What happened to Cole's Power models

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Post by Trainman4602 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 8:23 am

I disagree that the individuals who sell live steam products are old. I started Mercer Locomotive Works when I was 28 years old and was in business for 20years. At first it was a part time operation . Within the first year I went to full time. By the next year I had one full time employee and by the following year we had a full time office person who answered the phone and fill orders and got them ready to ship. This was my only means of support. At one point we had 7 workers all full time, I expanded to a 4000sq Ft, factory bldg. During the time in business, Mercer built 35 locomotives, 17 steam, 85 boilers. Many pieces of rolling stock and accessories. The Mercer coupler is still well known throughout the world. We sold 10,000 pair world wide.

This brings us to why I am out of business. Well the simple answer is the when the chips were down customers got very upset with me for slow delivery. They forgot about all the good stuff and focused on the bad stuff to the point were I gave up. There in not one supplier in the USA that is getting rich from the live steam hobby. There is money to be made but you have to work at it . Even though I had a lot of help in the shop I still worked after hours to get jobs completed to make my customers were happy.

So the bottom line is that we need supplier if we want to get a locomotive done in reasonable time. I am certainly capable of making any part of an engine but time is important. I’ll be 60 years old in a year or so and I would like to build more locomotives if I have to make valves and Injectors I most likely will die before I see it turn a driver on the track.

We need and we must support all suppliers in the live steam industry in order for the hobby to survive. The hobby has made many achievements in the 40 years that I have been involved. Back then the were just a few companies. Little Engines Cole’s and that was just about it. In 1970 Railroad Supply started. I started in the mid 70’s.

So let’s support the hobby not derail it.

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Post by smagovic » Fri Jul 14, 2006 9:01 am

Last edited by smagovic on Fri Jul 21, 2006 5:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Trainman4602 » Fri Jul 14, 2006 10:43 am

Most every time I bring this subject up it leads to some controversy. I just ask if anyone can help me with getting some fittings. Looks like I’ll make my own 1/8 valves. As far as me with mercer most live steamers are demanding as far as receiving parts. A lot of them think that you’re trying to rip them off. A customer would order a set of trucks and when I would go to the barrel to pick out the wheels, I would find only 7. That would then mean I would have to order 300 wheels just to get the customer one wheel. I would do that and loose money but I supplied my customer. I agree with you about the state of the world when it comes to casting prices. Right now brass is through the roof. I get many email regarding the couplers, but with the price of copper I wouldn’t be able to market them at a reasonable price. I am considering ductile iron. My goal is to sell them for the original price of $35.00 a pair.

So….. Back to the original question. Does any know of a company in the UK that may have what I need?

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PM Reserch

Post by mattmason » Fri Jul 14, 2006 11:56 am

Try PM Research. They are very responsve and the rough castings are good. I have three casting trees in three different sizes. I imagine their assembled versions are just as impressive.

Matt Mason
Editor, The Home Railway Journal

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1/8 valve

Post by smagovic » Fri Jul 14, 2006 12:44 pm

Trainman here you have valves, they are mostly MPT but the one you need 1/8 is NPT. May be if you give the guy call he will make you one. He is making most of what he sells.


After a boiler has been engineered, built and tested for a given operating pressure, there is only one reliable way to prevent operation of the boiler above this design pressure. That is with a safety valve. The safety valve should be sized so that a single valve can handle the maximum steam production rate of the boiler and, once open, prevent boiler pressure from continuing to rise. Standard operating procedure for the last century has been to install two safety valves on the boiler, one set 3-5 lbs below the design pressure and one valve set at design pressure.

The valves listed below will fulfill this requirement for almost any model boiler. SVL3 and SVL4 are designed for small table top boilers operating around 40 PSI, such as the small Stuart boilers. SVL1 is designed for boilers up to small 1 1/2” scale locomotives, operating at 100 PSI. All three are adjustable for release pressure and have a “pop” action. The pressure differential is not adjustable on these valves. If the valves are operated above their nominal pressure, the set-reset differential increases. If operated at lower pressure, the differential decreases to the point of disappearing about 10-15% below nominal pressure.

SVL2 is a much more complex valve, being a true adjustable differential pop valve. The differential is adjusted through the differential ring lock screw hole, from 3 PSI to whatever the operator desires. The increment is approximately 3 psi per slot in the differential ring. The pressure of the valve can be adjusted from 40 PSI to as high as 200 PSI.


Part No.

100#, 1/8 NPT, total height 2 1/4”


Adjustable 5/16-27 MTP, height as above


40#, 1/4-40 MTP, height 1”


40#, 5/16-27 MTP, height 1”



This valve meets ASME Section VIII requirements for those of you in states which require such valves. PLEASE NOTE: Section VIII is for unfired pressure vessels larger than 6" in diameter. This valve will not meet commercial requirements for fired, high pressure boilers under ASME Code, Section I. The valve is available in ½ NPT threads, is about 3 3/8” tall and 1 9/16” in diameter. We stock 100# and 125# valves but can supply pressures from 5# to 250# settings on special order. Priced as an SVL5.


American Model Engineering Supply, Inc 890 Valastics Avenue, Valparaiso, FL 32580
850-729-8549 FAX 850-729-8579


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Post by Greg_Lewis » Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:02 pm


Tom Artzburger (sp?) mentioned at Train Mountain that he could email a cad file to China and have an die-cast sample at the port in Los Angeles in two weeks. And that's for very low numbers of parts. He said American die casters didn't want to talk about less than many thousands of parts.

The last local business pouring iron (Kearney, owner of Roll Models) shut down (they still do many other things) because it was cheaper and easier to get the iron done in China, even with shipping factored in.
Greg Lewis, Prop.
Eyeball Engineering — Home of non-interchangeable parts.
Our motto: "That looks about right."
Celebrating 30 years of turning perfectly good metal into bits of useless scrap.

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Post by smagovic » Fri Jul 14, 2006 7:28 pm

Greg, this sounds great. How can we contact this gentlemen? I gather he will act as a middle man, to make a few bucks on it, or will he reffer us to a specific Chinese? Thank you. Vic Smagovic

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Post by willjordan » Fri Jul 28, 2006 9:10 pm

For reference, Coles is not the only business in the group and they've limited the phone answereing to the weekday morning hours (for many years) so they could get other things done in the day.

I know there have been some changes since the death of the previous owner, but the short hours are short telephone hours and not related to the actual hours that someone is on site and working. The bigger source of revenue over the years has been involved in props and such for movies, and not just trains, but a much wider spectrum of stuff.
grace & peace

[url=http://willjordan.com]Will's Web Pages[/url]

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Post by bcody » Fri Jul 28, 2006 10:11 pm

Will: F.Y. I. Coles Power Models is no longer a part of the movie prop business. It is totally owned by the previous owner's widow. Found this out when I was having trouble getting a refund. I did get the refund after about a month of numerous phone calls. Bill

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Mercer Locomotive question

Post by polarengrg10 » Thu Aug 17, 2006 7:56 pm

Were the patterns of products that were offered by Mercer Locomotive Work sold to someone? I am interested in the T-bar bolsters that were used in the car construction articles by Steve Booth in Modeltec from 1990.

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Post by LivingLegend » Thu Aug 17, 2006 8:01 pm

Try a PM or e-mail to Trainman4602.... He was Mercer Locomotive Works.


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Post by Trainman4602 » Thu Aug 17, 2006 10:16 pm

Mercer Locomotive parts are gone forever sorry I my bring out some new items but for now Mercer as everyone knew it is GONE.

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