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Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 2:29 pm
by Bill Yoder
12 July in Moscow

Dear friends:

I have taken up the suggestion from good people on the “3 ½ “ Gauge Railroading” Facebook page to create a register/directory of all 3.5” gauge model steam locomotives. Even if I only add one loco per day, we should still have a good number filed within two years. If someone else wants to do diesels or electrics – be my guest, we can add them to the directory.

Everything will be filed by country and owner. It is really important that each owner lists some kind of contact number – Facebook or Skype are fine. A main reason for the register is to allow owners to contact each other. But I will want a private email for virtually all entries, for that would be the only way for me to send out an updated register as a computer file every month or two. So if you have a loco, let me invite you to fill out/change this form and send it to me. One form per loco. Scale is not important, we’ll be going by gauge.

I think a loco should be 75% complete before it’s listed.

Please include one mostly broadside photo. I can crop and improve a photo when necessary.

Maybe I will also post the register on the IBLS webpage.

Another matter: Does someone have the birth and death years of leading ¾” builders such as Bill Van Brocklin and Jack Hewitson? I hope we can be as informative as possible.

Bill Yoder or

WORLD REGISTER 3 ½” (89 mm) Gauge Live Steam Locomotives

Here’s an example you can annotate (change):

Location: Germany

Owner: Yoder, Dr. William (Bill), Berlin, Germany

Contact:, Facebook, etc.

Canadian National #124 (once it*s painted)

Scale: 1:16

Unknown, built in UK

Year completed
Built 1970s-80s, still only 90% complete

Modeled after:
LBSC, Virginia 4-4-0

Year acquired by present owner:
September 2014 from Colin Binnion in Chepstow, Wales

History, comments:
Has professional copper boiler built in UK. Still has not been run on steam from its own boiler. Tender complete. Needs dome, jacketing, new pilot and light, straight stack and paint.

One Photo:

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Sun Jul 12, 2015 6:22 pm
by Fred_V
Nice of you to do this Bill.

A list of 3.5" tracks would be most welcome too. These are hard to find in the US anymore.

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Tue Jul 14, 2015 3:27 pm
by Bill Yoder
Yes, Fred, I should probably do that, too!

How silly that I had forgotten the 23 or so pages of 3/4" steam already described on this site! I guess I should incorporate them into my list.


A start has been made - directory ready

Posted: Wed Jul 29, 2015 3:11 pm
by Bill Yoder
Dear friends on Chaski:

I have a directory in two files listing 49 locos as a start. If you want the files, please send me your email. They’re PDF’s and are too big as attachments on this forum. I may yet put the files on the IBLS website. Feel free to distribute.


Bill Yoder
kant50(at)web(dot)de or kant50(at)gmx(dot)de

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 1:30 am
by Glenn Brooks
One of the early day pioneers you might consider adding to your list is Albert S. Campbell, b:1874, D:1959. Mr. Campbell was a prolific model steam engine builder - producing over 25 locomotives and 100 casting kits- mostly in 3 3/16" gauge from 1896 through World War 1. In latter years he built a 1" gauge Atlantic 4-4-2 in the mid 1940's, and also two 12 5/8" gauge 4-4-0 Americans. Most of his work modeled the New York Central engines 928, and more famous consort - the 999 , that set the world speed record of 104.2 MPH in March, 1894 drawing a four car passenger consist 85 miles down the Hudson River Valley, in less in 60 minutes.

Mr. Campbell modeled in four gauges:
- 3 3/16"
- 4 3/4'
- 6 1/2''
- 12 5/8''

Most of Mr. Campbell's locomotives went to customers who purchased his castings as kits, much as contemporary vendors sell locomotive parts today. And most of his 125 engines where 3 3/16" scale- I assume the forerunner of today's 3 1/2"?? gauge.

Also of note, Cap Frederick Shaw, author of the 1959 book "little Railwaysof the World" dedicated the book to Mr. Campbell and included a short Biography and a photo of one of his models on page 241-242.

Oh yes, Campbell also built and maintained full sized steam locomotives. He was a master railroad mechanic and locomotive repair shop superintendent for 50 years, with the Brooklyn Elevated Railway and Kings County railroad systems from age 13 to 63 - repairing and overseeing engine and boiler maintenance, repair and replacements during the day, and building model steam locomotive models, and valve gear models at night. So I think one could say he was a prolific builder -perhaps one of the best of his era.

