Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Steam Toys in Action 2023

After leaving the Stratford show, I decided that I quick run to the Poo Museum (Leicester Pumping Station) would be possible. Google said it would take and hour, my satnav suggested a bit less. 

By the time I arrived, and tangled with the parking machine in the adjacent space centre car park (the Pumping station shares the fascility), I was a bit peckish, but as soon as I got through the gate, there was a coal-fired fish and chip wagon, offering comes of piping hot chips for a couple of quid. Well, it would have been rude not to. 

The main event takes place in the vehicle store, which is partically emptied for the occasion. 

A hall full of steam enginer 

The smell of meths is thick in the air - fortunatly, I've always thought it was a nice pong and have admitted missing it from model railway shows now gas-firing has taken over the 16mm scale world. 

Hundreds of tiny engines were thrashing away with thier owners looking on proudly. There's too much to describe everything, but I picked out a few highlights.

Asteam-powered gramaphone? Properly, and brilliantly mad. I know the builder reads this blog, so he's obviously a top chap. He also owns some of the steam boats you can see at the top of this post. It's great meeting people covered in oil who enjoy getting their hands dirty, and whose enthusiasm is infectious. That's how you get people into a hobby. 

Model steam launch

One very useful spot was this steam launch. It's an attractive boat, and I just happen to have the same hull sitting in my stash of projects. Bought for a song at a boat club auction, probably because no-one else wanted it, I have a steam unit for power, but had assumed that the hull was a one-off. Not so it seems. Mine needs a bit more work, but at least I know it should sail OK!

Inside the museum, past the display that allows visitors to flush a plastic poop down a clear sewer system (chasing it is a rite of passage for people in Leicester it seems as one mum watched her child do it, and explained she'd done the same as a kid) was a lovely large scale Mamod road roller.

Giant scale Mamod roller

This is the sort of idea that takes a lot more doing than you might think. Chatting to the builder, the scale is based on the size of an available tube for the boiler. After that there was some superb casting and finishing of the aluminium wheels, and creating a spark eroder to handle the Mamod logo on the front, pantograph milling not being capable ot delivering a sharp enough result. 

Steam engine

Therewere trains of course, a selection of Mamod's and some really old live steam models from Bing, Bowman, Falk and Carrette - the last two being new to me. 

Tower wagon

Since the vehicle shed was needed for displays, a couple of fire engines, buses and this superb tower wagon, were outside for viewing. 

Aside from the chips, the cafe was serving up some limited cakes and tea. I've had better, but they were cheap, so no complaints. One of the beam engines was working too, and amazing sight. 

And the trade. A marque of second hand steam engine dealers mainly, at prices for the keen collector in the main. However, the proprietor of the much-missed Midway Models, extracted the last bit of cash I had on me for a boat. 

The 3551 Suzanne fishing vessel is a rare model, and this one isn't perfect. But then it cost me £23 and is ideal for radio control. At 47cm long and 17cm wider, there will be plenty of space for motors and RC gear. A hatch should allow easy access to a bettery, and the deck is held in place with five screws. In my head, this is a quick project - but then they always are!

As an unusual event, this was a real pleasure. I think you can sum the day up with a look at the organiser.

The event organiser

I need to up my exhibition clothing game!

There is method in the costume - it's easy to find the man in the top hat in a crowd - but I just think it looks great. 

There are some more photos over on Flickr.


Jim Huntley said...

Good to meet you Phil, and glad you enjoyed the Vap 'O' Phone! It's always a fun little show.
I put together a few videos showing the development and construction of the Vap 'O' Phone which can be found in the below playlist and may be of interest to you and your readers.


Phil Parker said...

Thanks Jim - An interesting set of video there!