What’s your ***** loco? – part 1


In 2008, I posted a set of questions to the MaineOn2 Yahoo! group list under this title. I felt that the Yahoo! group postings had been dominated by other topics such as ”bashing brass and brass owners” in the verbal/written sense not the converting to another type sense, and by complaints about the poor running qualities of particular examples of brass loco’s, and that it was time to encourage other brass loco owners who had been quietly enjoying positive experiences with their collection of loco’s to post about them.

The questions were chosen quite deliberately to allow different locomotives to be selected, recognising that some owners may have a favourite loco which they would not necessarily recommend as a suitable choice for a newcomer.

My thanks to all the contributors for their comments and especially to Bill Kerr for updating his replies showing how they have changed over a three year period, and for the “Pearls of Wisdom” from a former Moderator of the Yahoo! Group and long term On2 modeller about starting today.

The collected views have been re-edited in 2013 to present a consistent loco/model naming format to facilitate links etc, and finally posted to the new style FAQ’s site.


What’s your ***** loco? – part 1 

What was your first locomotive purchased? When and why?

Terry Smith: A Custom Brass SR&RL #18, purchased at the Edaville Rail Fan Fair in 1988, because it was the first On2 loco I had come across in the price range that I was willing to pay.

Bill Kerr 1: Custom Brass SR&RL #6 Forney, 1979, purchased from friend

Bill Kerr 2: Custom Brass SR&RL #6 Forney purchased 1979, because it was available, now have 2

Jerry Kitts: Custom Brass SR&RL #6 about 1976. Because I liked the engine, I had a hobby shop at the time and gave myself a generous discount. [smile]

Trevor Marshall: Custom Brass SR&RL #24. Purchased in 2003. I was interested in the scale/gauge potential and one was available.

Chester Louis: My first was a Custom Brass SR&RL #24. I bought it at the 10th anniversary NG Convention in St. Louis from Peter Barney.

Jace Kahn: A Custom Brass SR&RL #6, bought new circa 1978, because it was the only On2 commercial locomotive produced at that point. I have had three or four of them pass through my hands over the years, and that particular one has long since gone back into general circulation, but I have kept one #6, bought from the late Mike Pearsall (with can motor replacement), who had added a few details, and I have added a few more.

Bob Schlechter: The Custom Brass SR&RL #6 Forney, etc. as it was the first and only one available at the time.

Gerry Cole: Custom Brass SR&RL #6 “early”, purchased a couple years ago from a fellow Maine On2 list member. Why? Because the price was right, and I liked the size and proportions of the locomotive.

Dean Brown: Custom Brass SR&RL #18, sometime in the late ’80’s. It was the first On2 loco I’d seen, it was painted and lettered and ran beautifully; it still does.

Matt Coleman: my first loco was the Custom Brass SR&RL #16 2-6-2 purchased in 1984 or 85.

Matthew Latham: The Car Works WW&F #7 Late in 2007 because it was the only WW&F brass  locomotive available.

Doug MacLeod: Never have purchased an On2 locomotive. I have 3 On2 locomotives, built two and acquired Sandy River #1 for payment of parts from Putnam & Stowe.

John Rogers: My first loco was not brass. I was probably “loco” at the time and bought a Bachman Forney. A good runner, but the wrong gauge. I narrowed the gauge. Not easy but do-able.


Parlour Car Carrabassett sold to Statfold Barns


Early in 2022, it was announced that Adrian Shooter had decided to sell his two foot gauge parlour car Carrabassett to the Statfold Barns Railway.

This follows a number of changes in recent times;-

At the beginning of 2019, Adrian Shooter, the owner of Carrabasset announced that the current iteration of his private steam railway, the Beeches Light Railway located in Steeple Aston for the last 15 years would be closing in May.

The plan was to relocate to another site fairly close by and re-open in the Spring of 2020. The new layout will be about 50% longer but will still feature significant gradients and other features of interest. All the existing rolling stock will be transferred to the new location, including the steam locomotive.

We understand that the indicated moves did take place, but news of the re-built railway is almost non-existent, we assume that it has been delayed by Covid and other issues, and the sale to Statfold Barns Railway is a result.

Statfold Barns Railway is home to an eclectic collection of small narrow gauge engines and rolling stock, and has lines of different gauges from them to run on. They host numerous enthusiasts weekends which can be attended by advanced booking only. We are grateful to Bob Harper who attended the event over the 11/12th June weekend for sharing the pictures showing Carrabassett at its new home.

CIick here for more information on the Statfold Barn Railway.


Carrabassett origins and early history

Around twenty or so years ago, Adrian, then head of Chiltern Railways, one of the UK’s commuter rail franchises, commissioned the Boston Lodge Engineering workshops of the Ffestiniog railway to design and build him a carriage based on the well known SR&RL parlor car #9, aka Rangeley.

