IN 7.25” GAUGE

By A Bowron

This Shay locomotive by A Bowron is impressive in 7.25” gauge  and was shown at a pre-Doncaster National Model Engineering and Modelling Exhibition. The Shay locomotive was the most widely used geared steam locomotive, and they were built to the patents of Ephraim Shay (1839–1916) who had been a schoolteacher, a clerk in a Civil War hospital, a civil servant, a logger, a merchant, a railway owner, and an inventor, who lived in Michigan.

In the 1860s he wanted a better way to move logs than on winter snow sleds. He built his own tramway in 1875, on 2 ft 2 in gauge track on wooden ties, allowing him to log all year round. Two years later he developed the idea of having an engine sit on a flat car with a boiler, gears, and trucks that could pivot. Shay locomotives were often known as sidewinders or stemwinders for their side-mounted drive shafts. Most were built for use in the United States, but many were exported, to about 30 countries, either by the builders, Lima, or after they had reached the end of their usefulness in the US.

No less than 118 survive.

Inspiration for Shay builders is the great book, Building the Shay, by Kozo Hiraoka who sets out the build in fine detail based on his experience of building the model in 3.5” gauge (in his apartment!) using stock materials and no castings. It is in metric and includes options for 5” and 7.25” gauges.

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Editor: David Carpenter