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
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
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.