Dan, get a copy of Kozo Hiraoka's "The Pennsylvania A3 Switcher", the subtitle of the book is "The first project for the beginner" which is very apt. I have a collection of similar books, and without a doubt Kozo's is the very best. There's more to learn in this hobby than you can ever get from the interweb. Even if you never build this loco the book is worth its weight in gold in that it takes you through all the necessary machining, forming, finishing, and silver soldering, techniques required for any and all steam engines regardless of application. After building this loco according to the book I was able to build a matching "Baldwin American" 4-4-0 (think classic western loco) from scratch with no plans. And to repeat what others have said, don't make your boat engine first, start on something you can put on a shelf if you make too many mistakes (most of us have boxes full of throw-away parts!). And don't start with something too small, too small comes with its own set of challenges. 3/4" to 1" bore is a good place to start for steam, and 1" for IC engines. Peter Lawrence.