Sleeping Giants

“Hi Al,

Just a quick email to thank you for the various tips you send, I always enjoy reading them.

I don’t have any tips and the attached photos aren’t even model railway related, but I thought some of your subscribers, particularly from overseas may like to see them.

They were taken on a recent trip to Cuba where I stumbled upon this yard in the middle of Havana behind the Capital building.

I model 1930s GWR and really have no idea what these locomotives are and would love to know if anyone can identify them.

Best regards


Well, I enjoyed Simon’s pics so much I thought I’d jump off the models for a day and I’d post them.

Let me know if you did too, because I have quite a few emails like this – not really modelling, but still train related and interesting (well, I think so).

Or if you’re bored stiff with stuff like this, fill your boots with the ‘ebay cheat’ sheet.



60 Responses to Sleeping Giants

  1. Sundaram says:

    These were awesome. It is a pity that thay are not in a railway museum.

  2. John Seale says:

    they’re wonderful! i don’t know much about the switchers but the 2-10-0 look like Baldwin models also sold to Imperial Russia. i’m not saying that these arrived from Russia somehow; after the 1917 Revolution, Baldwin was stuck w/dozens of these as they would not sell to the Bolsheviks. these eventually were distributed among US railroads (Erie, NC&StL, Frisco, etc) after they were re gauged to 4′ 8 1/2″ from the 5 foot Russian gauge. if you have an order number, serial nos; i’d be interested in where they were purchased.

  3. PETER BENSON says:

    Great photos and layout well done Peter norfolk UK

  4. Al says:

    Totally enjoy all the articles and videos you send. Very helpfull to me, thank tou very much.

  5. Glenn Roach says:

    Hey Alistair, I am curious where is OZ in relationship to your 10/20? Also where are those steam engines rusting away at. There are many running Steam excursions that would possibly want to see about purchasing/just moving out of the neighborhood to restore them back to their beautiful looking shape they deserve.

  6. Dave C says:

    Most, if not all of those locos are American built, Baldwins or Alcos. Some are standard gauge, a few are narrow gauge. All likely were used at some point in the various sugar plantations. Because of US trade embargo those locos can’t be repatriated to the US. Sad they can’t be brought back to some museums.

  7. Ben Zalewski says:

    I enjoy photos of “real” locos as well as models.
    Thank you.
    –Ben Z

  8. paul Otway says:

    i think those locos were made in the USA. The Saddle tank could be made by Davenport. The others could be Baldwin.

  9. Ian says:

    tremendous photos a restorers dream well done send more.

  10. Tom Oliver says:

    Hi Al, and gang. I loved the layout of John’s, and the sound. But was the sound just mounted on the layout, and not on the Diesel? It sounded great, but it would have been great to hear it constantly on the actual diesel. I guess N gauge would be extremely hard to fit sound to, if possible at all.
    Also loved the pics of the steam graveyard, and agree, that it’s such a shame to see them rusting away. But still, gives an insight into the past, and I for one, wouldn’t mind more pics like this. Thanks Al.

  11. Dingo Sharp says:

    Heck man they sure are model related who’d pass up photos like these to copy for a layout, not model related phuey.

  12. THOMAS says:


  13. Donald Kinscherf says:

    My father always loved steam engines…in fact every year he would go to Connetticut ride a steam train with a club and their wives…have the train stop all men would get off with cameras …the train would back up and then steam by as all the guys took pics…my mom got a big kick out of it and at home we were told all those “damn old fools” made of themselves…I love steam engines and when I can will build a layout with them being the hi-light…if my wife allows….many kudos to Simon and his pics

  14. Bruce Reid says:

    Enjoyed the pics! Just received a new athearn Big Boy in N. beautiful and runs great. I have min 16 in rad. So it looks good. Has good sound ,also.

  15. Brian says:

    Hi Al

    In answer to your question, I will always be interested in anything railway, be it full size or model, so keep the pikkies coming



  16. Chris says:

    love the photos, shame that they havn’t found a home to go to

  17. Bruce says:

    Great pics and I think they we old engines that might have been modified so much over the years they do not look the same anymore. The wheel base is familiar.

  18. D.B. Lewis says:

    I totally agree with Dingo. Show us MORE cool old-train pix!

