I've recently been thinking about 2 1/2 inch gauge Locomotives
in particular building or buying one sometime in the near future.
I spent sometime on google searhing for photo's or articles on 2 1/2 inch gauge live steam to find not much.
This particular gauge was very popular in the 1940's, but I have not come across any information or articles in the recent AME magazines.
Is this gauge going out of fashion? 5 and 7 1/2 gauge is very popular are model engineers opting for larger gauges because of the larger avaliblity of castings and supplies? or is it simply "bigger is better".
I'm interested to hear if anyone knows someone who is building or runs a 2 1/2 inch gauge Locomotive.
Yes, I believe you are correct that smaller scales (including 3 1/2) are going out of fashion. I suspect it is not just the castings & supply issues you raised. The availability of machine tools is vastly better & cheaper today, so bigger models can be made relatively easy. Much of the 2 1/2 gauge stuff was built using almost exclusively hand tools and small lathes judging by many articles in the Model Engineer.
Also larger locomotives are according to their owners are much easier to fire, not just from access, but the larger boiler/firebox allows for a much larger reserve and so are less "fussy" about firing & driving just right.
So perhaps, bigger is indeed better? But of course if you live near an active 2 1/2 gauge track, than perhaps it will not be a problem.
My club in its recent extension, abandoned 3 1/2 gauge on the basis that not a single loco had used it for several years, so it was deemed a waste of resources to include it on the extension. In fact due to changes, the old loop cannot be completed by a 3 1/2 gauge loco any longer.
In a way it is disappointing, but if it is not used, what is the point?