Modern "Live Steam" Engineers
updated 29 December 2011
While most of these pages cover the development of "full sized" steam locomotives, another field of steam technology development exists. Coincident with the decline of mainline steam activity in the 1950's a new hobby sprang up. All over the world, enthusiasts began building miniature working steam locomotives to satisfy their "thirst for steam". "Live steam" clubs formed and built tracks where enthusiasts could operate their locomotives. These locomotives are actual fuel-burning, smoke-belching, steam engines and exhibit all the properties (good and bad) of their full-sized counterparts. A very common scale for these miniature engines is 1-1/2 inches to the foot, which gives engines which are big enough to pull several cars carrying adult passengers.
Traditionally, most live steam locomotives are technologically simple. Craftsmen build their engines in garages or workshops, and hence simple construction, easy operation and good reliability are sought-after qualities. Accessories such as superheaters, feedwater heaters, and efficient exhaust systems are rarely used. Fuel efficiency is generally disregarded due to the relatively small size of these engines relative to that of the operators.. The full-sized fireman has no trouble stoking the firebox, regardless of how inefficient the engine is.
Despite this, several live steam enthusiasts have
been interested in building more-complex models. For
instance, one in the UK has constructed an authentic
replica of one of Chapelon's compound French Pacifics.
Other enthusiasts have seen the practical value of
implementing the improvements developed by Chapelon,
Porta, Wardale, et al to their miniature steam
locomotives. They also see the possiblity of using
miniature locomotives as research platforms for
developments which can be applied to full-size steam
Googling "Lempor exhaust" will turn up information on
quite a few Lempor installations on live steam
locomotives around the world. This is chiefly
due to the work of Michael Guy of Canada, who not only
fit his own locomotive with a Lempor, but developed a
spreadsheet for sizing the components of a Lempor for
any locomotive. You can read more about
Michael's work, see photos of several live steam
Lempor installations, and access his Lempor Exhaust
spreadsheet here: http://home.ca.inter.net/~mguy/index.htm
John Davies ( Model Engineer )
While the building of miniature steam locomotives might be far removed from full size rail operation, and be considered to be expensive toys for rich boys, there is a serious side to this hobby. Engineering of the highest standards is often practiced, which has the potential to allow steam locomotive development to be conducted at a fraction of the cost associated with full size operations.
John's first experimental steps were taken by casting the cylinders and axle bearings using aluminium (aluminum) alloy, which has worked well on this saturated steam locomotive which is seen below.
Lady Carol - The sole motive power at the Secunda Steamers in South Africa for the last 3 years. Has pulled heavy trains , covering a distance of 15 000 scale Kilometres in the process. While the building and running of this locomotive and the training of many drivers, was an enjoyable hobby, a greater challenge was sought.
A CHANGE OF DIRECTION
THE GPCS TRIALS
A NEED IS IDENTIFIED
With the help of the S-TEAM, the year 2000 saw the birth of the concept, this steam locomotive will have the appearance of a diesel and provide similar crew comfort. The locomotive will run on self-steering bogies having from two to four axles. These bogies will be powered by a piston valve four-cylinder steam engine placed above them. The boiler will be of high efficiency producing superheated steam and including a preheater and fired by a GPCS firebed, which will be drafted by a Lempor exhaust system. The modular system will allow fuel and water to be carried on board for short-range duties or to be fitted with a tender for long range operation in the cab forward mode. The dry walled fire bed area can be changed for different fuels used.
Live steam enthusiasts and others interested in this project may contact John via e-mail at: email@example.com
Future planned improvements include:
In addition, initial designs are slowly being readied for a Kittson-Meyer/Garratt hybrid that will feature compounding, a Porta sectional boiler, combustion air pre-heaters, a form of dynamic braking, a newly designed valve gear system and, hopefully, some control systems that will point the way toward multiple unit steam locomotive operation.
(updated June 19, 2005)
Andrew had sent me information on a couple of planned projects in 2002 (see below), and recently sent me info on some recent live steam progress in Australia. (Below photos by Andrew Matthews except as noted.)
