Collecting Toy Live Steam Trains 101

Thanks Morphy Auctions

History - American Manufacturers - British Manufacturers - German Manufacturers

Caution: "Live Steam" is dangerous if proper precautions are not taken, know an engine is safe and what you are doing before firing it up.


Toy live steam locomotives evolved along with the actual real steam locomotives, manufactured mainly in America, Britian, France and Germany with a lot of copying and sub-contracting happening similarities are obvious in the different company offerings.

There are many different toy and model train gauges, the two gauges that will be covered on these pages are Gauge 0 at (32mm - 1.25") and Gauge 1 or G at (45mm - 1.75").

Stevens Model Dockyard in London England offered the first steam propelled floor locomotives in 1843.

Thanks Lloyd Ralston Gallery

Replica of a Stevens Dribler Locomotive

Marklin opened for business in Germany in 1859, followed by Bing in 1865, Plank and Georges Carette in 1866.

In 1872 Eugene Beggs, a US company introduced a locomotive that ran on a circular track.

Weeden Manufacturing also a US company, introduced the Dart in 1888 followed by Radiquet and Massiot, of France, introducing "driblers" in 1889.

Marklin introduces gauges 1, 2 and 3 setting the standard for track widths in 1891.

American Manufactures of Live Steam Toy Trains

Eugene Beggs and The Weeden Manufacturing Company both introduced live steam locomotives in America during the late 1800's that ran on circular tracks.

Go To American Toy Live Steam Train 101 Page

Australian Manufactures of Live Steam Toy Trains

Thanks Tony Muir
There has traditionally been little information available on Australian live steam toy trains but thanks to the work of Tony Muir manufactures such as Prototype, Renown, Robilt, Scorpion and Victor are coming to light.

Go To Tony's Australian 0 Gauge Manufactures Page

British Manufactures of Live Steam Toy Trains

Thanks Nick S.
Bassett-Lowke, Bowman and Mamod were the most common British manufactures of live steam toy trains.

Go To British Toy Live Steam Train 101 Page

German Manufactures of Live Steam Toy Trains

The three major German manufacturers of toy trains were Bing, Carette and Marklin.

Go To German Toy Live Steam Train 101 Page

Where Do I Find Live Steam Toy Trains For Sale?

Ebay is probably the first place to look, check the European sites, shipping any distance will be expensive because of the weight of most locomotives, they are not made of plastic.

Check auction houses for sales of collections that are coming up, many offer online purchases and will have the item packaged and shipped. Morphy Auctions and the Lloyd Ralston Gallery frequently host toy auctions that include live steam locomotives.

Dedicated sites such as The Station Masters Rooms run by the Finch family offer a a huge range of vintage model railway items and various other collectable toys.

Online forums, such as "The Unofficial Mamod and Other Steam Forum" will often have items listed for sale by members as well as alerts to items of interest on eBay.

What Kind Of Track Do They Run On?

Live steam toy trains are usually Gauge 0 or Gauge 1 (G), Gauge 0 takes less space to set up a layout and is more suitable for indoor space limitations. Gauge 1, or G for garden, needs more room so is better suited for outdoor use. Gauge 0 track is usually the least expensive option as there are many locomotives that will run on common 3 rail 0-27 tin track, larger models such a the 234 Bowman require a larger diameter, 48" about the minimium. Dual gauge track is also available so that both gauges can be run on the same layout.

Lionel Fastrack, available from is also popular for the smaller engines that can run on a 36" diameter track. The bigger engines will require a larger radius track, many brands are available that are bendable to any size curve.

The depth of the wheel flanges vary on different brands, Mamod wheels have very shallow flanges so Mamod track rails are quite low, too low for the deep Bowman wheels to run on. Mamod track is fine if you are only going to run Mamods, if you want versatility then you should install track with higher rails.

Dual gauge 0 and 1 flexable track

0-27 gauge tin track

What Do Numbers Like 4 - 4 - 0 Refer To?

Locomotives are classified according to their wheel configuration.

The Whyte notation for classifying steam locomotives by wheel arrangement was devised by Frederick Methvan Whyte and came into use in the early twentieth century.

Whyte's system counts the number of leading wheels, then the number of driving wheels, and finally the number of trailing wheels as groups of numbers separated by dashes. Thus, a locomotive with two leading axles (four wheels) in front, then three driving axles (six wheels) and followed by one trailing axle (two wheels) is classified as a 4-6-2.

Other classification schemes, like UIC classification and the French, Turkish and Swiss systems for steam locomotives, count axles rather than wheels.

This system becomes confusing with toy locomotives when rods are not used on the large driving wheels and refered to as a type rather than how they are actually configured. A Bowman 234 is an example of one such engine, it has four boogies, then four large wheels but only two of them are driving wheels. It is usually refered to as a 4-4-0 because it was built to resemble that style of full size loco but it has been argued that in reality it is a 6-2-0 or perhaps a (4-2)-2-0.

Sight Glasses

Parts, Books and Patent Prints
Visit the Weeden Steam Store

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