National treasure Fred Dibnah waxed lyrical about the golden age of steam and one of his crowning glories was the restoration of a Aveling & Porter steam roller.
The image of the famous British steeplejack and engineering enthusiast complete with flat cap smiling intently as he brought one of the most iconic vehicles of the early 1900s back to life is one of TVs more magical moments. The 1912 ten-ton, slide valve, single cylinder, four-shaft, road roller was a giant of its time and was treasured by Fred. He originally named the vehicle Allison after his wife but following his divorce it was renamed Betsy after his mother which Fred described in his own worlds "wives may change but your mother remains your mother!".
Steam rollers were regarded as essentials during the opening part of the 20th century when Great Britain was ruling the rails and the age of steam was moving forward at such a pace. While the steam rollers patrolled the streets and were indicative for laying down roads the UK was leading the way in terms of train capabilities. People would come from miles around to ride the famous Flying Scotsman which could get from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley in just seven hours while the Mallard was the first train to smash through the 100mph barrier.
It was a great time to be alive for those involved in the road and rail sector with these majestic vehicles gracing the country on a daily basis. Fred was a huge advocator of remembering the legacy that these engines left and there is no better way to do it than picking up a Mamod model steam roller.
The West Midlands-based company has a host of stellar working steam models and one of the crowning glories is the 1312C Challenger steam roller. It is a product that would make the late Fred smile and is described by Mamod as incorporating "the successful design of the piston valve engine as seen on the Mamod Locomotive". It would make the perfect gift for any steam enthusiast and no doubt would have gone down an absolute storm with the steeplejack.
As with all Mamod products, the Challenger has been handcrafted at the company's base in Smethwick near to West Bromwich and Birmingham and gives purchasers a real trip down memory lane of vehicles they may have seen as a child.
It features a double-action piston specification which includes silver solder construction complete with re-heating coil. There is a double action piston valve which combines 9.5 bores with 14.0 stroke. Mamod has also added in displacement lubricator and forward and reverse action which is made possible by slip eccentric.
In terms of size the model comes in at 2,100g and measures in at 178 x 137 x 270 mm making it the perfect present for any enthusiast that could take pride of place in their home. It is currently available from Mamod for £232.
Fred Dibnah brought the age of steam into people's homes on a weekly basis and for a nominal fee a collector can bring a piece of this revolutionary time into their own house.