Other model reviews and posts you might like
Review: Sunnytech® Hot Air Stirling Engine Model Educational Toy Sc02
Review of the Sunnytech® Hot Air Stirling Engine Sc02
The Sunnytech Single Flywheel Hot Air Stirling Engine is a well-crafted, fully working model which demonstrates the operational principles of Stirling engines.
What is a Stirling engine?
A Stirling engine is an external combustion engine. That is, it is an engine that gets its energy from an external heat source, in contrast to the internal combustion engine where the heat input is generated within the engine itself.
The Stirling engine was invented in 1816 by Robert Stirling, who wanted to create an alternative to existing steam engines, whose boilers could often explode because of the high steam pressures used and the strength limitations of the materials available to engineers at the time.
How does a Stirling engine work?
Like all heat engines, the Stirling turns heat energy into mechanical energy. The key feature of the Stirling engine is that it uses a fixed amount of gas – usually air – enclosed in a sealed container, with the heat consumed by the engine applied externally. This means that the engine can run on just about any heat source, including coal or gas, solar energy, chemical reaction and nuclear energy. It can also work with very low temperature differentials, which means a Stirling engine could be powered by body heat or even the steam from a cup of coffee. And because it uses heat from a constant source and does not, like an internal combustion engine, rely on a succession of explosive ignitions, the engine runs very quietly.
The heat source used in the Sunnytech Single Flywheel Hot Air Stirling Engine model is supplied by a small methylated spirit burner, which comes included, and the engine’s output is delivered – as the name suggests – by a single flywheel.
The Single Flywheel Hot Air Stirling Engine is robustly constructed from steel, copper and aluminium, and comes fully assembled, which means that you can have it up and running within minutes of taking it out of the box. Just fill the burner with meths, light the wick, let the working fluid (air) heat up for 30 seconds, give the flywheel a spin, and off it goes.
The model’s main features are:
Specification: Single Flywheel Hot Air Stirling Engine
Model No.: SC02
Size: 130mm X 80mm X 115mm
Materials: Aluminium, Copper and Steel
The Single Flywheel Hot Air Stirling Engine is an ideal collector’s item for engineering enthusiasts, as well as an engaging educational demonstration model. Most importantly, it is lots of fun. It should, however, only be used under adult supervision, and it is not suitable for children under 10 years old.
Customer reviews of the Sunnytech Hot Air Stirling Engine are consistently excellent. People who have bought it are particularly impressed by its quality and performance. In today’s world, where everything is made from plastic, the look and feel of a solid, tactile piece of high-quality workmanship is immensely satisfying. It has an elegant design, is well engineered and constructed, and runs like a dream.
Review: Wilesco Showman’s Engine D409
Review of the Wilesco Showman’s Engine D409
The Wilesco Showman’s Engine D409 is a fully working scale model of a steam-driven farm engine, the likes of which would have been used to power agricultural machinery such as threshers and ploughs before the modern tractor.
You can still see a small number of engines of this type in the UK today, powering old-fashioned fairground carousels and other rides, as well as at shows and fayres around the country, where they often draw a large crowd of fascinated onlookers.
This technically perfect scale replica is painted in traditional colours and carries traditional writing on the side of the canopy indicating its origin in Middlesex, England. It is delivered ready-made, with no assembly needed, and will look stunning either as a static model or a working demonstration of times gone by.
On the model itself, the boiler measures 7.3” by 1.8” and has a water volume of 14in. A water gauge glass is included, and the boiler vessel itself is chemically painted black, giving a durable protective finish.
A powerful, double action cylinder powers the engine alongside the red-painted, 3.2” flywheel. Depending on the direction of rotation of the flywheel, the engine can be run in forward or reverse.
Traditional chain steering as would be seen on a full-size engine of this type is included along with a spring loaded safety valve, steam regulator, steam jet oiler, footbridge, and steam whistle. A clutch engaged gear wheel allows the engine, and dynamo, to be used while stationary as well as when moving.
A dynamo lights the eight LEDs mounted on the canopy of the engine. Water is condensed and reused from the engine, just below the chimney.
Users will be able to run the engine for up to 15 minutes on each charge of fuel.
Each individual part of the engine is carefully constructed from finely painted, high quality, metal. The model is a total of 13” long, almost 6” wide, 8” high and weighs 4lbs.
Fuel, in the form of dry spirit tablets, as well as other consumables, are available from specialist retailers as well as online.
As a working steam engine, this item is not a toy and is not recommended for anyone aged under 18. Where the engine is being used in the presence of children, close supervision by a responsible adult it required. Steam engines can be dangerous, and if not properly maintained there is a very real risk of explosion. Users should be certain to follow all operating and maintenance instructions provided by the manufacturer.
High-quality, steam traction and show engine
Manufactured from high-quality metal parts
Technically perfect, fully working engine
Clutch gear enables stationary as well as mobile use
Dynamo powers LED lighting around the engine canopy
Delivered ready-made, no assembly needed
A stunning static model, or fascinating demonstration of technology from times gone by
Variants of the Wilesco Showman’s Engine D409
Many Wilesco products are available in different variants – the D409 reviewed here is a working steam model that can be upgraded with a radio remote control.
