Karl Friedrich

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Karl Friedrich designed the 1 inch scale "Dinky" 0-4-0 "shifter" in 3.5 inch gauge. He was a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Live Steamers.

Karl attended the Second BLS Meet in 1934. His first live steamer was completed about 1925.


by Ken Scheer

Karl Friedrich article in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 13 March 1950, page 17. From Newspaper.com.

Karl Friedrich was born about 1897, and designed, constructed, and completed his first scale model 3-1/2 inch gauge live-steam locomotive by 1925, at the age of 28. The locomotive was an "Old-Time 0-4-6T". At that time, Karl resided in Pittsburgh PA, and steamed and ran his 0-4-6T locomotive at Carl Purinton's 'back & forth' track in Marblehead MA, at the Second BLS Meeting on October 14, 1934, as well as other tracks. Karl is now classed as one of the "Early Pioneers" of the Live-Steam Hobby in the USA. It appears that Karl closely studied & followed the works & practices of L.B.S.C., a well-known live-steam "Pioneer" in England, as well as Carl Purinton and other notable early builders in the USA. Later research has revealed that Karl had eventually built as many as four 3-1/2 inch gauge live-steam locomotives.

Karl Friedrich is rightfully credited with designing & building the 1 inch Scale x 3-1/2 inch narrow-gauge "Dinky", an 0-4-0T 'Shifter'. His original "Dinky" was completed in 1951, and was named UPSY. Casting Sets were made available for the 0-4-0T in 1950, and Castings & Drawings are still available from Friends Models. Several "Dinkys" have been built over the years.

During the 1952 BLS Meet at Danvers, Massachusetts, Karl, steaming UPSY, was known to have enjoyed several 'non-stop' runs around the NELS 1800 ft 'Big-Loop' which included a 2.5% track grade.

Karl & UPSY attended the first 'International' Steam-Up of the newly formed International BLS (IBLS) at Toronto in 1953, where they appeared in a very brief color film sequence.

Karl also steamed UPSY at the Regional Meet of the Pennsylvania Live-Steamers held September 11-12, 1954.

According to North American Live Steamer Magazine Karl and his 0-4-0T also attended the Pennsylvania Live-Steamers 1956 Meet. [IBLS Files].

Karl moved to the Denver, Colorado Region in the mid-1950's, and was considered to be a 'Founding Member' of the Rocky Mountain Live Steamers, a small club which had been casually founded in 1950. Karl continued his live-steam activities with the RMLS in the Denver-Colorado Springs Region, and occasionally traveled to enjoy live-steam events in other states.

On Lagging

Karl wrote the following regarding lagging in The Live Steamer, May-June 1951:

In regards to the question of "lagging boilers", my position is that it resolves itself around the relative merits of a small lagged boiler versus a larger unlagged boiler. Thus a locomotive that requires a boiler 5 inch diameter that is lagged so that the result is a 5-1/2 inch or 6 inch diameter over the lagging, why not use the larger diameter for the boiler proper in the first place? To my mind, the resulting boiler will be easier to manage on account of its larger firebox, water capacity and steam space. To me this is more desirable than the last ounce in efficiency. I might also mention that most of L.B.S.C. boilers are not lagged. For that matter neither are mine, and I now have four, of which only one is lagged. That was the first one I built some 25 years ago.

Smaller Loco, Lower Pressure

The North American Live Steamer, Volume 1 Number 4

Karl Friedrich (Note: original article spelled last name as "Friedrick")
2039 5th Ave
Pittsburgh 19, PA
Just a few words about steam pressures in small engines. That is, engines with boilers 5 inches or less in diameter. In my opinion, a lot of the fellows are using pressures entirely too high. 100 to 125 pounds is much more than can be used efficiently on the average small locomotive. Most of these little fellows can get along quite nicely on 60 to 75 pounds, and even less if superheated. In my experience and observation, I have come to the conclusion that a superheated job at 60 pounds will do about as well and maybe better than a wet steamer at 90 or 100. Also, the 100+ pressures are liable to cause many little leaks to develop around glands and fittings. The only thing to be gained by higher pressures is that they tend to cancel out defects in workmanship, etc., by sheer brute force.


From Farm Collector, July 1, 1952:

Karl Friedrich of 2039 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, 19, Pa., send us this 1 inch scale Dinky he completed in the Spring of 1951. It weighs 100 lbs., and will easily haul four adults and perhaps more, four people happens to be the limit of seating capacity.
Karl Frierich with Dinky.jpg
Here are some of the dimensions:
  • Truck gauge 3 1/2 inches
  • Cylinder Bore 1 3/8 inches
  • Cylinder stroke 1 3/4 inches
  • Wheel diameter 3 3/4 inches
  • Boiler diameter 5 inches
  • 29 tubes 3/8 inch by 11 inches
  • Grates 4 1/2 inches by 6 1/2 inches
  • Overall length 27 inches
  • Overall height 12 1/4 inches
  • Operating pressure is 90 pounds.


