Getting Fired Up!
At TrainMasters TV, we believe all railroading is interesting – and we’re keen to share the many ways that people enjoy this hobby. In this new series –Fired Up! – we explore one of these many “hobbies within the hobby”, garden-scale live steam.
For those used to running trains powered by electricity, live steam is an alien world. This is apparent in everything from skills, tools and terminology, to layout design, to operating sessions.
Our intent with Fired Up! is to remove some of the mystery around owning and operating steam train models that work just like the full-size locomotives – by boiling water to generate steam. These are more than nicely done miniature replicas of the prototype: They are, themselves, steam locomotives. They may be small – even small enough to carry in one hand – but they work just like the “real thing”.
So, Fired Up! is a primer. If you’re new to live steam, we plan to use this series to pique your curiosity then give you enough information to get you started. We hope Fired Up! encourages you to take your hobby in a new direction by giving live steam a try.
Our subject-matter expert, Jeff Young, is well known in the live steam hobby. He’s been a live steam enthusiast for a quarter century, and writes the Raising Steam column for Garden Railways magazine. We’re fortunate to draw upon his expertise to provide a good foundation for exploring live steam.
I took the live steam plunge a few years ago, and I’m glad I did. Having learned to operate a live steam model, I have a better understanding of what I’m trying to represent with the electrically-powered models of steam locomotives on my indoor, S scale layout.
More importantly, by giving live steam a try I made a new batch of friends in this hobby. The local enthusiasts are a great bunch – amongst the most generous, and happy, people I’ve ever met through the hobby.
Perhaps it’s because it’s hard to top a beautiful day in a pleasant backyard – complete with trains, food, and beverages. Or perhaps it’s because once a locomotive is steamed up and running it tends to take care of itself, with only occasional adjustment from the engineer – so there’s plenty of time to swap stories and enjoy each other’s company.
Whatever the reason, live steam railroading in the garden tends to bring out the best in people, and the live steam hobby is an extremely social one. We’ve tried to capture some of that conviviality in Fired Up! – especially in the bonus material segments that accompany each episode.
Finally, as you consider whether to explore live steam, keep in mind that it’s not a mutually exclusive proposition. You can become a live steam enthusiast and still enjoy building and operating an indoor model railway. The two pursuits are very different, yet equally enjoyable, aspects of the hobby.
- Trevor Marshall
There’s a lot to learn about live steam – and fortunately, there are many great resources. One of the most valuable, to me, has been membership in the Association of 16mm Narrow Gauge Modellers.
This UK-based group has worldwide membership and is ideal for those contemplating the type of narrow gauge modelling that Jeff and I discuss on Fired Up! The Association maintains a listing of members and steam-up groups, so it’s a good way to find like-minded water boilers near you.
Below are a few other resources that I have found useful. You can use the comments section to share your favorites.