Mamod has brought some innovative and iconic models to market in recent years. From simple steam trains to powerful workshops, Mamod has continued to deliver steam products to appeal to its loyal fanbase. In the first of a series of spotlight pieces we look at The Showman's Special, one of Mamod's best loved models.

The Showman's is part of the traction engine family and traces its origins way back to the 1880s being in operation until the 1930s. The engines were put to use in a variety of ways including the powering of 19th century fairground rides which they needed to run. Others were used in agriculture and as roads became more prominent they were modified to run on these different surfaces and adapt to various environments.

Showman's continued to be upgraded throughout the century with the introduction of an extension forward from the smoke box which was used to mount a dynamo. This helped to power the engines' flywheel while the cab was also extended the full length to provide protection from the weather.

Burrells of Thetford and Flower of Leeds were the two main manufacturers of these steam engines and used two specific modifications. The first would see a frame built on the tender at the back with a jib attached to the towing bracket and wire rope from engines winding. The second included an extra bracket bolted on the boiler between the steam and chimney creating a dynamo called the "exciter".

The Mamod Showman's Special

The Mamod Showman's Special is a creation that came about somewhat unexpectedly 15 years ago. Around the time the company was looking to build a new model, it was working alongside a now-defunct firm called Devere. A Devere employee thought it would be funny to attach a dynamo and LED lights on a Mamod traction engine.

What started as a joke gathered pace very quickly. The then director of Mamod loved the model so much he wanted to make it a commercial product. This put the wheels in motion and Mamod's designers were put to task into creating a Showman's Special that would appeal to the company's target.

It took designers three months of planning to present a model that could be a commercial engine. During this time, significant alterations were made such as an extension to the front of the engine to allow room for a saddle and dynamo while the smoke box was also upgraded to new specifications.

The Showman's Special has been one of the success stories of Mamod. It has stood the test of time after first being released over 15 years ago. Despite only originally being launched in a small batch of 50 engines, word of mouth and the Mamod catalogue has ensured that there is still demand for the model up to the present day.

Mamod has had to move with the times, however, it has ensured that the Showman's Special has stayed innovative making a number of alterations. Both the piston and cylinder size has been increased from 8mm to 9mm giving the engine 20 per cent more power. Thanks to the increase in engine size it has a crossover appeal with Meccano collectors and continues to be a sought-after product to his very day.