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What is a Good Second Steam Engine Model to Build?

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Dr_GMJN10/10/2020 08:55:27
1386 forum posts

All, Im nearing the completion of my first ever model engineering project: a Stuart 10V. There is a build thread elsewhere on the forum.

I’m not very familiar with the world of steam engine kits, but I knew of Stuart models and bought the kit from the Doncaster show last year. They said the 10V was a good beginners model, and so it’s proved to be.

My ultimate model engineering ambition is to build a small scale traction engine, and one day (health permitting!) this will happen. Obviously I need to build up more skills, experience and money before that, so am wondering if folks could give advice on other models to consider as a first intermediate step. I’ve got no problem with another Stuart model, in fact I’d love a Double Victoria, with a governor; this is the kind of thing I’m after. I do like the look of their triple expansion engine too. I’m not that keen on beam engines, and I’m not really bothered about i.c. model engines either.

So really any advice on a second model to build that will add to my skill set, and alternative manufacturers would be very much appreciated. By the way my equipment comprises a Fobco Star pillar drill, a Myford ML7 lathe and a Sieg SX2P milling machine.


Clive Brown 110/10/2020 09:14:04
871 forum posts
47 photos

You have a good basic workshop. Why not jump straight in and start a 1" Minne TE?

If you've built a S10V, you will have gained reasonable machining skills. Minnie "words & music" are available in book form and there's more help on this forum

Mick B110/10/2020 09:45:44
2227 forum posts
125 photos

PM Research's No.7 horizontal twin is a good option - I found it quite challenging in a few respects and it took me long time to get the timing right. By the time I did that I was too fed up with it to sort out the governer kit... laugh

PM7 Running

JasonB10/10/2020 10:21:05
23088 forum posts
2774 photos
1 articles

Blackgates have the Lincoln and Clarkson range of engines, horizontals in both of those.

Bruce/Polly have Anthony Mount's range of engines that are a bit different to the norm.

Not sure if Cotswold are still in business but the Armstrong or Garrett would be worth looking at though both could be done without castings.

Reeves have quite a few stationary engines as well as the PM research range mentioned above that can be got from Forrest Classics here in the UK

Or how about a predominantly bar stock design or two or three

Ramon Wilson10/10/2020 11:19:42
1401 forum posts
448 photos

I can really recommend the Twin Victoria if that takes your fancy - my first engine after an oscillator so well within your abilities that you now possess from building your Ten. It's relatively straight forwards, based on a protype single so more 'scale' and runs really well. It's also open to 'personalisation' should you desire. I didn't buy a kit - just the basic castings but it was along time ago - Henley and before the huge hike in cost! The only thing I wouldn't do were I to do another is to groove the flywheel to the dimensions shown - it tends to 'scale' the engine and looks out of proportion to my eye

Lots of others to choose from of course but you won't go far wrong with this one.

Regards - Ramon

Paul Lousick10/10/2020 13:11:23
2079 forum posts
728 photos

If your dream is to build a traction engine you should start one. You have made a Stuart 10V and already have some of the skills needed. A traction engine just has more parts. Start with the simple ones and tackle the more complex ones as you gain experience.

When I started to build my engine, I had many years of experience in engineering design as a mechanical draftsman but very little actually using a mill or lathe. With practice and advice from others, I was able to build everything. Only took 7 years. My engine is a big model and weighs 700kg but I found that building very small parts can sometimes be much harder.


Edited By Paul Lousick on 10/10/2020 13:12:30

Dr_GMJN10/10/2020 15:05:50
1386 forum posts

Thanks for the comments and advice everyone.

The thing about the traction engine is this: It’s a very long term project, and I’d focus all my model engineering time on it. I would therefore potentially have a finished 10v, and a very long W.I.P. So no satisfaction of finishing another model in the meantime.

Then again, the quicker I start, the quicker I achieve my ambition.

This is very similar to another of my pastimes - building highly detailed ships out of card and paper. I’ve completed three ships in the past, with some success entering in competitions too. I then bought a huge kit of the Bismarck - pretty much the ultimate in paper ship modelling. It’s about 1 metre in length, and several years’ work. It’s currently put to one there will be no ship builds completed for a long time.

JasonB10/10/2020 15:55:28
23088 forum posts
2774 photos
1 articles

You can always work on bits of a Minnie while doing another engine, you will need something to keep you occupied for a year or so if buying a commercial boiler anyway. I did a 10V and beam before starting my Minnie.

Ramon Wilson10/10/2020 16:04:29
1401 forum posts
448 photos
Posted by Dr_GMJN on 10/10/2020 15:05:50:

Then again, the quicker I start, the quicker I achieve my ambition

This is the way of things I'm afraid - easy to talk yourself into a project but not so easy to maintain the stamina to see it through for many. I admire those that do but like you I have other interests that get in the way from time to time.

