Brunel is well received in USA putting on a strong display for onlookers

A great Brunel review! It is always a pleasure to hear from our customers, especially when they send us great feedback from so far away. Dave got in touch with us to let us know how the Mamod Brunel got the ‘steam’s up!” from across the pond. Thanks for taking the time to tell of your experience. Read below for the full Brunel review.

Brunel review

Brunel locomotive

“I have been running your Brunel locomotive for some time now with compete satisfaction. At the National Summer Steam Up in California I ran the Brunel with 30 to 40 ponds psi., with about thirty minutes of run time and thought that was great.

I have just returned home from the International Small Scale Steam Up in Diamondhead, Mississippi. I usually bring two or three locomotives, but this year I only brought one, the Brunel and after running it for three days, I started steaming up the engine with a high burn rate, and then backing it down after blowing the safety, and found that the Brunel would run very well at just ten pounds psi. I was getting fifty + minutes with just adding water, no fuel.

Everyone loved it, and asks me what that thing was, I told them that it was a Mamod Brunel. I guess that no one had ever seen one up close before. I received the track hog award from a fellow live steamer , because of all the time Brunel was on the track.

I may be looking for another Brunel to made into a box cab locomotive.

Thank you for a great locomotive.

D. Frediani”

See the Brunel here for more details and specifications. www.mamod.co.uk/shop-categories/brunel

The gift of Steam for Christmas

I was 6 years old when my sister and I got our first Mamod steam engines, gifted to us for Christmas by our father. In the true nature of kids at Christmas, we tore open the boxes containing our gifts. As we revealed our very first steam engines, our first reactions were not that of wonderment and awe but of typical sibling rivalry as we began squabbling over whose engine was best – and of course by best, we meant biggest! My sister had been given a silver limousine while I had received a fire engine… I had won! We poked and prodded at them a bit, removing the canopy and extending the ladder but it was certainly not how my admiration for steam ignited. After a demonstration from my father of how to fill the boiler and fire the engine, we watched as they chugged round in their faithful circles and all too quickly, they were placed on a shelf and began their next 20 years of gathering dust.

This may not be the common story told frequently among steamers but that is perhaps why the past time of model steaming has been kept alive throughout the generations… because it hasn’t been relying on the likes of me. Very much apart from yours truly exists a population of enthusiasts who have dedicated many years to this traditional pastime. One thing made apparent to me was the level of involvement and devotion it takes to be a steam enthusiast, the evident dedication is on a par with hobbies of a much larger scale. Most hobbyists will start off small, perhaps a hand me down engine or a Christmas gift as I was given. But for many this is simply the beginning of a lifelong captivation. During the course of my involvement with Mamod, I have been lucky enough to have contact with some of these enlightening people and I have even had the opportunity to meet a few.

Callum was one such child who was given the gift of steam by his father at the tender age of seven. Callum kick-started his hobby with a 1988 TE1A and ten years on he still nurtures this enthusiasm for steam. He has amassed a total of six engines in his collection. Callum told us of fond memories he has of him and his father, working on an old SE2A which still “runs like a champ”. From an early age father and son would work on engines together and with a little work, the pair managed to get an old TE1A steaming for the first time. Callum also has an impressive eye for photography and has shared with us some striking pictures which we will be sure to publish for you all again.

One of the events I was lucky enough to attend was the Winterbourne House Traditional Toy fair which was organised by Lee, the curator of Winterbourne and Mamod fan. Lee falls into the pool of people who picked up the hobby in the more recent years and in this short time, has collected around 25 Mamod models. Confessing a love for pre-war machines, he was originally drawn to the Traction Engine. It is a pastime he is lucky to share with his son who was in the process of creating a wood yard diorama which uses a traction engine to drive the saw. The main appeal of Mamod for Lee is the company’s embracing of yesteryear and bringing some much loved engines back to life. The steaming hobby offers Lee a distraction from his busy work life and a chance for father and son to spend time together doing what they love.

Whether it be the “heart-warming fuzzy feeling” as described by Callum or the “desire to learn a new skill and take a trip down memory lane” as suggested by Lee, the world of steam is about more than engines. It’s about traditions, nostalgia, a community founded in shared passions. For me personally, it’s about a growing respect for those that I’ve met and those I continue to work with and I am very grateful to be involved.

Preview: Norwich Model Railway Club Exhibition

The nights are starting getting lighter and people are seeing their general mood lift as they can spend more time outside.

While many enjoy the winter period, it is the most preferable of months especially when living in the UK. The nights can seem to last for a long time while the minimal sunshine people do get to enjoy is usually hampered by freezing temperatures or howling gales. There is then, of course, the rain which seemingly pounds the British Isles on a daily basis.

So what a relief it is when the clocks go forward and people are making their way from work still in daylight and sometimes even having the luxury of not having to take a jacket or big coat to the office. Spring has almost sprung so it is no better time to get out and about to enjoy some of the various events happening in the UK during this period.

The steam and model railway community is making the most of this time of year and there are a host of rallies happening all over the country. However, in a small corner of Norfolk there is an annual exhibition that is looked forward to every year – Norwich Model Railway Club Exhibition.

It returns again this year and will be held at Hellsdon High School on Middletons Lane on April 11th. The club itself has been going for over 50 years after originally being formed in 1958 and these exhibitions give members an opportunity to show off some the intricate and impressive layouts they have been working on throughout the year.

This year’s event will see a cavalcade of different layouts created by some of the members. They range across all types of gauge including OO, N, OO9, and HOm and shows off the skills honed during their time with the group.

For example, Dave Smith will be bringing his N gauge Hansell Road layout, Eric Ransbury will be showing off his OO gauge Barsham Junction and there is a guest OO gauge Thomas layout from Roydon & Diss Model Railway Society. The Norfolk Mardlers and Advent Modellers are among the confirmed guests to be giving expert demonstrations for the various visitors.

