Welcome to my Frisco 1522 project diary. Like many I have long been fascinated with trains and spent many hours in my youth constructing and running model train layouts. First Lionel and then HO in my later teens and college years. I then settled into family life and the trains were put on the back burner for 2 decades and replaced with my daughters' soccer games, dance lessons and a myriad of other memorable activities. As my girls are moving on to college, I have found the return of some space time in my life that I had so much of when younger and the thought of trains has re-entered my mind. Over the past few years I have been more and more attracted to metal working and the idea of building a live steam locomotive seemed like a natural fit for both interests. I also wanted to find a hobby that was easy to move in the event that we moved. The idea of ripping up a large indoor or garden railroad after many years of construction was not an enjoyable thought. I am also attracted to the idea of traveling with the locomotive to visit other tracks. My wife has always been very supportive of my 'crazy' hobbies and I thought this would be a way for us to see travel to different parts of the country and enjoy some of the fruits of an 'empty-nest'. But that will be several years away.

I live in the St. Louis, Missouri area which is partly to explain my choice of prototype. The Frisco 1522 is a local 'celebrity' in the train circles and with it being on display at the Museum of Transportation it is very convenient to drop in to take a picture, or make a measurement or to just gather inspiration. The 1522 ran the excursion circuit for many years and I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to take a trip on her and see her in action. My father, father-in-law and I rode her for a day trip up past Hannibal, Missouri and back and it was quite a treat. It was the first and the only main-line steam locomotive that I have ridden although I do hope to change that in the not too distant future. There are other reasons for selecting the 1522. I like the size of the engine. It is big enough that it has that large steam engine feel without being terribly large to haul or so overly complex like an articulated that I risk never completing it. I also have access to several individuals who have extension working knowledge of the prototype from its excursion days. Probably the most important or practical reason was that I could purchase almost all the necessary castings to build a fairly faithful reproduction of it. Prototypical appearance is important to me. With so many in my live steam club familiar with the locomotive, I feel a little extra pressure to make it look believable. I'm not a rivet-counter but I want it to look right from 50 feet away. And to top off those reasons, it turns out that I am my parent's 1st child, born on the 5th month on the 22nd day so I can always claim it was destiny.

Now this project is going to take some years and I thought it would be nice to log my progress so others can follow. I will update this blog when I have something interesting or useful to share and will include be sure to include both the triumphs and failures. I'm a newbie in this hobby and while I have an engineering background, a decent mechanical aptitude and have joined the local live-steam club to make sure I had experienced builders available to answer questions I know there is just too much to know in this hobby for everything to be perfect on my first engine. I will also be starting a thread on the The Home Machine (Chaski) - Live Steam - Builders log to facilitate a more conversational log for my fellow live-steamers to help steer me past perils and provide invaluable information.

So please return from time to time and check in to see what is new. It should be a pretty interesting journey. Here's to smooth rails ahead!

Jerome Simon
St. Louis Live Steamers