The 2016 National Narrow Gauge Convention



Every year since 1980, modellers of American narrow gauge railroads have organised an annual convention in the USA. In 2016, the convention will take place September 7-10 in Augusta, Maine.

The program has a distinct Maine Two Foot flavour, and the location will allow visits to the various museums and preserved lines, as well as the original prototype locations.

Click here to visit the official convention website for further information.

Update 04-04-2016:

Lee Rainey, Chairman of the 2016 Convention reports;- Pre-registration for the 2016 National Narrow Gauge Convention topped 700 this week ! We are shooting for 1000. Will you be one of them? Other current stats: 85 vendors, fifty clinics, seventeen modular layouts, two dozen home layouts, and four museums running prototype two-foot steam!



A view of the former SR&RL Railbus #4 (also B&HR #3) in the distance from the front seat of former SR&RL Rail Car #2 on the Boothbay Railway.

Update 25-03-2016:

Lee Rainey, Chairman of the 2016 Convention reports;- We’ve just learned that the Boothbay Railway Village will also be running the ex-SR&RL Railbus #4 (on loan from Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad Co. & Museum), as well as the former SR&RL Model T inspection car (on loan from the Owl’s Head Transportation Museum). Don’t miss this rare chance to see both vehicles in operation.

Update 16-03-2016:

A number of interesting tours have been organised around the Convention, here’s a selection of those that caught my eye;-

Take the Throttle of Two-Foot Steam

Guided Bus Tour of WW&F Route

Monson Guided Tour

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Guided Driving Tour: Sandy River and P&R

Sandy River & Rangeley Lakes Guided Driving Tour: Sandy River and F&M

Click here to visit the official convention website Tours page for further information and a full listing.


Yikes! …we are three!

Is it really three years since we made our first tentative public disclosures of this blog?.

Yikes! ……….They say that time flies when you are enjoying yourself – or is it because as you get older your perception of elapsed time changes and that you have many more distractions?

Update added 03 – April -2016;-

The anniversary post has previously contained a quick review of the past year – this year the anniversary seemed to come round a lot quicker than previous years (hence the Yikes!), and then other circumstances conspired to prevent me posting the review portion on the anniversary – but here goes.

Around 20 posts/topics have been added in the last year, split fairly equally between Maine Two Foot prototype data, and On2 modelling topics. A few were re-publications of topics from the old HTML version of the FAQ’s, but the majority were new topics.

 We were fortunate to be given permission to publish Dwight Smith’s pictures of his visit to Bridgton in 1940, the announcement of which resulted in our biggest one day surge of viewers and viewings after Day 1 (our all time record, so far).

The blog receives a spike in the viewers and viewings when a new topic is posted and/or an old topic is referenced on the MaineOn2 Yahoo! group board, so it would seem that the blog is functioning to support the group as we and our founder intended.


We hope that you have enjoyed your visits, and thanks to all our contributors (and not forgetting the administrators),

Terry, Matt and Trevor.

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Franklin module

Editorial note: The early pictures of Bob Harper’s Franklin module shown here were originally published in one of the last galleries to be revised on the original Fotopic pictures FAQ site. As noted elsewhere, that site went belly-up (without warning), and the backup copy made temporarily available a year or so later pre-dated the Franklin gallery revisions, so all the original work was lost. The recent work on Bob’s latest module, (Megantic, click here to view on another browser page) unearthed some of the original Franklin pictures and drafts for the accompanying text, so we present this topic as if it were published in the 2010 to 2012 timeframe or so.

Foreword: UK Style small exhibition layouts, owned and shown by individuals.

The Franklin module is typical of many UK Exhibition layouts in being relatively small,  consisting of three major units; the visible part of the layout is in two pieces with an integral (and solid) backscene and ends, and a non-sceniced fiddle yard section using a multi track centre pivotted sector plate. The two scenic units fold together for transit, and the turntable unit fits on top forming a pretty complete and strong cage to protect the permanently attached scenery and structures whilst in transit. The size of the units is essentially dependant upon the owners’ vehicle or vehicles.

At the UK Slim Gauge Circle meet, I helped Bob bring the layout in from his car to the hall in the morning and back again in the afternoon. Bob confirms that his vehicle is a Ford (UK) Mondeo estate car, pretty similar in size to the Audi A4 estate, and quite compact compared to the American cars that I used to rent on my business trips throughout the 80’s and 90’s. The layout sections were loaded in lengthwise from the rear door.

