Miniatures News, March 1966

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Live Steam!

I am extremely fond of traction engines but I never expected to steam my own. Yet one Saturday in January this was just what we did. Warm water having been fed into the boiler until it ran out through the level plug and the piston, big-end and bearings having been lubricated with heavy Castrol engine oil, the fire was lit and in just over 1 3/4-minutes steam was up and, after a few turns by hand on the flywheel, the engine was away, without blowing-off at the-safety valve. For the initial run of this still-stiff engine we ran it light, without a trailer, its speed controlled by the steam-valve from a crawl to something so fast as to be undignified. The water supply proved adequate for more than ten minutes’ pretty rapid running, the fuel in the burner lasting even longer. The canopy was not fitted for this experimental outing.

Sensitive to oiling, the engine proved to have sufficient power to spin its driven n/s rear wheel, which, like the other wheels, is shod with an untreaded die-cast alloy tyre. We were well satisfied with the performance and the next day found that this engine, a Mamod TE1 would haul a 2-wheeled rubber-tyred (Meccano) trailer carrying 3 1/2 lb. over a corrugated concrete road with only meagre oiling. Under more favourable conditions I feel sure it would cope with a heavier load.

This particular traction engine has a simple single-cylinder oscillating engine, and its boiler is heated by a wood-alcohol burner. It measures 10 in. in length, has a wheelbase of 6 in., a track of 4 in. and is 7 in. high, with 3 1/2 in.-dia. back wheels, the n/s one being driven by a spring-steel belt from the flywheel, the reduction having a ratio of 10 to 1. There is centre-pivot steering, a bunker, a steering rod and chimney exhaust. Equipment includes boiler-filling funnel, whistle and towing hook on the handle of the burner. The engine weighs 3 lb. 6 oz. without fuel and water, and is also available in SR1 roller form. The makers claim that this super quality miniature will average 2 m.p.h. for its ten-minute run. It is nice to come upon a model which works, these days, and the Mamod cannot be considered expensive at the price of £5 5s., remembering the enormous sums now asked for scale-model traction engines.

The makers are Mantis (Engineers) Ltd., Thorns Works, 206. Thorns Road; Quarry Bank, Brierley Hill, Staffs. (Lye 2244/5). They maintain a prompt spares, and repair service for their models and also supply five stationary steam engines, of which three use superheated steam, vapourising, burners and have automatic lubrication.

I read in Model Maker & Model Boats that their ME3 marine steam engine, Costing £2 12s. 6d., proved very effective in a 24 in. x 8 in. model tug, which steamed for 25 min. on 3d.-worth of meth. They also make model machine tools, with bases to fit Meccano. So if you enjoy live steam and want some fun, write for their catalogue!

Lesney have issued their colour booklet “Matchbox 1966 Collector’s Guide,” which costs 3d. and is available in British, International, U.S.A., German, French and French-Canadian editions.

Corgi’s more recent miniatures include a VW1200 as these cars ran in the E. African Safari Rallies, which Volkswagen have won four times. This little model, 3 1/2 in. long, possesses a front bonnet that opens to reveal luggage and rally-equipment, even to a pair of gum-boots, an engine compartment which opens to show a detailed die-cast flat-four engine, plated American-style bumper over-riders, twin exhaust pipes, running boards, VW mud-flaps behind the back wheels, the well-known Corgi jewelled headlamps, etc., while side and tail lamps, VW-type rear number-plate lamp, door-handles, bonnet-lift, badge, etc., are faithfully reproduced and the gearbox and transmission are depicted. A new Corgi innovation is stub-axle steering, controlled by turning the spare wheel on the roof. This fine VW model, No. 256 in the Corgi Toys series, sells for 8s. 6d. in the U.K. and is well finished, as a VW should be, in red, With a “Nairobi” banner in the back window, real screen, windows, steering wheel and interior trim being fitted, and the car bears the competition number 18. There is even a separate scale-size rhinoceros to charge this rally competitor, to amuse the kiddies.

Corgi also have a Ford Mustang fastback coupe in competition form, with opening doors, tilting seat backs, moulded pale blue interior door trim, and the usual Corgi features. In white, with bright red competition stripes, and having four self-adhesive rally numbers, this vivid Mustang miniature, No, 325, is the same length as the VW and sells for 6s. 9d. There should be no shortage of the Corgi VWs in the shops, for it is expected that the output of the real Beetle will be exceeded in this miniature form within a matter of months.

Those interested in models will be glad to know that the Model Engineer has been taken over, for bi-monthly publication, by Model Aeronautical Press Ltd., of 15-35, Bridge Street, Hemel Hempstead. Recent issues have contained a description of a working model 7-cylinder Gnome rotary aero-engine, previously illustrated in Motor Sport, and such old favourites as “L.B.S.C.” and Edgar Westbury are back in the Model Engineer’s pages.—W.B.