The carriage was delivered in 2005 to Adrian’s two foot gauge line – the Beeches Light Railway, which was laid around the 3 acre gardens of his then home in Steeple Aston, Oxfordshire in the UK.

The car was named Carrabassett, and was finished in typical SR&RL style livery and lettering. The car is not an exact replica of the Rangeley, as it was designed to operate over the Ffestiniog line with its restricted clearances and incorporates a fully fitted kitchen and long dining table enabling the car to be used as an extra fare function car on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland lines and to visit other two foot lines.

For example, when Terry Smith spotted this car at Boston Lodge in May 2016 he wrote “while Carrabasset appeared to be stationary throughout my sojourn in the neighbourhood, it has been put to use at other times as on trips such as the Snowdonian and the Afternoon tea party.” Click on the blue words to see the Festiniog Facebook pages showing these events.

The car featured in the Boston Lodge Engineering promotional brochure showing the scope of works undertaken by the organisation, where it was described as a new build, in the style of the SR&RL Rangeley.


Carrabassett spotted on the move in 2016

The car has been the subject of threads on the former Yahoo now io Maine On2 group, in particular one in 2016 when it had been spotted by a friend of member travelling northwards up the M40 on a low loader. The friend recognised the car as “something interesting and unusual” from his acquaintance with Bachman On30 stock and started asking questions.

The original posting about this car on the FAQ’s was intended to be temporary and serve as a place to post photo’s to support that thread, some six years on we still get direct links to that topic from that thread so we will maintain the original URL, but have re-titled the posting and updated it.


Adrian Shooter has a long history as a volunteer and officer with the Ffestiniog railway, available here.

Click here to visit the Wikipedia page for the Beeches Light Railway.

Click here for more pictures of the Carrabasset Parlor Car.

Click here to view the original 2016 posting.

Updated: 01 October 2022

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin at Tolworth, November 2021

Way back in the Autumn of 2021 in the UK, the second year of Covid lockdown restrictions were easing and things were getting back to normal. A number of smaller locally organised train shows were taking place, and Bob Harper got an invite to take Franklin to the Tolworth Showtrain Exhibition. Bob enjoys exhibiting his layouts and on this occasion his layout was photographed by Andrew Burnham from the staff of the UK magazine, Continental Modeller, with a view to using them to illustrate a possible future article.

Andrew sent Bob a copy of the shots taken, with permission to publish them on blogs as long as they were attributed to “Andrew Burnham, courtesy of Continental Modeller”. For more information about Continental Modeller click here.

Bob forwarded a set of pictures and we present our selection and edits.


The flyer announcing the Tolworth Showtrain. This particular show was described as  “Always a good balanced mainstream event; not too finescaley and not aimed at families either. Perhaps for ‘the average modeller’.”   Click here to view the comment and more discussion about the show on a UK blog.

abF 01

This look down view, taken from the gallery gives a good overall view of an early Sunday morning at a typical UK model railway show, as well as the whole Franklin layout with Bob Harper sitting on the stool at the front where he can operate the trains and the turntable in the fiddle yard behind him, while conversing with the paying public.

abF 12

Loco #24 being turned for its return journey

abF 18

Loco #23 arriving at Franklin with a rake of empty pulpwood rack cars scratch built by Bob.

abF 20

Loco #23 waits to depart with a log load carried in the pulpwood rack cars, while loco #9 arrives with a general merchandise freight train.

abF 21

This picture shows Bob’s hand built trackwork well.

abF 24

Loco #10 with its passenger consist keeps the arrival road and the run round clear for arriving trains. Note the heavily weathered Bridgton boxcar.

abF 28

A Consolidated Mining & Smelting Shay (far from home) brings in a log load.

abF 32

Bob’s scratchbuilt model of the Sandy River #6 combination car.

abF 36

Bob’s scratchbuilt model of a Sandy River cattle car.

abF 38

abF 42

The end of the line, showing the whole sceniced portion of the layout.

Links to other Bob Harper posts

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s New Sharon exhibition layout
Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module goes West …..to New England
Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module
Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Megantic module

Posted 09-02-2022, updated 13 February 2022.

Top posts for 2021

The editors would like to wish all the contributors a Happy New Year and thank them for their materials used. The strange and challenging times have continued and we hope that our viewers have found the site of interest over the last year.

The most viewed posts (*) in the calendar year 2021 were;-

#1– Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s New Sharon exhibition layout.

#2– Maine On2 layouts – Trevor Marshall’s Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR.

#3– Prototype Information – SR&RL Locomotives.

#4– Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module.

#5 – Custom Brass – SR&RL #24 locomotive model

#6 – Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Megantic module.

Click on the blue lettering to visit the topic on another browser page.