The fiddle yard section has two sets of legs built in and is erected first, and then the sceniced sections are added as they only have/need one set of legs each.

In many cases the exhibition layout is the owners home layout, built so that it is easily transportable for exhibitions or even house moves. In other cases, like Franklin, the exhibition layout is part of the owners home layout designed and built to be easily removable as a section. In a few cases the owner may actually store the layout between exhibitions and only run trains at shows and exhibitions.

This style of layout is ideal for a first layout and for those who may have space or other restrictions, or who do not wish to commit to a larger layout. An added advantage for an On2 modeller is the linear nature allowing the larger radius curves required for satisfactory running of the larger Forney locomotives.

The Man and his module;-

When Bob joined the Maine On2 Yahoo! group he posted this introduction;- “My name is Bob Harper and I live in Manchester, England. Modelling in On3 since 1998, I have been adding an On2 feeder line to the On3 main line for the last 4/5 years. The On2 branch leaves the mixed-gauge junction and climbs up to the terminus, “Franklin”, which is detachable and can be taken out to exhibitions around the country. I was introduced to this Group by Terry Smith, and you can see a couple of photos he took of Franklin at the recent meet (13 May 2012) of the UK Slim Gauge Circle meet at Hillmorton, near Rugby”;-


Bob continues;- “The white-bearded figure on the left of the photo is myself, controlling the layout from an i-pod. This is my latest painstaking mastery of modern technology, and creates a lot of interest at exhibitions. The scenic part of Franklin is 10 feet by 2 feet, and is fed by a 5 foot long turntable “fiddle yard”, with 5 tracks. The station is roughly based on Bridgton, but greatly compressed.” Note the legs and various boxes under the layout that transport the rolling stock etc.


This picture shows a train of Terry Smith’s Bridgton freight cars arriving at Franklin on Bob Harper’s On2 portable layout.












This view emphasises the track-work, which is all hand-built by Bob using Karlgarin code 82 rail. This rail is specially drawn in the UK with heavier sections to suit O scale (and larger) narrow gauge track work.

Click here to visit the Karlgarin home page, and here to download a .pdf of the rail sections available.

This picture shows the wider head (and base flange) of the Karlgarin rail.

Unpacking and erecting the layout at a show (Wigan 2012)

On the 15th June  2012, Bob sent these pictures and wrote “It’s still raining here in Britain, but I managed to dodge the showers and get the layout into the Exhibition Hall in Wigan, where I took photos of the rotary fiddle yard and the lighting beam.”


The turntable style fiddle yard as folded for travel.


The legs hinge upwards (in this view) and are locked in place by struts with toggle latches.


The unit is rolled over and upright. This view shows the wooden wheels and upturned furniture castors which assist in taking the weight of the turntable when rotating.

The turntable fiddle yard is fitted with two sets of legs, and so is free standing. Both of the scenic boards are fitted with one pair of legs only and so must be erected and connected to the fiddle yard and first board in sequence. The legs are visible in the heading picture.


The picture also shows the travelling position of an essential piece of equipment, the folding stool which Bob and other operators can sit on at the front of the layout while  conversing with visitors and occasionally operating trains.

Bob explains;- “the track on the turntable looks complicated as it was originally built for my On3 exhibition layout, “Cascade Yard”, which has 2 entrances to the yard and is a different width to “Franklin”. When I was getting Franklin ready for its first show I realised that I could share the old fiddle yard with the new layout, by adding the On2 track down the middle of the On3. Hence the 4 rails – 2 gauges, not check rails!”.


After generating some interest on the Maine On2 Yahoo! group, some of it in error, Bob wrote “picking up a few points that have been raised, the micro-switches are needed to isolate the tracks, not flip the polarity. One is needed for each track at BOTH ends of the table. Isolation is required with DC operation, but not essential with DCC. I put the facility in to stop the sound of 5 trains at once driving fellow exhibitors mad at shows, not to stop the locos moving.”


Like many UK exhibition layouts, Franklin has its own lighting system, built into a folding fascia that frames the layout like a theatre proscenium arch. Illumination is provided by a set of CFD “bulbs”, which were rather expensive on initial purchase in the UK when the layout was built.


