Brenton Barnfather

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Brenton "Barney" Barnfather was IBLS East Coast Secretary from 1971 until 1978. He also served as secretary for Pioneer Valley Live Steamers at Southwick, MA for many years. He was one of six committee members who helped develop the IBLS Wheel Standard.

At the 1972 BLS meet At Pioneer Valley Live Steamers in Southwick, Massachusetts is L-R: Barney Barnfather, Jack Kerr (Canada), Harry Dixon & Carl Purinton, all BLS secretaries or former secretaries. Photo provided by Bob Hornsby.

Secretary Announcment

New East Coast BLS Secretary

Live Steam Magazine, April 1971

Announcement has been made that a new Secretary has taken the assignment for the Brotherhood of Live Steamers along the Eastern Seaboard.

Brenton W. Barnfather, 3 Fleetwood Drive, Sandy Hook, Connecticut 06482 will handle BLS matters in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohi, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Anyone in those states should direct any BLS matters to him.

"Barny" has been an active Live Steamers for many years and is Secretary of the Pioneer Valley Live Steamers, hosts for the 1972 BLS National Meet.

For the benefit of newcomers to the Live Steam Hobby, the Brotherhood of Live Steamers is open to anyone who has built, who is building, who owns, who plans to build or purchase a Live Steam locomotive, stationary steam engine, marine engine or traction engine. There are no dues or membership fees involved, but anyone writing to one of the secretaries for information is asked to please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope for his use in replying. Theirs is a labor of love and they receive no compensation or reimbursement for their expenses.

Secretaries for other districts are:

  • West - Harry Dixon, 22075 Betlan Way, Castro Valley, California 94546 who takes Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona
  • Mid-West - Austin F. Barr, Jr, Junction Highways 1 and 214 at Whitehall, Route 2, Harrisburg, Arkansas 72432 who handles all of the U.S.A. not covered by Messrs. Barnfather and Dixon.
  • Canada - Jack Prest, 2814 Everts Street, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

The thanks of all Live Steamers goes to these men - and to Ed Kruckeberg who has been caring for the East Coast section. It's a big job and we all appreciate their efforts!

Bridgeport Post Sun 1972

Just like the old New Haven - This scale model of a steam locomotive is made exactly like the steam engines that used to serve Connecticut and much of New England. The locomotive was made by Brenton W. Barnfather of Sandy Hook, Newtown and runs on scale model tracks on a field in Sturwick, Mass. The miniature railroad is run by the Pioneer Valley Live Steamers, composed of men who make scale model locomotives. From The Bridgeport Post Sun, 21 April 1974.

Retired Newtowner Keeps Busy Making Small Steam Locomotives

by Helen L. Huben

The Bridgeport Post Sun, 21 April 1974

Unquestionably one of the busiest "retired" men in Newton is Brenton W. Barnfather, who operates and owns a printing shop and a railroad steam engine hobby shop in his home on Fleetwood Drive, Sandy Hook, Connecticut.

These shops occupy the former garage and the entire basement area of the house. Mr. Barnfather has had to build a plastic garage adjoining the house to accomodae the family cars.

Mr. Barnfather was born in West Springfield, Mass. At an early age he studied photo engraving and joined a firm which supplied the four daily and Sunday editions of the local newspapers. While this was his vocation, his avocation for 42 years was anything that savored of railroading. In his 18th year with the photo-engraving shop he contracted cyanid poisoning in his hand and could no longer do this type of work.

Railroad Avocation

Since he was married and needed a job, he naturally turned to his avocation, the railroads and found a job as a fireman with the Boston and Albany railroad. After the hand was completely healed, he returned to the photo engraving work. In 1964, he established a printing business from which he retired in 1970. Mr. Barnfather still does some printing. Known as the Sandy Hook Printing Service, he supplies commercial printing, offset lithography, wedding invitations, social stationery, business cards and small forms.

While living in West Springfield, he founded the Pioneer Valley Live Steamers, Inc. in Southwick, Mass in 1951, which is now the largest club of men who make made-toscale engines. These organizations are actually fellowships, rather than just clubs. Now the Brotherhood of Live Steamers are located throughout the United States and in parts of Canada. Mr. Barnfather's organization is in the Eastern regional section.

The steam engines and tenders, of which Mr. Barnfather has made four, are beautiful in their perfection. They take approximately 5,000 parts. The one he is working on now will be completed in about six moths, as he has been working on it for two and a half years. The boiler carries 135 pounds of steam and is very powerful, capable of carrying 60 people.

The black beauty now being made is 15 inches wide, 92 inches long and 22 inches tall. An engine such as this would cost approximately $30,000. Even the whistle's sound is an exact replicat of the old steam locomotives as they hurtled through the night across the prairies whistling at every cross road. Mr. Barnfather said that man has never made a piece of machinery that responds as delicately as a steam engine does.

Pollution Differences

Its Got a Lot of Power - Brenton W. Barnfather of Sandy Hook, Newtown rides on one of his scale model locomotives on the Pioneer Valley railroad in Sturwick, Mass. The boiler carries 135 pounds of steam and is strong enough to pull 60 people. The whistle sounds just like the old locomotives which used to whistle at every crossroad.

Mr. Barnfather is interested in ecology, and this interest has caused him to study the difference in causes of pollution between the modern steam engine and theformer models which used coal. The pollutants from the modern diesel engine remain suspended in the air, while the old coal fired engine made cinders, whcih are carbon and fall back and enrich the earth.

Those wishing to take a ride on a Pioneer Valley Live Steamer can do so by going to the field in Southwick, Mass. on a Sunday. The field is open every Sunday and the charge is $1 per car, as the organization is not permitted to charge regular fares for the rides.

Mr. Barnfather is currently engaged also in making some really miniature locomotives which he will give to Buckingham Gardens Convalescent Home for patients in wheel chairs, who can set up small train races or other types of games with these tiny perfect trains.


Brenton W. Barnfather wrote in Live Steam Magazine, October 1981

As your International Brotherhood of Live Steamers East Coast Regional Secretary for the past 11 years, I feel that, attaining the age of 76, I should now step down and let a knowledgeable young man take over my duties.
I have enjoyed every moment as your IBLS Secretary and have tried to call on as many clubs within my area as possible. Inflation has taken its toll and, on a fixed income, I have had to curtail some of that activity. It has been most rewarding to have answered all inquiries and to help all individuals who have sought my services. The many complimentary letters I have received have made this job worthwhile.
I have a young man that is well versed in the Live Steam field, under the tutelage of Carl Purinton, our first IBLS Secretary.
Mr. E. Robert Hornsby, 62 First Street, Amesbury, Massachusetts 01913 will take over the duties of secretary for the East Coast Region on December 1st, 1981.
Brenton Barnfather