I have been laboring off and on for the past several weeks, including through a sudden snow squall, to "cut and fill" various parts of our side yard for the right-of-way. Having finally determined the final plan for "Phase 1" construction, there is one rather steep grade on a curve that I have been wary about. I lessened the grade by building a small dirt ramp (I will add photos eventually), and I have read plenty of horror stories about steep grades and G-scale. The two don't mix, apparently, unless you want to run very short trains. So today it was time to put my two locos to the test. I laid some track temporarily on the dirt right-of-way and smoothed it out enough to get a train over it. I really have no place convenient yet to store my rolling stock and locos, so I make numerous trips upstairs to retrieve a few cars, both locos, batteries, and remote controller before the fun can begin. Linda has convinced me to purchase a Rubbermaid shed for the side yard eventually, which after today is looking much more inviting.
First the yard switcher, #3. First two cars, then three. No problem, this little engine certainly "could" and "did," taking the hill without a concern. Thinking the Baldwin steamer would do similarly, it was time to "pour on the coal". I started with all three cars (a boxcar and two D&RG coaches) and it made it half way up the hill before the drive wheels started spinning (reminded me of certain Amtrak trips). The engine's a bit light and could -- after a few tries -- only take the hill with a running start. Looks like I have some work to do with grade reduction before laying track. Fortunately the latest plan will allow for a longer ramp leading out of the staging area. And the writing may be on the wall: It may be worth the money to hire Barry from Barry's Big Trains (how many sleepless nights were required to invent that business name, I wonder...) in Phoenix to retrofit some "bionic" motor and wheels to the Baldwin. Apparently the thing will pull out stumps after Barry gets done with it. At least now I know what my little engines can and can't do. Funny thing, though, it was the little LGB switcher that won the veritable pulling contest up to Twin Pines today.