Robert Earl “Toby” Rutherford was an experimental electronics engineer and a pioneer of television, being instrumental in its invention. He was also a highly proficient scientific glass blower, metallurgist and master machinist, as well as an electronic genius. His shop included a blast furnace, metal lathe, milling machine, and just about every other power and hand tool imaginable—but model making was his hobby, solace, and relaxation.

Toby built this coal burning steam engine from scratch using plans by Martin S. Lewis of “Little Engines” in Lomita, CA. He built the project between 1934 and 1973, hence the engine number 3473. He operated the 4-6-4 locomotive on the high track of the Long Island Live Steamers Club in South Haven Park, New York for years. It included a non-scale tender on which the engineer rode, pulling a string of cars with other riders; however, Toby never got around to making a scale tender. He built the live steam locomotive at a scale of 3/4″:1′. 

The engine measures about 45-1/2″-long and stands 12″ above the rails, which are 3-5/8″ apart. The drivers measure 5″ in diameter, so they would have stood about 6′-8″-tall on the real engine. The scale model locomotive weighs at least 100 lbs. Unlike other steam engines of the time, Mr. Rutherford built his locomotive with a stainless steel boiler, allowing it to get very hot quickly.

Exhibit added: May 19, 2015 - Last modified: January 5, 2024

Presented by The Joe Martin Foundation for Exceptional Craftsmanship