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.
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.
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.
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.