Pattern pool

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A Pattern pool is a collection or "library" of patterns used for creating castings. Pattern pools have existed in various forms for many years. Most pattern pools are operated by dedicated individuals, such as those listed below.

Walter H Allen

See Walter Allen.

Dave Farmer

See Modelers Pattern Pool.

Harry Wade

"Pattern Pool":

March 15, 2001
Nashville, Tennessee

        Some years ago, before a tragic fire destroyed it's contents, members of
the large scale live steam hobby in the United States organized and
maintained what was known as the "Live Steam Pattern Pool".  The Pool was a
repository for donated patterns made by individuals for their own live
steam projects and which once used were no longer needed but which still
had lots of life.  Organized and operated as a non-profit, non-commercial
cooperative, it was administered by a volunteer custodian who made the
collection available on a lending library basis to anyone in need within
the live steam community.
        I would like to announce the creation of the Small Scale Pattern Pool,
created for the same purpose as its predecessor, and to be operated in the
same way.   The principle focus will be on patterns for lost wax casting,
although other patterns will be accepted, and will be limited to those
intended for use in the garden gauges.  For a period of time I will act as
interim coordinator and custodian, after which Lloyd "Salty" Foglequist
(Portland OR) will assume the role of permanent custodian.  We already have
several patterns in the collection and a few more are promised in the near
future so we have a good start.
        Although many details are yet to be worked out the operation of the pool
is simple.  A pattern donated to the Pool may be checked out by a private
individual upon the payment of the cost of insured shipping both ways, a
small handling fee, and a nominal, refundable security deposit.  The Pool
will not be the owner of the patterns but rather a custodian, and at any
time the owner can withdraw a pattern from the pool, either permanently or
temporarily.  A few of the goals are to develop an electronic catalogue, to
make available technical resources on lost wax pattern making, and develop
guidelines to help the prospective pattern maker with materials and
techniques.   Further details will appear in these pages as they become
available but to offer help, resources, or ask questions contact me at

Harry Wade

Henry further writes:

Years ago in the large scales someone came up with the idea of organizing a pattern pool. Back in those days (1950's), when there were foundries in every town and patternmakers had not become extinct, folks were much more likely to make the patterns for anything they wanted. (The same was true in the UK where a builder might make all his own patterns as a matter of course even if they were available commercially.)
It was known as the Live Steam Pattern Pool and I can't be certain but the idea probably originated with Pershing G. Scott, who published the "Live Steam Newsletter" (which eventually became Live Steam Magazine). The idea was to donate your patterns to the Pool where they would be available on loan, like a lending library, to anyone in the live steam fraternity. Those who wanted use of the patterns would apply, sending a nominal security deposit, and would be responsible for the shipping both ways. The notion took hold and over the years quite a library of patterns was collected, including patterns from Walt Disney's original Lille Belle and several of the Henry Coventry engines. The contents of the Pool were held by several people over the years but tragically for the world of live steam the building in which the patterns were stored by their last custodian burned to the ground and all the patterns, at least those in storage at the time, were lost.


Riverside & Great Northern

It seems that a large pattern pool was maintained at the Riverside & Great Northern Railroad. Unfortunately, the pattern pool was destroyed in a fire in 1995.

Keith Taylor writes:

The IBLS never had a pattern pool. The pattern pool was an entirely separate entity. The pattern pool ceased to exist and most of the patterns in the pattern pool were destroyed in a tragic fire at the Riverside and Great Northern in Wisconsin. Even if the patterns had survived, they would need to be replicated as patterns don't last forever....and most of the patterns from the past were loose patterns which most foundries will no longer accept.

From "Museum History", Riverside and Great Northern

On July 2, 1995, a fire started around midnight on the outside of the Boiler Shop near the turntable. Fortunately the Wisconsin Dells Fire Department responded quickly. More fortunately still, a Society member who was spending the night on the premises had 15 years of experience in a volunteer fire department. He was able to provide information he knew would be valuable in putting out the fire, and the fire was confined to a relatively small portion of the older wooden building.


Anthony Duarte wrote:

So, what happened to Birch's patterns? Did they get bought by L.E. or Friends?

Keith Taylor replied:

Neither.....I believe the patterns for all of Frank Birch's locomotives have disappeared.

Pontiac1guy writes:

So many of the old patterns from years past seem to have been destroyed or just plain ol' disappeared. A couple of members of the Mid-South club drew up plans and built a pattern for a cylinder block for a 4-4-0/4-6-0 back about 20 years ago. This was based somewhat on the Miller backyard rails design, and had piston valves with only one eccentric. Reversing was accomplished by moving a plunger in the middle of the cylinders beneath the saddle, which changed the piston valves from inside steam (forward) to outside steam (reverse). All of the ports were cored into the casting, and the cylinders and saddle was made in one piece.
They took the pattern down to a foundry in the Chattanooga, TN area, and had five or six cylinder castings made. I know that 2 or 3 locomotives have been built using these cylinder castings and the drawings that they made. Both of the men involved in doing this died. Then a couple of years go by and the foundry gets shut down and the buildings torn down and everything. Apparently they had left the patterns at the foundry for safe keeping in case they ever wanted to have more of them poured. They are assumed to be completely and totally gone now. Things like that just disappear, and even if you did find them, if it has been a long time they may be in such bad shape that you would need to make new ones anyway.
There are two of these unmachined cylinder castings left, and that's it. I guess my point about suppliers, parts, castings, etc... is to get them while they are available, and be glad for what you've got.


The following appeared in The Live Steam Newsletter, September 1966.

The following patterns are available as of December 10th, 1965 for use in construction of equipment.
3/4 inch Scale
  • Erie Railroad 4-6-0 Class G-15. 14 patterns from Robert C. Hannum.
  • Cylinder (piston valve type) 1-1/4 inch bore by 1-3/4 inch stroke.
  • Saddle for 4-1/8 inch smoke box.
  • 2-1/8 inch Lead Truck Wheel, solid.
  • Tender Hand Pump, 3/8 inch diameter bore.
  • Twin Axle Pump and Frame Stay
  • Cylinder Cover, rear.
  • Axle Pump Eccentric Straps, 1-1/4 inch diameter.
  • Smokestack.
  • Smoke Box Front for 4-1/8 inch diameter smoke box.
  • Archbar Tender Truck Frame (Aluminum pattern.)
  • Archbar Tender Truck Bolster.
  • Twin Cylinder Tender Hand Pump, 1/2 inch diameter bore.
  • Steam Dome.
  • Sand Dome.
Many additional patterns are available in 1-1/2 inch, 3/4 inch and 1/2 inch scales. This list will be continued in subsequent issues of the Live Steam Newsletter but for a complete list send a #10 stamped addressed envelope to:
Live Steam Pattern Pool
962 Greenland Road
Portsmouth, N.H. 03801