A rather different listing this year, with Terry Smith’s account of Bob Harper’s extensive work to get his New Sharon layout fit for a return to the UK Exhibition circuit in the Autumn as the UK restrictions were easing, proving popular in what was otherwise a fairly barren year.

Visitor activity this year has been pretty close to that of 2019 and 2020 in terms of visitor numbers, total views and specific topic viewing numbers, which are used to produce these end of year rankings.

The USA still leads with some 77% of the 2020 total viewings, with the United Kingdom occupying its traditional second placing with 6% and Canada coming in third place with just 3%.  Next were Switzerland (2.6%), Japan (2.1%) and France (1.9%).

As we showed in the last quarter of the year, with the new pictures of the Custom Brass SR&RL Prairies, the existing topics can be updated and refreshed, some times from materials already in hand. We still have some topics and updates on the “to do” list and may well find additional information to add to existing postings, so it is worth checking back at intervals in the coming year,


on behalf of the editorial team (Trevor, Matt & Terry).

(*) as recorded by WordPress, using direct visits to the topic/posting.

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s New Sharon exhibition layout

Stop Press: Update 20th October;

The New Sharon layout had a booking to appear at the UK 7mm NGA Exhibition on the 16th October 2021 at Burton-on-Trent. The pictures that follow show the “behind the scenes” operation to prepare the layout for its return to the UK Exhibition Circus after an eighteen month break. The exhibition visitors obviously enjoyed the layout voting it the “Best in Show”.

The award consists of a brass plaque permanently attached to the layout and the David Taylor Cup held for a year.Well done Bob!.

The man and his layout: Bob Harper and New Sharon in Llanbedr Village Hall

Bob wrote a brief introduction to his New Sharon Layout for Exhibition managers and the viewing public which is copied below. A copy is posted in the niche at the right hand end of the layout for the benefit of exhibition visitors.

New Sharon is the third of my Maine (USA) 2ft narrow gauge layouts; unlike Franklin and Megantic, New Sharon has been designed as a purely exhibition diorama style layout. I was inspired by a photo of a wooden trestle bridge on the proposed line linking the Sandy River Railway at Farmington with the sea at Wiscasset; sadly it was never opened despite nearly all the trackbed, bridges, and station buildings being completed and ready for track-laying. I have modelled the station at New Sharon on the assumption that the line did actually open, and consequently built up a healthy traffic in trunk hauls from the large Sandy River system down to the harbour for trans-shipment into schooners sailing up and down the New England coast. The trackplan is simple, with a passing loop and one siding that serves a potato warehouse; hopefully the scene will provide a pleasing backdrop for genuine Sandy River trains, drifting through the village with its New England clap-board buildings and then across the embankment on to the trestle bridge over the Sandy River.

Bob’s model of the bridge that inspired him to build the whole layout.

The control panel shows the track layout. The lower portion is the sceniced viewing area, and the storage yards are at the back of the layout. The end curves are around 36″ radius and are partially hidden from view by niches extending from the scenic areas.

The layout is 25 feet long by nine feet wide and stands with the track level at 52″ above floor level. The main viewing area at the front is 18 feet long, consisting of three open fronted “C” shaped modules, each six feet long by 22″ deep and 15″ high. These modules contain all the scenic features permanently fixed, with an integral backscene and top cover with integral LED strip lighting. Each module has legs which fold up into the respective module floor for transportation and storage. At either end of the sceniced section are niches, the left hand one is the control station fitted with the controls for all pointwork and route selection, and two DCC throttles. The train consists, their storage tracks, and running orders are displayed on the vertical backboard to this niche. The niche at the right hand end has the introduction (above) and a map of Maine showing the location of New Sharon and the line of the proposed Franklin, Somerset & Kennebec Counties Line which would have linked the SR&RL to the Wiscasset line and the sea port of Wiscasset.

The bridge crossing the Sandy River at New Sharon is at the right hand end of the sceniced area. Notice how well the entry point through the curved backscene is hidden by the foliage.

The middle section contains a typical Wiscasset style station and a warehouse. This picture shows the embankment style construction which has the benefit of allowing the Tortoise motors used for switch operation to be totally enclosed within the module structure, which have flush top and bottom surfaces for transportation and storage.

The left hand end section displays some typical Maine/New England icons such as a white painted clapboard church and and a white painted clapboard family farmhouse with front porch, but the space available precludes the usual attached barn structure.

The picture shows Richard “Momentum” Archer-Jones at the front operating position favoured by Bob so that he can talk to the public at exhibitions and also allow them to operate the layout.

A view of the layout control station situated in the left hand niche, showing the route selector panel, the two DCC throttles and the list of trains and train operating order on the back.

Trains for New Sharon

Roads 1-5 «    Roads 6-10 »

1«    Loco #7,  5 WW&F lumber flats,  Mogodon caboose.

