:

Leave a Comment

Filed under CK Holliday build