Believe me its very easy to set something aside but it's another matter to pick it up again. There sits under the bench many parts for a Bentley BR2 all finished and waiting for the piston rings to be made before it can be assembled - currently, and for quite some time previously, I have absolutely no desire to do so.

When I look at it I always think what a wasted amount of energy I put into it despite enjoying every moment of machining but it was too long a project for me and the likely hood it will ever be finished is minimal.

Of course there have been many other, much smaller projects and diversions that have been finalised which have given an immense of satisfaction and obviously great pleasure since the interest in that was lost so I tend to look at them with a sense of achievement rather than dwell on the Bentley.

Like most things it is a question of 'pay your money' etc - as said I admire those that can adopt a totally single minded approach to a project but its a rare quality I fear and ceratinly not a characteristic I possess

Good Luck with whatever you choose Doc, enjoy every moment of it


Regards - Ramon

Edited By Ramon Wilson on 10/10/2020 16:05:37

Dave Halford10/10/2020 16:47:55
2102 forum posts
23 photos

There are several ways you can look at Minnie,

It's one of the simplest with least detail that lots do castings for.

It's an ornament.

It's a real engine you can steam.

It's something to do.

After that

It's also a horizontal single with boiler attached that happens to move under it's own power

JasonB10/10/2020 17:11:44
23088 forum posts
2774 photos
1 articles

Although it could end up taking you longer to make than a Minnie, this is what another very talented paper & card model maker did with his victoria when he got into model engineering.

Dr_GMJN10/10/2020 22:15:13
1386 forum posts

That model workshop is awesome - in the proper sense of the word.

I've got plenty of options to look at now, on the second model question. I'll go through them and see what I can find online, then decide what to do.

The other thing of course about starting a large long term project, and also having smaller projects to complete during the build, is cost. Model engineering on that level is way more of a serious commitment, for me at least, in terms of outlay than a £50 paper model ship kit, or a small stash of plastic kits like I already have.

If I was going to build the traction engine, it would be a working model, all-in, to the best of my ability, no compromise. Not saying it would be perfect by any means, but I can't look at a model I've built unless I know I couldn't have done it better.

Anyway - which model to bulild next is always a nice decision to have to make.

Thanks all!

Paul Lousick11/10/2020 01:21:42
2079 forum posts
728 photos

For anyone interested, there is a 3D CAD model of a 1" Minnie traction engine for free downloading on grabcad. Modelled in Solidworks but also available in STEP and IGES format which can be imported into other CAD systems.



Dominic Bramley11/10/2020 07:53:20
59 forum posts
1 photos

Seems we have similar ambitions! I started the hobby with absolutely no prior experience 2 years ago. My aim was to build a small traction engine and after a couple of months of building an oscillator, gyroscope, hammer etc cracked straight into a 1" Minnie.

I got as far as machining the rear wheel rims / strakes and spokes and attaching the strakes to one rim before deciding to take a pause. Firstly I wanted to increase my skill level and secondly wheel building is a lesson in patience....

My pause lasted for about 14 months and I built the 10V to gain some experience with castings and the ME Vertical Boiler to learn how to silver solder (I'm going to have one go at making the boiler for Minnie). The ME Boiler was also a good education on how a boiler works, what all the fittings are for, and gave me something to run the 10V on.

I returned to Minnie earlier this year and am on the cusp of finishing the wheels now - and deciding whether to start the boiler or take another pause. My father wanted to spend some money on me for my birthday this year - so I got him to contribute towards the cost of a Double Victoria...

In terms of cost - if you go with Minnie and start with the wheels then you only really need the castings for the rims and hubs and some 1/16th steel strip: this will keep you going for quite some time and cost just just north of £100. You will also need the book which seems to average out at £50 - depends on how lucky you are with ebay on a given day. I have also kept my eyes open and picked up the odd part from ebay when they come up - for example I bought a blackgates boiler kit about 12 months back at probably less than the price of the raw materials.

The Double Victoria is pretty steep - and I think would have been beyond me without my dads contribution - but it is a very fine looking engine and comes in a reassuringly heavy box... The ME Boiler was about £180 for a kit from Noggin metals - It is always nice to just have all the bits you need in one box!

Not sure you can make a wrong decision here though - all will keep you happily occupied for months. The key for me when deciding what to make has been choosing items that have detailed build guides available as I don't yet have the experience to be able to look at a big sheet of drawings and easily come up with a cunning plan....

Your 10V is looking good by the way - love the blue!


Dr_GMJN11/10/2020 10:04:13
1386 forum posts

Thanks for the comments Paul and Dom. I'll try and sort the CAD model out tomorrow and have a look.

Stuart models are indeed very nice, and I will probably end up with the Twin Victoria, simply because I've always liked it, and so far nobody has said "this is equivalent, but better/cheaper". I did have a look at the alternatives proposed on this thread. One thing about Stuart models that makes me pause, is the cost. Is it just an "expensive" brand in the grand scheme of things, or is it average? I have no issue at all with the quality of the 10V, but the price of spare parts seemed pretty steep; things like bar stock rather than castings. Also, I noticed the other day that a "ready to run" 10V will set you back over £800...really??

