Steam-powered model car

Mamod Steam RoadsterIn the late 70’s, I bought a Mamod SA1 Cream Steam Roadster. I had saved up for it for a long time, and as I recall it cost me about 35 pounds, which was a lot of pocket money.

Like many toys, I used it a few times, and then primarily kept it in its box and on a shelf. I have been carrying it around with me ever since. I moved recently and my daughters noticed it and prompted me to get it out.

With some caution and lots of caveats to my girls about it being unlikely to work after 25 years or so in a box, we oiled the bearings, filled the boiler with hot water and took out the fuel tablets. To my frank astonishment, they lit, we placed the heat under the boiler and the engine worked beautifully.

The steam engine is a marvel both of simplicity, but also of quality engineering. It was fun for my girls to steer it up and down the sidewalk, and I just love the elegance of the design, and watching the piston do its work. I think my brother had a Traction Engine. Maybe he’ll dig that out.

It reminds me of a visit to the British Engineerium, and the massive pump engine there, which I was lucky enough to see in operation. It looks like the museum has had some shaky times, but I hope it sticks around.

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