A look back at the Diamond Jubilee Saddle Tank

It seems a long time ago but the summer of 2012 we celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Thousands upon thousands of people lined the edge of the Thames in London waving miniature Union Jack flags to commemorate 60 years of Queen Elizabeth on the British throne. While the working population enjoyed a day off away from the office on this extended bank holiday, Mamod was making its own tribute to the Queen's reign.

The Diamond Jubilee Saddle Tank steam engine was the latest in the company's long line of model steam trains. However, this was one that would live long in the memory and struck a chord with Mamod's customer base. Units have been steadily selling ever since it was first introduced and as the final stock leave the Smethwick base, we look back at this popular model.

In the build-up to the Diamond Jubilee, Mamod developers got together to find something that would be able to commemorate this very special occasion. The company prides itself on being 100 per cent British and exclusively builds its engines from parts manufactured in the UK. Honouring the Diamond Jubilee was agreed to be a great way to acknowledge another British icon.

Designers looked at numerous different configurations that could be used on the Diamond Jubilee engine before it was decided to go with the saddle tank design. Based on tried and test mamod locomotives, the team believed they would be able to create an engine that was not just aesthetically pleasing but one that would be highly functional and powerful.

While based on previous Mamods, the Diamond Jubilee boasted a saddle tank design never seen before in the company's range. Both the oscillating piston and cylinder design had been altered and the entire shape of the train had been changed completely creating a truly new and original model.

The decision to use a saddle tank was taken to fill a hole in the current Mamod range. The designers felt that it would be fitting to use it as the Diamond Jubilee model as it evoked images of a time gone by where these types of locomotives would patrol the railways all across the British Isles.

Released in 0 gauge, 1 gauge and a set, 100 Diamond Jubilee Saddle Tank steam engines were made with each order being tailored to the customer's specifications. A simple change of the axle and an alteration of the size of the engine face. Mamod saw a huge interest in the 0 gauge versions with 80 per cent of the models sold being in this configuration.

As the models continued to strike a chord with Mamod's customers there was increased interest and they began make their way out of the Smethwick headquarters of Mamod. It was not until recently that the final models made their way out of the factory doors onto the customer's door mats.

So with production of the Diamond Jubilee complete, what is next from the Mamod production line? A simple answer – The Telford which is due to be launched in late February 2015.

Firing up a Telford locomotive

The Telford locomotive is a long-awaited model from the Mamod production line and anticipation is already growing for its release.

While it is still an ongoing project at the company's headquarters in Smethwick there has already been talk of a slide valve version being made. At the moment the oscillating version is still in the production phase and will not be released until all the problem areas have been ironed out to Mamod's full satisfaction. Once it is finally launched collectors will no doubt want to know how to fire up this impressive model.

Mamod has undergone trials and tribulations with the Telford, which was once dubbed "the runaway train" by engineers as it became too powerful to stay on the track. It has resulted in a number of rethinks in its designs and many hours of returning to the drawing board to determine which method would be the best to bring its speed down. It is something that Mamod continues to battle with.

As it is unlikely to be made available in kit form it is important that it is fired correctly and safely. In preparation for its release, Mamod has released information on how modellers can ensure that the Telford is up to speed with minimal fuss. Following this guide, you will be able to get the very best out of the Telford train when it is finally released.

Preparation

Before attempting to fire up the Telford you need to ensure the model and yourself are fully prepared. All the moving parts need to oiled with the wheels and cylinder being the priority of this job. Make sure you are wearing protective gloves as there will be points when the engine gets very hot so safety is of paramount importance.

Prior to attempting to fire up the Telford, half fill the oil reservoir. Mamod recommends steam oil 460 for this particular job. When coating the moving parts, steam engine oil 30 or 40 is highly recommended. Once the preparation is complete you are ready to fire up the Telford engine.

Getting started

Once the oil reservoir is half filled and all the moving parts are sufficiently oiled, remove the safety valve and place the black funnel into the safety valve hole. Using freshly boiled water fill the boiler to the appropriate level and then turn on the gas until you hear it coming through. Ensure the gas is on a low setting and then light it, ensure the flame is not too high as it can end up burning the cab.

Mamod advises to place the engine on two wooden blocks, raising it off the surface. This will allow the build up of condensation in the cylinders and thus letting steam pass through via the turning wheel. This is known as priming and moves the pistons and shifts as the condensation grows.

Firing up the engine

The priming stage should take place just before you try to start the engine. Make sure the boiler is producing steam and you see bubbling in the sight glass, these are the signs that the engine is ready to go. Open the regulator at the top of the boiler protruding out of the cab as this will help the steam go through the engine to the pistons.

By this point the engine will almost be ready to go. Once it is steaming place it on the track and put it in gear. Prime the wheels and give it a little push to get it going, then it will happily chug along on your specially designed track.

