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steam newbie......

1449 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  Larry Green
ok actually I don't have anything yet but am interested.
I'll probably get a ruby, i see them with a buy it now price on ebay for $399.
My question would be, what would it cost to set up approx 100-150 ft of track?
What kind of track would be good for live steam?
would the plastic ties melt?

any advice on beginner engine and track for live steam would be appreciated

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Patrick, Welcome to MLS!! I started with a Ruby and while not a great loco, it is easy to run, fairly inexpensive and can be bashed into any number of interesting models. With some tweaking it will run very well. There are lots of suggestions on MLS for functional and cosmetic mods for the Ruby. I buy my track from Sunset Valley, I use the narrow gage brass code 250. Last I bought was about $6 a foot. You can get aluminum for less. No problem with melting ties. You may be able to pick up some used sectional track cheaper on E-Bay or such.
I have used Aristocraft brass track for years. All brands of brass track took a huge price increase a couple of years ago because of the amounts of brass being used all over the globe. Some folks like smaller code rail (looks more realistic) but with the amount of running that my track sees I like the Aristocraft because it is tough as nails. It has plastic ties. Yes they can melt. Running just butane locos is no problem. However, alcohol engines can flood over onto track, coal run engine grates can dump hot embers onto track and this can melt ties. No big deal, they are easy to replace. Sometimes, when they melt a little..........they hold the track tighter. Wood ties look awesome but are not practical. You will go just about blind trying to drive those tiny spikes, and drive yourself
while trying to keep track in gauge while doing it. Also, after a few rainy seasons, the ties start working themselves out. Believe me, we run all the time. Plastic ties are the way to go.

While the Ruby is a great little engine, if you can spend a little more and get a Accucraft two cylinder Shay or Roundhouse Sammie do so. They are just about bullet proof as starter engines.
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Welcome to the Live Steam hobby. There are lots of people on here who can help you with getting started.
Look here for prices on equipment and track:

The only problem you will have with plastic ties is if your alcohol fired engine overflows and catches them on fire, but the Ruby is Butane fueled so you won't have a problem there. The squirrels love to knaw on my plastic ties, but that is a local problem!
The Ruby is a good choice for a beginner and you can find many threads on MLS on fine tuning and modifying the Ruby.

Make sure you build your track elevated which makes it much easier to work with the little steam engines.
Next weekend there will be two live steam gatherings which are well worth attending especially for a newbie. Depending on where you live, there is Cabin Fever in York, PA and the Diamondhead International Steamup in Diamondhead, MS. If at all possible you should try to attend one of these as there will be people there who can answer all your questions as well as dealers who will sell you everything you need to enjoy the Live Steam hobby.

I'm sure you will receive more comments from others on this site, but this will get you started.
Good luck and welcome,

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I think that a Ruby is a great way to wet your appetite for live steam.  I run mine on regular LGB track.  It doesnt get hot enough to melt the ties.  In fact, I mounted a servo for the throttle directly on the floor of the cab.  The heat hasn't affected it.  Be prepared for a different kind of dynamic with live steam.  It's more hands on, and a lot more tinkering.  I still run electric locos on the same track. I enjoy electric and live steam.  They are very different, but both fun in their own way.Dan
Welcome to the forum and the world of LS. Just be prepared to do some tinkering. As mentioned they are not like sparkies and require a little more patience. don't worry about the ties. No problem. If your going to build your track off the ground then you can pretty much pick your choice of track. How ever if you are planning to run sprarkies then you will need a better grade of track. Later RJD
Patrick, if you let us know what part of the country you are in, we could direct you to some steaming event, where you can get your questions answered. For example, Diamondhead Miss. this week and York Pa. next weekend. Also, there are many club and private tracks where a visit can be arranged.

If you want your track to be temporary or easily rearranged, AristoCraft is fine. My steam track is permanent and I use Llagas Creek code 250 aluminum rail, bought from Stretch at C&OCRY. There are other dealers also for LC and Sunset Valley.

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