In transit, these expensive bulbs are housed in dummy bulb holders (ie not wired up) under a protective cover;-


The fascia is supported by cantilevered brackets attached to posts at the rear of the layout, and held in place by toggle latches. Just visible at the top left of the fascia is the locking strip which fits across the top of the hinge line to hold the to parts open and in line;-


The picture below shows the general arrangement of the layout from rear;-


A “before the storm shot” below; the layout has now been fully erected, and after an electrical check can be connected to the mains supply, and rolling stock un-packed, and the paying visitors admitted.

Note the use of a cloth curtain in the picture below to hide all the detritus under the layout visible in the heading picture.


– and here’s the continuation shot showing the turntable fiddle yard ready to accept the rolling stock.


The red end stops are always kept down at the outer end of the table, and at both ends when it is being rotated.

Bob comments;- “As a space saving device, a turntable fiddle yard is very useful to save length, but do remember that you will need more width – you need a square space  to allow full rotation of the table. So it can’t be set up close to a wall. However, a friend has got round this by having the whole thing on runners, like a drawer, which pulls out and then allows rotation. Also I now use much niftier castors to support the table, which fit into a recess in the sub-base.”

Footnote 1: Bob and the Franklin module are booked to attend the National Narrow Gauge Convention 2016 at Augusta later this year. Click here for more details of the Convention.

Footnote 2: The Slim Gauge Circle is an informal group of around 200 UK (plus some overseas) based modelers interested in North American narrow gauge railroads. The Circle was founded 30 years ago to provide an alternative meeting place where the emphasis was on modeling, exchange of ideas, meeting old and making new friends plus some trading. Members’ interests include Colorado, Maine, logging and mining in all scales. The Circle holds “get togethers” twice a year at Hillmorton, near Rugby, in May and November.

Click here for more details about the Slim Gauge Circle.


The Bridgton News available to view online


The Bridgton Public Library has digitised its collection of local papers, and the Bridgton News from 1870 onwards is available to read on screen at

Using this address, the Home Page shown above is reached. The Search facility does not always find particular names or phrases. I have found it far easier to look at particular editions by their dates, as this type of search is very straightforward.

The old copies of The Bridgton News has contemporary reports of many happenings of the B&SR and B&HR and in addition, it carries reports of interest to the fans of the other Maine Two Footers, such as George Mansfield reporting that the Sandy River RR had poor track and ballast but magnificent equipment, and reports of the opening of the Kennebec Central.

The Bridgton News of the period of interest to the Bridgton fan appears to have been a 4 page publication, always dated for the Friday of the week. Very occasionally extra pages were published, but note that sometimes the scanning runs pages and editions together – if the page or edition wanted is not apparently available then take a look at the previous and next available files.

All copies examined so far have had the then current B&SR Timetable at the top right hand of the back page, normally page 4.

For starters have a look at these pages;-

George Mansfield + B&B, page 2 column 1.

The story behind the B&SR.

First B&SR train arrives columns 2, 3 & 4. Track report column 6 under title Locomotive sparks.

Perley’s Mills derailment, column 4 top, also note column 3, loco recovered.


Enjoy if you visit,


(with due acknowledgements to my fellow researchers Wes Ewell and Rick Uskert)

Maine On2 layouts – Bob Harper’s Megantic module


Over the last few years Bob Harper, who hails from Manchester in England, has been doing a great job showing and publicising real Maine On2 on the UK Exhibition circuit with his “Franklin” module.

Pictured above is Bob’s new module “Megantic” at its first public outing at the ALSRM (Association of Larger Scale Railway Modellers) North 2016 Show at Wythenshawe yesterday (14th February 2016). The modules are parts of his On3/On2 layout located in the basement of his home which have been designed to be removable for exhibition purposes.

Bob has a very relaxed style of operating at UK Exhibitions, and so the controls are placed at the front to enable Bob to chat easily with the audience. It is not unknown for him to hand the controller to a member of the audience to allow them to run the trains.

Note that all the pictures in this post are shown reduced. By clicking on the pictures the larger versions are shown, use your browser back arrow to return to this page.