A series of traders of announced their attendance for the event including Bob Pearman Books, Bure Valley Models Shop and Squires Tools are just some of the companies set to feature at the exhibition.

Admission is £5 for adults, £4.50 for concessions with accompanied under-16s going for free.

About the group

The Norwich Miniature Railway Society was founded in 1958 and been involved in the business of building layouts and the study of evolving prototype railways ever since. Among the first models to be produced by the group was a GER Class F7 2-6-4T and GER Class J15 0-6-0. Over the years, the society has developed a host of different models and layouts.

Obviously over the years, the group has had to modernise but it has always tried to stay loyal to its roots which is evident when visiting the exhibition.

What’s on: April steam rallies

As the clocks went forward on Sunday morning (March 29th), the long days of winter are seemingly gone and everyone is starting to look forward to spring and, ultimately, summer.

April kicks off with an early Easter weekend and people all over the UK will be already making plans of how they intend to spend their four-day weekend. While you can never really predict what the weather will be like, no doubt there will be fingers crossed throughout the country for some dry conditions so they can get out and about to enjoy this break.

The steam community will also be holding a series of events during Easter and throughout the whole of April as everyone starts to feel a little more upbeat following the gloom of winter. The National Traction Engine Trust has once again issued an authorised list of the various steam rallies going on this month.

Here are the highlights happening across the UK during April.

St Dennis Steam & Vintage Rally – St Austell, Cornwall (April 3rd to 5th)

Kicking off the month is an Easter celebration of all things steam in the picturesque town of St Austell in Cornwall. The St Dennis Steam & Vintage Rally is the latest event of its ilk to be launched in the region. Held over the Easter weekend, it will showcase of the finest steam and vintage engines around.

Visitors are encouraged to submit their own vehicles whether it be a steam engine, tractor, commercial or stationary engine, vintage motorcycle or anything else that fits the bill. The day will see a host of exhibits alongside a vintage fair with traders, crafts and model displays throughout.

Camborne Trevithick Day – Camborne, Cornwall (April 25th)

Another treat for steam enthusiasts in Cornwall is the return of the Camborne Trevithick Day. The event will see a host of steam engines parade through the streets of this corner of the south-west. Traffic will come to a standstill as these magnificent engines make their through the town.

There will be a host of things to see and do for all the family. From model exhibitions, complete with miniature steam engines, to vintage vehicles to street entertainers and fairground rides, there is just so much to enjoy about this event. Concerts by Camborne Town Band and other local bands will soundtrack what is bound to be a great day out.

Riverside Steam & Vintage Rally – Southport, Merseyside (April 25th and 26th)

Up in the north-west of England, Southport will play host to the Riverside Steam & Vintage Rally on April 25th and 26th. Over 20 full-size steam engines will be on show including a selection of Showman's Engines as well as 20 miniature steam engines. There is also the chance to take a ride on the 100-year-old Steam Gallopers.

Fans of vintage cars are in for a real treat as there will be a number of Formula 1 cars of yesteryear and visitors can even win tickets to the Goodwood Revival to see the motors in action. Music will be provided by Wigan Ukulele Club while there is an outdoor bar as well as afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco available.

Remembering the Great East Thompson Train Wreck

In July 2013, an Alvia high-speed train travelling from Madrid to Ferrol derailed and crashed near to Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain.

The incident claimed the lives of 79 people, injuring 139 more and sent shockwaves across the world. In the 21st century, all modes of public transport are designed to be safer than ever, none more so than train travel. The advancements in technology have ensured that stepping onto a train has become so routine and accidents are minimal.

This is why the Spanish crash was such a shock to the general public who were baffled as to why a train, complete with experienced drivers, could somehow crash and leave tens of people dead. Thankfully these occurrences are few and far between nowadays but in the early days of train travel, unfortunately accidents happened more often.

In the winter of 1891, four trains collided in East Thompson, Connecticut claiming the lives of three people. What was named the Great East Thompson Train Wreck became one of the most extensive train crashes in US history.

The people of East Thompson awoke on the morning of December 4th, 1891 to a foggy scene. It was typical for this part of the US to be blanketed in this morning dew. The day was only a mere six hours old when this sleepy part of Connecticut became the scene of something that would forever be remembered in US transport history.

Nearby Putnam, Connecticut was a major station for the New York and New England Railroad (NY & NE RR). In the early hours of the day, the Long Island and Eastern States Express arrived from Hartford and requested to change engines for the remainder of its journey to Boston, Massachusetts.

Meanwhile, the Norwich Steamboat Express passenger train, with 75 on board, and the Express Freight #212 with 11 cars were also bound for Boston. It left the Putnam dispatcher with three trains to organise heading to Boston.

The Long Island and Eastern States Express was told to go on eastbound track #2 once the new engine was ready while the passenger train would take the westbound track #1 to East Douglas, Massachusetts. The freight train would follow the Long Island and Eastern States Express. There was one problem though – the dispatcher had failed to remember the local Southbridge Freight sitting on the tracks in East Thompson, Connecticut.

Moments later the Southbridge Freight was hit head on by the Express Freight #212 causing the former to burst into flames. This was not the end of the drama as the Long Island and Eastern States Express came hurtling into the melee killing an engineer, however quick-thinking conductor Frank Jennison was able to prevent more lives being lost by turning off the valves for the gas lighting.

A flagman attempted to tell the Norwich Steamboat Express train to stop but it was too late and that locomotive ploughed into the wreck. Amazingly enough only three people lost their lives in this incredible crash.

However, with 500 feet of burnt out, twisted wreckage and debris now strung across the tracks it became one of the most memorable train crashes in US railroad history.