Once up and running

As the Telford travels along the track your job is not finished as it needs to be monitored while running. Mamod states that people should never leave an engine unattended and it is imperative that the sight glass is checked regularly to ensure the boiler does not run dry.

When in motion the engine normally loses gas before the water due to the volume in the gas tank being much lower than that of the boiler. You can top up the boiler using the provided valve and it can remain on a high heat when you replenish the water. Simply stop it on the track, open the top up valve and refill it allowing time for it to steam up again.

Stopping the engine

To stop the engine all you need to do is shut off the regulator which cuts off the gas to the boiler. Make sure you are wearing gloves at this point however as the engine will be very hot and you need to allow it time to cool down. Once cool, drain excess water from the boiler and wipe it down making sure that the powder coating is clean.

Check the gland nuts are tight and just give it an overall inspection for any loose fittings. If you have managed to overfill the oil reservoir then excess oil can form on the chassis and track and will thus need to be wiped off and cleaned.

The future of the Brunel Vertical Engine

The Brunel Vertical Engine is one of the biggest success stories to come off the production line at Mamod's Smethwick factory.

Since its creation in 2010 the Brunel has proved to be among the most popular models ever to be made by Mamod and this is set to continue into the future. It has become one of the company's signature models with buyers impressed with its boiler mechanism and this has helped to establish itself in Mamod's portfolio. It is set to revolutionise once again as it becomes available to purchase in kit form.

When it came to designing the Brunel, Mamod had to think a little outside the box. The company has been successful with the SP2 and SP4 it needed a new product and something that would really capture the imagination of its buyers. While the designs of Mamod's models are not necessarily based on previous, the Brunel engine was a completely new idea and one that would go on to become a huge hit.

This 'Derwinton' type engine was totally different to anything Mamod had ever produced before and was the first engine to have a vertical boiler. However, its creation was not without its hitches as the company had to review numerous methods on how to ensure the boiler would not leak when in use. There were also some changed to the wheels which were first fixed to either O or one gauge.

Once all the little issues were ironed, Mamod released it to the public and has been impressed with the response with flocking to purchase this unique model. Following the success of the pre-assembled version, Mamod has now revealed plans to make the engine into a kit version allowing people to put this famous model together at home.

The benefits of a Brunel kit is that it would be the easiest of all current Mamod models to convert into a kit form. Staff explained that the success of it took many by surprise but buyers have been impressed with its unusual nature. There are not many models of its kind available on the market at the moment and not only that, it is a solid runner as well.

Although there have been many discussions about whether or not a kit form is actually released, should Mamod go ahead with the plans modellers will not need any specific tools to assemble it. Mamod has ensured of this by replacing the rivets with screws so all a person would need is a screwdriver.

One of the major benefits of a kit version of the Brunel as it gives people the freedom to create their own design. It removes the restrictions of simply using the configuration that Mamod set out however, the company stressed that it can not guarantee that it will run properly if the design is changed so advises users to be extra careful.

If released, Mamod is confident that the Brunel kit will help to continue the success story of the model which is regarded to be one of the most unique of its kind.

New for 2015: Upcoming Mamod models

The world is constantly on the move and like the changing of the wind, new trends will come and go in any walk of life.

Model steam engines and railways will always have a place in the hearts of many people across the UK but there is always the need to innovate and provide the public with more choice for their money. Companies also need to keep on track with what is on trend and also spot gaps in the market for what could prove to be a major hit with their customer base. Mamod is no different and is constantly looking for new ideas for its next models.

Here are just some of the ideas that are currently on the table at Mamod HQ. While the following models have been mooted there are no clear plans as to which, if any, will be taken forward and made into models.

Stationary kit

Stationary kits have been a main talking point at Mamod and 2015 could see the release of a new product. The company has previously looked into the possibility of the SP2 being launched as a kit but there is a consensus that either a vertical boiler or marine engine could be a much better move. It believes there is a gap in the market for products like this as there are still avid collectors.

If made Mamod said that it would be a very powerful engine and would be able to power a number of other things. The company estimates that if released, the stationary kit would retail at £350 to £400.

Telford Slide Valve

The Telford Train itself is still an ongoing project but Mamod has looked at the creation of a Telford Slide Valve model. The company has not been able to achieve the high standard of performance needed for this model but if these issues are ironed then it could be another power engine. Mamod has previously produced slide valve models with the introduction of the William and the Brunel.

Mamod is unlikely to make the model available in kit form and will only be available in one colour to maintain the locomotive's identity.

Geared slide valve Marine Engine

Mamod has been putting a major focus on its Marine Engine of late and it could be releasing a third type of the model. It currently already produces double acting and oscillating models but the release of a geared slide valve version would complete the set.