"Tootles" is a 7-1/4" gauge 0-4-0ST which was recently refitted with a new Lempor exhaust system, smokebox (all stainless steel construction) and streamlined steam circuit. The photo above shows the locomotive in pre-modified condition. Andrew provides this assessment of the modified locomotive's performance: "Suffice it say the loco in question has approximately 20% more horsepower and almost has a silent exhaust when not working hard earning a nickname similar to Wardale's modified 19D (an SAR 4-8-2) "Spooky". The following photos show the smokebox and exhaust during fabrication as well as the completed locomotive. Of great interest, Andrew notes that the Lempor exhaust has now become almost the "standard" system at their track with no less than 4 locomotives under construction with Lempor exhausts.
Lempor-equipped Tootles on Train
Andrew submitted the attached highly detailed technical paper on the design, fabrication, and testing of the Lempor Ejector for Tootles. Highly recommended reading for live steamers and full-size steam enthusiasts alike:
Andrew's original info follows:.
The following comes from Andrew Matthews, a live steamer from Australia:
"I have noticed on your website that you have included a section on "live steam" Engineers and thought that you may be interested in some projects that myself and another member of our model engineering club in South Australia, Roseworthy Railway have been working on. Between the two of us we currently have three high power designs that we are drawing for 7 1/4" gauge, One of which is under construction at present. These designs. are utilising many of the principles as explained by Porta, Wardale & Chapelon. The wheel arrangements of these locos: are an 0-6-2T, a 2-6-0, and a 2-10-4. The main features common to all are:
The next list applies only to the 2-6-0 and 2-10-4.
So far the material for the frames, smokebox saddle, axleboxes,wheels,and all bearings needed have been purchased and the saddle fabricated for the 0-6-2T.The design of the 0-6-2T is about 40% complete. I hope to have that running mid 2004. My next project after that will be the 2-10-4 which is still very early in the design process.
Originally, the tank engine was to have been an 0-6-0T however this was recently revised to an 0-6-2T configuration. Firstly, moment of inertia calculations revealed that with the 0-6-0T configuration there was an inordinate amount of weight and therefore energy hanging over the back end of the loco. This would likely result in much bobbing up and down which any springing system would be hard pressed to absorb. Secondly, Andrew's father for saw an illustration of Porta's 0-6-2T and decided he wanted the same outline and layout hence the similarity. The 2-10-4 is based on nothing in particular but is very much a combination of all the desirable features Andrew likes in a locomotive. American,French and Australian practice are the main influences.
Just a little about myself. I am 25 years old and work as a toolmaker in the medical industry. I completed year 12 studying maths, physics, chemistry,and metalwork. I have been interested in steam locos since I was about 3 years old and the affliction gets worse every year!. I am currently the secretary for our club and also the club boiler inspector. "
It certainly sounds like Andrew and his model engineering club are doing some cutting edge live steam engineering down under. Updates on their progress will be posted as they become available.
I recently received some info and drawings on a proposed 3-1/2" gauge, 3/4" = 1' scale modern live steam locomotive from Tony Hubner of Victoria BC Canada. Tony is a lifelong steam enthusiast and has built several small steam locomotives. In addition he is presently working on a steam boat and a three-wheeled steam car. Tony and his son run Meg Steam Incorporated, which produces narrow-gauge 0-4-0's for 7-1/2" gauge. Even his wife is involved in the live steam hobby, currently working on an English inside cylindered 0-4-0.
Tony's proposal is for a B-B two-truck type steam locomotive with an engine hung on the sideframes of each truck. The rear engine would be high pressure; the front would be low pressure (compound expansion). Drive to the wheels will be by roller chains. An all-copper boiler provides steam at 120 PSI, with a radiant superheater providing highly superheated steam, routed through a heat exchanger to re-heat receiver steam while slightly cooling the steam for the HP cylinders. The boiler will be coal-fired and will have a firetube barrel with a watertube firebox. The various parts are to be mounted on a frame and cased in like a diesel, with a cab at the back at a firing station at about the mid-point. The smokebox projects from the front for appearance and ease of tube cleaning.
Tony goes on to say "The ultimate end of the project would be to take it to England for the annual International Model Locomotive Efficiency Competition or IMLEC." Sketches of the proposed locomotive are included below:
Proposed 3-1/2" gauge B-B Modern Steam Locomotive
I look forward to hearing more from Tony on this very interesting engine proposal.