by Julius de Waal

H. Muncaster’s little book on Model Stationary Engines - Their Design and Construction was first published in 1912, and revived in modern times by TEE Publishing. Muncaster wrote:  “To those of a mechanical turn of mind, nothing has, perhaps, in the whole range of useful inventions, proved a source of more sustained interest than the steam engine. As with many other of the now indispensable contrivances, the steam engine was at first looked on as a toy or an interesting experiment. The extent of its great utility and benefit to mankind could hardly have been dreamt of even in the imagination of the most earnest of its enthusiastic pioneers.

“It is a small wonder, then, that it has provoked so much attention in old and young, and a desire in so many minds to copy and reproduce for pleasure and study.

“Amongst the first to make the steam - engine serviceable were Papin, Savory and Newcomen; Humphrey Potter, who as a boy originated the automatic working of the valves; James Watt, the inventor of the separate condenser; Trevethick, Hedley and Hackworth, the pioneers of the Locomotive. After which came a host of workers applying the steam engine to almost every conceivable purpose, perfecting the details and improving its efficiency and economy.

“For the purposes of the model maker, however, it does not follow that the most recent and perfect engines are most suitable; on the contrary, some of the older engines form subjects better adapted and more fitted as prototypes for models, being more picturesque and providing better object lessons.”

Muncaster goes on to describe a whole range of model engines from the simple oscillator to a compound engine with, in-between, several slide valve engines, marine engines, vertical and horizontal engines, and so on. In accordance with his philosophy, every one is most attractive. Many can be seen at shows today, often to ET Westbury’s re-worked drawings from the 1950s.

Julius has prepared working drawings for all these engines and will appear on MEWS in the coming weeks. This is the double acting oscillator.