Which Make of Live Steam

JimmyB

JimmyB

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23 Feb 2018
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Its just over a year since I took an interest in Garden Railways, and was inspired, partly by the Biggest Little Railway, my ultimate goal when I started being to run live steam. I have some track down that is now usable, my 65th birthday approaches and having looked what is on offer in the various magazines. I want to start with something smallish, 0-6-0 or 2-6-2 type configuration, gas burner, RC, looking to spend around £2,000:00. So which manufacture provides the best VFM in, usability of the models, reliability and support service; pros and cons, your thought would be welcomed.
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,402
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Depends what type of subject matter you are interested in. If 16 mm scale British/Colonial narrow gauge you can't beat a Roundhouse product - they tick all the boxes you mention. Be clear on how you want to operate your loco - manual or R/C then make your choices. Good 2nd hand examples can be had from reputable dealers and they tend to hold their value should your needs or circumstances change (subject to prevailing economic conditions ;) ) Get along to the 16 mm NGM show at Peterborough in about 6/7 weeks time, if you can, to get a fuller view of what this sector of the hobby can offer.

If you are looking at 15mm scale IOM or US outline NG than Accucraft will probably be your safest bet - but their spares backup can be poor. That is balanced by a network of good service providers in the UK. Their products are nice scale models in their own right (shelf queen potential :D ). I have quite a few of theirs as my major interest has turned out to lie with US themed railroads.

If you are going mainline std gauge then it will be something from the gauge 1 arena - Aster have the best reputation here. But you are probably looking at a very different type of track to suit them. Max
 
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JimmyB

JimmyB

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23 Feb 2018
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Max, rule 8, I currently have LGB continental and Bachmann USA, so just looking for something the "looks good" (beauty in the eye of the beholder), as mentioned in the post it will have to have RC, can't chasing a loco around a track ;)
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
24,213
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I only have one - it's Accucraft US (a 3-cylinder Shay) - I think since I bought it the price has moved north and is probably above your £2k (it was under £1,500 when I bought it)

Nicely made, reliable, doesn't need driving because it's a geared loco and has two speeds - dead slow and stop :nod::nod:

Ideal first time steamer as there are no tricky procedures for blowing out the condense when first starting up - just jiggle the forward / reverse a few times ;) then sit back and watch the motion whir with a suitable glass of something in your hand - lube oil or steam oil will do :devil::devil::devil::devil::devil:
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,402
52
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
Max, rule 8, I currently have LGB continental and Bachmann USA, so just looking for something the "looks good" (beauty in the eye of the beholder), as mentioned in the post it will have to have RC, can't chasing a loco around a track ;)
Feast your eyes on this little lot Jimmy - http://www.roundhouse-eng.com/pdf/catalogue2019.pdf

Some models have been around for a few years in production so can be got a reasonable price 2nd hand, if you want. As you are going for R/C then probably best to stay away from any "slip eccentric" valve gear types - Not impossible to run as R/C but a bit of a sod as you have no "reverser" on them.

As Rhino says the Accucraft 3 cylinder Shay is beautiful thing to see running. Like a manic mobile sewing machine - I would not part with mine. Geared locos are great if you have a less that flat line, much like the environments their 1:1 counterparts were built for. Max
 
dunnyrail

dunnyrail

DOGS, Garden Railways, Steam Trains, Jive Dancing,
25 Oct 2009
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St.Neots Cambridgeshire UK
Max, rule 8, I currently have LGB continental and Bachmann USA, so just looking for something the "looks good" (beauty in the eye of the beholder), as mentioned in the post it will have to have RC, can't chasing a loco around a track ;)
You might want to consider something like Roundhouse Billy, Katy or Lady Anne all would fit your Colonial interest and all come in at well below Budget with RC. This would leave enough Cash to think about a SloMo from Auz. Will turn whatever you get into a very controllable and shuntable Loco. Just look at some of the YouTube vids of SloMo’s then at some non SloMo fitted that clearly are just F1 Racing Contenders. I have linked a few vids of my SloMo fitted Jack on here as well.
 
Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
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Jon's point about the slomo is quite valid - non-geared steamers do tend to travel at a bit of a lick due to the simplicity of the mechanisms.

It's worth visiting a few shows, see if you can wangle a business visit to Cambridge when the Peterborough show is on (April I think).
 
JimmyB

JimmyB

Phase 1 complete, roll on Phase 2
23 Feb 2018
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Many thanks for the comments, Slo-mo was something I have looked at and they seem to improve slow running. Up for the Peterborough show, in fact need to book my hotel, up market for the financial director ;)
 
chris m01

chris m01

Registered
24 Oct 2009
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21
Birmingham, UK
I just have the one live steamer, a radio control Roundhouse Lady Anne which I have have three and a half years. I'm a complete novice when it comes to steam but I am really impressed with the way the Roundhouse loco works and does exactly as it says on the tin. Just follow the relatively simple instructions. Mine did have a problem when it was 13 months old and Roundhouse fixed it under warranty. They also reset everything for me as I had mucked it up. In my experience a great model for a novice and excellent back up from the manufacturers. My brother has an old Accurcraft loco ( Caradoc I think) which he had from new. It has had a few problems and, once he bought a Roundhouse loco as well the Accucraft one was pretty much left unused.

 
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RogerK

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3 Jun 2018
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When I first started with live steam about 10 years ago, the live steamers in New Mexico were all running Accucraft 3 foot narrow gauge locomotives(Fn3). Beautiful models, but they seemed to have a lot of problems with them. As a novice, I went with Roundhouse based on their reputation for reliability right out of the box and have been very pleased with my Roundhouse locomotives (Billy, Katie, Sandy River and Silver lady). Other than the occasional replacement of gas jets (dusty climate) they have been trouble free. All are equipped with R/C.

I did get tempted into Accucraft when they brought out the 7/8n2 models. The Emma and Fairymead are great runners, although I eventually replaced the first Emma due to wear and non-availability of parts. I admit that more diligence with post run cleaning might have helped. Water leaks at the site glass have been common. The more recent Deauville still has a lot of problems, but I think it is an outlier and doesn't reflect on the overall quality of Accucraft products.

If you do live steam, you will want to make sure your track is as level possible because they struggle up hill and runaway down hill (like the real thing). R/C controls that, but it is nice to let them run without constant throttle adjustments. Slomo would help. As always, the broader the curves, the better.

My next live steam will probably be the Roundhouse Alco.
 
JimmyB

JimmyB

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Roger, looking at the Alco today, yes it is quite nice.
Also looked at the accucraft Shay $2500, and I don't thing that included R/C!
 
daveyb

daveyb

badger tickling, sheep worrying
25 Oct 2009
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nr st andews scotch land
dont discount accucrafts bagnall 040 saddle tank,,, runs amazing and pretty easy to RC,, its 7/8ths and has presence but its not massive

just a fantastic loco who everyone i know has one loves,,,

very easy to use and run and no need for a slomo,, almost an hours run time,, just cant fault them,,,

try and find one to watch,,, you wont be disappointing ,,, and brilliant value
 
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tac foley

tac foley

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PD.
 
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Rhinochugger

Rhinochugger

Retired Oik
27 Oct 2009
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North West Norfolk
No Accucraft locos of any scale come with r/c. In fact, NO live steamers, TMK, come with r/c. Fitting it is either a matter of doing it yourself, not too difficult, or getting one of a number of professionals to do it for you. Figure on a couple of hundred for that, less if you get a Shay of any kind. That is because the Shay runs so slowly, even at full throttle, that all you really need to do is to control the direction. My three-cylinder Accucraft Sahy, the first ever bought in the UK from the late and much-missed Steve Warrington, has such a set-up. You simply fire it up, and when the pressure come up, open the direction of travel whichever way you want to go. Here it is running at Caythorpe a few years back on John Squire's fine layout......


