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indoor live steam locos

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Ady127/04/2014 11:57:17
5177 forum posts
738 photos

Was at a small model show in Edinburgh yesterday and there was a chap there with a very interesting indoor live steam train setup.

I think it was 45mm gauge and used lighter butane gas for fuel

The trains weren't "exact models", more simpler scale replicas and mainly 0-4-0 types like this picture

Nevertheless it all looked intruiging and a lot of fun

Would I be roughly correct in assuming the 3 1/2" scale is close to 90mm and this type of model is "half size"

It was all very clean and there was no mess at all, ideal for an indoor setup OR a small garden


accucraft and roundhouse appear to make this kind of thing




Edited By Ady1 on 27/04/2014 12:08:22

John Olsen28/04/2014 11:29:18
1256 forum posts
94 photos
1 articles

I may be wrong, but I believe that in the very early days there were a number of gauges which were originally metric...a lot of the early ready made stuff was from Germany. These would have been dimensions like 45mm, 60mm, and 90mm. These were called gauge 1, 2, and 3. (there may have been others) Later came smaller gauges, eg gauge 0, gauge 00, otherwise known as dublo, and later things like H0 (Half 0) Over the years the metric dimension metamorphosed into Imperial dimensions, so gauge 1 became 1 and 3/4 inches, gauge 2 became 2 and a half, and gauge 3 became 3 and a half. Bear in mind that with tinplate they would not have been all that exact in gauge anyway.


Durhambuilder28/04/2014 12:38:18
72 forum posts
5 photos

Sounds like 16mm stuff, typically narrow gauge prototypes modelled at 16mm - ft (!) to use 32mm track. try the 16mm society for more info.

OldMetaller29/04/2014 08:07:10
203 forum posts
25 photos

Hi everyone, here is a link to the 16mm Association website. The association is a flourishing organisation involving some friendly people, meet-ups are regularly organised at members' garden railways, you can run your own stuff if you want.



IanT29/04/2014 11:38:54
2005 forum posts
212 photos

The very early days of 'model' railway gauges were somewhat confused and I seem to recall that part of the problem was exactly how the gauge was measured. I believe one German manufacturer originally measured their 'gauge' from the rail centre line but used the same rail section (3mm?) in each gauge and this was not clearly understood by others (in UK) trying to produce compatible products. Cannot for the life of me remember where I read this now though..

Anyway, essentially Marklin announced three gauges in 1891 (Spur I, II & III) and this was (obviously) a metric system. In part owing to the confusion about gauge dimensions and (I would also guess) the need for a clear Imperial standard, a committee of the Society of Model Engineers announced five "standard" UK gauges on Feb 1st 1899. As some people get confused by this issue, I'll point out that these were "Gauges" and not "Scales" - although I believe it was generally assumed they referred to standard gauge stock.

For the benefit of any railway modellers here, in 1941 the British Railways Modelling Standards Bureau (BRMSB) was formed, which led to the Model Engineering Trade Association (META) whose members were committed to meet BRMSB 'standards'. Of course different standards popped up elsewhere in the world (the US had their own standards for instance) However, as a lad peering into the window of BEC Models (in Tooting) I do recall wondering what META was/meant.....?

I mention all this as John has generally got things straight but there are these small differences in detail that either get confused (or get skimmed over) in just about everything I read on the subject

So Gauge '2' (for instance) was a 2" gauge which largely died out between the two WW's. Gauge '3' however is built to 2.5" gauge, which to be precise is 63.5mm. In Germany 'Spur II' is very similar to G3 but built to a gauge of 64mm. To be further pernickety - Gauge 3 is built to a scale of 1:22.6 and Spur II to 1:22.5 (same as LGB). As I'm feeling really pernickety, I'll also point out that Gauge 1 is built to 1.75" which is 44.45mm (and not 45mm) However, what is 0.5mm (or 0.55mm) between friends? Well I guess not much but then again you've no idea how much passion gets stoked up over the difference between 10mm and 3/8th in certain circles? laugh

Anyway, getting back to this thread (Indoor live steam), a certain Mr R Marsh used to bring his coal fired 0-4-0's to the Gauge '3' AGM and run them on his 5 foot diameter (yes - that's 2.5ft radius) test track he that could fold in half and get into his car boot. It used to play havoc with my breathing though (ex-chain smoker I'm afraid) and it would be highly unlikely to be allowed in these days of H&S....



IanT29/04/2014 12:08:24
2005 forum posts
212 photos

And after a quick dig in my archives, a photo of Mr M running his engines at said event.

I'm afraid it does not include a soundtrack of me coughing in the background though....

G3 AGM - indoor live steam.jpg.

Bazyle29/04/2014 12:53:41
6386 forum posts
222 photos

Intersting history Ian. In less detail having started with 1, 2, and 3 when they invented something smaller it was logical to go to 0. Then a smaller one could have been -1 but instead they used "half 0" or HO mostly in America. So to be similar but different to HO someone came up with OO.

