Building a 16mm scale model of the largest 2-foot narrow gauge steam locomotive to operate in North America
By Ric Collins
I have been a 2 – foot narrow gauge railroad enthusiast ever since reading “The Maine Two-Footers” by Linwood Moody, published in 1959.
Over time I became interested in many of the 2-foot narrow gauge railways around the world. The first 2-foot narrow gauge railroads in the U.S. were based on the successful Ffestiniog Railway in Wales so naturally I had to see and experience the “Grand-Daddy” of all 2-footers and did just that during two trips to the UK in 1984 and 1987. For years I had watched videos and read books about the Maine Two-Footers and the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes RR always held a special interest for me. In 1992 my wife and I vacationed in Maine to see what remained of the two-footers, including a stop at Edaville in Massachusetts. While in Franklin County, Maine we spent a great deal of time in Phillips at the local Historical Society, the Sandy River Railroad restoration park and the old rail yard where the remains of the engine house and Depot still stood. We also hiked the old SR&RL grades and stayed at the Rangeley Tavern in Rangeley which was once owned by the SR&RL.
I modeled the Sandy River in On2 Scale for over 30 years until 2003 but I initially became interested in the larger scales during the early 1990’s when LGB produced a G scale Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes electric 0-4-4T locomotive. I acquired one along with several pieces of rolling stock to operate indoors. G scale electric loco’s were interesting, but my enthusiasm perked up when I watch a friend run his alcohol fired live steam Shay on 45mm gauge track.
By 1995 I become acquainted with a company in the USA selling scale live steam models of Maine 2-foot gauge locomotives manufactured in Australia by Argyle Locomotive Works. At the time, Argyle offered a couple of Sandy River 2 Foot gauge live steam locos to operate on 32mm gauge track and I quickly decided that was the direction I had to go. My first live steam purchase was the Argyle Sandy River Mogul named “Old Star”, delivered in 1996 to our brand new garden railroad, the Mt. Greta Railway. Over the next 10 years, the MGR commissioned Argyle to custom built four additional engines for the railway.