Small-Scale Live Steam



In addition to large-scale live steam standby Live Steam magazine, there are several publications which cater wholly or partially to the gauge 1 live steam crowd. 

Steam In the Garden magazine

Steam in the Garden LLC
PO Box 335
Newark Valley, NY 13811 USA
Phone: 607-642-8119

Published bimonthly. Payable via check, VISA, Mastercard & Discover. PayPal online. USA: $35/year (six issues) via standard mail (Allow 6-8 weeks for delivery) $43/year via First Class mail
Canada & Mexic:o USD$42/year (6 issues) via surface mail (Allow 7-10 weeks for delivery)
Overseas: USD$72/year via air mail (Allow 8-12 weeks for delivery)

Web site:

The longest-running magazine devoted to small-scale live steam. Features product reviews, construction articles and plans, columns on machining and building, etc. Features articles on Gauge 1 and Gauge 0 locomotives, as well as prototypes and other steam topics.

The magazine's publishers have compiled an online INDEX of all the articles which have appeared in Steam in the Garden.

Garden Railways magazine

1985-2020, now defunct

Focused entirely on outdoor, large scale (almost exclusively gauge 1) railroading. Often includes articles, product reviews, etc. relating to small-scale live steam. A page-long column is devoted to steam in every issue and there are other steam-related articles occasionally. Editor is an avid live steamer, and author of A Passion for Steam.

There is still a Web site for Garden Railways magazine: and Model Railroader magazine is supposedly picking up the content in a very reduced way.

Garden Rail magazine

published monthly.

While they advertise themselves as a "magazine devoted to all aspects of garden railways", one subscriber notes that "it has a very English bias, focused on 16mm to the foot live steam, but lots of other coverage as well".

Subscriptions (print or electronic):


"Das unabhängige Magazin für Gartenbahn und Live-Steam"

A German-language magazine focusing on large-scale garden railroading, with some live steam content, both models and prototypes.

Manfred R. Meliset, Red.
Postfach 14 01 20
D-67021 Ludwigshafen
Web site:

de Modelbouwer
(The Model Builder)

Published ten times a year by the Nederlandse Vereniging van Modelbouwers (Dutch Model Engineers Society).

The magazine contains articles about all aspects of modelbuilding with a strong emphasis on live steam, shipbuilding and building of modelcarts and -coaches, but small scale trains, cars and aeromodelling also have their fixed place in each issue.  Since the mid-eighties descriptions of steam locomotives in various gauges are a permanent feature in the magazine.

Besides the magazine, the society runs a selling point for modelbuilding plans and drawings. The catalogues now contain over 1300 different plans which are available for members and non-members. Six different catalogues exist, each covering a different kind of modelbuilding.

Nederlandse Vereniging van Modelbouwers
Secr.: Frans Kamman,
v.d. Helstlaan 5,
1412 HG Naarden,
Editor email:

Onder Stoom
(In Steam)

Published 6 times a year (Feb, Apr, June, Aug, Oct, Dec).
28 pages, cover incl.
Subcription: Europe: Nf 40.-. All other countries Nf 65.-

This is the publication of the Stoomgroep Holland (the National Dutch Society of Model Engineers).  Subscription price includes membership in the group.  Drawings of steam driven models and equipment (Metric of course) are available. A list is available from the secretary.

Editor: Rob van Dort
51 't Veer
9351 DG Leek
Weg site:


A Passion For Steam

by Marc Horovitz
2nd, enlarged edition published by CalPac Trading Co.
ISBN: 978-1-692-23836-4

This is the definitive reference for small-scale live steam locomotives, by Marc Horovitz, editor of Garden Railways magazine. It is a hard-bound, coffee-table quality book, but behind the gorgeous photos and color technical drawings is a huge amount of information and lore about small steamers.

The first half of the book is a thorough, front-to-back examination of the ways the little locos are built. The chapters cover 

Each of these topics is treated in considerable detail, illustrating all the variations and alternatives with close-up photos and three-dimensional, color technical drawings. The writing strikes a pleasing balance between technical lecture and conversation with a knowledgable friend, including not only the engineering information but many interesting anecdotes and historical asides. It is a very enjoyable read.

The second half of the book is a gallery of almost a hundred model steam locomotives - chronologically arranged by date of construction, from 1865 to 2004 - from Horovitz' personal collection. Each one is described in terms of its prototype (if any), who built it and when, and the technical details of its construction. These are the real-life manifestations of all the theory and engineering discussed in the first half, and the range of possibilities is exhilirating.

As far as I know, there has never been a book that covers the small-scale live steam locomotive with anything approaching this level of thoroughness. That it is  so well written and is also a visual treat makes it the "must have" book for anyone interested in these models. As LBSC often noted, "'Nuff said."

Now out of print. Available through or

Building Small Steam Locomotives: A Practical Guide to Making Engines for Garden Gauges

By Peter Jones.
224 pages, hardbound
Crowood Press, UK
ISBN 184797029X

One of the last things the late Peter Jones created was this book on the principles and techniques of building small-scale live steam locomotives. From kitbashing to scratchbuilding, Peter makes steam locomotive construction understandable and accessible to the average hobbyist. And he does it in the sitty style that made him a fixture of the steam modeling world. What a wonderful legacy!

Now out of print. Available through or

Aster Catalog and Handbook Cover

Aster Manual and Catalog

Published by Aster Hobbies. Looseleaf, to accomodate updates. $15-25 (depends on source).
Now out of print. Available through or

Catalogues are the stuff of dreams, and the Aster catalogue is no different. Its primary goal is to arouse lust in its viewers, and in this it succeeds admirably. The photos and descriptions give the reader longings which take me back to staring at a toy train catalogue as a nine-year-old. But with price tags which resemble used automobiles more than toy trains.

