Scratch Building - Electric v Live steam locos

Electric v Live steam locos

There is a great deal of difference in the preparation required between running electric and live steam.

Before a run

Electric just needs to be put on a cleaned track , power up the controller and make the loco move.

With live steam assuming a gas fired system you have to :-

  • top up the steam oil reservoir,
  • fill the boiler with water and remove a specified amount to give space for steam to form,
  • fill the gas tank,
  • put the reverser in neutral gear and
  • set the regulator at closed.

After all that has been done you can light the burner and wait about 15 minutes for the water to boil and the pressure to rise to about 40psi or the designed pressure of the boiler.  The safety value will "blow off" and exhausted the excess water and the loco is ready to pull its load of trucks and / or coaches.

The reverser is put into the forward position and the regulator is "cracked" open !!  Cracked open means open just a little as the live steam locos generally have much more power readily available, than an electric loco, and can easily rush off down the line....

If you have radio control of the operation of the reverser and regulator then you have full control of the loco and can ease open the regulator to gain more speed or reduce to slow down the loco.

Without radio control it is a matter of chasing round after the loco and open and close the regulator as required. If the track is level then the setting of the regulator can mean that the loco can go round the track without much further attention.

The use of radio control with the live steam means that even if the track goes up and down hills you can keep the loco and its train to a generally constant speed by the use of the regulator just as you can the electric speed controller. 

After a run

With an electric loco a quick check over is all that is needed - oiling any moving parts but avoiding oil on electrical contacts.

But with the live steam loco after the burner has used up all the gas in the tank and it has come to a stop a check must be made that:-  

  • the boiler is emptied of water that
  • the reverser is left in the neutral position and
  • the regulator in a cracked open position and
  • the gas tank valve is left open.

It is wise to load the steam oil reservoir whilst the loco is warm as the oil thick steam oil flows much better.

A light oil over of all moving part is a wise precaution and other areas can be also cleaned with a lightly oiled rag mixed with paraffin 1:1

Let the loco cool right down before putting away else condensation can form.  

Running electric and live steam locos at the same time

If the Live steam loco has insulated wheels then both live steam  loco and electric loco can be run at the same time there by enhancing the fun you can have as both can run :-

  • forwards and backwards and,
  • stop and start again.

The steam loco has a run time of about fifteen minutes between gas and water fills quite enough time before having a break leaving the electric loco to keep running.

This information is no substitute for instruction from manufactures for both electric and live steam locos and as G Scale Kent has no control over your operation of locos cannot accept responsibility for any mishaps howsoever they occur.