Bob sent the first pictures last week and wrote;-

“I’ve been working furiously on the Megantic module trying to get it mostly ready for its first proper outing at the Manchester O gauge show this coming weekend. This will be the last new station on the 2ft, as there is no more space in my basement! It would be nice if it was far bigger, but it’s the best I can do. Very roughly based on Bigelow, the granary and section hut come from Kingfield, station from Mount Blue Models kit and freight house (much reduced) from Bigelow, loco shed from Randoph (reversed), turntable from Bridgton, and factory (chair mill?) inspired by another Mount Blue Models kit. Come and see it and help operating next Sunday if you can get there. Real ale on tap at £2.50 a pint!”


In response to the posted question below Bob has replied;-

“the scenic station section is 80″ long by 15″ deep, and the fiddle yard adds another 40″ to the length. Because of the rotating top, this is effectively 36″ deep, though only 24” when stowed “line ahead”. Everything is very tight, both in length and depth, with the station restricted to Forneys; in order to get in a run-round loop long enough for a 2 car passenger train, l had to reduce the head-shunt by the tank to the bare minimum, and also the turntable, so tender locos won’t fit either. Of course, at home I can use a pilot loco to release the tender locos, but for exhibitions I will stick to the shorter trains and locos. The white background mill is not a Ken Berlo kit, as he has designed his with the freight doors at a pitch to match 2 Bachmann box cars. I scratch-built my version based on Ken’s, but put the doors on 28′ centres instead. I had also run out of window mouldings, so had to reduce their number!”


Bob’s modules are parts of his On3/On2 home layout which are removable for exhibition purposes where they are mated with a turntable style fiddle yard section to hold trains “off scene”. This type of layout is very popular on the UK Exhibition circuit. Bob’s open style makes it easy for the viewers to look over the stock held in reserve, rather than making them strain over view blocks.


The editors made a deliberate decision to publish these pictures at full frame to allow our viewers to see the backgrounds – which are typical of many UK shows.


The section hut comes from the SR&RL at Kingfield.


The station was built from a Mount Blue Models kit of Bigelow Depot.




This structure was scratch-built and represents a prototype industry believed to be a chair factory. The design was based on the Mount Blue Models kit “Backdrop Industry #2”.


The loco shed is based on the Kennebec Central shed at Randoph (reversed) and the turntable is based on the B&SR’s at Bridgton.


The freight house is based on the SR&RL prototype at Bigelow but is much reduced to fit the available space.

Stuart Edmundson was at the show and has sent in the following pictures showing trains on the module.

Note that Bob’s Franklin module has featured in a number of publications such as the UK 7mm Association newsletters and the Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette, September/October 2014 edition, and is booked to attend the NNGC in Augusta, Maine later this year.

2016 National Narrow Gauge Convention. Click here to view the Convention site on another browser page.



Madruga Models

Madruga Models



In October 2008, Trevor Marshall wrote;-

I recently acquired two craftsman kits for Sandy River flangers, offered by a company called Madruga Model Works. The photos of the finished models that accompany the kits are stamped on the back as being printed in February and June 1980.

Editor:These are shown above.

Here’s some more detail: Madruga Model Works was owned by Bernie Lewis and the address on the box is a PO box in Miltipas CA.

The 503 comes with two sheets of plans – one by RH Werner, the other by JE Robinson, based on measurements taken in 1968 by RW Brown and additional data from E Bond. It looks like Bernie Lewis did 55 kits for 503.

The 505 includes one sheet of plans by RH Werner, and 50 kits were produced.

The kits each consist of a Grandt Line details, plus white metal castings for journals and the flanger blades that MIGHT be Portland products, or might be MMW’s own castings (does anybody know?), plus strip and sheet wood in little baggies.

Does anybody know more about Madruga Model Works, or any of the gents mentioned? I thought it might be a good topic for discussion and possibly help record the story of Maine two-foot modeling in O scale. – Trevor

PS: Bernie sounds like quite the guy. His first page of instructions reads, in part: “I realize that most On2 modelers are accomplished scratchbuilders; however, instructions are included to demonstrate my method of construction. If all else fails, you might want to give these methods a try.”

Obviously, a wit!

and Bob Schlechter replied to Trevor;-

Very interesting that you came across both Madruga kits by Bernie.

Those were the only two kits that Bernie produced. Very nice kits even going back 28 years ago. Further kit production ceased due to a divorce! Bernie is a good friend from the past when we both lived in and around the San Francisco bay area and he now resides in Vermont. He, to the best of my knowledge, quit model railroading and does bird/duck carving. Has a Ph.D. in mathematics and has a very good sense of humor.