Apart from marketeers and awkward people messing it up many of the gauges are in steps of 1.41 ie root 2 which means doubling the area of the layout each time.

16mm is unusual in being referred to by scale rather than gauge. It is a great size for kids as it bridges the model railway and model engineering gap and gets the blighters into the garden.

Gordon W29/04/2014 14:17:09
2011 forum posts

I am ignorant of model railways so just ignore if stupid.- I had assumed that the various gauges were an aproximation of scale. eg 51/2" is 1/10 scale 48"+8"+1/2" = 561/2" aprox. Is this to far out.

Bazyle29/04/2014 18:34:36
6386 forum posts
222 photos

People weren't so fussed back when these things started. So the early gauges got rounded off to something simple and the scales were not related to the track but to a nice round figure for building to. eg 3/8 to 1ft . Sometimes this was tweaked to make the boiler bigger for more power. Then the purists came along and either stick to an existng track size and adjust the scale to be nearer exact or hold on to a scale ratio and adjust the track to be true to their scale. All designed to be as confusing as possible.

IanT29/04/2014 19:59:22
2005 forum posts
212 photos

16mm is a wee bit different Bazyle in that although it originally (generally) referred to 2' Narrow Gauge engines running on 32mm (so is a scale rather than a gauge) - it quickly came to encompass other N/G variants also based on 45mm track - and given that the actual N/G railways varied a quite a lot (both above and below two foot) I guess this was a more convenient naming convention. than anything else

But talking of "Purists" Bazyle - Gauge '3' used to be modelled in 1/2" scale before the war but then we moved closer to actual scale with 17/32nds (e.g. 13.49375mm/ft) although some die-hard 'Euro-Modernists' do insist on using a scale of 13.5mm/ft.

I used to be a 17/32nds kind of guy until I discovered the 'scaling' function on my CAD system. Since then I've been devoted to modelling at 13.486725 mm/ft - which I'm thinking of calling Gauge 3 "Finescale".

I will admit though that it does take a very practiced eye to spot that 0.2mm difference (in the overall locomotive length) when it's running at speed and you are a good 30ft away from it in the garden - and I'm afraid I'm still working on that one! laugh



V8Eng29/04/2014 20:25:34
1730 forum posts
6 photos

Hornby produce a 00 gauge live steam system using an electric heating element powered from a track.

I do not know if it's still in production, but it seemed like a neat system to me, giving a proper steam powered loco without using fire or gas cylinders etc.

There was quite a large layout running at the last Ally Pally (I think) exhibition.

IanT30/04/2014 10:26:39
2005 forum posts
212 photos

It's a neat idea V8 but not new.

I'm very certain that live steam locos powered by an electric heating element (fed through the track) were experimented with (in either G0 or G1) many years ago. I probably read this either in the G1MRA Journal or Model Engineer, I cannot recall which right now. I guess the concept wasn't considered sufficiently better (or more efficient) than the spirit or solid fuels used back then and so the idea lay dormant until Hornby resurrected it for '00' - where it clearly has benefits given both the small spaces available and the pre-existing track power.

These days, self contained (radio-controlled) battery-electric locomotives are very common in G3 but I did ponder a kind of 'Hybrid' design a while back. Actually driven/controlled by an R/C electric motor set-up but with a low-pressure boiler that vented through the chimney via a valve gear (just to give chuffs!). This thought was prompted by seeing a G3 live steam loco that had been 'half-staged' - in that it was fully engineered as a live steam loco (and had been run on air) but without a boiler being fitted. Instead it had an electric motor drive to the rear axle as an "interim" measure. My 'hybrid' never got beyond the "ponder" stage though - for a start I'm not sure that the 'steam' would have actually been that visible - but it did make for an entertaining coffee break.

Of course '00' have had electric/oil smoke generators for many years...


JC Uknz 107/05/2014 09:02:13
54 forum posts

As a G Gauger myself with a Roundhouse 'Bertie' I suggest the water is fine so just jump in

Live steam can also be radio controlled in these gauges

LBSC used to make live steam locos in this size and there is also Garden RAIL magazine which used to publish plans when David Joy was editor.

If you visit the Model Rail Forum in the G forum you will find a guy with an extensive indoor scenic layout with numerous  live steam locos ... a Frenchman modelling english countryside I believe .with seemingly a love of vertical boiler'd locos


My problem is that at 82yo I have started two new interests ... T Gauge Railway and learning to fly a Quadcopter along with an Auto- gyro, a bought single rotor and scratchbuilding a twin rotor. ..

Edited By JC Uknz 1 on 07/05/2014 09:10:11

Edited By JC Uknz 1 on 07/05/2014 09:12:56

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