Tips for a newbie

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Andy R
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 2:18 pm
Location: So. Calif.

Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Andy R » Tue Apr 17, 2018 7:22 pm

PM sent.

James Powell
Posts: 320
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:42 pm

Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by James Powell » Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:21 am

OK, when the guys around here are offering up advice- I think I will too...
back when I was in Grade 10, I built a steam railway engine. I've got the good fortune that dad has a full shop, and builds way more than I do now (I tend towards tin mice & Lego...and wearing out said dad built engines...). However, I built a "will pull you" loco, in the form of a vertical boilered, vertical engine, chain drive loco. It's still around here, and would if I spent a day, do the same thing again easy enough. You can practically use a calender to log it's passage, but it will pull any reasonable sized person (I'm ~250 lb...) around the track. SLOWLY !...

Start by getting a set of castings & drawings for a 3/4" by 3/4" engine. You don't have to build a boiler first- just build the engine to the drawings. Don't be afraid of asking questions- you might get a few snarky responses (even from me...) but it's not meant to be discouragement...mostly, because you don't know what you don't know yet !. Once you get said engine to run on air, you are now probably in a position to decide if you want to actually build an engine.

I'd recommend a medium sized 3.5" gauge engine- because everything on them is a lot easier to make, lift, fit than on anything much bigger. Also, 3.5" gauge is universal- if you choose to go to the UK, or Australia, or Germany, or up here in the great white north, then 3.5" is still the "small" size that you will find. All the bigger gauges are regional to some extent (4.75/5, or 7.25/7.5, and then big stuff is "unique"). I'd look at Kozo's A5 (0-4-0), but look at how much it weighs first- the rule of thumb is that a loco can comfortably haul about 10x it's weight. So, if you are like me, and at 250 lb, then you need a loco that is >25 lb. For practical purposes, that mostly rules out Tich (which is probably a good thing...) as a reliable passenger pulling engine. Move up a step, to the A5, or something else that weighs between 430-50 lb at least, and the engine becomes far more practical. I like my Caribou (0-8-0) in 3.5", it will comfortably pull 2 adults & 2 kids on any track I have been on. (its basically 2x of a A5...). After building something like one of them, then move on to what you want to build- if you want to build an S-2, realize that it has been done (poppet valves in 1" scale/4.75" gauge...), and that means YOU can do it, but it may take more than one attempt to get it to work. It then becomes a question of time spent in this hobby vs time spent in anything else...the more time you spend on the computer, playing computer games, the longer it will take to get an engine built.


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Joined: Mon May 18, 2015 5:26 am
Location: Erie, PA

Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Builder01 » Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:29 am

GenesisFan99, I have started a web site that you may find useful. It is a pictorial build of my 1" scale 0-6-0. This may not be the locomotive you want to build, but, it will give you a good idea of the processes and equipment you need to build a very simple, live steam locomotive, large or small.

I have broken down the build into 3 sections:
-Running Gear and Chassis
-Boiler Construction (all copper and silver soldering)
-Plate Work and Piping

A typical locomotive like this takes about 2,300 hours to get it to the state it is right now. Mechanically it is pretty much finished and I hope to do the painting next winter (2018-2019)

The website is not quite finished, as neither is the loco! Here's the link:


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Bill Shields
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Location: Somewhere in the World

Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Bill Shields » Wed Apr 18, 2018 5:58 am

you are headed in the correct direction with that thinking.

Steve Alley
Posts: 201
Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2012 12:30 am

Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by Steve Alley » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:27 pm

Allen Models has a lot of different engine to offer you. Jesse Banning of Banning Locomotives can handle your build. Many have ask this same question over and over again. There is a service missing in this hobby, just build for people. I am surprise there is not more offering to do just this. Myself, I was building Shay and rebuilding for years and found it easy and a living. Now that I have bought its not possible yet. More on my plate in sales and just keeping up. I am very happy with the growth of the company and see more products in the future to offer. So if you have the talent and can run a business doing so, I suggest for someone to get started in this field. I get calls every week asking this same question.

Steve Alley

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Location: Lancaster, CA

Re: Tips for a newbie

Post by kc6uvm » Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:43 pm

Los Angeles Live Steamers give rides to the public every Sunday 11 to 3 for a small contribution, Usually, I'm down there a couple Sundays a month volunteering. But due an unexpected auto accident last month going to Norwalk on south Highway 5 for job training, I walked away with a fractured wrist (and other injuries) that have me out of commission for a time. And shopping for another truck.
When you do stop by on any Sunday, ask someone working in the souvenir booth for a membership application and contact info for the membership chairman. Be sure to ask for a tour.
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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