IBLS Journal 1954

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BLS Meet at SCLS

The Brotherhood of Live Steamers meet was held September 4, 5 and 6, 1954, hosted by the Southern California Live Steamers.

BLS Meet Report

by Carl Purinton

The Miniature Locomotive, November-December 1954

The Southern California Live Steamers were, this year, the very gracious hosts to the Brotherhood of Live Steamers at their 22nd annual meeting. The meeting was held at their track in Lomita on September 4, 5 and 6, 1954.
It has always been customary when the meeting has been held in the eastern section of the country to say how lucky that the weather was good or how unfortunate that the weather man produced a good soaking rain. However, one of the good features of a Southern California meeting is that the weather is always good at certain seasons and this year was no exception. Neither too hot nor too cold, but just right.
Plenty of willing help was on hand for loading and unloading locomotives. Also, the location of the track in its relation to the driveway made this often difficult job very much easier. As the registration stand was alongside the driveway, both of these features worked in well together. Both of these tasks are most often very thankless ones and it is to the credit of the Southern California Live Steamers members that they were pleasantly taken care of.
The hydro testing of all boilers was a must before any of the locomotives were permitted to operate. This hydro testing is a very important safety measure and it is creditable that it was mandatory and impartially carried out.
An engine house and a turntable are a troublesome combination to handle at times. They all seem to present problems in a bunch to both turntable operators and engine-men, but these places ran all right as patience was used by all concerned. The compressed air, the electric outlets and the hoses were well placed and the compressed air was a big help in raising steam. More and more locos seem to be fitted for this very good way of steaming up.
The switch-men should also come in for their share of praise, as they were the ones responsible for controlling the rail traffic and, when the photographers and interested spectators are present, theirs is no easy job.
As almost everyone no doubt knows, the Southern California Live Steamers' track is laid on the ground. The turntable is in a raised pit, so to speak, and the inbound and outbound lead tracks come to it by means of ramps, the inbound ramp being very much less steep.
Ample track space on the table tracks made storage and steam raising easy. One handy feature of these tracks are the shelves that have been provided. These shelves were especially useful for tools, oil cans, coal and the usual odd stuff that we carry with us to an operating meet.
The ground level track provided two loops of approximately 600 feet around (this is an estimate). The outer loop is laid to two gauges, 4-3/4 inch and 7-1/2 inch, and the inner also to two track gauges, 3-1/2 inch and 4-3/4 inch. If memory serves me right, there were two crossovers and very definitely there was one.
Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Piper deserve a word of praise for the fine manner in which they handled the lunch counter. I don't imagine that too many realize the immense amount of work and the careful planning involved. Even though Live Steam may be one's chief thought at such a meeting, the inner man cannot be denied too long without discomfort and on these occasions the lunch counter was a happy place to turn to. I am sure that all Live Steamers who were there will join me in a sincere "thank you" to Mrs. Paul and Mrs. Piper.
Mr. and Mrs. Paul held open house at their home in Inglewood. I did not get there until late, having got lost and underestimated the distance, but did enjoy the movies and the refreshments. Everyone had a good time and, as usual, it was late before all had left.
The locomotives, traction engines and all the other exhibits made up into the most varied and interesting collection that any of us have as yet seen. While the modern type of locomotives is impressive due to the massiveness, the later ones surely lack the color and simplicity of the old time locomotives. Everything seems to add up to the fact that the old timers are coming back by means of our small locomotives. In this angle of historical Live Steaming, the West Coast is way ahead of the rest of the country. At Lomita this was especially apparent as Mark Pipe, William Cooper and William Grower had their engines there. These locomotives presented an entertaining trio as they were respectively a 7-1/2 inch gauge 4-4-0, a 4-3/4 inch gauge 4-4-0 and a 3-1/2 inch gauge 4-8-0 of Central Pacific fame.