The company believe that the engine's sheer power could be a major selling point for the model and the gears can provide much greater torque and slower speeds for larger boats. Another benefit is that all the accessories for the Marine Engine can be sourced from Mamod making it a breeze for collectors.

Brunel kit

Mamod has identified the Brunel engine as being a prime model to put into kit form. The vertical boiler has proved a big hit with customers and Mamod believes that if it was converted into kit format then it could continue its success.

This popular engine will be able to give the owner freedom of choice over their design but the company warns that if the design is changed there is no guarantee that it will run to standard.

Building a Mamod kit model

As a model railway collector simply purchasing a pre-assembled product can be a real thrill, however nothing quite compares to being able to put a model together yourself.

Model kits have for years brought families together and given collectors a long term project to work on. Over the decades, the UK has been blessed with numerous companies providing model kits which people can put together themselves. The likes of Meccano, Airfix and even Lego have been producing models of this ilk for generations allowing collectors or fathers and sons to look back on a train, boat or truck and say "I made that".

Mamod is no different and along with its range of pre-assembled models it has a number of kit products. They include favourite items such as the 1405 Fire Engine, 1406C Steam Roadster and the steam roller. A kit product offers much more than just the standard model as it can give that sense of satisfaction to the collector once it is finally completed.

Here is the lowdown on Mamod's kit collection.

Why the models chosen?

Mamod currently only has six kits on offer which come in a variety of colours. When choosing a model to put into kit form there are a number of considerations that Mamod needs to be aware of. Designers will assess the ease of assembly, the extra tooling required and the overall popularity of the the model. Once these have been determined then work can get underway.

The company revealed that it wants to look into creating a stationary engine in kit form. If developed it would need a large boiler, slide valve and gas burner which takes fuel tablets. However, officials noted that demand would dictate whether this would ever see the light of day.

One model which will be converted into kit form is the Brunel which is expected to be the next product on the market.

Assembly and tools

Mamod has tried to make the assembly of its products as simple as possible meaning anyone from the novice all the way up to the seasoned collector can put the model together with relative ease.

Over the years, Mamod's traction engine kit has become its most popular item due to the iconic nature of the model and the fact that it is relatively easy to put together. This is in contrast to the fire engine kit which is deemed as the most complicated kit within Mamod's range.

Every Mamod kit comes with an instructions page giving people a step-by-step guide on how to put the model together. All the nuts and bolts are provided and since Mamod uses a specific selection of suppliers, the parts will not be able to be sourced from a DIY shop or other retailer The instructions are in a series of languages for its global customers.

When it comes to equipment, Mamod explains that all a person will need is a screwdriver and a pair of pliers. It states that the kits have been manufactured in a way which means that everyone will be able to have a go at building them.

Balancing a model boat

Building a model boat is a long-term project that can provide major results once complete, giving you something to be truly proud of.

Unlike a train or car, a boat is a much more intricate design as it needs to be able to float on water and not topple over when the engine is full flow. Getting the right materials together is a starting point but one of the most important aspects is ensuring that the balance is spot on. This is a make or break decision and something that needs to be thoroughly thought out before any action is taken.

While many modellers do not test the balance of the boat until it is complete, it is advisable to take a moment to adjust with additional weights wherever possible. The last thing you want is for your completed, varnished and painted boat to simply capsize as soon as you let it out into open water, it will result in having to go straight back to the drawing board and thus ruining months of hard work.

The basics

The buildings of a boat is fairly straightforward with the model including a short prop shaft that is as a small as possible in order to maximise the torque. Once this is achieved then you can start at looking at how you can make sure the boat is balanced. Firstly, the engine needs to be situated at the back of the boat, which reduces the distance between it and the propeller.

Place the boiler in the middle as the water level can change throughout its use. This is important as if the boiler is on the port side it can become unbalanced as water levels fluctuate. The next step is to simply balance it on the water and see how it sits, this is a hugely trial and error phase so you need to be able to assess which parts may need additional weights.

Varying factors

There are numerous factors that can play a part in whether or not the boat will float and not fall over at the first attempt. The stern is a component that needs to be counterbalanced. Due to its heaviness it will need something else on board to compensate. In the past modellers have opted for either pebbles or stone weight but they can move about so sand may be more appropriate or, if you are confident it will stay balanced, cement can also work.

Another factor that can affect the boat's balance is the propeller torque. This can play a part in the boat rolling and needs to be addressed before the model is completed. In real boats, with the propeller is rotating clockwise there will be a slight anticlockwise opposing force potentially causing a tip. This can be combated by putting the driver's seat on the starboard side to offset the rotation, the same method can be applied to models.

Remember, weight distribution is absolutely key if you care to make a boat that will stand the test of time and not just capsize at the first opportunity.