The S.4.a project was begun way back in 1999, while I still worked for the Arcade & Attica RR. I had attended the East Coast Large Scale Train Show and picked up an Aristo sloped-back tender. This I coupled to my existing LGB Stainz to form a small, reliable Americanized switcher engine. This started the kitbashing urge for this engine. Here you can see the absolute base mods to create No.2: silver smokebox & stack, the relocated bell (under the fireman's cab floor... check that, I hadn't relocated the bell yet at this point), and the addition of the Aristo tender. The wires in the cab connected the pre-existing powerbus in the tender to the engine's powerbus, giving No.2 an impressive 12-wheel (plus 2-skate) pickup. With the cheaply-printed (inkjet printers, got to love'em) "FREEDOM CENTRAL" I had pretty much settled on what I wanted from this engine.
At least, I had settled on this design until I began the tear-down. Here you can see No.2 as she enters Juniata Falls' (JFX) facility. Her cab & chassis have both been painted black, the addition of an Aristo knuckle-coupler on the front, the use of Ozark safety valves on the steam dome, silver cylinder heads, the finally-relocated bell and the safety chains to the tender. From here she will be broken down into her component parts. It was at this point that trouble began to brew. On the JFX Drawings' Archive page, you will see the Freedom with Sloped-back tender drawing. This was the original "blue-print" I used in planning the final kitbashing of No.2. As the development work began, I realized that the original drawing didn't really embody the feel of the engine I wanted to create. So, as I often am compelled to do, I went back to the digital drawing board and rebuilt the final drawing into something that both pleased me and also featured as much realism in the design as possible. This also came from the fact that over the years my drawing skills had become much sharper as well. I ended up with the Freedom Class - PRR Tender drawing, which emboddied the idea that the original storyline held that the tender was a freshbuild based on PRR drawings from the museum in Strasburg.
Unfortunately, about this time I decided that a powered tender would benefit the engine's hauling ability and as a consequence, went hunting on the net for parts. I had already purchased several parts from Axel at Train-Li-USA and therefore knew of their inventory possibilities. However, I had also had a few run-ins with a German eBay seller carrying a wide selection of parts. I decided to investigate the value of ordering from them. As a result I ended up deciding against my original plan to power the tender with Aristo's Centercab switcher trucks and go with the LGB powered tender which matched the Stainz model. This lead to the development of the "Final" design. Although this changed over the months as well, since the original plan had been to retain the slope-back tender with the LGB chassis. This ended up becoming a standard box tender and resulted in the final S.4.a specification: Freedom Class - As Built. Parts are on order for the tender's build, but first to come under the saw is the engine.
The first modification was the addition of the crew-hatch from the cab back to the tender. This would provide the sole access to the cab since the doors would be "welded" shut and seats installed for the crew. The problem with this is that the back wall of the cab structure included the older LGB power socket. This resulted in an unclean cut, trying to save the socket for later use. However, the metal tube was nicked during the cutting process. As a result, I decided to abandon the socket. Of course, that results in a rather hideous series of holes in the cab's back wall. I am thinking of acquiring a replacement cab to try this manuever again. In speaking of the cab, there are a couple of other adjustments to the cab structure needed: the roof has been sanded flat with the intention of adding an overhand to the rear, providing some protection for the fireman while working on the apron between the engine and tender; I will also need to add a vent as is custom on American engines. I'm certain that there will be other modifications as I go, but that's all I can think of at the moment.