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See also Curly Lawrence at Wikipedia.

"Curly" Lawrence
"Curly" Lawrence

"LBSC" was the pen-name of one of model engineering's most prolific writers. Lillian "Curly" Lawrence was born in 1882 and by the time he died in 1967 had designed over 100 locomotives, building over 50 himself. An enigmatic character, not to mention one who had almost no ability to tolerate criticism of his work, he nevertheless had a natural empathy with his readers and a remarkable knack of making the most complicated workshop procedures sound utterly straightforward.

Besides the ‘Model Engineer’ magazine, his writings appeared in other journals between the mid-1920's and the 1950's. He produced more design's and construction articles for 2.5 inch coal-fired locomotives than for any other gauge. Most LBSC designs were based on actual prototypes, but were not necessarily finished to scale. With this generous exposure, it is perhaps not surprising that many of his engines (and their derivatives) are still around today, together with older engines by Bassett-Lowke, Carson and their contemporaries.

Most of these early engines were built to a nominal scale of 1/2" to the foot, but shortly after WW2, the norm became to build to 17/32" (13.5mm) to the foot. This is the scale that G3 models are built to these days. LBSC was a former “engineman” and the famous initials he used to identify himself to thousands of modelers around the World stood for an old British railway name : London, Brighton, South Coast …


The following appeared in The Miniature Locomotive magazine, May-June 1953.

Introducing the World's Most Famous Live Steamer

L. B. S. C.

According to what we read in our mail, it appears that any number of Live Steamers have not yet met our good friend "Curly." That may seem impossible to some of you fellows that have followed his writings for so many years, but in a way it speaks well for "our" Miniature Locomotive. It shows that we are getting track into territory that has never been reached before.

L.B.S.C. is not only the world's most famous "Live Steamer", he is also the creator of that well known appropriate title. His home is in England, which country happened to be the spawning ground for our hobby. I believe they celebrated the 50th year of Live Steam miniature building last year. But wouldn't want to be quoted or put it in writing because it might have been the 100th. The only figures that I can seem to remember--well, that's getting off the subject.

L. Lawrence, better known by the pen name L.B.S.C. has been telling the fellows how to build successful passenger hauling live steam locomotives in the small gauges for more than thirty years. His writings have appeared chiefly in the Model Engineer. A large personal correspondence is also carried on. No other single person has done so much to make our hobby what it is today. We must thank this practical genius for at least most of the design used in miniature locomotives. For, if we know it or not, when the source can be traced it is generally found that, that helpful little kink which came from a friend, originated with L.B.S.C.

The initials L.B.S.C. come from the railway where Curly was once an engineer. His practical knowledge and experience was later brought to good use in the miniature building field. He is the acknowledged expert and you can be guaranteed a successful working locomotive when his designs are carefully followed. L.B.S.C. never tells you how to build anything without having built it and tested it thoroughly himself. Not one of his designs has ever been a failure. That in itself is an enviable record and I have never heard of a runner-up for honor.

L. Lawrence is perhaps the busiest Live Steamer in the world. He not only writes regularly for two weekly publications but also builds locomotives. Now he has offered to write especially for you. If you want his advice on some project in locomotive building just let us know. Address your letter to The Miniature Locomotive, Box 305, Reseda, California and mark it "Attention L.B.S.C."

Though it might be amazing for a Live Steamer not to have heard of L.B.S.C., it is still more remarkable that of his thousands of readers only a very few have had the pleasure of knowing him personally. So don't feel to bad if you hadn't known this great Live Steamer before. Many of his friends, the world over, have only known him as L.B.S.C. who have them the best of advice concerning the design of miniature locomotives.

Dick Bagley


From The Modelmaker, Volume 7, Number 1, January 1930.

New York Society of Model Engineers
The Second Annual Exhibition of Engineering Models was held in the Knickerbocker Building, Broadway and 42nd Street, New York City. The Original date announced was from December 16th to 21st inclusive, but as the Exhibition proved such a success it was also opened on December 23, 26, 27 and 28.
Mr. Lawrence, well known to Modelmakers in all parts of the world as "L.B.S.C." and one of the best known model builders and contributors to the Model Engineer, was present most of the time. He operated a steam locomotive and string of cars on the circular track in the inner room, but his greatest success was when the 37 feet of straight track was completed containing 2-1/2 inch and 1-3/4 gauges of track.
On this track Mr. Lawrence made many trips "under steam" with "Ayesha" Atlantic type Locomotive 2-1/2 inch Gauge, built by him nine years ago, and still in excellent condition, as it hauled a number of visitors including some ladies seated on a small flat car, one at a time. He also operated under steam "Lizzie" his original Pacific, which he claims was the first model steam locomotive to haul passengers.

LBSC wrote the following in Model Engineer:

Before pulling the latch this month, I would just like to heartily thank all brother loco men of the U.S.A. and Canada who have sent seasonable greetings, and cordially say "Same to you and many of 'em." Not only during the coming year, but ever on. The welcome received in December 1929, will always remain in my memory and am only too sorry that an unkind Fate has prevented my bringing a new American-built locomotive to the coming New York S.M.E. Exhibition, and having a friendly dust-up with other members' locomotives on the passenger-carrying track. Well, I guess it is no use fretting. I'll just have to be content with hearing about the performances put up by engines owned by Brothers C. Holt, G. Bender, H.O. Havemeyer, J.T. Lozier, B. Audsley and other loco fans, and also hope to read that John Matthews, Frank Birch and others who live "out of town" will be able to send their locomotives along and help to make a jamoree which will at least equal, if not excel, the work done by the engines at the London shows. Healthy competition is one of the spices of Life, and, as the boys in U.K. say, is "the stuff to give 'em."

