Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mamod SE 1A Steam Engine

Well for all of you who have been wondering what I've been tinkering with these days, here it is...... a real, honest to goodness, live steam toy! The Mamod SE 1A steam engine. I always wanted one of these growing up, but they were always the ones behind glass in the hobby store displays with the price tag that was just out of my reach......... that is, until I found one at a yard sale a year or so ago for pennies on the original dollar!. How could I pass up the chance to fill in that missing brick in the childhood "I wanted it" wall? This unit was one of the last of the old production runs from about 1979 and is in near perfect shape, that is to say that it was probably only fired up a few times before I got a hold of it. Originally it was designed to use Esbit solid fuel tablets to fire the boiler, but I decided that I really wanted to fire it with the old style alcohol burner. After checking out pictures of the vintage slide-in alcohol burners on line, I noticed that they looked VERY similar in size and shape to the Altoids gum tins. DIY! That's exactly what I did and it worked out perfectly. My DIY burner is a nearly identical match to the old alcohol burners!

After a few experiments, I perfected the design and built up the final version of the burner. I will probably give it a new paint job at some point and build a better looking handle-frame at some point down the line, but for now I'm just using it as-is. The burner is filled with angel hair fiberglass, with a mat of woven fiberglass on top, and a stainless steel wire screen on top of that. A quick squirt of alcohol (methanol ..... HEET brand fuel treatment from the auto store), and it burns hot and odor free, running the engine for about 10 to 15 minutes. This baby doesn't slowly turn over, it screams along, at HIGH rpms, with the rod and flywheel in a blur, steam hissing and billowing.............. just like a real steam engine, which it is!

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