Southeastern Live Steamers

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The Southeastern Live Steamers track is featured in a segment of The Films of Carl Purinton. It includes footage from May 1963, May 1964, October 1967 and October 1968.

Otha Hege and Clyde Leonard were among the members of the club.

Bob Hornsby writes:

The track was in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. I don’t know the exact location as Carl never did either. Carl was never there, but some the Charlotte boys often came north. I recall in some of Carl’s movies that one of them had a beautiful 3/4” scale Southern PS4. They did not have a ground level track. It was all elevated with 3/4” and 1” scale. The track was at the home of one of the members.

Harry Dixon wrote in The Miniature Locomotive, November-December 1954:

Bobby Thompson of the Southeastern Live Steamers club has written that he and Live Steamer friends Don Gaither and Tom Bigham arrived home from the B.L.S. meet at Lomita, California, in fine shape after meeting so many good friends out west and covering 8,000 miles of travel.

North Carolina Steamers

The Live Steamer, July-August 1951

Clyde T. Leonard

Following 3/4 inch scale tracks:

  • Lexington, N.C. Otha Hege, slightly over 250 foot circle, aluminum rail, two thirds of roadbed on the ground, two thirds of roadbed on the ground, one third on concrete trestle, 2% grades.
  • Southern Pines, N.C. Frank Kaylor, 200 feet, almost complete circle, also of aluminum rail. Apartment house driveways obstacle. Frank is thinking of bridging the gap with a section of track built on a removable "I" beam. The track is laid on wooden trestle with one gosh-awful grade but we have a lot of fun on that grade, reminder of motorcycle hill climbs.
  • Charlotte, N.C. Mr. Rich, Thomas and O'Kel have a 200 foot circle around an apartment house. I have never visited this track, so my knowledge is limited to hearsay and photos. It is on trestle work and of aluminum rail & appears to be perfectly level.
  • Thomasville, N.C. I have 80 feet of what when completed will be over 400 foot circle, not counting spurs, most of it on trestle and track is of 3/8 by 3/8 hot rolled steel.

Some random comments about our Meet at Southern Pines the last Sunday in April, 1951. It was a complete success, except Mr. Rich failed to show up with his engine, and my crude attempts at photography were miserable. We had 4 engines going most all day from about ten o'clock until almost dark. Mr. Kaylor seemed to be triplets, he was everywhere at once. If anyone ran out of charcoal, coal or oil, all he had to do was call. Mr. Hege broke a valve rod the first go around, Frank Kaylor was right there, they yanked it back in, in less than an hour. The best part was when Frank called us all to bank our fires and come into the station. They had driven the two fire trucks out in the street and in their place was a table loaded with hot dogs with all the trimmings, hot coffee, Cokes, cakes of all kinds. Mrs. Kaylor as hostess really knows how to take care of the inner man. Everybody was "shooting the breeze". We discussed The Live Steamer at some length and decided it should go to press once a month instead of every 60 days, an increase in price wouldn't be objectionable.

Mr. Thompson's Hudson has all trucks and drivers on Torrington needle bearings and has the cutest little steam turbine generator unit you ever saw, it will burn 3 flashlight bulbs (Harold Moss of Flint, Mich. please note) Under one cat walk he has a small thermostatic valve that cuts the stack blower on when pressure drops below a preset point. He depends entirely on an injector for feedwater to the boiler. He has supplied other railroaders with a few injectors and I've never known one of them to fail, they really slam the water in.

Frank Kaylor is really the old master when it comes to live steam locomotives in this neck of the woods. He has four engines completed and his first was a free lance, built back in the 1920's. To my knowledge he has never bought a hex head bolt in his life. He makes all his own down to #0-80 size, on a 14 inch floor model Monarch lathe. How he does it is beyond me. He's also got the market cornered on pop-valves. I don't believe they vary over 1/ pound at 200 or 900 feet above sea level after over a year's service. The airpump on his latest engine is a dummy that houses a spring loaded regulator valve that opens the stack blower when boiler pressure falls below 70 pounds. Frank is also working on a steam turbine generator unit for his engine, after installing an axle waterpump.

Otha Hege's Hudson is truly a masterpiece, running entirely on sealed ball bearings, except for the side and link rods. Mr. Hege is connected with the N.C. Gas Co. and can get all the Propane Gas he wants, and sometimes fires his B&A freight engine with it. It is far superior to coal, but he prefers coal to see plenty of smoke. He has three engines to his credit, the first engine and track layout was in 1/2 inch scale, but has long since been torn up and retired in favor of the 3/4 inch scale.

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