Going back to the 1" Minnie traction engine. I think that's the one for me: it looks spot-on, plenty of support from people who've been there and done it as well. So yes, that's what I'm going to progress with in terms of my long-term project. I'll start by getting the build book off Amazon or EBay when one comes up a reasonable price. A few specific questions:

1) Where are the best "start to finish" build threads on here, or on other websites?

2) I was considering buying individual castings and parts as and when I could afford them - assuming I'd be building another smaller model in the meantime. What is the best way of getting parts - buy a complete set from somewhere, or buy individual items?

3) The boiler. Thinking about Dom's comment about building a boiler: I was under the impression that this was a very tricky thing to get right, with obvious safety implications if it's not. I want to know - 100% - that the boiler is safe. I'm not at all sure about building one. What's the best way forward? Buy a certified boiler for that model (if they're available)? Try to make one and have it proof tested? No idea.

Any advice is, as always, much appreciated. Thanks.

JasonB11/10/2020 10:24:54
23088 forum posts
2774 photos
1 articles

As Ramon mentioned there are different ways to approach the Stuart models:

-buy the full kit

-buy just the castings and use your own bar stock and fixings.

- Buy just the main castings and use bar for the simple parts eg cylinder covers from CI bar plus as above fixings and the smaller stock bought.

- Absolute minimum castings so probably just flywheel and possibly cylinders making things like the bed and everything else from scratch which would probably work out at 1/3rd the cost of a kit. It would also stand you in good stead for the Minnie where a lot more fabrication work is involved.

A good read would be Princess Royal and Goliath by Tubal Cain where he wrote up the construction of modified Victorias in ME

As to the Minnie questions

1) A couple of build threads over on Traction Talk forum but the trend is for bigger engines now though still worth looking at these threads as many methods are similar. There are also a few on here

2) There is not much difference is costs buying as you need or the whole lot, the most you are likely to save is in a one off postage cost.

3) Boilers can be ordered from several of the commercial boiler makers, usually at least a years waiting list so get your name down now. If you have not silver soldered before then do something smaller to practice on or know your limitations and order one in. I think my silver soldering is good enough now to have a go but at the time I needed boilers for my two engines I bought them, the Minnie from Blackgates and the Fowler from Western Steam.

Dave Halford11/10/2020 11:11:01
2102 forum posts
23 photos

You can sometimes get castings and gears from Ebay, everyone wants a good boiler so those with rough looking boilers sell low, just don't pay more than the blackgates catalogue price + vat.

The drawings are identical to the book.

Dominic Bramley11/10/2020 13:03:16
59 forum posts
1 photos

Even though I have the materials - and have had a trial run on the vertical boiler- I'm still half tempted to buy a commercial boiler now the moment is nearly upon me. The only good reason I have to build one is that If I buy one I will always wonder if I could have done it.

On the other hand It will take me several months to build with no guarantee of success. Also my local ME clubs don't meet at a convenient time for my job (or meet at all at the moment) - so I'm unlikely to get the boiler inspected. The certification is one of the big advantages of a commercial boiler.

My current leaning is to have one go and if it fails buy a commercial one and build the Victoria in the meantime!

I haven't seen many start to finish build threads - but the book is good, and so far I have found plenty of hints and tips on here for the parts I have found to be tricky.


Dr_GMJN11/10/2020 14:00:53
1386 forum posts

Thanks Guys.

So how much is a boiler to buy for the Minnie?

A bit of maths on the Twin Victoria:

I just had a look at the price of castings and drawings. By my reckoning they'll cost about £325 (inc. vat). The full kit is about £640, so that leaves about £315 for fittings, fasteners and raw materials.

I have found a very good local materials supplier (ex steel works metallurgist). He sells off-cuts, and when I had to scrap the steel for the 10V crank webs, he matched the material and charged me the equivalent of 6p for a 2" length (I bought 1/2 m just to make it vaguely worth his time). This compares with £5.76 (excluding delivery) for a 2" length of 10V spare crank web material from Stuart models.

I've no idea about the cost of fasteners, but perhaps I could use metric equivalents instead of BA and ME, and get them for not much at all?

All things considered I suppose I could potentially save about £200 over buying the complete kit?

JasonB11/10/2020 16:13:05
23088 forum posts
2774 photos
1 articles

The last time I did any exact calculations for was on this one of mine which is the same size as a No7A, allowing for buying 12" or 300mm lengths of the smaller section material and larger bits by the inch, packs of 50 nuts in the various sizes, etc it was 1/3rd the cost and you would still have a lot of material that could be used on other projects.

If you knocked off the cost of the two box beds and made them for flat bar screwed & JBWelded together that alone would likely drop another £100 from the spend or they could even be milled from two lengths of rect aluminium.

Common metric fasteners look wrong on a model like this, you can bet nicer metric ones which cost about the same as BA.

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