Bernie and I did On2 modules depicting the Kennebec Central RR. I did Randolph and he did Togus. They were displayed at a NMRA show in San Mateo, California many years ago. I still have my diorama as I tend not to throw things away! Just ask my wife.

R.H. Werner, Bob of Hobby Barn fame also a friend from the past who now resides in Arizona. Would love to see his Portland Products line reissued.

J.E Robinson, John is also a friend and resides between Colorado and a ranch in Texas, He still does model railroading but enjoys his full size two foot RR on his Texas ranch. Talked with him at the 2008 NNGC.

R.W. Brown , Bob, is the founder, owner and editor of the Gazette magazine. Bob and I have been friends for the last forty plus years. He is still very active in model railroading in Los Altos, California. Also talked with him at the 2008 NNGC.

Bond, Ed, also a friend for some time is credited with many of the prototype two foot photos that we all use and enjoy. He was collecting prototype railroad photos since he was a teenager. He is active in 7 1/2″ gauge live steam in Georgia. Had a pleasant visit with him a few months ago.

I’ve known all of the Grandt family for the past 45 years. Dave still runs the business and Robb publishes a line of books pertaining to Colorado railroads. Met with both at the 2008 NNGC.

Does the above suffice or is more needed?


Bob in Sequim


Narrow Gauge & Shortline Gazette Info about Madruga Models;-

Jan/Feb 1980, page 17 SR&RL flanger #505

May/Jun 1980 page 75 small advert SR&RL flanger #503

Jul/Aug 1980 page 20 News in Review SR&RL flangers

Sep/Oct 1980 page 17 News in Review Sound Cams and SR&RL flanger


Editorial announcement: “What’s new?”


For some time now, the “What’s New?” page, available from the fixed menu below the picture on the home page has looked a lot like the “What’s Here?” page.

A recent review has suggested that we should sharpen the focus of the “What’s New?” page and also for a trial period we will use this page to advise our followers and viewers of other news that may be of interest to them, such as new topics on other blogs, rather than posting a temporary message with or without “sticky” status on the main blog roll.


Terry, 15th January 2016

Library of Congress – Vintage Aerial views

The US Library of Congress has an internet accessible gallery of vintage aerial views of towns, primarily from across the USA. The gallery can be searched by a number of different terms, but perhaps the most useful is by state or location at ;-

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.

Be aware that a number of download styles are available, including full size versions exceeding 100MB as downloads.


As an aid to the Maine Two Foot enthusiast to determine whether they wish to visit the LOC site to download their own copies, we show the following reduced copy views. Clicking on these pictures will show a larger version in your browser.

Bridgton, Maine, 1888.

Bridgton 1888 03

This view shows the original Bridgton & Saco River railroad entering the town just below the ponds at the middle left. Note that the inset picture at the lower left is a coloured rendition of the black & white photograph published in many standard texts about the B&SR, including Jones’ Two Feet to the Lakes on page 36.

The pictorial view is notable for showing many of the Mills of Bridgton. Inspection of the full sized copy on the LOC site (at ) allows the feint numbering of the mills to be read.

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.

Monson, Maine, 1889.  

Monson 1889 03

This view is noteworthy for showing the tracks of the Monson railroad entering town, and then going to the individual slate mines beyond the station area.

The full size copy is available from

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.

Kingfield, Maine, 1895.

Kingfield 1895 03

This view shows the original Franklin & Megantic railroad entering Kingfield as a spur while the mainline bypasses the town in the background.

The full size copy is available from

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.

Wiscasset, Maine, 1878. 

This view predates the building of the Wiscasset & Quebec two foot line, but does show the standard gauge line, town and wharves.

Wiscasset 1878 03

The full size copy is available from

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.

Gardiner, Maine, 1878.

This view predates the building of the Kennebec Central two foot line, but does show the standard gauge line on the opposite bank, the town and wharves. It also shows just how neatly the Kennebec Central was threaded through the existing landscape.

Gardiner 1878 03

The full size copy is available from

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.

Laconia, New Hampshire, 1883.

Although not served by a two foot line, the interest in this view is the Laconia Car Company shown in the middle of town. This company built a number of items of rolling stock for the Maine Two Footers either directly or in a previous incarnation as The Ranlet Car Company.

Laconia 1883 03

The full size copy is available from

Click here to go to the Library of Congress page for this view in another browser window.