What’s in store

More features than ever are in the works for the National Summer Steamup 2017, now in its 21st year, scheduled for July 19-23 in suburban Sacramento.

The event, which brings together more than 100 live steamers from all around the country (and the world), is an action-packed five days that highlight hundreds of feet of track, multiple layouts, workshop/clinics, a live-steam dealers’ room and a Saturday evening BBQ dinner (free for those who register in advance).

McClellan Conference Center
McClellan Conference Center, site of the 2017 National Summer Steamup

As at the last four events, the steam hall is now in the newly refreshed McClellan Conference Center, a 60,000-square-foot air-conditioned facility about a half-mile from the hotel front desk. We believe the new hall embraces the ambiance of the old Garden Pavilion with the spacious aspects of 2012’s airplane hangar.

In its seventh year will be the Ron Brown Memorial Enthusiasm Award, a perpetual plaque given by Steam Events LLC and Steam in the Garden magazine. Brown was the founder and editor of Steam in the Garden who passed away in October 2010. The most enthusiast live steamer will get the award on Saturday night.

Back for its forth year is the “Tom King/Triple R Layout” (except when it’s called the “Triple R/Tom King”), a 45-foot by 27-foot layout that sports 11½-foot radius curves, featuring dual tracks on decks that are 15-inches wide. The Triple R/Tom King Layout (or Tom King/Triple R Layout) provides Summer Steamup attendees with enough space to fulfill the event’s motto, “Everybody gets track time.”

Now in its 13th year, we will have the 45mm layout built in Paso Robles, Calif., in the mid-1990s. The Pacific Coast Live Steamers took up a collection in 2003 and bought the layout for use at the Summer Steamup. In 2005, this layout was raised to about 40-inches off the ground and in 2006 we added a drawbridge.

And new for this year a freshly refurbished (Not So) little brown track.

Trains of various scales
Steam trains of various scales operate throughout the week.

Also featured is the PCLS dual-gauge 32mm/45mm layout, which has been the mainstay layout since 2001 at the National Summer Steamup. This layout is elevated at a comfortable 42-inches off the floor, is 110 feet long and has 10-foot radius curves.

In its eighth year is “Dwight’s Way,” the track built and formerly owned by Dwight Ennis of Milpitas. The Summer Steamup bought Dwight’s layout from him in 2009 and has added a dual-gauge 32mm/45mm five-foot radius outer loop to supplement its 45mm inner loop, providing a combination of almost 100 feet of track on a 42-inch table.

Other 45mm and 32mm live steam layouts are also expected, providing steamers with access to wall-to-wall live steam. Layouts will be available 18 hours a day: Wednesday, 6 p.m. through Sunday, noon.

Plenty of fun
Plenty of fun to be had at the 2017 National Summer Steamup

Also as part of your registration fee is access to limited fuel and distilled water (what’s live steam without distilled water?). Organizers bring butane, iso-butane and denatured alcohol (a.k.a., methylated spirits or meths). Coal-firers need to bring their own bituminous substances.

Appearing for it’s third year the highly successful “Stationary Saturday,” will highlight immobile live steam toys. Participants bring their small generators, driving mills, pumpers and machine shops that operate on live steam. Whether from Jensen, Mamod or Wilesco, these engines are a delight to watch operate and we run dozens and dozens all at the same time late Saturday afternoon.

For 90 minutes on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons, suppliers of live-steam equipment and accessories will be exhibiting products, including locomotives and rail. Supplier representatives will be at the event, eager to answer your questions.

Every steamer who registers before July 1, will get a free Saturday night BBQ dinner, with hamburgers, hot dogs, cole slaw, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, steamers’ beans and a surprise dessert (those who register later can still partake for a nominal fee).

And don’t forget, we will have our traditional “swap table” — usually more than just one — where you can buy or sell live-steam items.

By attending the National Summer Steamup 2017, you will get five days of steaming, five days of camaraderie, five days of talking trains and five days of fun. There is probably no better way to spend a weekend in July. Register for the National Summer Steamup today.