MEX 2010

THIS YEAR’S Model Engineer Exhibition held over the December 10-12 weekend had a number of highlights. First we should mention is not a model but the display put on by the Society of Model and Experimental Engineers. A veritable galaxy of demonstrations and lectures took the space normally occupied at Sandown Park by bookmakers, and purveyors of salt beef sandwiches and real ales brewed on the Surrey Hog’s Back. This was a wonderful display of what the SMEE is all about.

It can always be relied upon for  a great display of models, both from current members and past members who have bequeathed some brilliant items to the Society in the last 100-odd years. We feature one such in this report, a beam engine built by a ‘gentleman engineer’ in the 19th Century.

The SMEE can also be relied upon to educate those prepared to tear themselves away from the cheap tool stands. This year there was an added attraction. Demonstrations can be difficult as you cannot get large numbers around a lathe or, worse, a tool and cutter grinder. This year most of the demos could be viewed on large TV screens, via fixed video cameras.

There was something for everyone to learn. Brilliant!

There was so much going on that the SMEE could have carried an exhibition on its own.

The models in competition for medals and other awards were fewer than previous events, but the overall standard was high, and there were some that were exceptional.

Loan models were also relatively few in number, and it seems that some that were there were transferred from other parts of the exhibition. The Reading Society had organized a tribute to the late Malcolm Stride (Nemett), but half of it was to be found on the Reading stand and the other half on the Loans Section, diluting things. Shame, really. However, it was great to see Malcolm’s last engine the twin cylinder 15cc Bobcat, completed shortly before his tragic death, along with the others.

Our report brings brief details of some of the excellent models on display and a few of these will appear in more detail on these pages. First of them is Cherry Hill’s 1863 Blackburn agricultural engine from 1863 - an extraordinary design with the boiler placed inside a large drum which was also the driving wheel. Once again the research, design, techniques and finishing were exemplary, earning her a ninth Gold Medal.

Also hugely impressive among the new items to be seen was the compound condensing launch engine by James Lauder. This is a remarkable piece of work of the highest quality but is destined to be a working engine fitted in a 30 plus foot family launch rather than on display.

In contrast, we should also like to highlight an exquisite little model of Bayard, the first locomotive to run in Italy. This fine 2-2-2 engine is the work of Giancarlo Mastrini which has no less than 3688 parts and occupied 3000 hours work. We also liked the beautifully finished LBSCR Terrier by Norman Barber.

Fascinating among the locomotives on club stands was Sir Morris de Cowley (that man loved his puns) built by LBSC and the centre piece of the display by the National

2 1/2in. Gauge Association which has strong links with everything LBSC. Curly built this locomotive to show that it was possible to haul a driver behind a coal-fired engine in 0-gauge!

There were many fine I/C engines on display including interesting Offenhouser, and the rare Maltese Falcon. Bill Connors’ latest masterpiece, a half-sized model of the BSA M21 motorcycle engine. Norman Lawrence brought along his Napier Dagger showing the progress made, including polishing the main parts, and some new items added. These included an air compressor, made  with some advice from Eric Offen, and turnbuckles which involved screw-cutting some 10 BA left-handed threads. The I/C engines group, as ever, provided a large and fascinating display.

As usual, click on a photo to enlarge and ‘download’ for larger. Or play the slideshow.