Why Live Steam?

Discussion of Live Steam locomotives should be located here

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by Big Jim » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:07 pm

Welcome to the forum Micheal,
It would be great to see some pictures of your works and a write up of how you did it.
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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by Big Jim » Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:12 pm

BTW - I don't like the expression 'electric mice' - mine are bigger, more like electric ferrets; no they are more ponderous, electric tortoises maybe rather than electric hares.........

Rik
How about an electric Rat?

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by bazzer42 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:11 pm

Arrived here late, busy moving junior is my excuse. As Rik has said - a thread this length in 48 hours! I don't think I have anything new to add. If I want to operate I would go rc battery and the steamers for fun. That's just my way of working.

I don't believe deep down that anyone looks down on any other modeller or type of modelling. Sometimes we tread a lonely path but that's what makes this forum interesting.

PS can't explain why I like steam but Jim's explanation is probably close.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:22 pm

Big Jim wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 12:12 pm
BTW - I don't like the expression 'electric mice' - mine are bigger, more like electric ferrets; no they are more ponderous, electric tortoises maybe rather than electric hares.........

Rik
How about an electric Rat?

Image
I did consider 'electric rats', but the PR image of this particular rodent is not that good. I think the term 'electric mice' is often used in the 16mm world scathingly rather than affectionately and so felt, if I was going to embrace the concept, I needed to somehow project a more positive impression. I do regard my battery powered progeny with considerable paternal affection and respect and so would like to find a suitable sobriquet.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:35 pm

Southern188 wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 11:45 am
Hello everyone, an interesting thread for my first post.

I have an Electric Accucraft Lew and converted it to battery remote control, the battery is in the boiler and electronics underneath the cab. Yes, it is expensive but I'm really pleased with it. I have an electronics background and zero mechanical skills so I'm happy to buy ready to run locos and add the remote control.

For me, it is my layout that has influenced my preference for electric over steam. Despite the addition of 2 tons of topsoil and a 40cm high wall at one end, my layout is mostly on an incline and very challenging for my Accucraft Steam Lyn even with remote control. I get a maximum of 15 minutes running and it needs constant watching.

I therefore mostly use my electric Lew. The sight of it, with coaches, slowly climbing up an incline is realistic enough for me. If I had a completely flat layout it might be different.

Michael
Welcome, Michael
I think you can see from the posts generally that this forum is a broad church and so all forms of motive power are welcomed and admired in equal measure.

Fascinated already by your experiences with your battery powered Lew. Like you, my mechanical skills are negligible and so the majority of my locos use commercial motor blocks, which is one of the main reasons I use 45mm gauge (but also because I love 3' gauge railways - (and 2'6" or 2'9")). A pity there aren't more readymade mechs for 32mm.

Like you, I find battery powered locos are less needy than live steam so more time can be spent operating or just sitting back and watching. Love to see some pictures or video.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by IrishPeter » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:48 pm

I rather like steam from the point of view that it is real as opposed to fake, but it is also a bit exasperating at times - which I suppose adds to the realism. The relatively flat Skebawn and Castleknox (15mm scale/45mm gauge) down in the basement is a nice environment for running live steamers in that everything is up high (3'8"), it is easy to grab the regulator, and being modelled on a small scale Irish tramway the atmosphere is relative relaxed in terms of running trains - one engine in steam; mixed trains; and not much intermediate traffic. It has ended up at the Castlederg and Victoria Bridge end of things eking out an existence on the traffic from a small Irish market town.

The mischief planned for outside - 13.5mm scale/32mm - is a bit more sophisticated, but will run mainly with battery electric "diesels" because of the amount of shunting I anticipate The excuse for the IC powered locomotives is that the Big Railway that owns the Coverdale Light realises that it gets worthwhile traffic off the line, but that steam operation is doing nasty things to the bottom line. The LNER experimented with IC traction - railcars & locomotives - so I am on safe territory there, and both the GCR and the NER had experimented successfully with Petrol-electric railcars before the Great War! The Bollington Bug lasted 20 years, and the two autocars lasted 25+ years in service, and one is currently being restored after a spell as a holiday cottage.

13.5mm and 15mm are also large enough scales that things like point and signal control can be done in the same way as the originals, though it may be a while before all the needed ground frames and signal cabins appear on my railways. I tend to get sucked in by the experimental, which is part of the reason for the Ga.3n2.5 project. It gives me an opportunity for transporter wagons, LNER experimental board signalling, and early diesels, whilst the Skebawn appeals to my love of 3' gauge that started when I was a small boy taken on holiday to the Isle of Man.

