The lowdown on the marine engine

The marine engine is the latest offering to roll off the Mamod production line but what it is all about?

It is a shift back to more traditional roots for Mamod who were producing marine paraphernalia during its early days. Geoffrey Malins was instrumental in the first marine engine way back in the 1930s taking inspiration from his days on merchant ships. They became a popular item prior to the outbreak of the second world war with many people being put off German-made products and backing the “buy British” campaign.

Mamod produced model boats such as the Meteor but it was not all plain sailing as high competition and waning interest meant that the company was simply not hitting the right chords with its customers. With heavy hearts the marine models had to be withdrawn from production but with the dawn of a new millennium came renewed interest and the marine engine has made somewhat of a comeback.

So what makes this model tick? Here is a brief guide to Mamod’s modern day marine engine.


Mamod provides three different styles of marine engine including the double acting twin oscillating engine and the slide valve marine engine. The latter is more suited to nautical pursuits and has been specially designed to be used in boats. The benefit of a slide valve engine is that it has a fixed cylinder with a manoeuvrable piston meaning that the steam entering the chest is directed by the valve sliding up and down.

Steam loss is significantly minimised at the port faces as the steam inlet and outlet can be timed to ensure a much better performance. This type of engine is perfect for Mamod’s marine models or for people wanting to build their own water-based steam model, be it a steam boat or paddle boat.


There is so much versatility in the marine engine that people can transfer its properties into whichever model they wish. They are not restricted solely to boats and, in fact, many people who purchase a steam marine engine are actually looking to build something else. Such is their versatility that parts can be used for trains, planes and automobiles.

For example, the boiler of the marine engine has a void underneath where the burner sits. Unlike the horizontal of a mobile engine, the marine version can be mounted in an engine frame. It is almost a self-contained unit and can be connected to whatever formation the user desires without the complications of having to dismantle the model and then rebuild.

Base of building a boat

Building a boat can be a really challenging and enjoyable task and the marine engine is an integral part of this. However, people need to ensure they have done their research so they have matched the right engine with the right hull as getting it wrong can create a completely different boat.

Depending on which route the person wants to go down, the engine needs to be carefully considered and also correctly installed. Getting this basis right can ensure that people can build themselves impress boat model.

The highs and lows of the marine engine

Mamod has recently re-introduced a marine engine into its portfolio of models sitting alongside the popular steam trains, traction engines and stationary engines.

It is a welcome return for many modellers across the UK but the marine engine has come a long way just to reach this point. The engine has gone through highs and lows since it was first launched in the 1930s. It has seen the steam boom era, which extended to the post-war years and beyond into the 1950s.

However, it has also endured the slumps in production and a waning of interest from the public, but fast-forward to present day and Mamod is renewing its faith in marine engines ready for the 21st century market.

Here is a brief history of the marine engine and Mamod’s vision for the future.

Early beginnings

The marine engine was the brainchild of George Malins who immortalised his life as an engineer on merchant ships into a model. Malins worked aboard Destroyers during the Great War and came under torpedo fire during the conflict. He was eventually discharged from service due to shellshock but this did not diminish his love of boats and led him to create the marine engine.

He saw an opportunity to work with Hobbies initially after the breakdown of the company’s partnership with Bowman. It was not long before Mamod had launched the Meteor representing its first ‘mobile’ engine as it looked to capitalise on the boom steam years between the 1900s and 1930s. With German products dismissed by many followed the second world war, the sector was buoyed by the “buy British” mentality.

However, Mamod’s marine engine was about to run into rocky ground.

Troubled waters

Despite the popularity of steam following the war, Mamod faced stiff competition from Bowman and pricing was considered a major issue. In the 1940s, Mamod’s Meteor was priced at £3/18/4 (£3, 18 shillings and fourpence), while Bowman’s most expensive model, the Seahawk Steam Speedboat was just 42/ (42 shillings).

As Bowman, an already established name in the market, prospered, sales in the Meteor slumped leaving Mamod in a difficult position. Cost was cited as one of the defining reasons behind the marine engine’s demise along with Bowman’s strong hold on the market. Mamod bringing out a more expensive model was not going to tempt the public, especially after a significant war effort.

New dawn

For a number of decades, Mamod has not revived the marine engine model but this has all changed in the past few years. The company talked about the possibility of building a new marine engine in late 2012 and it sparked discussion of a possible redesign making it accessible for the modern day market.

A key factor was the Brunel locomotive, with a vertical boiler, which has proven very successful in the past. Buyers are impressed with the design which is based on the De Winton train used in the Welsh slate mines, so plans were put in place to bring back the marine engine using the Brunel as a template.