2«    Loco #22, SRRL boxcar 94, flat 359, stockcar 491,   pulpwood rack 357, caboose 556.

3«    Loco #18, Brown boxcar 11, gondola 437, grey boxcar 63         pulpwood rack 373, caboose 32.

4«    Loco #2, 5 EBT hoppers, short bobber caboose.

5«    Loco #123, Combine 14, excursion car 20, baggage car 4,         baggage/postal car 6.

6»    Loco #23, Boxcars 84 and Bridgton un-numbered,   gondola 30, tank car, stockcar 490, caboose SR #1.

7»    Loco #10,  Combine 6, passenger car 5, baggage/postal 7.

8»    Loco #12, SRRL boxcars 52 and106, gondola 31, white    boxcar 5, work caboose.

9»    Loco #9, Grey boxcars 26 and 48, pulpwood racks 215    and 238, flat 325, caboose #3.

10»  Loco #24, Bridgton boxcar 65, gondola 408, boxcar 155 pulpwood rack 420, caboose 301. 

Spare      Loco #8, loco #11, railcar #5, cream car 65, boxcar                 75, boxcar 5, boxcar 125, pulpwood rack 213,                           Canaan Valley caboose 8.

        Train order for New Sharon       

Road 1    « « « « « «        Loco #7

Road 6    Loco #23 » » » » » »

Road 2    « « « « « «        Loco #22

Road 7    Loco #10 » » » » » »

Road 3    « « « « « «        Loco #18

Road 8    Loco #12 » » » » » »

Road 4    « « « « « «        Loco #2

Road 9    Loco #9  » » » » » »

Road 5    « « « « « «        Loco #123

Road 10 Loco #24  » » » » » »

The right hand niche contains Bob’s introduction to the layout, explaining that the scale is quarter inch to the foot and the gauge is two feet (not commonly known or used in the UK) and presents a map of the location for the viewing public.

Bob has kindly provided a copy of the map shown in the niche.

A view of the storage sidings at the back of the layout with the crew adding the trains from their travelling cases seen on the table at the right. The trackwork on these sections is handbuilt in situ using code 75 flat bottomed nickel silver rail soldered to glass reinforced pcb ties.

Crew members are John Pearson middle left with Lee Egginton behind. Bob Harper is middle right with Dave Egginton mostly hidden behind.

A view of the yard, now loaded with trains and with the marker labels showing the limits of each siding in position. The layout is operated from the front left corner, approximately the same as the camera position, and the labels are very useful when operating single handed.

Dave Egginton watches closely as the first train departs from the storage yard.

The trains enter and leave the scenic section through small holes in the curved backdrop. This shot shows the construction of the scenic modules and the attachment of the framework supporting the backdrop and top.

Part of the scenic section can be seen through the small hole. The small entry and exit holes are fairly easy to disguise or obscure. Take a look at the pictures of the ends of the scenic sections to see if you can spot these holes.

Getting pictures of the trackwork on the scenic sections is pretty awkward, even with “privileged” access. Shooting though one of the entry holes is an option and the above picture gives a view of the hand built track using Karlgarin code 82/7 nickel silver rail spiked to Mount Albert On2 sugar pine wooden ties with Micro Engineering small spikes.

Editors note: the Karlgarin rail used on the layout is a specially drawn rail in high nickel nickel silver with proportions to suit O scale narrow gauge use. Compared to standard US code 83 rails produced for HO track, it has a wider base flange and a wider rail head. 

A closer view of the scenic section

The stone farmhouse across the Sandy River.

The boat on the Sandy River.

Train number 5 pulled by SR&RL #23 crosses the bridge at New Sharon.

Train number 5 approaches the farm supply warehouse at New Sharon.

SR&RL #23 eases Train number 5 to a gentle stop outside the station at New Sharon.

Beyond the station is a typical New England white painted clapboard family farmhouse with a front porch.

Opposite the farmhouse across the lane is another typical New England white painted clapboard structure – a church.

Transportation and erection of the layout

The storage, transportation, erection and maintenance of a layout such as New Sharon are major issues particularly when the home base does not have sufficient space to erect the layout and when the layout has not been erected or run for a period of time such as has happened in the UK, when Covid 19 restrictions have shut down the model railway exhibition circuit/circus for the last 18 months or so. 

New Sharon had a booking to attend the UK 7mm NGA Exhibition in mid October 2021 at Burton-on-Trent. The following sequence of pictures show the “behind the scenes” operation to prepare the layout for its return to the UK Exhibition Circus.

It started in early July at a US running session of the North Wales and West Cheshire O gauge groups meet in the Village Hall at Llanbedr, in North Wales. Bob (who is an occasional visitor to the American running days) turned up, as a visitor, to erect and test the storage yard sections of New Sharon in the restricted space left after the groups layout had been assembled in the middle of the room.;-

Terry Smith’s “train in a bag” in the foreground circulating on the groups sectional layout with Bob in the background with the New Sharon boards behind him, taking a break from trying to track some operation problems.

