Live steamers, backyard railroaders, home shop machinists, and "others interested" in miniature live steam locomotives:
Thanks for finding my website.
If, like me, you'd like a "feel for" (or a "return to") the "Good Old Days" of live steam; or if you simply want to get "back to basics" and want to build (with your own tools and machines, and your own "two hands") a coal-fired live steamer, then Friends Yankee Shop Models is here to meet your needs.
Friends produces (and will produce) "rough castings" (and traditional blueprints) for the classic and traditional live steam designs by Lester Danforth Friend of Danvers Massachusetts (Yankee Shop; Friends Models); Laverne D. Langworthy of Westerly Rhode Island; Harry (Henry) "H.J." Coventry of Baltimore Maryland, and others.
These "machine it yourself" designs, small by today's "hugescale" and "supersize" standards, and a universe away from "ready to run", were the standard "ride on" designs of their era (from about 1928 to about 1970). They provide all the sights, sounds, smells, and thrills of steam locomotives in the large scales and gauges, but are small enough to be built in your modest home workshop. They are what I call "big enough to pull you; small enough to manage".
When not running, they can be stored in a small corner of the garage or workshop, and on run days they can be easily lifted and transported in your automobile's backseat or trunk. Due to their smaller scale and size, if space on your property is at a premium, they can be the basis of that backyard railroad you always wanted to have, but for which you did not think you had the space.
All of these designs were off the market and unavailable for 30 or more years. During the 1980s and 1990s, I was often told (or led to believe) that for various reasons, the long-lost small scale live steam designs of "Yesteryear" were "long gone" and would never be available again. In time, I realized that these claims would be true, if I accepted that they were true. So I knew that I must do something about it.
I started "Friends Yankee Shop Models", a successor to the old "Yankee Shop" and "Friends Models", and acquired & included the designs of H.J. Coventry. I then began producing "rough castings" for designs which I had been told "could not be produced." In fact there are for sale on this website, castings that I was told as recently as the year 2006 "would never be available again".
They're available. You now have, and in the future you will have, top-quality American-made castings of iron, bronze, and aluminum for the classic small-scale steam locomotives of a bygone era.
But not so fast! You will need to learn how to operate metalworking machinery, and then machine and assemble these locomotives yourself, just like in "the old days". They don't machine themselves, they don't assemble themselves, and they're not "ready to run". You have to buy a box of castings, machine them, and build your locomotive. More information for new or inexperienced builders can be seen here.
I present to you, "Classic Live Steam of Yesteryear". I do hope you choose to enjoy it with me!
-John Kurdzionak Woburn, Massachusetts USA September 13th, 2010 -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
When I was a teenager in the 1980s, this man (below, left) taught me how to "run and fire" coal-fired 3/4" scale locomotives on a highline........
Here's a man who was a mentor, a friend, a teacher, and indeed, who I loved almost like he was an uncle or a grandfather......Charlie Purinton. He was the son of Brotherhood of Live Steamers founder Carl Purinton (1897-1999). He remembered early live steam meets at Marblehead, MA in the 1920s and 1930s. He vividly recalled LBSC' 1930 visit to the USA; he was one of the youngest live steamers at the 1938 Brotherhood meet at Danvers, MA; he built his first live steamer as a teenager in the 1930s; he served in the Navy in WWII; he built countless engines over the years; he built a track for 2-1/2" and 3-1/2" gauge at his home in Massachusetts; and he taught me how to "run and fire" on a highline when I was a teenager in the 1980s. In addition to my "locomotive trials" at Charlie's, I spent countless hours in his home shop in the 1980s and 1990s learning the "how to" about live steam engine construction. Here I am with Charlie at a meeting of the North East Live Steamers at Marblehead, MA on February 8th, 2009. Charlie died on November 11th, 2010.
A November, 2008 Trip to California.......
John Kurdzionak (me) and Mr. I. Douglas "Doug" Alkire, Nov. 8th 2008. (While on a recent visit to California, I visited Mr. Alkire in his home. Many of you will know of Mr. Alkire from seeing him in the Joe Nelson book "So You Want To Build a Live Steam Locomotive".)
Mr. I. Douglas "Doug" Alkire autographs my copy of "So You Want To Build a Live Steam Locomotive" by Joe Nelson, in Mr. Alkire's home in November 2008. Mr. Alkire's 1" scale Baltimore and Ohio P7 "President Washington" was featured prominently in the book, as was an article by Mr. Alkire about building boilers of stainless steel.
At left, John K. (me) with my copy of "So You Want To Build a Live Steam Locomotive" opened to the page with Douglas Alkire's P7 class "President". At right, Mr. Alkire's P7 "President".