  19. Ted lake says:

    Keep up the good work. Great web site you and Dave make my day. Ted

  20. Ged Rawlings says:

    Hi Al well worth a trip to Cuba. By the way Al haven’t received any E.mail for a while hope every thing is ok with you,Kind regards Ged

  21. Mike Doyal says:

    Hi Al:
    Cool old train pix from Cuba. The little “narrow gauge” locos were likely used on a sugar cane plantation.
    Please throw more “found” trains pix into your mix where you’re able.
    Kind regards,

  22. Dave Kuss says:

    Just want to add my two cents worth to the ‘petition’ to post more ‘found’ train photos.
    And thanks for everything, Al. Please, keep up the good work.
    Best to you,

  23. Ron Schultz says:

    I won’t be surprised to see the “grave yards ” of old engines showing up on the model lay outs now .I have some old steamers that no longer run. Diesels and old cars also. Its an idea for just a separate diorama for the train room . an old closed down engine house with the junk rusting away.I just built a new HO fire station that’s to big for the layout. its going on a shelf above the trains so i guess a train junk yard is in the further also.

  24. Tony Tesoriere says:

    Can not get enough of those old steam engines. Now that we are assuming normal relations with Cuba, it may be possible to get the word out to the many organizations and museums who would love to get their hands on some of those engines.

  25. Barry Rowe says:

    Loved the Cuba pictures!

  26. Lee Barry, CEO LZPMRR says:

    excellent pictures. Too bad they aren’t restoring them and either running them or at the least put them on show.

  27. Fred Staley says:

    Nifty pics !! Does anyone have pics of the Shays at Cass Cass Scenic Railroad State Park in West Va it’s really beet !!

  28. Paul DeGrey says:

    Without pictures of the prototype we don’t know what we are modeling. Great pictures,keep them coming.

  29. David says:

    WOW. Would give up my models to have these in my back yard.

  30. Dienzel Dennis says:

    Bring it on, anything closely related to trains…..I just love them all. Keep um coming…all types. Thanks for your work. Captain Dennis

  31. Perry says:

    The 2-10-0 are called Decopods, as your previous writer said they were built for Russia, but once the Bolshevik took power the USA would not sell or ship them over so they found homes were ever they could. Several of the others look like switch engines and narrow gauge engines. All look like American (USA) types.

  32. the first sleeping giant is the Minaz 186, a 2-8-0 by Alco in 1919 for the United Railways of Havana . It was absorbed into the Ferrocarriles de Cuba (FdeC). After working in the sugar can lines it was was selected in the 1990’s for modifications by Livo Dante Porta. Porta made several design changes which resulted in increasing doubling the draw bar horspower, increased its operating efficiency 50%, and increasing its speed to 60 mph.
    Source -” La Locomotive A Vapeur” by Andre Chapelon

  33. correction Minaz 1816

  34. john pilling says:

    All the locos have been salvaged from the Cuban Sugar cane industry. They hauled car loads of cane from the fields to the massive “Centrales” that were spaced along the length of the sugar producing part of the island. One rail line ran along the long dimension of the island, with lines perpendicular to it going into the fields. They’ve been collected through the inspiration of the Historian of Havana, Eusebio Leal Spengler. Most of them are in a park next to the main passenger station, which is now being rehabilitated. There are some more down near the harbor in front of the arts and crafts market.

  35. Robert A. Peinert Jr MD says:

    not being knowledgeable on early British steam locomotives I wondered how many of the old, dilapidated, broken down engines were last extant examples of their types and should have been preserved as historically significant steps in the evolution of GB’s great railroad system!!!!!

  36. David A. Massimi says:

    Great photos of the old steamers! Sure, model railroading is our focus, but trains are trains !

  37. Mark Gilbert says:


    Not having the opportunity to read all the comments regarding these photos, I must say I appreciated your sharing them with us. While these are not pictures of model railroad(way) layouts, I do believe they have a place here in this forum.

    Most of these types of engines have been reproduced as models and a number of those in this forum actually attempt to capture historical and/or modern lines with their layouts. In that light, these types of pictures of that which has been or is today become relative to the forum.

    While I agree that the forum is not about the sleeping giants or the alive and currently functioning systems, there is a place for pictures like these and I for one would appreciate your occasionally sharing them with us.

    I further appreciate that these pictures were taken by a member and was shared from the real life experience he had while visiting another country.

    Please keep up the great work you do of sifting through all the e-mail you get and sharing relative content with us.

    Mark G.