When I chatted to him, he said that he really needed to erect the whole layout to check the operation. We discussed various options, and I suggested that he looked into hiring the hall privately (the charges are very reasonable) and inviting local O gauge American narrow gauge and other specialist enthusiasts to attend to help defray the hall hire……..and in late August the first such event took place, followed by another in early October at which the pictures were taken.          

The Llanbedr Village Hall is not particularly big, but the space looks big when empty. In this picture the New Sharon curves have been unloaded and laid in place. 

New Sharon is stored and travels to venues in a trailer. In this view, the top shelf of the trailer has been unloaded with the scenic sections yet to be unloaded.

Bob Harper and John Pearson unloading the left hand scenic section which contains the bridge. This view shows the outline of the curved backscene which is continuous with no corners.

Bob and John bringing in the last scenic section and placing in approximate position.

Dave Egginton did a really useful job of ridding the scenic sections of spiders and other detritus acquired during the long storage, watched by Lee Egginton. 

Meanwhile Bob and John have been busy in the background setting up the yard sections. Note that the first section has two sets of legs and can stand on its own, whereas the other two sections only have one set of legs each and must be attached to the first section to be stable. 

A closer look at the underside of the left hand scenic section which has two sets of legs and can stand on its own. Note how neatly the legs store.

The legs were extended while the section was on its back, and the section has been lifted and rotated into position with Dave Egginton helping.

John Pearson assists Bob in offering up the second scenic section (on one set of legs only) to the first section, while the third scenic section lies in the background, legs extended to be assembled next.

Voila! the layout is now assembled. Bob is adding a small G cramp to the top of the fascia joint to provide additional stiffness.  

Supporting (some non Maine On2 – continue at your peril) activities in August 

Richard (realistic operation) Archer-Jones playing with his newly acquired DCC fitted Lionel breakdown crane was among the invitee’s with special interest’s. Note the legs supporting the New Sharon end curve top right.

John Pearson, seen here in the blue shirt supervising Lee Egginton, was a major provider of support activities in August, bringing facilities to run standard gauge and On3 narrow gauge on DCC. Also demonstrating the Proto Throttle for DCC diesels, Protocraft and Kadee couplers and the operating possibilites of a Lance Mindheim style single turnout layout assembled from Atlas track on the table top. Note the Uintah 2-6-6-2 tank engine disappearing bottom left.   

On the table along the far end wall Terry Smith provided running facilities for On2 and On3 under DC, Gaugemaster DC Momentum and PFM Sound System controllers. The 5 chime whistle with maximum reverb was a popular (and frequent) request as the system was fitted with a decent extension speaker. Jason Dickie had a lot of fun running the Maine On2 sound fitted loco’s and playing with the Sound System controls to adjust the sounds.

Jason arrived with a car boot full of goodies for sale and did a steady business. Terry acquired additional freight cars so now he has a longer train in two bags – and it looks better.

Terry also demonstarted the hill climbing and run back under gravity capabilities of his kit built On3 Kemtron Shay, which was built some 45 years ago when he and Jason were both members of the Bucks County Model Railroaders. Terry notes that it was Jason’s comments about the Maine Two Footers during the refreshment breaks at that group that alerted him to their charm.

Links to other Bob Harper posts

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin at Tolworth, November 2021

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module goes West …..to New England

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Megantic module

Updated 13 February 2022.

Robert C. Jones 1934-2021, Maine Two Foot Author, an appreciation


Robert “Bob” Jones, 86, of Burlington, VT passed away at home of natural causes on January 13, 2021.

Often considered the dean of northern New England railroad history, Bob, a graduate of the University of Vermont and Saint Michael’s College, authored, co-authored, or edited twenty-four railroad books. They included the three volume, award winning Railroads of Vermont, seven volume The Central Vermont: A Yankee Tradition, Two Feet Between the Rails, and many other books and magazine articles on Maine and Vermont railroad subjects.

Bob’s infectious love of the rails created a ripple effect in the lives of so many. His wife, Janet, worked in passenger service on the Green Mountain and Vermont Railway. Son Jim continues in the family tradition, having produced more than forty rail-themed video documentaries and five books of his own. Son Marc worked in four departments on the Central Vermont Railway. Happily, Bob lived to see and hear the contemporary rail tales of his grandson, William, of New England Central Railroad.

Bob often reiterated the story of his father Cecil’s own post-high school graduation job search. Cecil had interviews with a local bank and the railroad.  Bob was fond of saying: “Had the bank hired him, I might be speaking to a convention of bankers.”

