Walt Disney, and by extension Mickey Mouse, both had a fascination with trains. From models to backyard ride-on layouts to a ‘full-sized’ railway around Disneyland, Walt played with every size of locomotive he could! And so it’s not surprising that pieces of merchandise like this Mickey Mouse Battery Western Choo-Choo train would pop up on store shelves eventually.
Sometime in the 1970s, Durham Industries Inc. manufactured this wonderful little plastic set. It contains one engine, a coal tender, two passenger cars, and 8′ of circular track. It’s powered by 2 ‘C’ batteries and has ‘genuine’ chug-chug sounds and a working light.
Mickey plays the part of a Conductor on the box, but is actually the Engineer on the train. Goofy and Donald Duck also come along for the ride.
The instructions require that the train run in a counter-clockwise direction. Why? I surmise that it has to do with the drive wheel on the locomotive. There is only one on the left side of the undercarriage (see IMAGE TWO below) which would place it on the inside of the circular track. This would put the drive power on the shortest rail thus eliminating binding as the drive wheel pulls the train forward. This is important as there are no straight lengths of track on this layout.
If you’d like to run the train backwards, simply reverse the direction of the batteries. But being as the instructions list this point under a trouble-shooting section, I don’t think Durham is recommending this action!
The stickers are only on one side of the locomotive and cars:
The stickers are on the right side of the train only so that they can be seen from the outside of the track layout as the train goes around and around.
The instructions recommend that the track be screwed down to a plywood base for better performance. I ran the train with the track just sitting on my kitchen table and had no problems.
The configuration of the drive system for this locomotive is known as 2-4-0. Under the Whyte notation for the classification of steam locomotives, 2-4-0 represents the wheel arrangement of two leading wheels on one axle, four powered and coupled driving wheels on two axles and no trailing wheels.
So looking at the train (see IMAGE ONE above) and starting from the front, you have a smaller wheel, one on each side, joined with a single axle (2), moving rearward you have two larger wheels, again on both sides, which are on two axles coupled together as the driving wheels (4), and no further wheels after that (0).
What’s the fun of running a train if you can’t wear cool hats? I have a friend who is a rail enthusiast and he leant me two caps for this post and the companion video. IMAGE THREE and FOUR show the Engineer’s cap while IMAGE FIVE, SIX, and SEVEN show the Brakeman’s cap.
I’m told that for the sake of authenticity you never clean a Engineer’s cap! The Brakeman’s cap was produced by William Scully Ltd. which has been in business since 1898. To differentiate the duties of each man on the railway, the cap would have a different colour for the band. The cap in IMAGE FIVE and SIX (above) sports a yellow band, making it a Brakeman’s cap. If the band was red it would belong to a Conductor.
This whistle was custom made, adapted from steam-powered to air-powered (in other words, you now have to blow like crazy to get it to make a sound!) from a vintage Tapatco 3-chambered Conductor’s whistle. The audio clip (above) starts with the ‘All Aboard’ call and whistle, then a ‘Train Approaching’ whistle, a ‘Stop at Next Station’ whistle, and it concludes with a basic medley of whistle sounds.
Check out the video of the Mickey Mouse Battery Western Choo-Choo by clicking the link.
I hope you’ve enjoyed your trip on the Disleelandia Railroad (the DRR). We depart from our station every day sharply at 7:00 am both on weekdays and weekends. Tickets to ride are free. No snacks or beverages are served. You can also board at our Facebook page or our YouTube channel. Wherever you choose to join us, be sure to listen for the call of…
A L L A B O A R D !