Mine is not zackly as issued - it has the DJB double-sized gas tank and a fine adjustment lubricator - the latest version, which costs around £2500, NOT dollars, has this as standard. It will happily pull everything you can put behind it - on one occasion it had fifty-six items of Accucraft stock behind it and didn't appear to notice. Like all indirect drive, geared locomotives, it sniggles at inclines that would bring a rod drive loco to a thrashing and scrabbling halt.

Aster have also revised their 28-ton Alishan Shay in recent years, making a good model into an exemplary one - it even has an axle-driven water feed pump and a trailing connector to a water car. Figure on finding one for around £2250 mark - they soon sold out.

Smaller Gauge 1 locos from Accucraft include the B4 and the new Victory, and there is also a range of electric locos like the GWR 14XX - all are quite at home on smaller G1 layouts, if that is your inclination, but by smaller I DO mean at least five-foot radius curves. this means that you won't be able to run just about every larger G1 model locomotive.

Davey B above mentions Accucraft's beautiful 7/8th scale locos. soon to be joined by the 'Wren'. If that scale interests you, then you'll need to talk to Si at Model Earth - he'll be at Peterborough.
I think Roundhouse will sell their models with R/C fitted :nod::nod:

To my ind, the Fowler has always been tempting, and I think there are still some mods and accessories to change its looks a bit ;);)
 
PhilP

PhilP

G Scale, 7/8th's, Electronics
5 Jun 2013
22,454
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Tamworth, Staffs.
Jimmy,
What is the minimum radius on your line? - This will have a bearing on what you can run.
You have a gradient to deal with as well.. Do mention this when talking to prospective suppliers.
 
maxi-model

maxi-model

UK/US/ROW steam narrow gauge railways 1:1
27 Oct 2009
4,402
52
Bucks/Oxon/Northants area
Roundhouse do factory fitted R/C for all their models except the basic, slip eccentric valved geared, series. They are on the price list. They do make available parts so that you can instal R/C on the basic models but for the regulator only.

When Accucraft UK import a new model or batch a proportion will be sent to one of their approved service agents to have R/C fitted, that is why you will see an R/C version being quoted by some dealers. Not exactly factory fitted, as in China, but from a seemingly approved source. My Lew was one of a batch done by Mike Darby, prop' Chuffed2Bits. He also did a lot of the recent K1 Garratts and I think the GVT tram loco too.

My first Accucraft loco, a Lyn 12/13 years ago, came from GRS with a single servo on the reverser only. It is perfectly controllable by this means alone, with the regulator cracked open a 1/4 turn, as it is fitted with "piston valves" rather than "slide valves" that is the norm with most other live steamers. A point worth keeping in mind if you want to simplify things. I bought my 3 cylinder Shay for the reason I wanted a loco I did not need to "drive" but could run by its own means and I could sit back and relax. It's not exactly going to run away with its geared set up. Nor does their Climax :D Max
 
tac foley

tac foley

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11 Apr 2017
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I learn something every day. Thanks for the correction.
 
M

Moonraker

Registered
25 Oct 2009
864
1
South Australia
I would strongly recommend a Roundhouse kit. Apart from saving around three hundred pounds, they are really interesting to build and you learn a lot about steam locos and their valve gear.

For example, a Lady Anne kit is about £1100 and can be bought in stages. Then you could add radio control for about £120, a SloMo for £180, a Regner whistle and servo for £50 and a Summerlands chuff pipe for £30. You would then end up with one heck of a loco for under £1500.

In fact I think I have just talked myself into doing one for my railway......

Regards
Peter Lucas
MyLocoSound
 
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Moonraker

Registered
25 Oct 2009
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South Australia
Okay, £207.50 inc postage but plus VAT from the web site. I forgot how Sterling has dropped.

Peter