I get a lot of eMail from people who are interested in our great hobby. They often ask where to begin. People are looking for suggestions on startin out in the hobby and build a locomotive.
Let me offer the following suggestions. If you have more questions, drop me an eMail.
1. Search out your local Live Steam club(s). Join as an associate member. Get to know other members. Most Live Steamers are very friendly and want to share their love of the hobby with anyone who will listen.
2. Before choosing or building a locomotive, do a few things. First, check out the scales and gauges in your area. 1-1/2″ scale has two gauges. In the south and west U.S.A. is 7-1/2″ gauge, while north east U.S.A., eastern Canada in and Europe, most tracks are 7-1/4″ gauge, while the. 1″ scale is mostly 4-3/4″ gauge, while there are some tracks to 5″ gauge. The one scale that is universal is 3/4″. 3/4″ scale is 3-1/2″ gauge. Next, decide what locomotive you can reasonably build with your machine skill (you can learn as you go along as I did), and your financial abilities (you can also build each section as you have the money). Finally, build a locomotive that you will be able to move considering you health, age and vehicle.
3. Subscribe to one or more of the hobby magazines. I get both Modeltec and Live Steam. You will find a listing under my Live Steam Suppliers page under publication.
4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. I began building my American with no experience. My kit was purchased machined and by the time I finished, I had a small lathe, mill and a number of hand tools. George Broad from Modeltec once said, “A good machinest has a pile of scrap under his work bench.” The reality is, a person that never tries, never succeeds.
5. Vist different clubs. Look at the many locomotives. Ask the owner how they made something. You can get some real good ideas by looking at other locomotives.
6. Don’t be too serious. Live Steaming should be fun. When it becomes a chore, it is no longer a hobby. You can get enough stress at work.
7. Dream! Building a locomotive is not a one weekend project. However, your hard work, challenges and perseverence will pay off. There is no greater thrill than pulling the throttle on the locomotive that you spent many hours building and people telling you have beautiful you locomotive is.
8. Happy Steaming!