2 1/2" Scale, 7 1/2" Gauge Trains

I have long been involved in model railroading as a hobby. First, there was N scale, then G scale, and now 2 1/2" scale. I still operate G scale live steam engines on a regular basis, please see <new page> for more information on that.

My adventure in 2 1/2" scale ...

My 2 1/2" scale adventure started when Roll Models Inc introduced their first products. I purchased a small 2 axle flat car kit from them. The car actually came assembled from them, but I was still excited about the idea of operating equipment in this scale. (This was long before we purchased the Groton Engine.)



Shortly before we moved to Pataskala, Ohio, RMI introduced a 25 ton, 2 axle switcher in kit form. At first, it was priced for less than $2000 or so. I was hooked. I placed the order and eventually received a very large box with the kit, but no instructions, bill-of-materials, or any documentation at all. The box was in poor shape by the time it reached me. After some exchanges in phone calls and e-mail, RMI promised to get me something in writing. After 2 months, I eventually received 4 pages by fax on what fasteners to use to assemble the deck and running gear. (The data on the FAXed pages did not match the fasteners in the kit!) I eventually muddled through and got the base assembled. The next hurdle was wiring up the electronic drive. For that, I was sent a blueprint with the wiring diagram. I finally managed to get everything up and running. About 6 months after I finished assembling the locomotive, RMI sent me the instruction manual. From that, I learn of all the changes that were made in the locomotive from the time my kit was shipped until the instructions were finished. This included things like the hole for the 24 charger socket that does not exist on my frame as well as the placement of the electric motor. While I had some significant hassles with the kit and getting it assembled, the price was extremely cheap. The components were all top notch and well worth the investment.
 


My next problem was finding someplace to run the engine. We had moved to rural Licking county Ohio east of Pataskala to a house on 7.3 acres. I had lofty plans to build my own track, but with young children, I had no time. (And still don't!) I eventually got hooked up with a gentleman who had a private track only 5 miles from my house. Unfortunately, I was only able to run there once, on my birthday one year. I had to take a day off from work. It was great, but never repeated. The engine performed poorly because the batteries that I had purchased were not deep cycle, they died rather quickly.  I eventually found a second track that was about an hour drive from my house. Again, I was only able to visit it once. It was a great group of folks, but we moved to Colorado shortly after I found them.

In addition to the RMI engine, I have wanted to build a steamer, but I really don't have the time or skills. For a long time, I would regularly check the for sale page at Discover Live Steam. Eventually, a great deal came up on a Maxitrak Lil'Jo kit that had been partially built. The price was right and my wife and I drove to Michigan (from Ohio) to pick it up. The gentleman that I purchased it from had order the kit as a 2-6-0 with 2 axle tender. After getting the kit, he had decided to upgrade the tender to a 2 truck form. I had previously read Keith Manison's log on building the Maxitrak Pearl, so this seemed like it should be a reasonable task to get it assembled and running. Well, the kit was purchased in 2004, and I have just now started to work on it. I have a separate page to follow my progress on the Li'l Jo.


Our house in Colorado is on ~4.5 acres about 3 miles west of Loveland, Colorado.. I continue to hope that I can eventually build a small home track to run on.  Here is a satellite photo of my property from Google earth:

 

The second image shows some of the dimensions that I have to work from. The property gains almost 50ft in elevation from the lowest spot to the highest. The linear distance between those points is only ~750 ft. So, I am going to end up with some grades. My hope is to keep the maximum grade to ~ 2 1/2% if possible.

An issue of Live Steam hinted that there is a rotating group that is centered around Longmont, just south of Loveland, but that group has  disbanded. I joined the Rocky Mountain Rails club in south Denver and the Northern Colorado Garden Railroaders. I have made contact with another "large scale" live steamer from the NCGR group that may lead to getting some track building experience and run time closer to home. I have also now joined the Colorado Live Steamers that are located north of Byers, Colorado.