  38. Ross Johnston says:

    I enjoyed seeing the sleeping giants. Trains are trains whether they are in N, HO or Full Size. Great photos! Thanks to Simon and you. Cheers Rossco Adelaide Australia

  39. Bill from WV says:

    I love the photos. It is really sad that the engines were allowed to deteriorate. The last time I saw a steam engine in use in the US was when I was 2 or 3. The Pennsylvania RR used it to service a General Motors plant near my home. I was stationed in Korea in the mid-1960’s. They were using steam engines, narrow gauge. In 1976, the Smithsonian had a special display of the 1876 Centennial Exposition. It included a black, shiny Baldwin steam loco. What a sight to behold!!

  40. Rick says:

    Having also been to Cuba this year I can tell you they are very rich with history.
    Search “History of trains in Cuba “ and you will find a amazing railroad system.

  41. Toomas Pranstibel says:

    Very nice locos! Toomas from Estonia

  42. Excellent photos- thanks for sharing! This really is a museum of sorts- an interesting piece of history to observe and wonder about.

  43. Jeff Salisbury says:

    Yes, post more something you don’t see much anymore, thanks

  44. I would have to agree with the thoughts on Baldwin and Davenport, however difficult to be sure. They do look American Made.

  45. Wow! These are awesome finds. I wish I knew more about locos. Thx for the pics.

  46. Ken K says:

    Really enjoyed the pictures something different, I also was in Cuba a few years ago did not see these but they have one sitting outside a market it looked nice to bad the U.S won’t let us go there anymore.

  47. Robert Brady says:

    Now that’s a Bobby dazzler !

  48. Cord says:

    Always nice to see prototype photos. They’re a great source of inspiration for models!

  49. Jim craven says:

    Great pics. Father was a Fireman with the PRE during WW ‘ll into the 50’s. Became an Engineer till his passing in 1968. I was in Japan and loved the steam engines in Hakado.

  50. Roger Vipond says:

    Re: steam locos in Cuba, 6 years ago I went on a 14-day cycle tour of Cuba. At one point our (Cuban) group leader took us to a sugar plantation where there were two locos actually in steam for tourists. I think it was somewhere near Santa Clara. I do remember one of the locos had a nameplate of “Australia” on the boiler.

  51. Russ Leech says:

    The sight of all of these wonderful old beauties inspires me to think that this is a project for a team of dedicated restorers to get together and do a Go Fund Me attempt at support. I think there are many steam admirers that would join in such a venture …. they do fore many other projects that benefit only a few while any amount of these being restored would benefit many for years to come.

  52. Great pictures simoon
    Great idea al

  53. James Beal says:


    If you are in the US and going to the West Coast there are some great museums in Ely and Carson City. Trains were very important at the time of the gold and silver rush. They have some real unusual trains that are still running.

    Check out the web sites for Carson City, Nevada and Ely Nevada Train Museums.

    Ely is off the beaten path but you will get to see an open pit copper mine. Carson has a replica full scale mine you walk through. And as a treat you can go the The Nugget and get an Awful Awful Burger. It is Awful big and good.

  54. seymour preston jr says:

    AlHi Alastair: Thanks for the Cuba pics. A great tribute to Fidel Castro and his legacy. Best regards, Seymour

  55. Jeff Nelson says:

    Fantastic pictures thanks for sharing! They should be scaled down to model size and built so they can again run the rails!

  56. Greg Marples says:

    Great to see more old locomotives, hidden away in Cuba! Great find! My father in law worked for the Union Pacific ever since he got home from Korea, and when they were going to demolish the old wooden depot in Frankfort, Kansas, he moved it to his back yard! Still stands proudly there today.

  57. jacin mueller says:

    THX pictures are awesome , They are American made used on sugar plantations , there is a town in cuba that still utilizes old american diesels , believe the town was built by at the turn of the century ,the rail line is still active today out of havana again great pix , will try to send pics of our club layouts , n,ho,o, and g all here in baton rouge la. keep the articles and pix coming ,

  58. John Ruetz says:

    Great pictures. I love the old trains. Another idea for your layout is to take broken or non-running trains and use them for a derailment or repair shop. Just something different that you don’t usually see in a train layout.

  59. Earl says:

    Enjoyed these photos. Brings back memories of the Grand Trunk Western passenger steam commuter trains that ran from Pontiac to Detroit till the late 1960’s that passed by our street every day. My friends and I would run down the block to see them pass. We would place coins on the tracks to see the trains flatten them.

  60. william j plmer says:

    damn shame they are rotting away

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