Looking at models

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It was my pleasant duty to look in at the Model Engineer Exhibition, now in its 47th year, to see what there was of interest in our world, in small scale. The show is held these days at the Conference Centre at Wembley, which is a good move, as this is easy to find from London’s North Circular Road and parking, at all events at mid-day on a Thursday, was easy too, at sop. The show had been opened by Earl Mountbatten of Burma, each of whose grand-children was presented, through him, with a radio-controlled model car, pointing to the growing interests in this hobby, and the racing thereof.

In a short space of time I had seen a model Gnome rotary aero-engine running on the Society of Model & Experimental Engineers’ stand it drew a crowd, spinning as uncertainly as a real Gnome until the mixture was properly adjusted, a trail of tiny blue sparks playing abouts its commutator … I watched electric rtp aeroplanes performing it would be possible to stage a full-scale model Hendon Display with these, a sort of fascinating aeronautical puppet-show. I was reminded of travelling in boyhood days on the GWR into Taff Vale territory, when I came face-to-face with two 5″-gauge GWR saddle-tank locos, differing slightly in finish and equipment. I appreciated the effortless, quiet functioning of the model tank loco that was performing the traditional passenger-hauling. All in all, I suppose railways and traction-engines scale down better than anything else.

Among the models of transport interest were a Honda 750 motor cycle almost big enough to ride well, to 1/3rd-scale a Mercedes Benz 540K, and a boat-tail Packard Speedster, among the non-working exhibits. More cars were in the craftsmanship section, including those 5 and to c.c. tether racers, an Ft Ferrari 312T to 1/24-scale, and a Car Showroom containing a Jaguar X J-S. The Juniors had contributed a 1/12-scale. Porsche 934 Turbo RSR, a rather “plastic-kit” Excalibur SSK, and a Tyrrell 34, all to this scale and a tiny Suzuki dirt-track machine, also a 6-scale Jaguar SS too. Class K produced eight little i.c. engines, of up to 35 c.c., and from one to eight cylinders. As in our world, the thing is now very commercialised; on one stand I saw a smart executive clutching a simply vast model of a Ford V8 “hot-rodder”. All the models and stands are listed in the December extra-issue of Model Engineer. –W.B.

Nothing New Under the Sun

From an Editorial in The Autocar of 1921: – “Apparently, the scare that some of the experts raised last year that the oil supplies of the World were declining is not likely to be realised for a very long time to come, and, indeed, it is said that of late production has been vastly greater than demand, while, only last week, accounts were published announcing the discovery of what promises to prove one of the greatest oilfields in the World in the north-west of Canada. The prospects, therefore, are to the good for still cheaper fuel”.

At that time, in the summer of 1921, petrol cost 2/5 1/2d (approx 12p) a gallon, for No. I grade, it having fluctuated from 1/8d a gallon in August 1914 and 1/9d a gallon at the end of 1914, rising to 2/1d by October 1915, 2/10d by 1916, and 3/11 1/2d in September 1917. In 1918 you could buy petrol at approximately 3/6d a gallon but it dropped to 3/2 1/2d in 1919, but soared in 1920 to 4/3 1/2d another tuppence going on by January 1921. For the benefit of motoring historians, perhaps one of the leading Petroleum Companies will get its publicity staff onto working out a chart covering the price per gallon for all the years when petrol’ has been on sale, which Motor Sport would gladly publish. –W.B.

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