Although his family mercilessly teased Bob about being born at Cottage Hospital in Woodsville, New Hampshire, his very first home address of East Ryegate made Bob a proud native Vermonter. In East Ryegate, Bob’s father, Cecil, served as depot agent. The Canadian Pacific Railroad transferred the family to the busy, international border station of Richford, Vermont at the dawn of World War II. Here in Richford, young Bobby Jones grew into adulthood, along with younger brother Bill, under the watchful eyes of Cecil and Elsie (Pangborn) Jones and several beloved canine companions.

For 32 years,  Bob was a high school business education teacher at Shelburne and Champlain Valley Union for 32 years, while simultaneously pursuing railroad work over a 41 year period on the Canadian Pacific, Vermont Railway, Green Mountain Railroad and the New England Central Railroad—all on an average of four hours of sleep a night.

Robert C. “Bob” Jones was many things; devoted husband and father, respected author, talented baseball player (and devoted Red Sox fan), Army veteran, bagpipe band drummer, teacher, man of faith, mentor, and friend. Bob left the world a better place.

Here’s a few thoughts from members of the Maine On2 io group on his passing;-

From Robert Bennett;-

Good Afternoon All,

Truly a great figure in Maine two foot history. I met Bob when he visited my layout several years ago while on a trip back to Maine; a gentleman and scholar without question. I have almost all of his Maine-based books and in these troubled times, I have been reading and re-reading them time and time again. As a teacher myself, I admire Bob’s ability to have researched and presented not only the essential stories, but the sort of “hidden” tid-bits that lend reality to the subject matter as well. Those of us who love the Maine narrow gauges should treasure his knowledge and contributions forever.

Stay well everyone!

Best,  Bob Bennett

From David Woodhead;-

Yes, he was an important figure in this world, and I was lucky to share a dinner table with him at the Portland Narrow Gauge Convention a few years back. He was genuinely connected to the Maine narrow gauge (and much other railroading) and I think he said he had been a pallbearer at (was it?) Dana Aldrich’s funeral. He knew it from the source, and talked about driving up the back roads many times while researching, and must have known the people of the area in a way few rail fans would have. Thanks, Bob Jones!

David Woodhead

From Pete Leach;-

I too am saddened by the news of Mr. Jones’s passing. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting him, his influence on my modeling focus is clear.

I was a mid-western modeler deep into my N scale efforts when I happened upon a book in a local hobby. The illustration on the dust jacket caught my eye: a small steam locomotive pulling a few wooden cars across a trestle along a waterfront. The book was “Two Feet to Tidewater”, co-authored by R C Jones. I had never heard of the Wiscasset line but was intrigued enough to buy it, even though it cost nearly as much as an N scale engine. I have been on a quest to replicate that little railroad ever since.

I am sorry to have never met him.

Rest in peace, Mr. Robert Jones.

Pete Leach

From Chris McChesney;-

Sad indeed.  His “Two Foot to Tidewater” came out when I was a teenager and it inspired me to model the Wiscasset Lower Yard and take a serious interest in the history of the WW&F Ry.  What a prolific writer!  He was a real asset to the two-foot community and will be missed.



Robert Jones’ books on the Maine Two Footers are highly prized by their owners as they are a major go-to source of information, plans, vintage photographs, history and stories of the folk who worked on these roads.

The dust jacket or covers either feature original paintings showing a highly recognisable view of the subject line or may show a classic contemporary photograph of the line.

Each book is copiously illustrated with a range of photographs showing locomotives, rolling stock, personnel and structures, and often show the landscapes which the railroad travelled through. All photographs are sharply printed with decent exposures and shadow details – often they are the best print available from particular negatives.

The books usually have rosters of the locomotives and rolling stock, and frequently have a selection of plans for these items. Other items included are route maps and siding/station plans with a number of sketch and Sanborn Insurance maps of the towns and facilities served.

The acknowledgement pages of each book show Bob’s unrivalled networking abilities using various well known sources (too many to mention here) to provide information, assistance, photographs, maps, plans, stories etc to enhance his own work and provide a one stop go to source of information and reading pleasure.

Here is a selection of Bob Jones’ books about the Maine Two Footers;-

Two Feet Between the Rails – The Early Years

The Sandy River, Franklin & Megantic and Phillips & Rangeley Railroads



Two Feet Between the Rails – The Early Years – Volume 1 – a hefty read, weighing in at 4 pounds 2 ounces. Published by Sundance Books in 1979, 416 pages, 8½ x 11, ISBN 0-913582-17-4.

Two Feet Between the Rails – The Mature Years

The formation and history of the Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Railroad



Two Feet Between the Rails – The Mature Years –  Volume 2, another hefty read, weighing in at a tad over 4 pounds 2 ounces. Published by Sundance Books in 1980, 416 pages, 8½ x 11, ISBN 0-913582-18-2.

