It was a bitterly cold day in the city yesterday, so when my friend Jeff Young visited after some meetings downtown, we broke into the Highland Park 12yo and sat around the kitchen before heading to the layout room.
Jeff and I share an interest in live steam, although as the live steam columnist for Garden Railways magazine he’s much more tuned into this interesting aspect of the hobby than am I. So it was a great opportunity to learn about various happenings in the water-boiling community.
I find it interesting that, just as with the smaller (indoor) scales, North American manufacturers serving the live steam community are evolving – with more ready to run product highlighted by more examples of large, mainline locomotives.
When I look at my S scale layout, and the modest trains I pull behind my 2-6-0s and 4-6-0s, I have trouble imagining the space I would need for a train long enough to justify an articulated engine like an SP Cab Forward – yet a quick look at the Accucraft “Gauge One” live steam locomotive page shows such brutes are popular choices. There, one finds 2-10-2s, 2-10-4s, 4-8-8-4s and 2-6-6-6s (plus, I must point out, a couple of smaller wheel arrangements including a sweet little SP Mogul).
Just like in the smaller scales, the live steam fraternity likes their locos large – and I suspect quite a few of these spend their time on display shelves or mantlepieces. And while I’m sure there are many garden railways large enough for a big SP loco to pull a 30-40 car block of reefers, that’s not happening in my backyard.
When I consider my own garden railway ambitions (as I do, infrequently, on my Live Steam blog), I realize I’m at the “Kids’ Table”. They’ll always be modest – much like my Port Rowan line. And I’m fine with that.
In my ideal world, a manufacturer will produce a 7/8″ (1:13.7) narrow gauge tank engine suitable for an estate railway – my current favourite source of inspiration being the Sand Hutton Light Railway and its locomotives, similar to the Maxitrak “Jack”. I’d grab an adult beverage and enjoy a nice, modest, city-yard-sized marvel of miniature engineering as it putters about the garden on a summer evening.
Exactly the opposite of last night’s winter chill.
Jeff and I intended to run trains on Port Rowan, but the conversation was just too engaging. I gave him a brief tour of the line to show him my tree progress. Then we headed to Harbord House (yes, that place!) for dinner.
We were meeting my wife there as she was holding a post-work meeting with some colleagues. Their meeting ran longer than expected so Jeff and I sat at an adjacent table – which quickly became known as the “Kids’ Table”. Our server picked up on this and before we knew it…
A great evening, Jeff – thanks for coming over! Maybe next time, we’ll run that operating session. Weather permitting, of course…