The one thing I am not contemplating is track power. I got tired of the bird's nest of wiring needed in OO/HO and OO9 a long time ago.

Cheers,
Peter in Va
Traffic Pattern? What pattern? Spuds out; grain in, but cattle, sheep and passengers are a lot less predictable.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:03 pm

My previous post raises another interesting issue - that of 'driving'.

My GR modelling mate in Aus. (Greg) also makes his own battery powered steam outline locos and also makes his own ESCs using Picaxe chips.

I find that my Deltang receiver/controllers suit my operational needs because they give a lot of precision in terms of control and also include back emf sensing and so my locos generally run at an even speed regardless of the changing load on the motor - ie they don't slow down on curves or when going up gradients or spped up when running downhill.

When I asked Greg if he uses back emf sensing in his homemade ESCs, he told me he had tried it but rejected it because he prefers to 'drive' his locos - opening the throttle on inclines etc.

I suspect that this is one of the attractions for live steam afficionados - the need to 'drive' their locos by continually adjusting the regulator. I know when Zach brings his live steamers to my undulating, tightly curved railway he really enjoys the challenge which driving them throws up.

Because my focus is usually on what happens at each station ( shunting and stock marshalling ) I'm not that interested in the driving experience between stations. Often, I'll set one train off to make its own way to a station while I shunt another train.

As has been said previously, it really all does depend on what we want out of running our railways, I suppose.

Rik
PS Although I used to sell Deltang equipment I am now just a satisfied customer and so am not attempting surreptitious product promotion.
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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:04 pm

IrishPeter wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:48 pm
I rather like steam from the point of view that it is real as opposed to fake, but it is also a bit exasperating at times - which I suppose adds to the realism. The relatively flat Skebawn and Castleknox (15mm scale/45mm gauge) down in the basement is a nice environment for running live steamers in that everything is up high (3'8"), it is easy to grab the regulator, and being modelled on a small scale Irish tramway the atmosphere is relative relaxed in terms of running trains - one engine in steam; mixed trains; and not much intermediate traffic. It has ended up at the Castlederg and Victoria Bridge end of things eking out an existence on the traffic from a small Irish market town.

The mischief planned for outside - 13.5mm scale/32mm - is a bit more sophisticated, but will run mainly with battery electric "diesels" because of the amount of shunting I anticipate The excuse for the IC powered locomotives is that the Big Railway that owns the Coverdale Light realises that it gets worthwhile traffic off the line, but that steam operation is doing nasty things to the bottom line. The LNER experimented with IC traction - railcars & locomotives - so I am on safe territory there, and both the GCR and the NER had experimented successfully with Petrol-electric railcars before the Great War! The Bollington Bug lasted 20 years, and the two autocars lasted 25+ years in service, and one is currently being restored after a spell as a holiday cottage.

13.5mm and 15mm are also large enough scales that things like point and signal control can be done in the same way as the originals, though it may be a while before all the needed ground frames and signal cabins appear on my railways. I tend to get sucked in by the experimental, which is part of the reason for the Ga.3n2.5 project. It gives me an opportunity for transporter wagons, LNER experimental board signalling, and early diesels, whilst the Skebawn appeals to my love of 3' gauge that started when I was a small boy taken on holiday to the Isle of Man.

The one thing I am not contemplating is track power. I got tired of the bird's nest of wiring needed in OO/HO and OO9 a long time ago.

Cheers,
Peter in Va
Would you not consider a steam outline battery loco for your outdoor line?

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by James from Devon » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:16 pm

It's been really interesting to read all the responses to Rik's post.

I love my live steam loco's and I currently have 3 of them. BUT, weather I choose to run them depends largely on my mood. Rik is correct that a certain degree of faffing about is needed to prepare a loco but I quite like that process and for me, seeing the loco come to life and then getting to know it and learning to get it to run at a realistic speed for a decent running time is all part of the attraction. I get nothing from seeing live steamers flying around a track at a scale speed of 600mph! (easy to spot those locos on ebay, they mostly have the paint removed from the edges of the running boards!)

Rik's own videos over the years partly inspired my line design with sidings and loops at stations and I enjoy running trains from one place to another and shunting as I go. For this, I realise now I write this, that I nearly always use an electric loco and the times I have used steam have ended up being a bit frustrating. Likewise, if we are all in the garden having a meal or a barbecue with family or friends, its nice to have the railway running but electric is the choice for this so it can trundle around unsupervised.