Two Feet to the Tidewater – The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway

In all it’s variations



Two Feet to the Tidewater – The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway

Robert C Jones & David L Register, Published by Pruett Publishing Company Books in 1987, 269 pages, 8½ x 11, ISBN 0-87108-729-4. Weight 3lbs even.

David Register was a lifelong fan of the WW&FR, and spent the last years of his life working on this book, but regrettably passed away before completing and publishing. A short time afterward, his family asked for advice about publishing the work and were put in contact with Bob Jones, who eventually edited the text and substantially added to the volume that we see here.

Two Feet to the Tidewater – The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Expanded and Updated Edition.



Two Feet to the Tidewater – The Wiscasset, Waterville & Farmington Railway Expanded and Updated Edition.

Robert C. Jones & David L. Register, Published by Evergreen Press in 2002, 386 pages, 8½ x 11, ISBN 0-9667264-3-X, Reprint. Weighs 3pounds and 10 ounces.

This expanded version consists of the original 1987 Pruett book, followed by an additional 117 pages of Vintage photographs and the activities of the WW&FR Railway Museum who in the meantime had re-instated the line on its original roadbed.

Two Feet to the Lakes The Bridgton and Saco River Railroad

includes the Bridgton & Harrison years



Two Feet to the Lakes The Bridgton and Saco River Railroad

Published by Pacific Fast Mail in 1993,  256 pages, 8½ x 11, ISBN 0-915713-26-8.  Weighs 2 pounds and 12 ounces.

Two Feet to the Quarries – The Monson Railroad


DSC_9619 Ca

Two Feet to the Quarries – The Monson Railroad

Published by Evergreen Press in 1998, 98-87962 ISBN 0-9667264-0-5. First Edition150 pages, 8½ x 11, weighs 1 pound and 13 ounces. Note that Evergreen Press is Bob Jones’ own company.

Two Feet to Togus – The Kennebec Central Railroad



Two Feet to Togus – The Kennebec Central Railroad

Published by Evergreen Press in 1999, 198 pages, 8½ x 11, 99-68177 ISBN 0-9667264-1-3  First Edition, weighs 2 pounds and three ounces.

The Maine Two-Footers –  2nd edition L. W. Moody  (edited Robert C. Jones)



The Maine Two-Footers –  2nd edition L. W. Moody  (edited Robert C. Jones)

Published by Heimburger House Publishing Company in 1998, 240 pages, 8 ½ x 11, weighs 2 pounds and 15 ounces. Bob Jones felt that there was a need for a new edition of Linwood Moody’s classic book dealing with all the Maine Two Footers (including their temporary sojourn in Massachusetts). He bought the rights to the Moody book and produced this larger version incorporating additional photographs.

Updated 29 September 2022.

Top posts for 2020

The most viewed posts (*) in the calendar year 2020 were;-

#1– Maine On2 layouts – Trevor Marshall’s Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR.

#2– Prototype Information – SR&RL Locomotives.

#3– Doug MacLeod’s LR&HS “James Wyman”.

#4 – Brakes

#5 – MaineOn2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module.

#6 – Maine On2 layouts – Peter Barney’s SR&RL.

Click on the blue lettering to visit the topic on another browser page.

While this listing may appear familiar, featuring a number of old favourites, it does have two new entries. Coming in at a very well deserved number three was the updated post featuring Doug MacLeod’s fabulous craftsmanship in brass showing his latest work. Another new entry is the posting about Brakes coming in at number 4.

Visitor activity this year has been pretty close to that of 2019 in terms of visitor numbers, total views and specific topic viewing numbers, which are used to produce these end of year rankings.

The USA still leads with some 78% of the 2020 total viewings, with the United Kingdom retaining its traditional second placing with recording 10% and Canada staying in third place with just 3.5%.  Next came France (2.2%), Australia (2.0%), and Japan (1.6%).

The blog has recorded visits from 48 different countries around the globe this year. 

The Editorial teams view of 2020

The editorial team may appear to have taken things easy for most of this year. Our normal year end internal review over the New Year 2019/2020 showed that we had accumulated, but not used, a number of extra photographs and information relating to various older topics. We eased into the year by adding these into their respective topics.

We then had a period of research to try to place a comment into its original context in order to reply to it accurately. A by-product of this research was a large number of additional pieces of information and photographs for more of the early topics (by first publication date). The research also showed that the comment had been dealt with before privately, and had also been discussed on the io group. Rather than repeat the subject on this blog, we decided that our time would be better spent by improving more of the early topics with the newly found information and photographs, and adding links to related topics not conceived in the early days. In total, some 22 topics were updated in 2020. Those interested can find more information on the What’s new? page. 

This systematic re-writing represented was a major change to our normal somewhat “ad-hoc” manner of updating either when we feel like it or when an older topic is about to become “sticky of the week”.

