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.

Bringing the marine engine to life

The marine engine is the latest model to come off the Mamod production line but it has been a labour of love to get to this stage.

It was an interesting choice to revive the marine engine, which had proved popular in 1940s and 1950s but support and intrigue had dwindled since then. However, recent years have seen an increase in demand and repeated calls for the marine engine to be reintroduced, as modellers looked to move away from the traditional railways and back on to the water.

For Mamod it was not just a case of bringing back the original engine, a completely new strategy was required to ensure that the marine engine was a success. So it was a case of heading back to drawing board and planning out a design that would appeal to the company’s customer base that were becoming increasingly nautical.

Getting started

Although it may be stating the obvious, the way a marine model is designed is much different from one that can be used on land. Mamod needed to choose materials that were not prone to react with the water. The company opted for brass and stainless steel as opposed to just normal steel as that is too reactive to water.

Focus on remote control

One of the key selling points Mamod wanted to create was a remote control. Engineers determined that the model could prove more successful if collectors could drive their boat on open water, without the need to be good swimmers to simply retrieve it. The remote control posed another challenge to the design of the model and the engine needed to be adapted to fit the common type of servos.

Designing the engine

Once it had been determined what materials to use and how to integrate the remote control function, Mamod engineers then went about designing the marine engine itself. One of the main factors was the prop shaft and how it would be attached. Should the engine be installed horizontally it would require a traverse attachment whereas vertically means the prop shaft needs to go backwards and out the stern.

The former is the most preferable way of constructing a boat engine but it is not widely used. The main concern of the designers was ensuring the crank shaft was as low as possible, if this is achieved then the prop shaft will not need to be angled in order to reach the water and avoid a loss of efficiency.

Mamod to chose to build a much thicker crank shaft than standard models to compensate for the lack of a fly wheel. A bigger cylinder was introduced which ensured more steam could pass through and therefore generate more power. However, to offset this Mamod needed to use a vertical boiler which is much more efficient at reheating coils.

As engineers were aware of the importance of the hull, the base plate of the marine engine needed to be narrow so it could fit. This was an arduous process with a series of redesigns of the configuration of the components.

However, this intensive labour of love eventually bore fruit when Mamod was finally able to unveil the finished product.

Brunel engines steal the show in Peterborough

Crowds flocked to Peterborough Arena on Saturday (April 12th) to attend The 16mm Association National Garden Railway Show.

The event celebrated everything model railways and saw over 85 traders and exhibitors attend to share their expertise and insight with enthusiasts. While there were hundreds of different models on display there was one group of engine that stole the show – Mamod’s Brunel engine. The Brunel Vertical Engine has long been a favourite among collectors and Peterborough provided the perfect location for it to be promoted once again.

While most of the talk before the show was of the upcoming Telford Train, the Brunel was once again a popular item with many collectors eager to get their hands on the model. Three Brunels were purchased throughout the course of the day while another collector picked up a Mark II model from the Mamod stall and the Telford was on display for the first time in its new format.

Mamod engineers have been working hard to finally get the “runaway train” ready to be sold and this was just a taster of what is to come throughout the rest of the year. There was much interest in the new designs of the Telford and visitors were intrigued to see the proposed slide valve when it is completed. However, the company admitted that there are some teething problems with this design so it could be a while before the full version is launched.

Away from Mamod, there were a whole host of electric and steam trains on display. Traders and exhibitors managed to create a wide array of impressive layouts which drew in various enthusiasts. Alongside the electric and steam models there was also a number of wooden train kits that featured various carefully designed engine and carriages.

The focal point of The 16mm Association National Garden Railway Show was a train named Alice. This Quarry Hunslet Locomotive is the sister engine to Holy War and was built in 1902 and worked at Dinorwic Quarry in Wales until 1960. Like with many steam trains, the dawn of the electric and diesel era put an end to Alice’s use as a working steam train and has been subject to restoration projects for a number of years.

Bala Lake Railway volunteer worker Chris Scott is the person responsible for bringing Alice back to her former glory. Mr Scott purchased the remaining parts of the train in 1987 and spent years working at Ffestiniog Railway restoring Alice and in 1994 the engine returned to steam. It is still used today by Bala Lake Railway as well as being toured around the country at various events such as The 16mm Association National Garden Railway Show and other regional demonstrations.

The Peterborough show was hailed a success by organisers and it also gave an opportunity for some of the younger generation to join in with model railway collecting. With various clubs signing up new members, youngsters are being able to start themselves off with a hobby that can last a lifetime.

The lowdown on the marine engine

The marine engine is the latest offering to roll off the Mamod production line but what it is all about?