Clearly there are pros and cons for Steam, I'd never part with them but sometimes, I just run an electric loco for ease.
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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by IrishPeter » Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:27 pm

ge_rik wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:04 pm
The mischief planned for outside - 13.5mm scale/32mm - is a bit more sophisticated, but will run mainly with battery electric "diesels" because of the amount of shunting I anticipate The excuse for the IC powered locomotives is that the Big Railway that owns the Coverdale Light realises that it gets worthwhile traffic off the line, but that steam operation is doing nasty things to the bottom line.

Peter in Va
Would you not consider a steam outline battery loco for your outdoor line?

Rik
[/quote]

A lot would depend on what I was trying to achieve. In the main, I like steam to be steam in the larger scales, but I could certainly see myself building something like a Barsi Light Railway 0-8-4T as a battery-electric simply because I am not much of an iron strangler. Other types I could happily contemplate building as live steamers with a bit of help from the kit bashing department. Whether I would actual ever get around to doing it is another matter.

Cheers,
Peter in Va
Traffic Pattern? What pattern? Spuds out; grain in, but cattle, sheep and passengers are a lot less predictable.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:03 pm

IrishPeter wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:27 pm
A lot would depend on what I was trying to achieve. In the main, I like steam to be steam in the larger scales, but I could certainly see myself building something like a Barsi Light Railway 0-8-4T as a battery-electric simply because I am not much of an iron strangler. Other types I could happily contemplate building as live steamers with a bit of help from the kit bashing department. Whether I would actual ever get around to doing it is another matter.
Cheers,
Peter in Va
Hi Peter
You've reminded of another reason I make and run battery locos. All my scratch-built steam outline locos are of prototypes which ae not available commercially - a Southwold Sharpie, a Southwold Manning Wardle, a Davington LR Manning Wardle and a Black Hawthorn 0-4-0.

Like you, there's no way I could make them from metal as I just don't possess the skills but, like Peter Butler, I am quite happy to chop up and stick together a few bits of plastic - though Peter's chopping and sticking is a heck of a lot more exquisite and sophisticated than mine.

I reckon that if I can turn out a loco, then anyone with half a brain and a craft knife can.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by ge_rik » Thu Jan 11, 2018 4:28 pm

James from Devon wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 2:16 pm
It's been really interesting to read all the responses to Rik's post.

I love my live steam loco's and I currently have 3 of them. BUT, weather I choose to run them depends largely on my mood. Rik is correct that a certain degree of faffing about is needed to prepare a loco but I quite like that process and for me, seeing the loco come to life and then getting to know it and learning to get it to run at a realistic speed for a decent running time is all part of the attraction. I get nothing from seeing live steamers flying around a track at a scale speed of 600mph! (easy to spot those locos on ebay, they mostly have the paint removed from the edges of the running boards!)

Rik's own videos over the years partly inspired my line design with sidings and loops at stations and I enjoy running trains from one place to another and shunting as I go. For this, I realise now I write this, that I nearly always use an electric loco and the times I have used steam have ended up being a bit frustrating. Likewise, if we are all in the garden having a meal or a barbecue with family or friends, its nice to have the railway running but electric is the choice for this so it can trundle around unsupervised.

Clearly there are pros and cons for Steam, I'd never part with them but sometimes, I just run an electric loco for ease.
Thanks for your contribution, Jim.
I suppose it comes back down to what we want from our railways. Are they there:
  • as a test track for our model making
    To showcase our builds and/or acquisitions
    To enable us to encapsulate the loco driving experience
    As a simulation of running a real railway
    To relive childhood or previous life experiences
    As a means of escaping reality (and the pressures of modern life)
    As therapy to keep us sane
    Etc
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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by Graff B. » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:09 pm

Been giving this some more thought. We are a broad church and we all like what we like, which is how it should be.
For me, I find it annoying that battery locos generally tend to be regarded as something to run when you have not got time to steam up or something to retrieve a dead steamer. To me as I have said before they are a loco in there own right not a poor substitute.

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by tom_tom_go » Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:30 pm

This thread is getting a bit repetitive can we just accept we all like doing different things.

Now back to the trains...

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Re: Why Live Steam?

Post by invicta280 » Thu Jan 11, 2018 9:52 pm

tom_tom_go wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 6:30 pm
This thread is getting a bit repetitive can we just accept we all like doing different things.
Do you think so? I think it has been a very interesting and lively discussion.
Maybe we all suspected that garden rail folk were a tolerant bunch who accept that one approach is not necessarily better than another, but it's nice to see it confirmed. If this thread had been on some other model rail fora it would've been pistols at dawn by now.

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