Tips for a newbie

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GenesisFan99
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Tips for a newbie

Post by GenesisFan99 » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:03 pm

Hi everyone,
I'm brand new to the live steam community and don't know much. I was told that before getting involved with real steam locomotives, this is the place to start. Any tips the community here can offer? Additionally, are there any builders out there that you recommend? I don't have the time, tools, patience, knowledge, or skill to build a live steam locomotive myself. I'd really only have time to do maintenance and run once a month or so. High School is not very lenient when it comes to free time.

I'd like to start with a more modern design such as UP's FEF-3, C&O's J3a Greenbriers, NYC's S2a Niagara, NYC's J3a Hudson, and N&W's J1b and roller-bearing equipped A class. If you guys know ballpark how much something like that in 7.5" gauge would cost, that would be very helpful.

All help is much appreciated.
Thanks.

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cbrew
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by cbrew » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:08 pm

I think you will find the costs will be 50k and up as high as 100k to have someone build you a large locomotive. a small branch line locomotive will run north of 20k. i started out in the hobby at a young age also and learning to machine my own parts was the only way i was able to afford it
If it is not live steam. its not worth it.

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FLSTEAM
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by FLSTEAM » Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:23 pm

Genesis Fan
Where are you located? Might help to find a club near you.

John B.
http://www.ngshay.com/
Shay drawings and castings

Glenn Brooks
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Glenn Brooks » Mon Apr 16, 2018 3:09 pm

Yes, definitely edit your avatar to include your location. That will help people direct you to local clubs or resources you can visit or join.

May live steam clubs have club locomotives you can run or work on. Also lots of club members will be able to offer advise and assistance as to how to learn about machining.

Also, possibly you could enroll in a community college machining course through your high school, and get credit for the course at the same time. Many places have these kind of early start programs.

See Discover Live Steam for possible used locomotives you could buy. Frequently there are nice little diesels and the occasional steamer available for under $5k. Sometimes as low as $3k.

Good luck and have fun in the hobby!

Glenn
Moderator - Grand Scale Forum

Motive power : 1902 A.S.Campbell 4-4-0 American - 12 5/8" gauge, 1955 Ottaway 4-4-0 American 12" gauge

Ahaha, Retirement: the good life - drifting endlessly on a Sea of projects....

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kc6uvm
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by kc6uvm » Mon Apr 16, 2018 5:54 pm

Sounds kind of like me back in the stone age when I was in high school (and college). 8)
Wasn't exactly the cool dude on campus cause I was into the engineering subjects and a band geek and on the college track when I graduated from high school.
But to acquire what was needed to play with the big trains, I took the classes that would teach me how things worked. And the folks helped pay for a subscription to live steam magazine.
Wouldn't worry yourself about buying anything at this time, save your money, and place high school/college as your top priority. Don't know where you live, but find a local club to visit. Most clubs don't expect you to own anything. Show up during a meet. Or workday. Help is always needed/appreciated. :wink:
George J. Becker
Lancaster, CA (formerly of Shandon, CA)
Model railroading is fun but the work expands proportionately to the track gauge.

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Bill Shields
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Bill Shields » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:51 am

Also consider the cost of storage / handling / transport of such a large loco.

It isn't something that you pick up and put in the trunk of your Toyota Camry and take to the track.

RET
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by RET » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:20 am

Hi,

But you can do that with 3 1/2" gauge! A Big Boy no, but a 4-4-0 or even larger is quite doable. Anything you can pick up by yourself is a good candidate for trunk transportation. Even a small 7 1/4 / 7 1/2" is going to weigh several hundred pounds, a big one can be several thousand pounds. Tom Miller's Big Boy has to weigh more than a ton.

As others are saying, building a working steam locomotive is a slow, long term project and that is why people do it themselves. As a beginner, the best thing you can do is find and join a club. If you want to build a generic locomotive, it takes about 2,000 hours if you know what you are doing, work to a recognized set of plans and don't make any mistakes. If you want to make it look like a particular locomotive, you can more than double that figure.

In this hobby, if you are realistic, typically you will find that you are working for about a dollar an hour when you add everything up. It is definitely not a money making proposition, but the satisfaction you get when what you built actually works the way it is supposed to makes the whole thing worth while.

Welcome to the hobby.

Richard Trounce.

Pontiacguy1
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Pontiacguy1 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:29 am

Most people eventually want some type of large locomotive... 4-8-4s, 2-10-2s, Berkshires, Pacifics, etc... Just realize that for most people, that is a the realization of their ultimate goal in the hobby. Most usually start out with some small electric or gas-mechanical something, not with a huge steamer. It's like getting your driver's license and wishing for a new Corvette for your first car. It likely isn't going to be in the cards... The Corvette is a $80K+ car, and your first car is more likely to be a used Civic that costs $2000.

Best advice, after getting in touch with some local club, would be to build some type of car... flat car, gondola, something simple to get yourself started, and something that you can pick up and handle by yourself. Then maybe you can build yourself a small dinky locomotive, something you can ride around on and play with. If you plan on going to trade school or college, definitely take some shop classes and learn under professional teachers with experience. Then you can start working on your own projects and get some experience.

NOBODY and I repeat, nobody here started out knowing how to do any of the things it takes to build a locomotive or do metalwork. It has been a long learning curve and everyone has struggled and failed at times. It will be the same with you. Not trying to discourage you... but even a small 0-4-0 type steamer is going to be about 1000+ shop hours for someone with some amount of skill and equipment. A big 4-8-4 is going to be 3,000+ shop hours, minimum. It's a really big project, and not one that most High-schoolers will be able to tackle. That does not mean that it can't be done, just that you are going to have to be patient. Also, most of those locomotives that you see steaming down the tracks took anywhere from 3 years to 10 years+ to build. The average time is probably about 5 years or more to build one, and that would be a medium-sized locomotive like a 2-6-0. Steam is going to take a while to build, or cost a lot to buy.

GenesisFan99
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by GenesisFan99 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:48 pm

Thanks for the advice guys. Sounds like I have a lot of work to do. Closest club to me is Los Angeles Live Steamers.

Are poppet valves used at all in live steam? If I actually get to building something I'd want to do a more modern steam design such as the S2a Niagara.

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Bill Shields
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Bill Shields » Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:51 pm

build something very simple first

GenesisFan99
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by GenesisFan99 » Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:20 pm

Bill Shields wrote:
Tue Apr 17, 2018 3:51 pm
build something very simple first
What do you suggest? UP 0-6-0? PRR A5 0-4-0?

rkcarguy
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Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by rkcarguy » Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:33 pm

I like the 0-6-0 idea myself, will be my first if I ever go for a steam build. I'm not a yellow plague fan myself though, but there is plenty of other RR's to choose from.
What's your budget?

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