Aster's catalogue is called a Manual and Catalog, however, and with good reason. While the lusty material is certainly there, it is also a valuable guidebook to small-scale live steam in general.

In 1997, Aster changed the catalogue format from a yearly, bound book to a looseleaf binder for their product specification sheets. This permits the collection to be updated as new models are announced, while accepting the spec sheets from previous models as well.

The section following the engine specifications is a 40-page book, and a valuable reference in its own right, the Manual of Aster Model Live Steam Engines. This book-in-a-book has chapters on the principles of locomotive design, the various types of boilers and their fitting, valve gears, pumps and lubricators, general operational and safety procedures, radio control and trouble shooting, and maintenance. The Manual is probably the best introductory book on small-scale live steam available today, and as such has a place on every small-scale live steamer's bookshelf.

In addition, the 1997 version included an introductory section celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the British Gauge 1 Model Railway Association (G1MRA), including the text of a keynote address by G1MRA stalwart and prominent Aster designer John van Riemsdijk.

All in all, a fine introduction and reference to small-scale live steamers, -- a "must have" book.

Cover of 'The Model Steam Locomotive'

The Model Steam Locomotive

by Martin Evans

1983. Argus Books. ISBN 0-85242-817-0. 208 pp.

Now out of print. Available through or

The complete guide to building a live steam model locomotive. Evans, longtime contributor to the renowned British magazine Model Engineer, is the designer of many well-known model steam locos. In this book, he goes through the design and construction issues involved in building model steamers, piece by piece. Some of the information may seem specific to the larger scales (1-inch and 1.5-inch scale on 5-inch and 7.25-inch gauge track), but he is also very attentive to the variations necessary to produce engines in the smaller scales as well.

The book contains many photos of locomotives and drawings of parts and assemblies in all sizes from 0 scale to 1.5 inch scale.

Perhaps most gratifying is the fact that Evans writes clearly and has arranged his material in a logical and organized fashion. You can follow his progress through the subject easily, you can find information later when you need to refer to it, and it all makes sense when you read it.

If you want to really understand your live steam model locomotive, this book is highly recommended. If you are familiar with the terminology and the general workings of a locomotive, you will finish this book with some considerable knowledge of what goes into producing them.

If you have a desire to build such a model, the book is almost indispensible. Evans has been there already, and his experience will save you much time and wasted effort.

Book Cover

A Beginner's Guide to Model Steam Locomotives

by Tim Coles
1986. Tee Publishing. ISBN 1-85761-036-9. 224 pp.
Now out of print. Available through or

Comparable in many ways to Evans' The Model Steam Locomotive, Coles distinguishes his book in its lightness of tone and somewhat less intimidating approach.  He goes at steam locomotives not as a foregone model engineering project, but rather as an object of pleasure which may be attained in many ways.  (Chapter 3: "Beg, build or buy".)

Granted, the bulk of the book is devoted to teaching how to build a working model steam locomotive.  I found Coles' more oriented towards educating about the fundamentals of a steam locomotive than Evans'.

Chapter titles: (1) Start here (2) What is around (3) Beg, build or buy (4) What you need (5) The mechanical bit: the rolling chassis (6) The mechanical bit: the real works [cylinders, drive and valve motion] (7) The mechanical bit: more works [valve gears, lubrication] (8) The hot bit [boilers] (9) The top bits [domes, plumbing, bodywork] (10) On the rails.

Book Cover

The Project Book

By Ron Poulter & Bob Hines
4th ed., 1996. Gauge 1 Model Railway Association.  No ISBN. 84 pp.  Pricing and ordering details available from the G1MRA.

This is a step-by-step guide to building the G1MRA "Project Loco", a single-cylinder 0-6-0 which is simple enough for a beginner (with experience or experienced mentoring), yet sophisticated enough to have spawned a fleet of variations.  Being a single-cylinder design, the working bits are between the frames, leaving the outside of the frames free to modify (with non-working cylinders valve gear, etc.) to the builder's own fancy.

The text is quite clear, and does not presuppose too much on the part of the beginning locomotive builder.  Likewise, measured drawings of each part accompany the detailed descriptions of the part's fabrication, along with photographs showing subassemblies, tool setup, etc.  The boiler is a JvR "Type C", so the boiler plan is worth having the book for by itself.

I would consider this a "must-have" book for anyone comtemplating building a gauge 1 steam locomotive.

The DEE Book

By Dick Moger and Barry Applegate
3rd ed. Gauge 1 Model Railway Association.  No ISBN. 96 pp. Pricing and ordering details available from the G1MRA.

This follow-up to the Project Book takes the builder into more sophisticated territory to build an Edwardian 4-4-0, considered by many to be the most beautiful and elegant British locomotive design.  Where the Project Book is intended to be a builder's first locomotive, Dee builds on the skills learned in building the Project Loco.  Accordingly, it is not considered a stand-alone book, but rather assumes access to the Project Book for certain information.  The Dee Book includes over 40 pages of drawings, as well as a full-size erection drawing and numerous photographs.

G1MRA Books,
PO Box 95,
East Horsley,
Surrey KT24 5UB,
Web site

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Compiled and © copyright 1995-2020 by: Vance R. Bass. Please use any and all information contained herein for your hobby enjoyment. If you're going to make money from it, talk to me first.

Last updated: 13 September 2020