Below is video of me running Charlie Purinton's 3/4" scale Atlantic, on Charlie's highline track on May 7th 2016......some 5-1/2 years after Charlie passed away.
Charlie passed in 2010, but many of the locomotives he built are still in operation. Charlie's track was in his backyard in Massachusetts for nearly 40 years, but has been moved to another local property, and is still in use. I ran locomotives on this track many, many times in the 1980s and 1990s and it was an honor to be able to do it again. There's not many opportunities to literally "go back in time", but this was one of them.
Video by Jay Monty. The locomotive he is running (in the foreground of the video) is his recently completed Charlie Purinton-designed 0-4-0.
Below is my highline track at my home. It has been designed for 2-1/2", 3-1/2", and 4-3/4" gauges.
The first live steam tracks in the USA and Canada were short "up and down" lines in peoples' driveways and alleys. My railroad emulates those early live steam lines that the Hobby's pioneers built and used in the 1920s and 30s. This was because of a desire to have a "traditional" track such as was used in the early days, as well as because of space limitations.
It can be tricky to fit a live steam railroad into a small, urban backyard.....but as you'll see here, it CAN be done. With almost NO property to work with, a railroad 107 feet in length was constructed.
My railroad, begun in 2011 & worked on "part time" by me when I was available, had its 3-1/2" gauge rails completed in September, 2014. The 2-1/2" and 4-3/4" gauge rails will be laid in 2015, and "steaming bays" will be assembled and welded in 2015 as well.
A couple points of interest: about halfway up the track, you will notice a cemetery adjacent to our property. Actor John Cazale, who played Fredo Corleone in the "Godfather" films, is one of our neighbors out there. Also, Hurricane Sandy ripped out some 40 feet of track in 2012 and threw it into a neighbor's yard. It was rebuilt, but some of the damaged section could not be repaired and had to be discarded. In 2014, the "Revere Massachusetts tornado", 1/2 mile from here, produced 75MPH winds in our yard but the railroad was unaffected.
September 21st, 2014: the day of the first steam test.
The morning of the first steam tests on the line, I widened the gauge on the curve by lifting 2 rails, moving them out slightly, and reattaching them to the ties. After re-installing the affected track joint with new screws, I used an angle grinder to grind the screw heads down slightly so that the wheel flanges would not hit them as locomotives and cars passed over the joint.
After the track adjustments that morning, guests and neighbors began arriving around 2PM. The locomotive used was a Charlie-Purinton designed 4-4-2 owned by Jay Monty. We were under steam soon after 3PM and ran until about 6PM. Everyone who wanted to run the locomotive or get a ride on the riding car was given several opportunities to do so. In the below video, I am running the locomotive and my passenger is a longtime live steam friend of mine, Richard Symmes.
An old-fashioned "highline" steam meet:
On April 27th 2013, several live steamers in New England visited a 2-1/2" and 3-1/2" gauge "highline" track for a day of springtime live steaming "the old fashioned way". More than six 3-1/2" gauge locomotives were under steam, the oldest being a Charlie Purinton built engine from 1941, his famous "Jiminy Cricket". Second oldest was a "Yankee Shop" 4-4-2 Atlantic, built by Al Rothermel, from 1948.
The locomotive seen in the video is a 3-1/2" gauge "Atlantic" type designed by Charlie Purinton. The boiler was built many years ago by Brotherhood of Live Steamers founder Carl Purinton, and portions of the locomotive chassis were built some years back by Carl's son Charlie, and Charlie's son "Cap". In more recent times, some local live steamers assisted current owner Jay Monty with portions of it, including the cylinders; and Jay has brought it to near-completion in his own shop. There is more to do on it, but as you can see, it runs and runs well. This was its first steaming.
The track, a traditional "highline" (elevated off of the ground) that's "right out of Yesteryear", is some 300+ feet in length, and had been Charlie Purinton's personal "backyard" track at his longtime home in Byfield, Massachusetts. It was dismantled, moved to its new location, and reassembled......when Charlie was no longer able to maintain it due to health reasons. It was then repaired and restored as required, and is now preserved.....for a new generation of live steamers to enjoy.
This is traditional live steaming "at its best", and I do hope this video gives you the encouragement to enjoy "the smaller scales" as so many others used to. Thank you for watching.
Click below for my first YouTube video.....the Mount Washington Cog Railway in New Hampshire.
In this video, watch as engineer Joe Eggleston sees me from the cab, and points me out to an employee who's off-camera (I was employed on the Mount Washington Railway twenty years ago). At the very end of the video, you will get a brief glimpse of me and my son.
Check back for more videos to be added, including Edaville Railroad at South Carver Mass., December 1991, its final Christmas of operation before closing in 1992; also, a ride above Washington Street in Boston MA on the Orange Line "Elevated", one week before the closing of the "El" line in 1987. After closing on May 1st 1987, Boston's "El" was dismantled in 1987, 88, and 89. I took video in April 1987, one week before the end of operations.
You will also see a video of the final live steam meet to be held at the home of Charles A. "Carl" Purinton (founder of the Brotherhood of Live Steamers). It was held in 1992. He had a few private runs for friends after this, but this was the last "official one". I was there!