The drawing stage took four months to complete with a prototype being developed at the end of this period. It featured a base prop shaft but was overly complicated so it needed further designs. Mamod is committed to developing a functioning marine engine as it is as a market which is wide open and without a wealth of competitors.

Dorset model railway looking for a new home

Building a model railway is a labour of love and can take years to craft but, for some, there comes a time to say goodbye.

This is the case for David Hough, from Ferndown, Dorset, who, after years of painstakingly putting together his nine feet by 12 feet model railway, is ready to give it up to a loving home. The layout sits in a purpose built shed at the bottom of Mr Hough’s garden but with a move to a new house in the works, he is relinquishing his beloved train set.

Bournemouth Echo reports that Mr Hough explained there simply will not be enough room for his model railway in his new abode and he is looking for either a worthy charity or school that will be able to accommodate it. The layout was originally donated to Portfield School for children with autism but due to a lack of funds, the facility was unable to purchase a special hut to house the layout.

Speaking to the news provider, Mr Hough said: “I hope it might be used for the benefit of a local worthy cause. It has given me pleasure in building it and I would like to see it give pleasure to people less lucky than myself.”

The former College of Air Traffic Control instructor has crafted a narrow gauge railway depicting the Cornish south coast. It depicts the stunning views that people can enjoy when travelling around this part of the country. The railway has provided Mr Hough with hours of enjoyment following his retirement ten years ago and was even a part of his life shortly before the end of his career.

Mr Hough’s story is yet another example of how with some time and care, people can craft some really special model railway layouts in the comfort of their own home.

Preview: The 16mm Association National Garden Railway Show

Model railway enthusiasts are in for a pre-Easter treat as The 16mm Association National Garden Railway Show comes to Peterborough on April 12th.

The event brings together some of the big names of modelling world and will allow enthusiasts to network with like-minded people to discuss how they can get the best out of their own collection. Kicking off at 10:00 BST people will be able to get involved with the various exhibitors and layouts, as well as enter a draw to win some great prizes – including models such as the Roundhouse WW1 supplied by Roundhouse and a WW1 wagon kit supplied by Slaters among a host of other gifts.

Events of this ilk are the lifeblood of the model railway community and bring together enthusiasts from all over the country. They are important as it creates a social environment and allows people to gain insight from some industry experts on how they can improve their own collection. People can take inspiration from certain layouts or even note a different approach which they could implement into their own work.

There will be a host of top names from the industry in attendance at the East of England Showground. Mamod will be making an appearance while Locoworks, Model Sounds Ltd, Pendlebury Models and Accucraft UK Limited will also be on hand to offer helpful tips. There will be a full array of products on show including the new Mamod marine engines which the company has been working hard to remaster over recent months.

Visitors will be able to see the various impressive layouts painstakingly created by modellers and this year there are some special additions. Timpdon Lake Railway will be showing attendees that it is possible to create a layout in the garden, shed or cellar. This impressive layout includes a small lake representing the scene of a small town in the Lake District and has been wowing crowds since its debut in 2000.

Anglia Roads is a stalwart of the event circuit and is the portable track of the East Anglian Group of the Gauge 1 Model Railway Association. It comprises of three loops of 45mm track with the two inner loops designed for live steam operation while the outer loop is geared towards two rail electric operation and has run battery powered locomotives in the past. Elsewhere, the Dixon Green & Saed-Y-Parc layout is the work of junior members and comprises of an unusual L-shape.

The 16mm Association National Garden Railway Show is a real celebration of working steam models and can give visitors real inspiration of what they can create. These events allow people to get a real insight into what they can achieve no matter what their budget is. It is also important to mix with other clubs and societies, which can provide some great ideas and tricks of the trade.

Tickets for the event have been frozen and are available on the day priced £8 for adults while accompanied juniors (under the age of 18) go free of charge. Discounts are available for Association Members.

Model railway named a record breaker

A model railway in the north-west of England has become a record breaker.

The layout built for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway has entered the Guinness World Records for being the oldest complete working model railway. First put together in 1912 it has been used at a signalling school at Victoria Station in Manchester but in 1995 it made the short trip across the Pennines to the National Railway Museum. It has taken a team of dedicated volunteers to bring the set back to life.

Despite being a historic artefact, the layout had remained unused until 1999 when it was slowly reconstructed and restored back its 1925 state. The Guinness World Records title is testament to the hard work that has gone into the model railway over the years and the news has delighted the volunteers involved with the project.

