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Steamers par excellence: Harold Dunsford, left; Manfred Regner, right. Photo left: Rick Parker. Photo Right: Regner Steam & Railway Engineering.

Our hobby depends upon zealots: people who are obsessive about small-scale live steam. Without them, we wouldn’t have the innovations that have become commonplace nor would the hobby be as popular.

In recent weeks we’ve lost two live-steam fanatics, men who were just crazy about propelling machines with fire: Harold Dunsford and Manfred Regner.

Dunsford, of Winter Haven, Fla., died July 30 at age 71. Harold didn’t just dabble in live steam, he reveled in all of its aspects, from tiny stationary engines to steam boats to ride-on trains.

The cupola view

After a long and successful career as a medical doctor specializing in pathology, Harold and his wife Helen relocated to Florida in 2002 and he threw himself into the 7½-inch-gauge live steam hobby with his local group, the Ridge Live Steamers Inc. of Dundee, Fla. Harold served the club both as a director and as president; he was also an officer and president of the Florida Live Steamers.

And whether he was at a ride-on steam event or a small-scale steam event, Harold always brought along a steam boat and his collection of live-steam stationary engines.

Harold persuaded his compatriots at the Ridge live-steam group to build a 20-foot by 36-foot, six-inch-deep pond, which he christened the “Ridge Yacht Club.” Harold’s Sequin steam tug and his scratch-built open launch frequently plied the pond’s waves at steam-boat regattas he organized.

Of course, Harold ran his boats and stationary engines at the International Small Scale Steamup in Diamondhead, Miss., for many years.

Regner, of Aurach, Bavaria, Germany, died July 21 at age 64. Manfred founded Regner Steam & Railway Engineering of Bavaria in 1978 and ran it through his death. Manfred’s products, including not only small-scale locomotives but also stationary and steam-boat engines, have a wide following in Europe and have been gaining acceptance in the United States over the last decade. The company will continue, it said, managed by his family.

Manfred and Harold — two zealots who will be missed.