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.

Accessorising made easy

Building a steam model collection is a real labour of love and takes both time and money to achieve something that you are happy with.

The first barrier of course is choosing which route to go down whether it is to embrace stationary models, tractions engines, steam trains or a mix of all three but one thing that can really add some pizzazz to any collection. Many enthusiasts have gone on to create working train sets in their spare room or even have a steam workshop with a range of stationary engines and this can all be made possible by purchasing the right accessories.

However, normally the first thought that enters into people's minds is the overall cost and while steam modelling is not a cheap affair, there are a number of bargains you can pick up to ensure that you create a layout you can be proud of. No matter what type of steam model collection you are going to invest in there are a range of accessories that will give you something that will look impressive for any visitors you may have.

Here are a range of the best accessories Mamod has to offer that will boost your specific collections.

Steam train accessories

A steam train collection is one of the most obvious options for people looking to accessorise. There are limitless opportunities to build detailed layouts and recreate some famous backdrops from the UK and further afield. When it comes to adding to a steam collection you can build scenery or simply add to the track, trains and backgrounds.

The track is probably the main focus allowing people expand the confines of a singular circular track. Mamod's curved track pack for £48 allows people to create a network of railway for their steam trains. There is also the option of purchasing accessories for the train itself including a passenger carriage (£48), log carrier (£44), guard's van (£48) and goods wagon (£42) to create a replica of a real railway.

To give it another sense of authenticity people can purchase left hand and right hand points which people can install on the side of their track and dictate which trains pass through when.

Stationary engine accessories

For those collectors that are more focused towards the stationary side of things there are still a range of option available to help accessorise and create a working site within the comfort of their own home. Almost a must-have purchase to complement the stationary steam engines is a workshop (priced at £114.75) which can be the focal point of an entire collection. There are also a range of other components that can be smoothly added to a main layout. Mamod stocks accessories such as a grinder, hammer, polishing mop and power press which are all priced at £63 while large and small round burners are also available to purchase.

Whether you are opting for a stationary collection, a steam train layout or even building a collection of traction engines, there is one thing that can not be overlooked – solid fuel. These are available in packs of 20 for just £4.95.

Choosing a stationary model

Stationary steam models are the ideal present for railway enthusiasts or anyone with an interest in the mechanics of a working engine.

They may not have the same appeal as a model train or boat but they do carry their own special charm. What they lack in mobility they make up in intricate design and operation and Mamod is a dedicated creator of these models. The company has been manufacturing these products for decades and has a real expertise when it comes to the ins and outs of steam powered stationary models.

Mamod has a range of different models available, all of which are hand-crafted and given the love and affection they deserve. The company has produced everything from dynamos, engines which convert steam power to electricity, to educational models to those designed for the seasoned collector.

Here is a selection of Mamod's stationary model range.

SP2D – £146

The SP2D steam engine and dynamo is the ideal educational tool for the younger generation looking to get into modelling and steam. Based on the SP2, this model is the ultimate starter engine for young enthusiasts. It demonstrates the principles of steam but can also be upgraded with the addition of a number of accessories.

SP4 – £124.20

The SP4 stationary model is the natural successor to the SE1a and SE2a that became trailblazers for Mamod. One of the key features of the SP4 is its ability to run in two directions thanks to a reverse lever. The exhaust is directed out of the chimney but the boiler comes equipped with a whistle, which is a nice little accessory to have.

For those building a workshop, the SP4 is a great mid-range engine to use which still has the ability to power a project of this ilk.

SP5 – £151

Like with the SP2, the SP5 is available in a dynamo version, the SP5D, but at the higher price of £216. The non-dynamo version is still much more powerful than the SP4 and boasts a twin oscillating engine. It has a much bigger boiler than the SP4 but does carry on the theme of reverse levers and twin cylinders.

It has the ability to run a number of workshops simultaneously which demonstrates the power that these models can produce. In the past it has been used by schools for educational purposes and was also the top-of-the-range model of its time.

SP8 – £349

For those with a bit extra cash to spare the SP8 is the way to go. The model is Mamod's first Beam Engine and utilises the same double acting piston valve cylinder motion that is used in a number of other products but taking it to the next level. The engine is mounted at one end of the beam with the crane shaft and flywheel situated at the other end.

Mamod states that this engine is unlike some of the others within its range as it can be powered by either solid fuel or through gas burning. It can be the centrepiece in the collection of any seasoned steam enthusiast.

The Traction Engine family

In the glory days of steam, the UK led the way when it came to producing some of the most famous trains and engines the world has ever seen.

The Doncaster Works was producing iconic trains such as Mallard and the Flying Scotsman which made long distance rail travel a reality. While the country was leading the way on the railways the roads were dominated by traction engines. These vehicles were designed to carry or pull heavy loads along the nation's highways. They became the machine of choice for industrialised countries from as early as the 1850s and were always held in high regard in the UK.

Some of the road locomotives, as they were called to avoid confusion with the railway locomotives, were absolute behemoths of the road and were much more efficient alternative to draught horses. However, like with many things of that era the traction engines fell out of favour with the dawn of the 20th century. Tractors powered by internal combustion engines became the order of the day and the traction engines sadly became a thing of the past.

Despite falling out of favour traction engines have had somewhat of a renaissance in model form and Mamod has a great selection of traction engines available to purchase. Here are a select few.