It is a shift back to more traditional roots for Mamod who were producing marine paraphernalia during its early days. Geoffrey Malins was instrumental in the first marine engine way back in the 1930s taking inspiration from his days on merchant ships. They became a popular item prior to the outbreak of the second world war with many people being put off German-made products and backing the “buy British” campaign.

Mamod produced model boats such as the Meteor but it was not all plain sailing as high competition and waning interest meant that the company was simply not hitting the right chords with its customers. With heavy hearts the marine models had to be withdrawn from production but with the dawn of a new millennium came renewed interest and the marine engine has made somewhat of a comeback.

So what makes this model tick? Here is a brief guide to Mamod’s modern day marine engine.

Configurations

Mamod provides three different styles of marine engine including the double acting twin oscillating engine and the slide valve marine engine. The latter is more suited to nautical pursuits and has been specially designed to be used in boats. The benefit of a slide valve engine is that it has a fixed cylinder with a manoeuvrable piston meaning that the steam entering the chest is directed by the valve sliding up and down.

Steam loss is significantly minimised at the port faces as the steam inlet and outlet can be timed to ensure a much better performance. This type of engine is perfect for Mamod’s marine models or for people wanting to build their own water-based steam model, be it a steam boat or paddle boat.

Versatility

There is so much versatility in the marine engine that people can transfer its properties into whichever model they wish. They are not restricted solely to boats and, in fact, many people who purchase a steam marine engine are actually looking to build something else. Such is their versatility that parts can be used for trains, planes and automobiles.

For example, the boiler of the marine engine has a void underneath where the burner sits. Unlike the horizontal of a mobile engine, the marine version can be mounted in an engine frame. It is almost a self-contained unit and can be connected to whatever formation the user desires without the complications of having to dismantle the model and then rebuild.

Base of building a boat

Building a boat can be a really challenging and enjoyable task and the marine engine is an integral part of this. However, people need to ensure they have done their research so they have matched the right engine with the right hull as getting it wrong can create a completely different boat.

Depending on which route the person wants to go down, the engine needs to be carefully considered and also correctly installed. Getting this basis right can ensure that people can build themselves impress boat model.

The highs and lows of the marine engine

Mamod has recently re-introduced a marine engine into its portfolio of models sitting alongside the popular steam trains, traction engines and stationary engines.

It is a welcome return for many modellers across the UK but the marine engine has come a long way just to reach this point. The engine has gone through highs and lows since it was first launched in the 1930s. It has seen the steam boom era, which extended to the post-war years and beyond into the 1950s.

However, it has also endured the slumps in production and a waning of interest from the public, but fast-forward to present day and Mamod is renewing its faith in marine engines ready for the 21st century market.

Here is a brief history of the marine engine and Mamod’s vision for the future.

Early beginnings

The marine engine was the brainchild of George Malins who immortalised his life as an engineer on merchant ships into a model. Malins worked aboard Destroyers during the Great War and came under torpedo fire during the conflict. He was eventually discharged from service due to shellshock but this did not diminish his love of boats and led him to create the marine engine.

He saw an opportunity to work with Hobbies initially after the breakdown of the company’s partnership with Bowman. It was not long before Mamod had launched the Meteor representing its first ‘mobile’ engine as it looked to capitalise on the boom steam years between the 1900s and 1930s. With German products dismissed by many followed the second world war, the sector was buoyed by the “buy British” mentality.

However, Mamod’s marine engine was about to run into rocky ground.

Troubled waters

Despite the popularity of steam following the war, Mamod faced stiff competition from Bowman and pricing was considered a major issue. In the 1940s, Mamod’s Meteor was priced at £3/18/4 (£3, 18 shillings and fourpence), while Bowman’s most expensive model, the Seahawk Steam Speedboat was just 42/ (42 shillings).

As Bowman, an already established name in the market, prospered, sales in the Meteor slumped leaving Mamod in a difficult position. Cost was cited as one of the defining reasons behind the marine engine’s demise along with Bowman’s strong hold on the market. Mamod bringing out a more expensive model was not going to tempt the public, especially after a significant war effort.

New dawn

For a number of decades, Mamod has not revived the marine engine model but this has all changed in the past few years. The company talked about the possibility of building a new marine engine in late 2012 and it sparked discussion of a possible redesign making it accessible for the modern day market.

A key factor was the Brunel locomotive, with a vertical boiler, which has proven very successful in the past. Buyers are impressed with the design which is based on the De Winton train used in the Welsh slate mines, so plans were put in place to bring back the marine engine using the Brunel as a template.

The drawing stage took four months to complete with a prototype being developed at the end of this period. It featured a base prop shaft but was overly complicated so it needed further designs. Mamod is committed to developing a functioning marine engine as it is as a market which is wide open and without a wealth of competitors.