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Model Railroading > Live Steam Gauges

Date: 08/06/10 17:21
Live Steam Gauges
Author: MMD

Can any member of TO tell me if there is a 10" live steam gauge in the USA. Was told today that there was but I've never heard of it, I know of the 7 1/4" gauge as I think I've seen photos on here. Any advice would be appreciated.

New Zealand.

Date: 08/06/10 17:26
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: tomstp

Never heard of a l0". We have 7 1/4 and 7 1/2 but from there jumps to 12" or more.

Date: 08/06/10 19:53
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: mcdeo

discoverlivesteam.com has a wealth of information. One publication says:

"In the live steam hobby (outdoor riding trains) the term "large scale" generally refers to 7 1/2" or 7 1/4" gauge trains, because decades ago the most popular gauges were even smaller than these (on train tracks "gauge" is the distance between the inside edges of the rails). But there have always been many miniature trains even bigger than that, and more are being built all the time. So what is larger than "large scale"? . . . the Grand Scales. In the United States and Canada there are no popular gauges between 7 1/2" and 12". Thus 12" gauge has become the unofficial lower limit of Grand Scale trains (there are a few exceptions). In England, however, there are many 10 1/4" gauge railways with truly substantial equipment. These lines are generally considered Grand Scale railroads. One of the first deciding factors is that engineers and passengers should ride "in" the equipment instead of "on top of it"."

From Grand Scale Quarterly FAQ page on their web site.

Other gauges include (but are limited to): 3 1/2", 4 1/2", and 5" gauges. The 3.5 and 5 appear to be mostly European/Asia. I know some clubs have many of the multiple gauges.

Hope that helps some.

Mike ONeill
Parker, CO
Colorado Photos

Date: 08/07/10 07:28
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: CIOR

Calling MARTY!!!!!!

Date: 08/08/10 08:05
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: KeyRouteKen

Many thanks to Mike ONeill of Parker, CO for providing some general info on Live Steam track gauges.
In the United States and Canada, no one could ever come together and "standardize" on what certain scale gauges should really be, which was unfortunate.
Some examples: The standard gauges as adopted by the NMRA years ago for the small live steam railroads are--- 2 1/2 inch (1/2" scale); 3 1/2 inch (3/4" scale), and 4 3/4 inch (1" scale)... In the UK and Canada, 5 inch gauge represents 1" scale...

In the Western U.S. the gauge for 1 1/2" scale is 7 1/2 inch gauge. In the Eastern U.S. the gauge for this same scale is 7 1/4 inches. The same in Canada.
Neither gauge is truly correct for the scale involved. For the absolute "purist", the gauge for 1 1/2 inch scale works out to 7 1/16 inches.

This is really a shame because Live Steamers in different parts of the country are "restricted" on whose tracks they can visit and run on.
Many years ago, one of the older GGLS members in Oakland, CA built an absolute stunning model of a STEAM locomotive as well as a Steeple-cab locomotive that drew power from either Overhead wire or outside 3rd rail (a 'la SN) and a large beautifully constructed wood caboose. His name was Louis Lawrence and he resided in West Oakland.
However. he could ONLY operate his beautiful creations in his own backyard. Why ??
Because for some strange reason he built them with a track gauge of 6 3/8 inches.

The track gauge on Erich Thomsen's "Redwood Valley Railroad" was originally 12 inches before he enlarged it to the current 15 inches.

Anyway, even with early-day intervention by some of the IBLS secretaries, the gauge drama still lingers on. If you are a Live Steam hobbyist, you RUN where you can.


North American Region
International Brotherhood of Live Steamers

Date: 08/08/10 10:50
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: tomstp

Ken, there is not really much disadvantage to having 7 1/2". Only a very small portion of the northeast US has 7 1/4" gauge. If I had to estimate the percentage of 7 1/2 to 7 1/4, I would say it would be 90% to 10% in the US. Obviously I could be off just a little either way but 7 1/2" dominates the US and I know that western Canada is 7 1/2. Don't know the extent of 7 1/4 in eastern Canada.

Date: 08/08/10 12:09
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: rehunn

Will it stop hurting if I quit hitting myself?? With the amount of 7 1/2" gauge trucks
and wheelsets available one would have to have masochistic tendencies to go 7 1/4".

Date: 08/08/10 22:17
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: SandingValve

15" is the way to go!! A good friend of mine's 'miniature' railroad...

Getting the #15 ready for duty...

Myself at the throttle of #8 with the #15 in a double header making a run for 'The Hill'...

I can't wait till fire season is over so we can get in some running!

Date: 08/09/10 08:56
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: livesteamer

The only 10" gauge railroad that I am aware would have been the Centerville and Southwestern-the Becker's Farm railroad that WAS located in New Jersey. The railroad was a 2" scale operation that ran until the early 1970's. IIRC, the New Jersey Railroad museum folks near Philipsburg, NJ have some 10" track down and do give rides on some of the Becker's Farm equipment. The major news story out now is the effort to return C&S #1501 (Pocono style steamer) back to NJ. The 1501 weighed in at over 7,000 lbs and spent many years in the Henry Ford Museum, is now held in private hands and looks like it may head back to New Jersey. There is a DVD out on the Centerville and Southwestern. To the best of my knowledge, this is/was the only 10" gauge railroad in the US.

Marty Harrison
Knob Noster, MO

Date: 08/09/10 13:18
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: SandingValve

These are for rehunn:

"Confunction Jct."- Normal running is the track on the lower right to the switch stand in the center of the image for the 3-4% downhill run beyond the switch. The straight track on the left leads towards the 5% at lower left, the steepest section of the railroad. Although the trains seldom have any issues when traversing this section of trackwork, when double heading with the #15 as the road engine it prefers to be the trailing engine and let the helper engine 'pull' the train through the curved section. This is especially true when traveling uphill, hence the name of the jct.

Close to operating pressure on the #15...Yeah...That's right, 15" gauge and 200lb operating boilers...Trippy,eh??


Date: 08/09/10 13:21
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: SandingValve

A few more...

A spunky little 2-4-2 'Columbia' type usually assigned to helper or road service.

The workhorse of the road. This engine has far more power than you'd think possible with 15" gauge/5" scale.


Date: 08/09/10 19:44
Re: Live Steam Gauges
Author: rehunn

Mr. Hunn says DAMN!! And thanks for the pictures, always nice to see how the other
half lives.

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