Sticky of the week – this has been posted before, but it’s worth repeating;- the WordPress blog software has the facility to post any message to the top of board, meaning that it will be the first message displayed. Within the editorial pages this is known as “make sticky”, but the public version is shown as “Featured”.

We use this facility to rotate the older topics, normally choosing to display an older topic for a week or so, before it is replaced by the next “sticky”. The change over is normally done first thing on a Friday morning, and we hope that returning viewers appreciate seeing different topics at the top of the list on what would otherwise be a static list.

In 2020, we completed the first full rotation of topics as “sticky of the week”, meaning that around 190 current topics have now been displayed as the first posting seen on the Home page. Some have been displayed more than once, as it is our practise to make topics “sticky of the week” when they have been significantly updated.

We have now started a second rotation, but to make things more “interesting”, we are now selecting the topics in the order of their popularity over the past seven years.  

Milestones:  we chose not to publicly mark the blog’s seventh anniversary but did make a small io group announcement that the FAQ’s blog received its 150,000th page view in August, noting it has been visited by more than 43,000 people.

Visitor activity this year has been sporadic and variable. On one occasion, the stats page showed that the FAQ’s had one visitor (from the UK) who methodically worked their way through all the topics in one session. On another occasion, we recorded the blog’s worst ever daily viewing figures of just four page viewings from four visitors.

Take care, stay safe and enjoy your trains,



on behalf of the editorial team (Trevor, Matt & Terry).



Top posts for 2019

The editors would like to wish all the contributors a Happy New Year and thank them for their material used in the past year. We also hope that our viewers have found the site of interest over the last year.

The most viewed posts (*) in the calendar year 2019 were;-

#1- MaineOn2 layouts – Bill Kerr’s SR&RL.

#2– Maine On2 layouts – Trevor Marshall’s Somerset & Piscataquis Counties RR.

#3– Prototype Information – SR&RL Locomotives.

#4– Maine On2 layouts – Peter Barney’s SR&RL.

#5- MaineOn2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Megantic module.

#6- MaineOn2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module.

This is a rather familiar listing topped by old favourites of well built Canadian layouts which are regrettably no longer in existence. Bill Kerr’s layout had a surge of viewings following the “re-discovery” of a number of his own postings and emails describing the layout and how it was built which led to a blog update. This was an unintended benefit of Yahoo! groups closing.

Visitor activity this year has been well down on previous years in terms of visitor numbers, total views and specific topic viewing numbers, which are used to produce these end of year rankings. This seems to be a common trend of late with many other model railroad blogs and email groups showing reduced activity.

The number of viewings by American and Canadian visitors were particularly reduced compared to previous years, which caused the rankings of the nationality of viewers to revert to their usual pattern. The USA still leads with some 77% of the 2019 total viewings, but the United Kingdom at 6.6% regained it’s traditional second placing with Canada now coming in third with 4.7%. Next came Switzerland (2.1%) Australia (2.8%), and Japan (1.8%).

The blog has recorded visits from 53 different countries around the globe this year.

The editorial team took things easy for most of the year and we did not publicly mark the blog’s sixth anniversary. The notice that Yahoo! was intending to eliminate “user posted content” from the Groups site at rather short notice in the last quarter caused a rush of activity to protect some of our information sources or to download particular pieces of information. Some of this information has already been published, mostly as updates to existing topics, and some has been marked for review and possible publication at a later date.

We still have some topics and updates on the “to do” list and may well find errors to correct and additional information to add to existing postings, so keep coming back in the coming year.


on behalf of the editorial team (Trevor, Matt & Terry).

(*) as recorded by WordPress, using direct visits to the topic/posting.



Maine On2 group now on io

The former Yahoo! Maine On2 group has now been copied across to the io platform. All former members of the Yahoo! group with current working email addresses at the time of transfer should have received an email inviting them to join the group on io.

All the intellectual assets of the group such as the past message board, photos and files etc have been copied across and are now available on io.

For the record, io appears to replicate the functioning of Yahoo! groups and has proved to be very reliable in the six months or so of operations.

Those members of the Yahoo! group with non-working email addresses and prospective new members should visit the group home page on io to request membership.

To access the groups new home page on io click here.

Update 19-12-2019: Yahoo! has now removed the past message board, photos and files from their site as announced.

Updated 22-05-2020.

Freight car trucks – swing motion vs common bolster, an in-situ visual comparison

This topic was originally published as a temporary posting to support a current discussion thread on the Maine On2 discussion group, posing the question is “which car has the Grandt Line trucks and which has the Portland Products trucks?”.

Clicking on the pictures will load a larger version.

B&SR boxcar #50 is equipped with the Grandt Line common bolster trucks, and #51 is equipped with Portland Products swing motion trucks. 

All discussion to be on the Maine On2 group board please.

Updated 30th September 2022.