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Some Recollections Of Fifty Years In Standard Gauge

By George E. Brink, President SGA

The editor has asked for a condensed history of my working in Standard gauge. I have been active for more than half a century now, and am still going strong. The 2-1/8” gauge has always seemed to me to be the most practical from every standpoint. My real activities in Standard gauge started in the year of 1907 – that is, to actually have set up a permanent model railroad.

However, in 1903 I had a temporary layout out of doors, which I took up after having a day of fun running the equipment. At first my locomotives all ran by steam, as at that time electricity for practical model railroad use was in its infancy.

For a while I tinkered with some engines made by the Weeden Co. of New Bedford, Mass. They were very far from satisfactory as they lacked power and could not be reversed.

In 1907 I got hold of a pair of small cylinders from a friend and with the aid of a blacksmith and a tinsmith I made a 4-4-0 type 2-1/8” gauge steam locomotive. The frame was mild steel and the boiler of copper with three water tubes. This model used alcohol for fuel and had slip eccentrics for reverse.

The driving wheels were sash pulleys with one flange turned off with a grindstone. The wheels for the leading truck and tender were picked up from various sources. When first tested on January 17, 1907, this model ran fine and had good pulling power.

From then on through the years I improved my models and later turned to electric engines as a side line of my layout. In 1911 I built my present 4-4-0 live steamer, fully equipped except for air brakes.

In 1930 I built my first permanent outdoor railroad, using galvanized rail on wooden ties and from then on had an outdoor line until I retired the railroad in 1955. This system was equipped with 2-position light signals of my own manufacture and I also made my own relays. For electric transmission on electric locomotives and motor cars I used catenary overhead and pantographs. These pantographs were also all my own manufacture, as were all the track, switches, and buildings. The line was ballasted with small trap rock. I had railroad stations, section houses, an engine house, and most everything you would normally see on any single-track railroad of the type I had duplicated.

In 1955, as I was growing along in yeas and was not as robust as I had been, I thought it about time to call it a day as far as active outdoor railroading was concerned. At present I retain only the 4-4-0 live steamer from the old layout. Right now, I am starting a new, small indoor 2-1/8” electric layout in my den, using inside third rail.

I hope these notes will be of interest to some of the members of our SGA. I will be glad to answer any questions from any member who may wish to build a layout or equipment similar to my old system.

COPYRIGHT 1958 by the STANDARD GAUGE ASSOCIATION. All rights reserved.

Publisher’s note: this article was transcribed in its entirety from a copy of the Spring 1958 Standard Gauge Association Journal. We acknowledge the 1958 copyright on this material and reproduce it here based upon the assumption that, since the SGA Journal ceased publication approximately 45 years ago, the original copyright was not renewed and therefore this material has passed into the public domain. We also believe that the use of this material here is a “fair use” of an original printed article, since this web site is a not-for profit, educational, and archival endeavor. In this connection we have reprinted the original copyright information at the end of the article.

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