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Live Steam

The Options...

Brand New.

There are very few brand new ready to run steam locos but expect to pay several thousand pounds for a example...

GRS these can supply; a J94 with R/C.
Kingscale can supply; LMS Duchess, BR 80xxx, GWR 14xx, A30 Autocoach, Brittania, Coronation.
Modelbau of Germany can supply; a BR 80xxx.

Most, if not all of these models will require a curve radius of !!4.5metres.


There are specialist builders who you can commission to build your loco. Mike Pavie and Mike Danby are examples.

Second Hand.

This is probably going to be the main route to finding a steam loco. There is a slight problem with absolute scale as G3 was once 1/2" or 12.5mm to the foot rather than 13.5mm to the foot. Older designs may be built to this. Very old designs by Basset-Lowke are really Henry Greenly designs and follow his elegant design principles. Designs by Lillian Lawrence (LBSC) are more rough and ready but very easy to find parts for -or have some made. The modern designers such as Martin Evans and Chris Barron will not have as many built locos existing thus they will be harder to find as will spares and parts.

The primary thing you are looking for in a second hand engine is a current boiler certificate. The G3S uses the Southern Federation "2018 Orange Book" as its guide. The loco should have a boiler certificate and a number of dated test sheets with it. It should be complete and if possible try to get a test firing on a rolling road to check that the valve timing is within acceptable limits. Older designs may not have any method of shortening the admission times to improve the length of running time, and in reality very few designs achieve 100% admission anyway.

Although the older designs may be operated on Coal or Spirits more modern designs may use Butane gas. Coal operation is wonderful but difficult as each loco is an individual, the G3S have a manual on this which is cheaper than tears... Spirit firing is uncontrollable and is literally "fire and forget". Once the lamps are lit they burn until the supply is exhausted. Gas Firing is, I personally feel, perfect for model locos and Gas conversion kits are easily sourced. Your gas tank will also require a current certificate as well.

Condition is in the eye of the beholder. A 1920's Bing locomotive will have scratched and scarred paintwork from its life on the tracks. It would look really lovely with fully restored paintwork, but I personally -would cherish it as is...

Caveat Emptor...

Your main point of entry will be via auction houses or eBay. The G3S forum often has models for sale with a certified history. When buying from the former you must beware that the auctioneer or seller might not know what they have and the description might be more "hopeful" -than accurate... I well remember the LNER Pacific advertised on eBay with an 2-6-2 layout and Baker valve gear. Interestingly enough it did turn up at an AGM -but correctly labelled as an Western Australian loco. Some sellers have wildly "optimistic" ideas of the value of their item. Have a look for a few months before buying as the price often drops to a more reasonable amount. Some people see model locos as a "hedge investment" and locos that are marked "brand new never run 5 years old" -means that the boiler certificate has certainly lapsed and probably most of the motions have set solid with rust from lack of maintenance...

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Page last modified on January 20, 2018, at 10:38 AM