I own one of his 12 5/8" gauge locomotives, and have searching for the other large scale locomotive and any of his smaller scales - without much success. I started a build blog on Chaski to describe my reconstruction efforts for the engine, and am very interested in finding any other owners who may have a Campbell locomotive. As most of his builds were in your scale, I am hoping you might be able to advise me if you know of any locomotives, and perhaps put me in touch with other owners.

Thanks very much. I hope you find the brief background about Albert S. Campbell to be useful in your endeavors.


Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:39 am
by Pontiacguy1
3 3/16" gauge, which was probably made to run on 3 1/4" gauge track, I do believe was what the Society of Model Engineers designated at 'Gauge 5' at their meeting back in 1899. They used inputs from hobbyists and suppliers, mainly concentrated in England. Also, back at some point, and my mind is going blank on it right now, the Buddy L company put out a line of non-powered trains, locomotives, cars, track, etc... that were all made to 3 1/4" gauge. I believe it was in the 30's, but again not sure right now. The idea was that you could put the track down in the yard and play with it, and it would be more than sturdy enough to take a lot of abuse. I've heard of some of the early live steamers in the smaller scales who would purchase steel rail from the buddy L company to build track with.

I don't believe that the modern 3/4" scale, 3 1/2" gauge really got started until the 1920s or somewhere in there. Someone please jump in and correct me if this is not correct. I think that the gauges and scales were lined up by the SME like this:

Gauge 1: 1 3/4" gauge (45mm)- still very active today. Original scale would be 1:32 or 3/8" to the foot. Now you can get stuff in this gauge from 1:32 all the way to 1:20.3 for 3 foot gauge models and even 1:16 or something like that for 2' gauge stuff.
Gauge 2: Track gauge is 2", scale would have been around 1:27 (7/16" to the foot). Not a very popular scale/gauge. Pre-war lionel trains were build using 'standard gauge' which was standard for Lionel only, but their track gauge was 2 1/8".
Gauge 3: 2 1/2" gauge, 1/2" to the foot scale. After WW2, the scale was changed to 17/32" to the foot so that the scale and gauge would be correct. A very obscure scale on this content these days, It's heyday was in the 1920s and 1930s. I think they are really a neat size. This is the largest of the 'scenic' scales, smallest of the ride-on scales.
Gauge 4: 3" gauge, 5/8" to the foot scale. Don't know too much else about this one, although I've seen a few relics advertised for sale or auction before that fit the description.
Gauge 5: 3 1/4" gauge, Don't know much about it other than the given gauge, and every once in a while there will be something that comes up for auction or sale that is said to be 3 1/4" gauge.

From what I've read, the reason that nothing larger than Gauge 5 was adopted back in 1899 was that they believed that nobody would want a model that large or have space for tracks.

Man, how things have changed.

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 2:21 am
by Glenn Brooks
Hi Pontiacguy1, This is great information. I wish someone could add to what you have posted, and fill in the rest of tghe story about early day live steam. There appears to be a very significant history of modeling from around the late 1880's to the 1920's which isnt well known, or documented. I know there are a couple of collectors on Chaski that know a lot about this- maybe they will see your post and add some more detail.

I know of two of Mr. Campbells smaller locomotives- but he sold 125 engines around the turn of the century, so would hope more come to light.


Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:49 pm
by Pontiacguy1
I'll tell you who you can ask about any of this stuff... Marc Horovitz, who is the founder and editor of Garden Railways magazine. He has a lot of knowledge about turn of the century steam toys and locomotives from manufacturers like Carette, Bing, and Bassett-Lowke. He would be able to tell you more about those particular scales and gages. He's a collector, restorer and operator of small scale steam from 0 gauge up to 2 1/2" gauge.

If he's never heard of Mr. Campbell, I'm sure he'd like to.

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 12:16 pm
by alanstepney
A 1922 book by Henry Greenly lists the following gauges:

1_3/4"; 2"; 2_1/2"; 3_1/4"; 3_17/32" (later changed to 3_1/2"); 4_13/16" (later changed to 5");, 6" (alternate 6-1/2"); 7_1/4"
(It also lists smaller & larger gauges, scales, tyre profiles etc, but I'll leave those out for now.)

Of course, it was Greenly who devised the scales and gauges we now use, as he worked for Bassett-Lowke at the time.
The book mentions the larger sizes including Sir Arthur Heywood's 15" gauge.
Also, Greenly designed the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch rlwy, as well as numerous scenic lines around the country.

