Model Engineering
Small scale model of a Beam Engine

Small scale model of a Beam Engine

Images on this page reproduced with permission by David Proctor and Australian Model Engineering magazine as samples of the modelling undertaken by some Model Engineers.

“Model Engineering” refers to the hobby of making scale models of machinery from the Industrial Revolution up to the current time to preserve history and also the engineering that created the world in which we now live.

A finely detailed model of a Sailing Ship

A finely detailed model of a Sailing Ship

“Model Engineering ” can involve metal working to create powered models whether steam driven or internal combustion; it can involve woodworking in the construction of model ships, boats and clocks (including the manufacture of the clock’s works and gears), as well as planes and their engines.

It does not mean that “Model Engineers” are trained engineers or qualified trades people. In fact, members of MELSA and similar societies come from a wide variety of backgrounds – they just have a common interest in seeing history preserved, albeit in miniature.

Three model Steam Trucks

Three model Steam Trucks

Models may be constructed from scratch using either purchased plans or using photos and measurements of prototypes, or from prepared kits which are commercially available either as rough castings or pre-machined and ready for assembly. Depending on what sort of model is undertaken, there may be an element of design and experimentation to make the model work like the prototype. The prototypes may have been in operation as much as 250 years ago, or as recently as just a few years.

A model of one of the very first track run locomotives – the Pen-y-Darren

A model of one of the very first track run locomotives – the Pen-y-Darren

Although the hobby of Model Engineering is so broad, the current membership of MELSA devote most of their energy to “Live Steam” in its various forms. Some members are constructors while others have purchased ready built steam locomotives and run them on the Club’s regular monthly running days. Other engines may be powered by either steam or other fuels. Construction of steam locomotives requires the boilers for the engines to be constructed in accordance with the Australian Miniature Boiler Safety Committee Codes.

Copper boiler for a 5 inch guage loco under construction

Copper boiler for a 5 inch guage loco under construction

The Australian Miniature Boiler Safety Committee (AMBSC) is a body which oversees the regulation and safety of the steam aspects of our hobby through management of the standards of design and construction of miniature boilers which fall outside the sphere of the State and Federal Government Regulatory organisations. The Boiler Codes which are part of our scene cover Copper Boilers, Steel Boilers, Sub-Miniature Boilers and, most recently, Duplex Steel Boilers. The last named Code was recently added to the list of codes available to be used for design and construction in Australia.

These codes are effectively Australian Standards for their various purposes and have similar legal standing. They are considered to be amongst the best and most effective codes of their type in the world, and as such, are frequently used in preference to the equivalent home-spun codes in a number of overseas countries. “Live Steamers” refers to those interested in making and operating scale models of machines that utilise STEAM as an energy source.

These machines can be stationary engines that were used in timber mills or woollen mills or weaving factories or many other industries, on farms as movable sources of power, in mines driving hoists or crushing ores, water pumping or electricity generation stations or modes of transport such as traction engines and trucks, ploughing engines and of course railway locomotives.