By Ken Scheer

Karl Friedrich was an avid live steamer, starting at least 1926 with the completion of his first live steam locomotive.

I am the youngest surviving member of the Rocky Mountain Live Steamers of Denver, Colorado, and wrote a short history of the club, as well as a biography of Arthur Wegner the RMLS President. I was active in the RMLS from shortly after I met Art (at age 72) when I was 12 (1958), but was not officially a member until I began construction (at age 14) of an LBSC Tich" 0-4-0T, with the incredible help from my mentor Art. Through my experiences with steaming Art's 3-1/2 inch gauge 4-4-2 at both Art's home and at J.B. Squires' oval track in Colorado Springs, I of course became acquainted with the other few local members of the RMLS. One of those members was a gentleman named Karl Friedrich.

I first met Karl in 1959 at J.B.'s track. He was steaming his SLR 4-6-0 + 0-6-4 Garratt, to me a strange looking locomotive. I do not recall how Karl acquired the loco, and I only saw it that one time. The loco was fun to observe running. However, Karl did say that it was a rather complex loco to transport & steam-up, and that he would like to sell it sooner or later. Over the next couple of years, Karl always brought his freelanced Denver & Salt Lake Ry coal-fired 4-4-0 (rather new) which he greatly enjoyed steaming, to steam-ups at J.B.'s. I saw it steamed-up on two or three visits when I accompanied Art to J.B.'s track site, the 4-4-0 was a fine runner. I seem to recall Art saying that Karl had a third loco, but I do not recall what it was. Karl was a Postal Carrier in Denver. He visited Art on occasion, and the times I was there I really enjoyed listening to their discussions about live-steam loco building & machine work. Art once commented that Karl had a 'Test Track' panel on the floor of his basement Shop where he could steam & run his loco(s) back & forth while quickly filling the house with smoke.

About 1964, I had the basic rolling chassis complete on my Tich project in Art's shop, the next Phase being the time consuming machining of the Cylinders & Valve Gear. However, I became very busy with graduation from High School, Cars, Girlfriend's, etc. I was also an active volunteer at the Colorado RR Museum (Golden, CO), where I was learning to steam, operate, & maintain, the full-size 36 inch gauge, ex D&RGW C-19 2-8-0 #346. I was fearful of impinging more on Art's valuable time, and so chose to store my Tich at Art's Shop until it could be completed at some future date. Then I needed to obtain full-time employment, and also to serve a stint in the Army. Whilst in the Army, I got the shocking and disappointing word that my dearest of friends, my mentor Arthur has passed-on. It was some time later that I learned that most of Art's shop and steam estate was acquired by Karl Friedrich, who was helping to dispose of the stuff. Art's wife told me that Karl was well aware of my Tich project, and that he was going to keep it for me. To make a long story short-- I had lost good contact with most RMLS members and activities after Art's passing, and it was quite some time before I had thoughts of recovering my Tich from Karl, but then was greatly shocked and saddened to learn that Karl had also passed-on, and no one seemed to know where his estate had disappeared, so I sadly also lost all hope of ever recovering my Tich.

My thoughts have always often turned to my youthful days with Art & Karl and the RMLS. Karl Friedrich has always been an enigma of sorts, for me. In later years, after occasionally & enjoyably perusing the IBLS Webite, starting in 2015 or so, I decided to begin writing what I could remember of the RMLS and it's Members, and to create Articles to publish on the IBLS Website-- and thereby began a wonderful connection & friendship with Daris Nevil !! More recently while 'surfing' the IBLS Wiki, I happened to view the Video Film "The GGLS 80th Anniversary Documentary", and boy, was I surprised to see my old friend Karl at the GGLS Track (Redwood Park) in 1960, steaming his SLR 4-6-0 + 0-6-4 Garratt.

I have recently uncovered an additional bit of video on YouTube Live Steam America - The Early Years (from Joe Rice), which shows an extensive history of the Live-Steam hobby. Near the end of the video there is a scene depicting some activity at the 1953 IBLS MEET – TORONTO, at time marks 55:22 - 55:26 is a very short, very low resolution, color slice of film showing "UPSY" being Steamed by Karl Friedrich!! at Toronto.

Fraternitate In Vaporis and BEST REGARDS !!
Ken Scheer
Delta, CO


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