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Is this the trend in small locos?

..........lectric motors?

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Rik Shaw27/08/2013 19:14:07
1353 forum posts
368 photos

Was talking to a chap a while back at the Harrogate show who suggested to me that a lot of builders of smaller gauge locos - typically for garden railways - no longer bother with live steam. Rather they power their locos with electric motors, use radio control and sound effect equipment for the chuff-chuff sound. Was he being cynical or was his observation an accurate one? -- Rik

macmarch27/08/2013 19:54:42
147 forum posts
1 photos

Thats exactly what I am doing. I started out to build a Caribou but with the regulations and the like I have installed a wheelchair DC Motor complete with the control gear. Bags of space in the 'boiler'.

Stub Mandrel27/08/2013 20:15:15
4311 forum posts
291 photos
1 articles

Having seen the price of a 'kit of parts' for a Rob Roy boiler, I have decided I can probably make a 7 1/2" gauge electric model for only very little more expense.


John Alexander Stewart27/08/2013 20:28:38
772 forum posts
52 photos

Over here (North America) it seems like the larger gauges are mainly electric or diesel or petrol, even if "steam" outline.

Smaller riding gauges are still steam, but with steam long gone from the railways, I wonder how many even know how a steam engine works?

IIRC, at the Montreal Live Steamers meet this year, no steam on the ground 7-1/4 line, only on the elevated 3-1/2 and 4-3/4 - of which there were close to 30 steamers.

Another JohnS.

Jo28/08/2013 14:18:23
198 forum posts

One of the reasons for going electric is that many owners of tracks don't appreciate you dropping hot ash all over the place and will only let electric run. Something to do with it melting their plastic sleepers and setting fire to their flower beds.


NJH28/08/2013 14:54:16
2314 forum posts
139 photos

I guess it's down to why you are interested in locos - is it the building or the running? Aesthetically steam does it for me whilst I find  a jaunt on an electrically powered model about as exciting as a wet weekend in Basingstoke ( sorry to anyone who lives theresad) or a cold bag of fish & chips.


Edited By NJH on 28/08/2013 14:55:45

IanT28/08/2013 15:46:47
1580 forum posts
145 photos

It would be accurate in Gauge '3' Rik and in my view it's not such a bad thing.

The advent of commercial G3 electric loco kits from suppliers such as GRS has helped to encourage newcomers into our scale/gauge and lowered the "entry" cost. I'm not just thinking of money here either, time is also an important factor for many people these days. Not everyone wants to spend several hundred hours (or more) building a live steam engine or learning how to do so.

I say this is not a bad thing, as these new modellers (and they tend to be coming "up-scale" from the smaller railway modelling scales and "down-gauge" from MES circles) have helped to create (and grow) a G3 marketplace that benefits everyone, the live steamers included. For instance, there is a much wider selection of rolling stock and related components available these days. G3 used to be very much a scratch builders hobby and it doesn't seem so many years ago that I used to hacksaw "W" irons out of sheet metal. These days I just get nice laser-cut ones from Williams Models. Simple and a lot quicker.

It may be no co-incidence either that this growth of interest in G3 has resulted in commercial G3 live steam now appearing. The Kingscale G3 Britannia has sold in very healthy numbers and they have been purchased by people who wanted a RTR engine. I know some of them have the skills to build an engine (and some have alreadty done so). So the bottom line is that RTR electric (or steam) all helps to create a positive environment that encourages people into G3. I think this argument would be equally valid for G1 too by the way (I know the argument about steam vs electric sometimes rages within G1MRA too)

So yes, there are lot's of battery electric R/C Gauge '3' engines around these days but fortunately also a growing number of live steam engines too - and not all RTR ones! It certainly doesn't have to be one or the other (I build both types for instance). The reason we use battery electric (rather than 2-rail) btw is because we can then run live steam engines on the same track. I saw an electric loco sent out to 'rescue' a failed live steamer at a GTG just this weekend in fact! smiley




PS The owner of the GTG this weekend uses plastic sleepers too but provided 'track protectors' (made from 12" MDF strips, they fitted between the track in the "steaming" bays) to stop the coal fired engines from damaging his track. Not a problem with gas fired engines it seems.

Edited By IanT on 28/08/2013 15:55:51

Ady129/08/2013 00:54:06
3809 forum posts
519 photos

No-one has mentioned an oil-fired boiler

Any reason why?

Chris Parsons29/08/2013 10:08:06
118 forum posts
37 photos

I also build model aeroplanes and the electric market has expanded there too - quieter and less messy, and many models can now be purchased and flown almost 'out of the box' - ARTF (Almost Ready To Fly) but am am still looking for IC power for my latest (am planning to have a go at building a FireFly as this is the perfect size, bit brave but you can but try)

Most of the pleasure for me (as a boy and now a big boy) was the skill and enjoyment of cutting and sanding balsa wood and creating something with your own hands from a plan - and as a newcomer to model engineering I have taken the same approach. I know you can buy ready made parts but I made my own steam pressure release valve, and am making my own boiler (albeit slowly) but I guess if battery power 'floats your boat' thats ok too! (there you are, planes, trains and boats all in one post!)