by Harry Dixon

The Miniature Locomotive, September-October 1954

Twenty-second annual meeting of Brotherhood of Live Steamers -- You live steamers that failed to attend the 22nd annual meeting of the Brotherhood of Live Steamers at Lomita, California, on September 4-5-6, 1954, will regret to learn that you missed not only a good time but the chance of seeing some mighty fine miniature live steam locomotives in operation.
It is reported that 33 locos were under steam at various times, with come 15 to 20 partially built engines on display, which exhibit was worth spending several hours reviewing.
Our host, Southern California Live Steamers, had their tracks in very good shape and the running program was well controlled, with flagman and switchmen stationed where required. At the firing up section there was plenty of help fro the visitors to get loco boilers tested, lines for water and air were available as well as plenty of the various types of fuel required. Also an attendant for the turntable was kept on the move to get the engines in and out of the yard.
By roping off the firing up section and running tracks, this gave the enginemen more freedom in their preparations and at the same time enabled anyone outside the lines to take many fine movies, of the biggest and most versatile display of miniature live steam locomotives ever assembled on the Pacific Coast.
Two of the big ones that caused considerable comment and photographing, while under steam and being operated, were the 1-1/2 inch scale shay engine of Robin I. Smith, and the 1-1/2 inch scale Atlantic of Little Engines, just completed by Bob Harpur for Irene Lewis. Another 1-1/2 inch engine that was on display was the 10 wheeler of Ray Gifford. This one is still under construction and is a fine piece of work.
To name some of the visitors, of which there were many from all parts of the United States and Canada, who brought engines and ran them
  • J.G. McInnish, Plainview, Texas, 3/4 inch scale 2-8-2
  • R.E. Thompson, Charlotte, N.C., 3/4 inch scale Hudson
  • William Brower, Berkeley, California, 3/4 inch scale Mastodon
  • Norris W. Young, Wilsonville, Oregon, 1 inch scale 2-10-4 Texas
  • Arthur Wegner, Denver, Colorado, 3/4 inch scale Atlantic
  • Leo Myers, St Louis, Missouri, 1 inch scale 0-4-0 Tanker
  • Harry Cook, San Francisco, California, 3/4 inch scale 0-4-0 Tanker
  • Carl Purinton, Topsfield, Massachussetts, 3/4 inch scale Mogul
The Southern California Live Steamers were well represented by many fine operating engines and I want to suggest that any of you that may be in this area don't fail to visit with this club. The list is too big to name all of those that came and brought something to show or run at this meeting, and it was good to meet so many new friends as well as renew old acquaintances that have been developed through this fine hobby of ours. I would also like to mention that one live steamer passed out blue prints of his steam operated bell ringer for 1 inch scale engines. This was Ken Stanaback of West Michigan Live Steamers club at Grand Rapids. One of these models was on hand at the display stands. Another treat that was given us was the running of Bill Copper's 1 inch scale 4-4-0 1880 model, which is a beauty.
Mark Piper and John Matthews gave a very fine show on the running of their steam tractors, while on the loco tracks the usual was being performed by Cliff Blackstaffe riding in a prone position while driving a "Beginners' Loco", to show the boys how it's done at Victoria B.C. Nice going, Cliff.
Harry Cook of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Live Steamers proceeded to get himself into a jam with the roundhouse gang by picking up his 3/4 inch scale 0-4-0 Tanker, after firing up, and carrying it out to the main line. He was promptly requested to return his engine to the spur, after some assistance his riding car was connected and he rode out through the turntable onto the main line in proper fashion.
The meeting was very well attended for the 3 days and it resulted in the registration, for the Pacific Region, of nearly 50 new members to the BLS, all of whom are building and will be on hand at future BLS meetings.
After all fellows, it's you Live Steamers that make the Brotherhood of Live Steamers and not Carl Purinton or myself. We can't carry it alone but try to help you to get acquainted and iron out your building problems, etc.
Let's continue to build this organization into one of the biggest and most interesting hobbies in the world by supporting the BLS affairs.

by C.S. Chovil, Secretary, Southern California Live Steamers

The Miniature Locomotive, September-October 1954:

The Brotherhood of Live Steamers Twenty Second Annual Convention held September 4, 5, and 6 at Southern California Live Steamers track in Lomita, proved to be a great success. Many of the old timers who have attended similar round-ups for the past 20 years thought that the spirit of friendship and cooperation was particularly noteworthy. Charles A. Purinton, secretary of the Brotherhood of Live Steamers for the eastern region of the United States, and Harry Dixon, secretary for the Pacific Region, were present and contributed in large measure toward the interest of this meeting as ambassadors of good will. This scribe counted 33 locomotives under steam of which 17 were 3/4 inch scale, 14 were 1 inch scale and two were 1-1/2 inch scale. The display tables and club house showed 15 engines in various stages of construction, three traction engines, one copper boiler and an assortment of stationary engines.
The movement of trains and loading and unloading of passengers were carried out with dispatch much like the discipline and order of the big railroads. This coordination was achieved by the cooperation of all R.R. personnel.
Saturday was a busy day of registration by members and their friends and there were plenty of locomotives under steam. In the evening, Eugene Paul, president of SCLS, invited all to attend open house at his home in Inglewood with movies, gabbing and refreshments. The same evening the Dick Bagleys of The Miniature Locomotive magazine gave of their famous chili & bean feeds to members of the brotherhood who found it more convenient to attend the feed bag festival at their home in San Fernando Valley.
Sunday, September 5, was the largest attendance of the three day convention and on Monday afternoon, Bob Day, co-publisher with Dick Bagley of The Miniature Locomotive magazine, not to be outdone by others in convention custom, opened the portals of his Great Western Railroad and many availed themselves of this opportunity to see Bob's one-inch scale railroad in action and also look over his fine Hawaiian sugar engine, 30 inch gauge. In spite of the distance from his house in Flintridge to our convention site, Oliver Johnston, generously offered to show his La Canada Valley Railroad to those who could find the time in three short days to see and ride his fine one inch scale locomotive and cars. We understand he fired up for a few extra lucky members. We regret that the old maestro, Dick Jackson, was not with us; otherwise I'm sure the Colorado Central R.R. of which he is the kingpin would have been open for inspection and possibly a pot of steam in the 900.
According to the guest book there were 433 in attendance at our three-day steam fest, not counting the juveniles. One hundred and thirty were recognized as members of the Brotherhood of Live Steamers.

Wonderful Meet

The following appeared in The Miniature Locomotive, September-October 1954:

I drove to Lomita for the BLS annual meeting and had a wonderful time. I would not have missed it for anything. All of the engines I saw in motion ran just fine.
I saw the tanker "Annie" with Southern valve gear. Mr. Corwin, the owner, was pointed out to me but I did not have an opportunity to meet him as he was too busy.
G.B. Thomas
Route 1, Box 28
Perris, California

Last Run at Marblehead

The Purinton family moves from Marblehead, Mass to Boxford, Mass. Ground was broken and the first sections of track laid at the Boxford residence during the summer. The last run at Marblehead is held by the family on December 26.