Monday, 4 November 2013

Youth: The pure magic of steam!

My late friend Ken Brand was given a Mamod steam engine for his 12th birthday.. some 50 years ago. And not just a single cylinder steam donkey engine, but a superheated steam driven twin cylinder engine. God it was a sight to behold. The burner was fuelled on metholated spirits and the base plate was drilled to match the Meccano brand construction kit. So you could literally build a merry go round and bolt the steam engine on its side.. then run a drive pulley and cable system to make the whole thing ... go around! 

And the glorious noise and steam it made as its flywheel spun around and the twin con rods shot in and out.. totally mesmerising it was!

Ken was very fastidious about this beast.. couldn't use Brisbane tap water in it as the minerals would cause too much boiler scale. Nope, you had to use rain water. And where to get that? Why from Mrs Eldershaw's tank next door of course. Ken would hop over the fence and collect a gallon of the stuff at a time. Enough to run that steam engine for an eternity I reckon.

Of course.. I had a Mecanno set.. so I wanted one too! But my mother said no! She had visions of me burning down the house with it. (What she didn't know was that I had already nearly succeeded at that.. but that is another story) My old dad nearly gave in.. but mum got final say on that one.

The steam bug never left me and I eventually bought a steam traction engine at Hamley's Toy shop in London in 1983 when I was 30.

A German one too! And the entire magic had started again.

Poor Ken departed this earthly life in 1990 and some time later his widow Caroline asked me if I would like that steam engine. What an outstanding piece of childhood memorabilia to have and to remember my mate by.

So write this today because of two things...

1: I came across the steam engine in its original box yesterday during the big clean up and..

2: Ken would have been 62 tomorrow. Yes his birthday was on November 5, Guy Fawkes night!

I could never have imagined back 50 years ago when I first saw that steam engine run that one day I would have it.. but not my mate Ken, in my future life.

Ken's Mighty Mamod SE3

And my Wilseco Traction Engine