Large Scale Central

Coal fired engine kit build

I was finally in a place financially after selling an engine to buy one of these hard to get kits from Riverdale Locomotive works. The kit combines their unique coal fired boiler with a Roundhouse chassis and body, in this case a Billy. Riverdale calls this their Elke. They also offered boilers for the Lady Anne(Amy) and Katie(Irene). Unfortunatlly for use here in the states, Riverdale refused to sell to the USA and now with Brexit, only sells to the EU and in very small numbers due to the owner/builders advance age. A mostly unbuilt kit popped up in a collection for sale at my favorite UK dealer and I snapped it up quickly. I should have the kit to me in a few days and can start the build. The Riverdale design boiler is unlike anything we typically see in coal firing. The design uses 2 big flue tubes set low in the boiler to maximize water capacity, along with a deep and wide dry sided firebox. The fire door incoperates a damper system where via a seperate lever or even a RC servo, it can be cracked open to cool the fire a bit and keep the safety from blowing off constantly. Once up to pressure, water is topped off with a pump bottle via the goodall valve(there is no onboard water supply or axle pump), coal is topped up to the bottom of the fire door or a hair more, then the engine is ready to steam for 20 to 25min without any attention other than the fire door damper. At the 20 to 25 min mark, you can either top of water and coal, or let the fire go out. Its a “one and done” coal fired engine that acts like a gas fired in its duration. By deleting the need for functional water tanks, axle pump ect, the costs are kept lower and the engine is less complex. I will add a tender to my Elke to carry the coal. More pics and details once the kit arrives and I start the fun part.

This is a real coal filed live steamer and not an alcohol burner? It looks like a very fun kit.

yes, coal fired boiler that goes on a Roundhouse Billy chassis/cab. You can go over to the Riverdale website or look on youtube for Riverdale Coal fired. There is even a 46 min video taken of Joep Janssen(Mr Riverdale) steaming a Riverdale Irene at the huge Peterborough show a few years ago.

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The fun has begun. This is just set together in the pic, so nothing is aligned or fastened down, so things are a bit cockeyed. This is as far as the original owner got the project. I painted the frame, boiler wrapper, boiler back head and am starting chassis assembly tonight. Going with an all black with red frame Austrian/German look to suit my LGB rolling stock. If profit sharing is good(I had lots of down weeks last year) then I will order one of the 2 axle tender kits from Roundhouse, along with a few other bits and bobs.

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I’ll be continuing my participating in the live steam part of this hobby vicariously through you again in 2022, I see! Thanks, Mike


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Time to get off the fence and get yourself an engine Eric. One of the Basic series from Roundhouse would be perfect. They run well in all conditions and the build quality is second to none. They have 3 to choose from, Bertie, a UK style saddle tank, Sammie, a USA style saddle tank and Jennie, an 0-4-2 with a tender that in black with some USA details would fit right in to a logging or mining operation. You can get them in any color they offer. Lots of upgrades for them, the water top up kit with sight glass, pressure gauge and cylinder crosshead/combination lever are the one I always suggest.

New pic time, progress is being made. By the time the missing parts are shipped to me, I will be ready to light a fire in her.

view inside the firebox before i put the boiler on the chassis

Fire door/damper closed

Damper cracked open to cool the fire

I know…In all seriousness, the Sammie is on my short list for “some day.” In the meantime, I enjoy watching and learning.


Sammie is an excellent engine, I used to have one. Save you pennies and place your order, only 4-6 weeks usually to get one of the basic series engines. Tomorrow is not promised in this life, enjoy everything you can while you can. I have learned this more and more as I have gotten older and have had friends, much younger than I, pass away unexpectedly. A Sammie is no more expensive than most other G scale engines. As soon as the missing safety valve set up arrives. I will be steaming up the Elke for the first time.

Successful first steaming of the Elke today in my garage. Still lots of detailing that I want to do with the engine, but she is a runner! Riverdale Elke first steaming - YouTube