Locomotive Gallery

Tidbits from Chaski

LBSC running on the highline.

From John Kurdzionak, posted 23 November 2007:

LBSC DID know more than anyone else about pumps. In fact Mr. Bill Van Brocklin, whose pumps are things with which many of us are familiar, and that MANY people have copied over the years (and manufacture commercially today) worked out the designs of HIS original pumps based on LBSC's early work, as did Mr. Harry Sait of Old Orchard Beach, Maine (an early designer of live steamers in the USA....he designed what was to become the ORIGINAL Friends Models 3/4 inch scale Boston and Albany tanker). Both men credited LBSC as having done all the early work, and tipped their hats to him as the being true designer of what were to become Van Brocklin and Sait pumps.
Mr. HJ Coventry designed his injectors based on the pioneering work of LBSC, too. Van Brocklin, Sait, and Coventry ALL credited LBSC in their writings. Mr. Van Brocklin, before he died, told me personally that LBSC is the reason "Van Brocklin" pumps & injectors came to be. Mr. Carl Purinton, founder of the Brotherhood of Live Steamers, told me before HE died that an Englishman named LBSC was the reason we are ALL here today.
Everyone with a Van Brocklin, or a Power Model Supply, or a CA Street pump (or one from the newer manufacturers who have copied those pumps).....take a look at the man in the picture above.....we have him to thank.
Charlie Purinton once told me: "LBSC was a peculiar individual, but BOY did he teach Father (Charlie's father, Mr. Carl Purinton) a thing or two about locomotives". That was Charlie's roundabout way of saying that LBSC really WAS a legend, in his own time. In fact Carl Purinton spoke highly of LBSC right up until he (Mr. Purinton) died, and Charlie still talks about him.

From Keith Taylor, posted 23 November 2007:

LBSC was elected to membership in the British Institute of Locomotive Engineers. Engineers, in the British terminology, of locomotive designers, not those who ran trains. This means that he was considered an equal by folks such as C. B. Collet of the Great Western and Sir Nigel Gresley on the LNER! Harold Holcroft, the designer of the conjugating motion used on LNER three cylinder locomotives, when he could not find a railway interested in trying his new conjugate motion for four cylinder locomotives, went to LBSC to build the first set for use on a 2-1/2 inch gauge locomotive! People say his "models" were not accurate miniatures, but LBSC never claimed to design "models!" What he designed were real locomotives to do a real job of work...they just happened to be quite small. Virtually all of the top live steam builders I ever knew, Bill Van Brocklin and others of similar stature, not only credited [LBSC]] with their inspiration, but invariably they had a copy of LBSC's Shop Shed & Road to hand at their workbench.
Anyone who was that respected by men whose living was made designing full sized locomotives, irrespective of how he may have okay in my book.


Miniature Steam Locomotive Construction

J.D. McKenty, M.D.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Model Railroader, October 1970

It is probable that the majority of steam-powered locomotives operating in the world today are 7-1/2 inch gauge or smaller. It is also probable that most of these engines were designed by the late LBSC, who, if for no other reason, would thus qualify as the world's foremost designer of steam locomotives.

LBSC was the pen name of L. "Curly" Lawrence, a onetime engine driver of England's London, Brighton & South Coast Railway. In the early 1920's he entered into a controversy in the letters column of Model Engineer magazine on the subject of small locomotive boilers. He proved his contention by building a 2-1/2 inch gauge coal-burning Atlantic named Ayesha which was not only superior to the so-called "scenic" steam locomotives of that period but which also astounded the modeling world by hauling him around on an elevated track, nonstop, for about 45 minutes.

He was engaged by Model Engineer in 1924 to write a short series of articles to explain his methods to readers. The series, with a few lapses, ended only with his death in 1967. He also wrote for several other British modeling magazines. During the 1930's he had a few articles in the old American magazine The Modelmaker. The magazine was later published by Kalmbach Publishing Co., and still later was sold to Penn Publications.

LBSC was a genius. He was opinionated, cranky, egotistical, and arbitrary -- with a tremendous psychological and anatomical hangup which even today remains sort of secret with those who knew him -- but genius: if you do it his way, it works. More than any other single person, though, he deserves credit for bringing the building and operation of small steam locomotives within the reach of any modeler. Thousands of persons are operating first-attempt locomotives built to his instructions; thousands more -- myself included -- read his writings for pleasure.

His book, LBSC's Shop Shed & Road does not describe any particular loco. It is a book about fittings and details for any small steam locomotive; it includes chapters on injectors, pumps, backhead fittings, valve gears, and lubricators. it was originally published in 1929 as The Live Steam Book. The 1969 edition, edited by Martin Lewis, has the additions of modernized drawings and two or three chapters of his later works. There are many pictures of his engines, some built by other modelers but many built by LBSC himself. The original prefaces have been retained, and a new section at the back lists the drawings available for 38 of his designs. The list is incomplete, however.

There is one flaw in the 1969 edition. The original edition included a photograph of LBSC. It is not included in the new edition; but then, it wasn't a very good photograph -- the halo didn't show.



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