Getting started

Many people have covered this topic so we won’t try and reinvent the wheel here.  We will just try and give you some good, basic advice and then point you to other places on the Internet to learn more.

You can also read the article “Miniature Small Scale Live Steam Locomotives”
which answers many questions.

Also visit Vance Bass website about Small Scale Live Steam Here.

Selecting your first Locomotive

The best advice we can give you is to do your homework.  Budget, basic knowledge, and support from other steamers is most important in making your decision.

Getting started on a limited budget

If your wallet is a little thin or you like the building aspect of the hobby, then building your own locomotive might just be the answer.  For $200 and some miscellaneous materials, you could build a Basic Project Engine similar to the one below.


Basic Locomotive
This is a locomotive built from plans that are available on the Internet.  Michael Martin figured out how to build this chain driven, vertical boiler locomotive for very little money.Plans and building details are available at his web site.

Same Loco with some detailing.


The boiler and piston for this project were originally made for Live Steam boats.  You can buy the boiler kit from Tower Hobbies web site:  The Boiler kit runs about $100.  The boiler is hard to find on their web site so I have included a link directly to the product:

What’s available out there?

You might want to go to some of the Manufactures’ web sites and see what they have to offer.  Then if you do decide to by a new, ready to run locomotive, you will know what to ask for.  Sky’s the limit for engine availability.

Once I get this thing, where can I run it?

To start with, how about your driveway or garage floor.  All it takes is a circle of track to run.  Take note that all engines have a minimum radius of curve they can handle.  So make sure to find out that minimum before you buy your first loop of track.

If your in the Michigan area, check out our Calendar (not finished yet) for up coming events.  Our group has a couple of big events we sponsor or attend each year as well as having smaller steam ups at members homes about once a month.  If your interested in attending one of our smaller monthly steam ups, please drop us an e-mail and we will include you in our steam up notices.  If your interested in attending one of our bigger events from the Calendar you can also e-mail us for maps and event details.

If your not near us, check out some of the magazines for clubs in your area or the on-line discussion groups.  If you post a message in the Live Steam area of a discussion group saying where you are located, you are sure to get responses from others near you.

If all else fails, start your own group like we did.  Run your engine(s) at church fairs, school events and share it with your friends.  Before long others will get involved and POOF, you have a club.


For additional information and answers to some of your other questions, visit or FAQ page.