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PostPosted: Wed Sep 22, 2004 8:45 pm 
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I mentioned this in another thread, but I thought that since it doesn't really apply to anything in particular, it would best fit in as its own topic.

This morning I went to the auction at Bonfante Gardens Theme Park in nearby Gilroy, California. There were numerous interesting items up for auction like video games, bumper cars, and other rides that were never installed in the park, but for this group the most interesting items were two 24 inch gauge Crown Metal Products 4-4-0 locomotives.

I had seen one of the locomotives parked outside the engine house in the park about a year ago, but I never saw it nor the second one in operation during park hours. There were copies of a lot of the original documentation about the locomotives at the auction and I learned a whole lot.

There were two locomotives, a purple one number 3 that was built in 1966 with the serial number 3181-1, and a blue one number 5 that was built in 1971 with the serial number 9420A. Number 3 was originally purchased by Michael Bonfante and then in 1986 it was sent to O'Connor Engineering in Costa Mesa, California to be rebuilt and repainted. The cost of the work was $55,000. O'Connor Engineering had previously rebuilt and repainted Engine 5 and sold it and four passenger coaches to Michael Bonfante for $55,000 also in 1986. Engine 3 burns diesel #2 and Engine 5 was converted by O'Conner Engineering to burn propane.

Micheal Bonfante used to chug around the park's construction site before the park was built. The tracks were laid well before construction on the park began. Engine 5 could have been used after the park was built because it burned propane and thus was not a problem when chugging through the Monarch Garden greenhouse. Neither locomotive was ever used to pull passengers during park hours however. They were sold at auction today because they required too much maintenance and specially trained personnel to operate.

Engine 5 was steamed up today, but Engine 3 was not. Both locomotives were in pristine condition and looked like they were well taken care of.

The locomotives and 8 passenger coaches were all sold today to the same buyer for $30,500 each or $61,000 total. The buyer was an elderly gentleman and while he went to go pay, I chatted with his son for a minute. They were working on building their own park but they didn't yet know where it would be located. It didn't sound like they had any prior experience with steam trains based on the questions that they were asking the maintenance people this morning that were operating Engine 5.

It was sad to see those two locomotives go, especially after never having ridden them, but at least maybe now they will be used for what they were designed for, pulling trains full of people. I'm just glad that I got the chance to see, touch, and photograph both of those Crown locomotives before they disappeared forever from Gilroy.

Pictures of the trains are on the auction website:

[url=http://www.nortonauctioneers.com/Auctions/Bonfonte/Bonfonte.htm]http://www.nortonauctioneers.com/Auctions/Bonfonte/Bonfonte.htm[/url]

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:01 am 
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Thanks for the update. That was really interesting reading. Too bad I didn't have an extra 30 g's sitting around to buy the ultimate train set!

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:33 am 
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Quote:
Quote: I'm just glad that I got the chance to see, touch, and photograph both of those Crown locomotives before they disappeared forever from Gilroy.




Are you going to post the photos you snapped, I would like to see them?

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 12:33 pm 
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I'll have to scan them in after I get the film developed. It's also totally up to Steve if he could please host them and if it's OK to post them here since they really have nothing to do with Disney trains. (Please let me know Steve...yay or nay?)

If not, then I'd be happy to email the scanned-in pictures to you. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 5:11 pm 
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Sure, I can host them. I would like to see them, too! Just send them on along when you get them.

Just because they don't have anything to do with Disney doesn't mean that we can't post them here! :)

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 23, 2004 5:59 pm 
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The other reason that they were sold is that Paramount Parks has the operating contract, and they are not exactly rail friendly. Of all the parks that they operate the only one that still has a RR is Kings Island. The other parks have all had their railroads removed. It's not that they don't have the knowhow, as KI railroad is powered by a pair of 36" gauge Crowns.


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 25, 2004 10:35 pm 
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I too was at the BG auction this week. Those trains were very nice and clean. If only I had the space(and &#3630K)...

A lot of neet old stuff too. What does one do with an old horse drawn hearse? It might be a great halloween decoration, but not for &#361200, which is (I think) what it went for.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2004 10:20 pm 
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Second that. I have a soft spot for Crowns. My grandfather introduced me to Ken Williams when I was about six years old. WABCO had just sold the effects of the steam locomoitve business to him, and he had supervised the crating and delivery. He invited my grandfather to bring my family over one weekend for a visit. We had a grand time on the "farm" (as that what it was) where he had several 15" and 24" gauge locomotives waiting for delivery, plus the demonstrator set.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 2:32 am 
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Retlawfan,

Hehe, you probably saw me then wandering around with my big Nikon SLR camera taking photos. :) Did you bid on anything? I didn't because just the opening bids were all too expensive for my budget.

I didn't go to the second half of the auction where all the old arcade games were though. I did walk through there before the auction just to check out everything and take some pictures, but I didn't have the time to stick around for when people actually started bidding on the stuff in that big warehouse. That's where all the really unusual stuff was in my opinion. Those logs carved into famous people were just strange looking to me for some unknown reason and they kind of gave me the creeps.

You were wondering about what people did with all that strange stuff and I did talk to the couple that bought the old mining cart about that. After they won I asked the husband what they planned to do with it and he said that they owned a furniture store in Oregon. The store's showroom has lots of historical items on display like old cars, old trucks, and an old airplane hanging from the ceiling. He said that the mining cart would look perfect in their showroom next to the rest of their collection of old items.

The funny thing was that I asked him how he was going to get the mining cart home and he said that he drove his Ford F-150 truck, but he wasn't sure if it could carry the cart. I then asked him how heavy the thing was and he laughed and said, "I have absolutely no idea...do you know?" :) My only prior experience with mining carts was looking at them at Knott's Berry Farm's Calico Mine Ride and the Timber Mountain Log Ride, plus at the two Big Thunder Mountain Railroads in the USA, and at Grizzly River Run at California Adventure. I did try to roll the mining cart that was up for auction that morning but it wouldn't budge at all. That could have been because the axles were rusted in place though. I could tell that it was pretty heavy and I sure wouldn't want to pick it up and load it into that guy's truck bed!

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 28, 2004 2:34 am 
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Bruce,

Wow, were you lucky! :) I would have loved to peek around Crown Metal Products when they were making steam locomotives.

By the way, are they still around today and if so do they still make steam locomotives? If not, do you know where people buy parts for their old Crowns?

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