I am perhaps not so old (55 nearly) and am into Information Technology for a living so do embrace the modern world but also think it worth keeping some of our heritage...and learning new skills is a brilliant way to spend your time rather than spend all day watching football on the box and ohhh the smell of coal, oil and steam...

New (first) mill is ordered and will be delivered next Friday so life is good...







Edited By Chris Parsons on 29/08/2013 10:08:52

Edited By Chris Parsons on 29/08/2013 10:10:22

Edited By Chris Parsons on 29/08/2013 10:11:34

jason udall29/08/2013 10:26:09
2026 forum posts
41 photos
My take on this.
Models of steam locos..should be steam propelled. ..idealy fired by same as original

Locos not modelled on originals. .do what ever suits you.

Diesel. Steam.electric..though here maybe a problem ..not many layouts are electrified. .

If loco is a replica of a full scale then it should be a replica ..

If you want to build a small loco to fit a certain gauge not trying to be a miniture " mallard " or what ever then thats fine build it your practicle terms a ic engin/electric hybrid might be interesting. .some precident there I seem to remember. .
I for one like to see alternatives to a comparison if nothing else.
Rik Shaw29/08/2013 16:52:33
1353 forum posts
368 photos

If virtual reality was THAT good I'd be to exhausted to get up in the morning - and it wouldn't be from engine driving all night either!!!!.............. Ooer missus. wink 2


Stub Mandrel29/08/2013 20:56:24
4311 forum posts
291 photos
1 articles

> ARTF (Almost Ready To Fly)

Or in my case, almost ready to crash.

> Virtual Reality is already here and it won't be long before any engine - complete with driver controls , train , track , scenery , smoke and noise - can just be programmed in .

In theory I have the Trainz simulator that does just that - but I can't get it to load on any of my computers


NJH29/08/2013 21:10:55
2314 forum posts
139 photos

Hi Neil

"but I can't get it to load on any of my computers"

Add coal and open the blower.........!


Marcus Bowman29/08/2013 23:05:24
166 forum posts

Ian T mentioned G1MRA, and I can confirm that the steam v. electric debate does rear it head in that group from time to time. The electric loco owners sometimes feel the live steamers believe themselves superior. That's an old chestnut in any gauge, of course. It's not as big a debate as you might imagine, though.

Because G1MRA is the nearest of the ME gauges to the model railway camp, where everything is electric irrespective of the model, there is much more interest in model railways as opposed to simply building a loco and runnign it on rails. So scenery, coaches, and the whole environment is involved, and that brings other aspects to the modelling. Aside from the Gauge 5 Ground Level Association, I see no such interest amongst model engineers.

There is no doubt that we are headed towards a future in which there will be an increasing proportion of steam outline models which are electric powered.

As Chris Parsons notes, electric aircraft have been largely accepted and there is no real issue there, apart from shorter flight times.

I tend to feel that a model should be true to its prototype, with a steam outline loco being steam powered, but the advantages of the electric loc are very considerable.

Gauge 1 locos, both steam and electric are often radio controlled, and they are much further down the road of RC control than the other gauges. I think we are missing a trick, here.

In the larger gauges, the other big change that may come with electric power is much more Modern Outline locos.

We are seeing this already, and I believe it is the beginning of an explosion which will change the hobby. Some won't like it; while others will be drawn to the hobby because of the modern outlines. Those are all post-steam locos anyway, in real life, so the power unit matches the prototype.

I think steam is becoming less popular because of cost, and because of regulation. I am not sure we can do much about either.

What is apparent, from aeromodelling and from model boats, is that there are lots of people out there who will find the hobby more attractive if they can buy a ready-made electric loco and get going quickly.

Unlike aeromodelling or model boats, though, those new entrants still ned to use a track. Gauge 1 and, I suspect, gauge 3 have a greater prevalence of private tracks. That's not true for the larger gauges.

I suppose it all depends on what you want from your hobby. I like to make things. I would hesitate to make an electric powered steam outline loco, but I am happy to admire any model that anyone has taken the trouble to make.


Stub Mandrel31/08/2013 11:51:10
4311 forum posts
291 photos
1 articles

> Aside from the Gauge 5 Ground Level Association, I see no such interest amongst model engineers.

I would be really interested in running remote controlled engine in 3 1/2" gauge.

Am I alone?


Bruce Voelkerding31/08/2013 13:41:58
32 forum posts

Ady1, there are quite a few popane fired locomotives here in the States (very clean, low fire risk). I live in Ohio where fires are relatively unheard of, but there a number of propane locomotives. I have never seen an oil fired one around here. But out West I imagine one needs to really think about fuel type due to forest fires.

My son (age 27) is just completing an electric locomotive. Yes, it is to a steam locomotive profile, but it his first effort. I think in that respect it is a great first step into this hobby.


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