What makes a good steam-up area?

Jasper

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I want to move into live steam, and I now am planning the steam-up area. What must I pay attention to?

Here's what I've thought of so far:
- Good working height. (about 1 metre)
- Straight and level tracks.
- Steam-up tracks cannot be part of the main line.
- Space to put supplies of water, oil, etc.
- Easy walk from garden entrance to steam-up area, so no stairs and no duckunders.

I plan to lay the steam-up tracks on treated wood. Are there any obvious problems with that?

It's not going to be big, as I will usually be by myself. I'm not expecting a lot of visitors and I don't plan any meets.
Also, I will only run small locos.
So I'm thinking two tracks, around 3' long.

TIA.
 
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Gizzy

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Sounds like you have just about everything covered.

I think I would prefer a brick wall to steam up on, rather than wood. I'm thinking about spillage of combustable fluids....
 
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PhilP

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If you are serious about steam, it could be worth having a little space under the track?
Cheap cooking trays can sit under the track, and collect spills of oil and water. - Spirit, if you go that way..

PhilP
 

Jasper

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If you are serious about steam, it could be worth having a little space under the track?
Cheap cooking trays can sit under the track, and collect spills of oil and water. - Spirit, if you go that way..

PhilP
Good one, I'll keep it in mind.
 

Paul M

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Welcome to the streamy side! Just mind your eyebrows and fringe!
Looks like you've got it covered. I wouldn't worry too much if you have a wood base, but it will obviously need to be steady and firm! You should have the steaming track long enough so your longest train will fit to save too much shunting. If you do go for meths, try not to use plastic sleepered track, as it will melt if any drips ignite. Meths can also burn invisibly so you may not see it in time to put any fires out. If you're really keen and go for coal firing, a pit to clear the loco out afterwards is an idea.
Which leads to one very important thing, a fire extinguisher on hand may be a good idea
 

dunnyrail

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Fire extinguisher yes, wet blanket as well on the day. But under the track that cooking tray can be used to capture coal if you get any coal burning bods. As well to have just rails for a few inches will allow fireboxes to be dumped out for the coals to drop through to the tray. A silver soldered one could be made to fit the space rather than a big clunky second hand cooking tray would certainly look better.

image.jpgimage.jpgFinal consideration is easily lost small parts, oil filler screw, bottom of oil reserve screw, tank filling screw. I have a Playmobil Box that sits on the line, the lid is used to put those bits in during steam preparation. Has saved me no end of times from loosing those small parts. Other junk found around the line sits in the base. An old slide box could be utilised for the same service, but if you intend to leave it out permanently spray it black to help preserve it from UV light.
 

Jasper

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I wouldn't worry too much if you have a wood base, but it will obviously need to be steady and firm!
Consider it done. I only didn't mention this because I thought it was obvious. :nerd:
You should have the steaming track long enough so your longest train will fit to save too much shunting.
Now there's one I didn't think of. Thanks.
For the foreseeable future I will probably stick to butane.
fire extinguisher
At the ripe age of five I already set a Christmas Tree ablaze. So, yeah.
 

Jasper

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wet blanket as well on the day
Noted.
As well to have just rails for a few inches
Yes, I thought of that. You can cut off the part of the "sleeper webbing" that ends up over the pit.
Final consideration is easily lost small parts, oil filler screw, bottom of oil reserve screw, tank filling screw. I have a Playmobil Box that sits on the line, the lid is used to put those bits in during steam preparation.
Thanks, this really is one that applies to me.
if you intend to leave it out permanently spray it black to help preserve it from UV light.
Why? What does the UV light do?
 
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PhilP

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UV light degrades a lot of plastics. - They go brittle over time..

A coat of paint, reduces the amount of UV which gets to the plastic, extending the life of the object.

PhilP
 

dunnyrail

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Noted.


Why? What does the UV light do?
It will stop daylight (uv rays) trashing the plastic. My Playmobil thing is fine but lots of other plastic suffers by going brittle in sunlight (uv rays).
 

Fred2179G

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should have the steaming track long enough so your longest train will fit
Most of us here in the US keep the trains separate from the steaming bay. The live steamers need to be left to cool down and be serviced, and a long trains just makes that awkward.

Many live steamers are meth/alcohol fired, and lighting them is tricky, so most steaming bays have a section (or two) of track made from "L" angle with the center open to below. Allows the lighter and dental mirror to be held under the wicks.

I endorse the idea of space to put supplies. Water bottles, meth/alcohol (suitably colored!), butane cans, etc. Owners can be relied upon to bring a small box to catch bits that fall off - I know I have one in my steam-up kit.

Let me see if I can find a few photos. Hmmm . . not much of the steaming bays.
This video, on Mike's "Aikenback Live Steamers" portable track, has views of the whole track, and if you pause the video, you can get the drift. The inside 2 tracks are running tracks, and on each side is a ladder arrangement of sidings/storage tracks for trains. In the area in front of the ladder is a set of short tracks for steaming.

Here's a still from that video with annotations.

Untitled-1.jpg

Dan has a permanent track in his yard, but built at waist height for operator convenience. The sidings for train staging are along one side of the layout - here's a view of the double-track mainline and the yard. The J-611 is on the yard lead track.

20181021_101035_dans-j611-coaldrag.jpg

Dan's steaming bay is a separate structure at the end of the yard lead. About 4 tracks and plenty of room.

20150822_130803-steaming-bay-sm.jpg
 

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Northsider

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About hip-high, or a tad higher. I ballasted my steam up area, and the mix of oil from the first start-ups, steam from blowing down, and lubricator draining have turned it into a prototypically black oily crust. But I only run gas-fired locos, so there's no chance of it catching light: meths or coal would be much more risky.
 

Jasper

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Height will be a metre, determined by the tracks I already have. I will remove the sleeper webbing and put a cooking tray a few inches below the tracks, to allow space for a dental mirror.
 

GAP

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Wind protection/shelter for when lighting up.
Put tracks on non combustible material eg concrete of fibre cement.
Do not use plastic or wooden sleepers try soldering brass or circuit board strips to hold the guage or burt combustible sleepers under some concrete render.
 
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Jasper

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Wind protection/shelter for when lighting up.
I'll be sure to test how flames respond to the prevailing wind. The garden is very secluded though, so it may not be a problem.
Do not use plastic or wooden sleepers try soldering brass or circuit board strips to hold the guage
Will do if necessary. But I suspect that a 2' LGB straight, supported on both ends, will hold gauge well enough even when robbed of most of its sleepers.
 

dunnyrail

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I'll be sure to test how flames respond to the prevailing wind. The garden is very secluded though, so it may not be a problem.

Will do if necessary. But I suspect that a 2' LGB straight, supported on both ends, will hold gauge well enough even when robbed of most of its sleepers.
Another option may be a couple of wooden sleepers held to the rail by flat headed nails, may seam counter intuitive but in the middle of that 2 ft would easily be put out if caught fire with a good splash of water.
 

Jasper

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Makes sense. Those sleepers would be isolated by distance from anything else combustible.
 

Paul M

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To be fair, if you're going to be using Butane, the chances of melting the sleepers is quite small. Where I get my steam fix there's no evidence of heat damaged track, and we have coal fired and meths burners as regular visitors