I also have some books + Model Engineer's from the 1880-1890 era, and I am sure there is mention of 3.5" in them, but they are packed away at the moment.

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:06 pm
by Glenn Brooks
Great information!

So what did people do with all these gauges back in the turn of the century? In reading between the lines, there must have been significant interest in these models, but did they operate in miniature RR environments or where they electric like O gauge, or just static display? Maybe kids toys...?

It would be very interesting to know how widely disseminated these small gauges where in society in those days.

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:26 am
by Pontiacguy1
Most of these gages and scales were not very popular, but some manufacturer was making stuff in that size and got it adopted as a standard. There were a few that were very popular back then and which had a big following: Gage 1 and Gage 3 were the most popular. Funny how things changed over time. Also, to answer your question, most of these models would have been prohibitively expensive for the majority of people, being marketed to the upper-middle class and the wealthy. Some of the smaller and much simpler models were indeed marketed as children's toys and were not as expensive.

I should clarify my gage/scale posting above: When the Society of Model Engineers came out with the 5 standard gauges in 1899, they did this to have some standards so that various manufacturers and hobbyists could operate their equipment together. This was because there were so many different manufacturers and modelers, most following local practice or even doing their own thing. This caused a whole lot of variations in things like track gauge, flange dimensions, coupler height, etc... even for very similar sized equipment.

From what I understand, SME did not consider any riding scales that may have been around at the time when they came up with their standards. These standards were made for scenic modelers, and most were indeed steam, although there were a few that were clockwork (spring powered). Most of the steam powered models were fired by alcohol, and most of these only had enough power to pull a few cars around. Electric trains really didn't come on the scene until several years later.

I don't think it was until Curly Lawrence (AKA:LBSC) came along that people thought that you could build a 1/2" scale locomotive that could pull a full size passenger and keep up the steam. He demonstrated that at the infamous 'battle of the boilers'. Before then, the conventional wisdom was that these boiler were too small to produce enough steam to pull a person.

Again, I'm going off my own memory and study that I've done about the early Live Steam hobby and the standard gages. I am sure that there was a LOT of changes to the standards between 1899, when SME came out with their standards, and 1922 when the book by Greenly was published. I'm also sure that there were other things happening at the time. Technology and society was changing rapidly from the industrial revolution, and the toys and hobbies people enjoyed often changed rapidly with it.

Re: Attention all 3.5" steamers!

Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:12 pm
by alanstepney
On that list that I quoted from, all the models up to 3_1/4" gauge were shown as either spirit (methylated spirits) or occasionally petrol (gasoline) fuel.
Some of the smaller ones were clockwork, and one or two even hauled passengers with clockwork motors.

Electrical power was tried, usually direct from the (240 volt) mains, but the risks can be imagined.

As the previous post mentioned, it was the "Battle of the boilers" in 1922 that made a change of attitude.
Greenly had used coal firing, but as an employee of Bassett-Lowke he had to follow the companies line and press for "their" products, which meant ignoring coal fired locos in such small sizes.

There were commercial builders, Carsons, Web & Stevens model dockyard, being just three of them.
Both the last two made boat fittings, and many of todays model engineering societies started out as model boat clubs, then branched out to locomotives.

For the model loco builder or operator, at the turn of the 19th-20th century, you needed money, and lots of it. Plus the ground to run a decent layout.
That was the type of customer who kept Bassett-Lowke and similar companies running, and the situation hadnt changed much post-WW2 when I first got interested and used to visit B-L.

Going back to the very early days, and old Model Engineer magazines, it appeared that many people built what they liked to the gauge they wished.
After all, if you are building a model and the track to run it on, the choice of gauge is yours.

It was the advent of clubs, giving specific gauges, and thus "compelling" members to build to those sizes if they wanted to run there, that gradually ensured some standardisation.

One big change was caused by WW1.
B-L had got all the models made in German prior to the war, but post-war, anything German wouldnt sell, so he had to start manufacture in the UK.
At the same time, the horrendous death rate of WW1, many of them the younger sons of the wealthy, who would have been customers of B-L, were no more, so that market dried up.

Overall, we ended up with a nice selection of gauges and scales that suit most people.
But still it changes.
When I started, 3_1/2" was the most common gauge (and is still my favourite) but now, many people prefer the larger gauges, and bigger, (some MUCH bigger) models.