Introduction to Live Steam
Many people would like to build medium (¾ and 1 inch to the foot) scale live steam locomotives and wagons, but are put off by the apparent complexity of the task and the need for specialised engineering skills that few possess in this age of electronics and service industries.
In reality though, most of the components required are quite simple. Steam locomotives date to the Victorian era and were manufactured using very basic machines and techniques, even during the twilight of steam in the late 1950's. Most components are therefore well within the building capabilities of even the newest hobbyist or model engineer armed only with basic hand and machine tools.
There are however a few parts that are complex to produce and which consequently deter many would-be live steam model makers. These generally either contain profiles that must be machined to tight tolerances - such as wheels - or parts that contain complex curved surfaces, such as a bell or smokestack, or a smokebox door.
My husband Rick is building both a 3½ inch gauge Shay logging locomotive and a 5 inch gauge 0-4-0 GWR shunting locomotive and - in order to do so - has renovated some old industrial milling and turning machinery, converting them to precision CNC tools along the way. He is making a full set of components with these machines in order to build his own models.
CNC machining is complex (and requires several sets of skills over and above engineering skills) but one of the nice things about CNC machinery is that - once set up - it is relatively easy to produce multiple copies of the same parts. He has therefore made more parts than he needs, and those are offered on this page in order to help any model engineers who might have trouble with these parts.
It would be nice if this encourages some of you to 'have a go' at building a live steam locomotive and all model builders are welcome to 'help themselves' to the goodies offered on this page. Most of the parts are generic, and can be used for many different models.
If you need a particular part that is not listed on these pages, email us and we may be able to help. Not all of the parts Rick has made are listed on these pages.