The model also comes in two other variants:
Wilesco Showman’s Engine D499 – which is the same fully-built model, with remote control.
Wilesco Showman’s Engine D419 – which is a kit for the model (which requires assembly).
Review: Mamod SP4 Stationary Live Steam Engine
Review: Mamod SP4 Stationary Live Steam Engine
This beautiful model is the Mamod SP4 steam engine. You would expect an engine of any kind to not be too aesthetically pleasing, they are designed to be the power unit, not the focal unit everyone lusts after. However, second best is never good enough for Mamod and their live steam engine units always look and play the part.
This steam engine is engineered in England using the highest quality metals. Not straying far from the classic Mamod use of colours, the SP4 is made up of bold red, silver and black colours. These colours create a glossy and tasteful finish to the model. Each model is:
260 x 208 x 185mm
heavy duty brass boiler and piston & cylinder unit
a water gauge connected to the boiler
a chrome plated fire box
solid fuel, oil and filler funnel (for hours of fun running the unit)
The SP4 resembles an old fashioned steam engine that would have typically been used in the past to run a range of things: pumps, mills, machinery and more. Stationary engines had no purpose without the other pieces of equipment and Mamod knows this very well. Never missing an opportunity to allow their models the ability to mimic the real world from times gone by, Mamod has created the SP4 steam engine with the opportunity to connect with other models. This live steam engine can be used to power pieces from the 1336 WS1 workshop and running them has never been easier. The SP4 is already assembled, so you don’t need to be an engineer to work out how to run this engine. Simply add water, light the fuel and the engine will work. This would be great to connect to other pieces – you could be running your own mini mill in no time.
This engine is suitable for a huge range of people due to its versatility. If using alone to just appreciate the power unit, it’s a fantastic educational tool for little ones and adults alike. It is worth noting, however, that children under 14 years old should not be left unsupervised with this product. That’s nothing to worry about, though, because adults will have a great time teaching their children and grandchildren all about the times of the past! Your kids are going to come top of their history class with their new model. The unit is also a fantastic gift for hobbyists who already have units from the 1336 WS1 series. Once they acquire the Mamod SP4, they’ll be able to fit all the pieces together and they’ll help each other work! Even if the hobbyist in your life does not have any other Mamod models, this is most certainly still one to think about for them. It’s a given that engines of the past were only used to power other units, but Mamod have made that a thing of the past by creating an engine one can appreciate by itself and will look perfect amongst any model collector’s pieces.
If you’ve already got a collection of live models, but not a stationary engine, the SP4 should most certainly be at the top of your list!
Model Steam Engines: Explaining Scales
Model steam engines are manufactured according to a variety of scales and gauges. The choice of scale and gauge is crucial as they are the major differentiating factors between the model steam engines. What makes things more confusing is that many model steam engine enthusiasts, and even seasoned fans, often use the two words ‘scale’ and ‘gauge’ interchangeably. However, they are two distinct attributes.
For starters, scale establishes the size relationship between the model engine and the real one. It is often represented as a ratio, such as 2mm:ft or 1:148 scale. This means that every part of the model engine is one-one forty eighth the size of the original steam engine. On the other hand, gauge is an attribute of the railway track. It is the distance between the inner edges of the track rails. Gauge is a more important attribute to consider, when purchasing a model steam engine. Let us understand why by looking at the main gauge types.
O Gauge model engines were produced from the beginning of the 20th century, and were among the most popular models for a long time, until the 1960s. Since then, they have lost their popularity and are difficult to find. They were manufactured in multiple scales from 1:1.48 to 1:43.5. But, they eventually lost their fame to smaller scale models. O Gauge model steam engines are not known for their finer details and accuracy. In fact, they were designed for pre-adults and therefore, cost-effectiveness, and durability were given more importance. Although they are valued by some collectors because of their rarity, most of the collectors and enthusiasts, with an attention to detail, do not prefer these models.
OO Gauge or Double-O Gauge model steam engines belong to a family of model railway systems, which follow the standard gauge model. The OO Gauge has a railway track that is 16.5mm wide, and is built at a scale of 1:76.2 or 4mm:ft. A highlight of OO Gauge models is that they rank very high in terms of realistic appearance and finer details. For this reason, they are of great value to serious collectors. Moreover, many of the manufacturers also place a lot of emphasis on durability and affordability. Naturally, they are among the most popular model steam engine categories today.
G Gauge models are big in size. They are manufactured on a scale range of 1:22.5. Because of their relatively huge size and highly durable construction, they make the best garden railway models. Their extensive use as garden models have led to modern train enthusiasts to believe that the G in G Gauge stands for Garden. The truth is that the G comes from groß, which means “big” in German. Oh yes, the G Gauge models were born in Germany, just like many others. A large scale means that the parts are not as intricate as the other models, say O Gauge for instance. Therefore, they are easy to produce and are readily available.
As you can see, the choice of gauge will be quite obvious to you based on the purpose of your purchase of a model steam engine. If you want a garden mode, then G Gauge is what you need. If you are a collector who enjoys the finer details, then OO Gauge is what does the job for you. However, if you are buying a model engine for your kid, then O gauge is just the thing.