1313S Samson – £278

The Samson is truly the king of the traction engines and is an absolute must for any steam collector. This limited edition model features Mamod's highly successful double acting slide valve engine and comes complete with a slip eccentric. It works by using a gas propane burner and boasts a re-heating coil and 60psi pressure.

Mamod prides itself on models such as this and the Samson is a highly sought after product and would no doubt take pride of place in any collection. It is aesthetically pleasing with a slick black and gold colour and limited edition number and Samson name plaque. When purchasing this product buyers will receive a certificate of authenticity personally signed by the Mamod engineer that built it.

This king of the traction engines is the pinnacle of any steam collection.

1313C Centurion – £236.70

The Centurion was the inspiration behind the creation of the Samson and is a highly impressive model in its own right. It features a much more classic look compared to its limited edition counterpart  with a green, red and black paint scheme. It features a double acting slide valve engine with slip eccentric. One of the key selling points to this model is the fact that it can be converted to run on gas, which is far more powerful and can be possible thanks to the silver soldered construction.

Mamod stated that this popular model has been attracting the attention of a number collectors looking for something slightly more up-market from what they currently own.

1313 Traction Engine – £159.70 (mobile)/£124.50 (kit)

The 1313 Traction Engine is the standard model in this range but has that added option of buying in kit form which could provide an ideal project for a collector. It features Mamod's oscillating cylinder arrangement but is not suitable for gas conversion as it could potentially melt under those circumstances.

This is one of Mamod's most popular products as it is easy to maintain and run. The lower price also appeals to those just getting into steam collecting and is an ideal present for the younger generation. It has stood the test of time as Mamod has been producing it for over 50 years and it still remains a huge hit with customers.

Treat your loved one to a Mamod model on Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day is only a matter of days away which means men and women all over the country will be scouring the shops for that perfect present for their loved ones.

As card shops, chocolatiers and florists are inundated with the standard requests of a dozen red roses, heart-shaped chocolate and other lovey paraphernalia a little more leftfield approach could prove beneficial. There is no better way to show your love and affection to your model enthusiast partner than picking up one of the many products from the Mamod range. However, granted it can be a minefield for those purchasing gifts.

For example, the company states that around 30 per cent of the orders or enquiries it receives is from women looking for a steam gift for their partner. However, it does not matter what gender you are as purchasing a model of this ilk can be a bit of a minefield. Thankfully the staff at Mamod can be on hand to guide you through the process of picking up the best model to the taste of your loved one.

Here are a few tips of what to look out for when purchasing a steam engine model for a Valentine's Day gift.

Narrow down your options

Mamod has a wide portfolio of products that could make a great gift but you need to get an indication of what your partner prefers. The company has five different categories of gifts: steam locomotives, mobile steam engines, stationary steam, the new marine steam engine accessories and simple accessories.

All of these products will be the perfect component for certain collections. For example, if a modeller is building a boat then the purchase of a marine engine would be absolutely ideal as it can happily glide along the water. Accessories are great little additions to someone who already has a growing collection but these components will also be distinctive to the specific model.

It can be a bit tricky but getting it right can be wholly rewarding.

What collection do they already own?

This is a question you must ask yourself before handing over your cash. Steam train collections are extremely popular and many people spend years crafting them by adding accessories, scenery and steam engines. So if you know what kind of collection they are building then it can be much easier to pick an item that could fit seamlessly into their long list of accessories.

One of the easiest collections to notice is the classic steam trains as you can see if they need additional carriages, log carriers or simply extra pieces of track. You could even purchase items that could add to the scenery which would act as the cherry on the cake. For those that just want to purchase a small gift there is always the option of fuel tablets, its always good to stock up on these.

For those that have a passion for Meccano models, they tend to gravitate more towards stationary models. If in doubt, try to drop in a few hints and see if they give an idea of what they would like most on the "most romantic day of the year".

Alton Model Railway Group celebrates 30th anniversary

Model railways were the centre of a huge celebration in Yate over the weekend (February 1st and 2nd) as a society turned 30.

Alton Model Railway Group was formed in 1983 and has been welcoming members ever since with the society creating a number of impressive layouts which have become the pride and joy of many collectors. Saturday saw a celebration of all things model railways at St Mary's Church, Yate, and proved a huge hit with local people, Gazette Series reports.

Over 700 people attended the anniversary, 100 up on the previous year's event, and they were rewarded with a range intricately designed trains and tracks. One of the centrepieces of the show was a model of Wickwar during the 1950s created by Farnham Model Railway Club. This was among a host of layouts on display including Lulworth Steam 00 Gauge, Numchen Bavarian Layout N Gauge and Crossness Diesel Layout 00 Gauge among others.

Speaking to the news provider, show secretary Tim Crockford said: "The numbers were definitely up on last year and we certainly had more children come, which is what we wanted. It went really well and we are very pleased. We have had a lot of positive comments from people who visited.”

In the build up to the 30th anniversary, Alton Model Railway Group released a limited edition goods wagon. The model in question is a ten tonne, six plank coal wagon of A Flowers and Company, a coal merchant native to Portsmouth. This World War II era model comes in Flowers' red livery with white lettering. The society stated that an initial 111 units were going to be produced to go on sale at the anniversary event.

Alton Model Railway Group holds the FebEx events every year but the 2014 edition was extra special as members could look back at the history of the society on such a poignant day.