One of those is Bob Brook. Mr Brook has been working on the signal school layout and explained the honour it was to enter the history books. He added: “The railway has trained up countless signallers in the past and we look forward to many more years of working on it and showing a new generation of rail enthusiasts how it works.”

The record-breaking model railway is just one of the plethora of attractions on offer at the National Railway Museum. This weekend (April 4th to 6th) will see a large display of the 5″ gauge model railway (GL5). This will be situated outside the museum’s collection building and will sit alongside the standard gauge locomotive displays.

It is a great way for younger children to learn about the processes of a steam engine at their level. There will be crossing points and miniature steam engine so it is a must for all the family looking for something to do for a weekend treat.

The beginner’s guide to model railways

Want to join the likes of Pete Waterman and Rod Stewart in a shared hobby? Then join the thousands of people who are involved with model railways.

Building a model railway or simply collecting trains and steam engines can be a life-long pastime with many spending hours upon hours crafting layouts to create some of the UK’s most notable railway links. While there are people up and down the country who stand at the end of stations watching the passing trains, others channel their love of trains into developing their own collection.

Model railways can pass down from generation to generation but for those of you who are new to the hobby you’ll be wondering what is the best way to get started. Here is a simple guide for starting out in the world of model railways.

Do your research

What type of model railway will suit my needs? This is the first question you should ask yourself before diving in. There are numerous different style of model railways coming in all different shapes and sizes. For example, you could go down the scaled-down Hornby-style models which allow you to build various layouts or you could opt for a more traditional approach.

One of the popular options within the model railway community is authentic steam engines. Companies such as Mamod deal exclusively in the creation of steam-powered trains, traction engines and stationary engines among a host of others. This will give you that sense of nostalgia seeing real steam trains chug their way along the track and are also a great education tool for learning about the workings of a steam engine.

So before you do anything you should take some out to research what kind of models are both interesting to you and also within budget.

Set aside some space

As seen in a recent episode of Coronation Street, when Roy Cropper invested in a model railway set it took over his entire flat, so it is important to plan. Once you have decided which trains or models are right for you then you should look to dedicate some space, or a room, to your hobby. The spare room, study, garage or even basement can be the perfect location for your train sets and other paraphernalia.

This can be your space, allowing you to be free to create whatever you desire with your collection. Make sure you set up a table where you can either construct a layout or use as a workbench when you need to make some repairs to any broken parts.

Join a club

The great thing about the model railway community is there are various clubs and societies across the country that you can get involved with. These clubs allow you to mix with like-minded people and discuss how to get the best out of your own collection while also working together on large scale projects which can be displayed at various events up and down the UK numerous times a year.

The National Model Railroad Association British Region is the UK base for the US organisation of the same name. For just a nominal fee you can be part of one of the biggest model railway societies in the country. Aside from the national societies there are also a plethora of regional clubs which have been running for decades.

For those of you who have decided which type of model railway set you want then there a number of specialist clubs across the UK. Some societies are dedicated to working with Z & N Scale collectors while HO Scale, S & O Scale, Large Scale and Narrow Gauge are all accommodated for.

This side of model railway collecting is what it is all about and you can a huge sense of community spirit by attending regular meetings and discussing the latest approaches to the hobby.

Creating a layout

Depending on which type of model railway you want to achieve, there is always the option of building a layout. You will have no doubt seen displays depicting the British countryside at museums and attractions across the country but these can be created in your own home. As long as you have the right amount of space set aside then you develop pretty much anything you wish.

Collectors have previously recreated scenes from their childhood such as sleepy railway sidings or busy main stations. Others have taken inspiration from abroad and made sceneries reminiscent of the likes of mainland Europe or the rugged landscape of the US. The great thing about creating your own model railway layout is that you can simply let your imagination run wild.

Whether it is a plan that has stuck religiously by real life or whether it is something that has come from a memory, there are endless opportunities when building a model railway.

Be price conscious

Sadly, model railway collecting is not a cheap business but it can be done in an affordable way. When you are first starting out you can simply buy the basics which will give you a perfect starting point. You could decide that you want to splash out on your first train but purchase just basic track which will give you the beginnings of your collection. It is really up to you how to approach it but there are numerous cost-effective measures you can take.

When it comes to steam engines, there are a number of models that Mamod offers in a kit format. They are not only much cheaper than the pre-assembled models by they are also a great project to start. Putting together a model yourself will give you the satisfaction that comes with completing a building job.

Whichever way you decide, a model railway is a long-term project so there is no rush to get all the desired pieces that you want.