The Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition has been a regular event on the calendar for nearly 40 years and I went to this years show on Friday. The journey was uneventful and once off the motorway quite a pleasant drive through the Warwickshire countryside. The weather was cloudy but dry, a good thing as some of the exhibits are outside including the Fosse Way Steamers (pictured), the Gas Turbine Builders Association and the South West Truckers who seemed a bit lonely in a corner by themselves.
Back inside there were some 50 trade stands and an almost equal number of club stands with 4 large Competition and display stands rounding things off. I have to report a severely dented wallet due to overindulging at some of the well stocked trade stands, note to self – buy less tools! There is plenty of catering at the show with a couple of outside stands and the inside mezzanine restaurant. Over the four days there are a number of free lectures covering such varied subjects as Hobbing Gears, Silver Soldering, Sheet Metalwork, Steaming Model Boats and Foundry-work to name but a few.
The following photos show just a few of the thousands of items on display. No special reason for the choices other than I thought they looked good at the time. Click on the image for a larger version.
The three stationary engines were all on the competition stand. The first is a model of Galloway’s non-dead-centre beam engine by Brian Brown which claimed a 3rd prize in its class. The Stuart No.9 engine was “highly commended” and the last engine is I think a Georgina over-crank engine but I missed the label and can’t credit the builder. There were a good number of small stationary engine models at the show many based on castings from the likes of Stuart’s and Brunel Steam Models. I am still working up to completing my Stuart Victoria.
Next up, another three models from the competition and display stands just to illustrate the wide range of modelling interests represented at the show. True Briton is a fine example of model ship building by Terence Orton, a passenger clipper ship colloquially a “Blackwall frigate” built in 1861 and employed carrying passengers, cargo and convicts to Australia and New Zealand. The detail on the model is very fine even down to the copper plates on the hull. It is a pity that the security alarm wire detracts from the display but I suppose it is a necessity. The loco in the centre is one of Giancarlo Mastrini’s fantastic models. I have seen these at other exhibitions and my photo doesn’t really do it justice. It has gained a few plaques on the base but someone should kindly point out to Signor Mastrini that the Duke of EdiMburgh is probably having a quiet chuckle at the spelling error! By way of something completely different the stirling powered desk fan by E.K. Morris is a nicely finished and probably useful machine.
All of the club stands were packed with interesting items, the Northampton Society of Model Engineers display I thought very good. Equatorial sundials are unusual but I counted three at the show, I think all from the same design by Roger Bunce that appeared in Model Engineer some time back. This particular version was by David Fieldhouse and Chris Orchard. The model beam engine was one of a group, on the Kingsbury Water Park Model Boat Club stand, by Mick Hill. A nicely finished engine from an internet plan (I will have to find that one).
On a vaguely agricultural theme the next three photos are: A 2″ scale Fowler ploughing engine, one of a pair complete with a 6 furrow balance plough. The two engines are called Iris May and Sarah Jayne but that’s about all the info I have on these magnificent models. In the centre is Keith Wright’s 1/3 scale Economy hit & miss engine seen here driving a scratter mill. The engine ran well and was in action throughout the day. Last up on the Hereford Society of Model Engineers stand was Brian Palliser’s model of a Caterpillar D9 bulldozer video link.
As usual at these exhibitions the train enthusiast is well supported. The Leicester Society of Model Engineers had a largely railway oriented display, the central loco in this photo is a rather good 3.5″ gauge 9F – Evening Star with a supporting cast of well made rolling stock. Centre is a delivery van which caught my eye on the Guild of Model Wheelwrights stand, as usual an excellent selection of unusual models. 1st prize winner in it’s competition class is Jersey Lily a 5″ gauge model of a Great Central Railway Atlantic locomotive owned by David J. Bailey.
Finally the items I bought: A new keyless drill chuck for the drilling machine from RDG who always have a good selection at the show. I bought one of these for the lathe last year and thought it was well made at a reasonable price so I got another, much easier than playing with chuck keys. I have been using a drilling vice on the mill and though it was about time I got a proper milling vice. This is a 75mm jaw width 8900 from Warco, the only thing is it looks huge on my tiny mill, I may have to get a bigger mill to go with it! Silver soldering with my plumbers gas blowlamp just doesn’t work well so I treated myself to a proper torch by Sievert which I purchased from CUP Alloys (not the propane cylinder though). Last but not least a new belt sander to play with, a BDS460 from Warco, I will need some fine belts though the one that came with it is a bit quick. I will eventually get round to a bit of a write up on the sander to add to the workshop section.
Update November 2015 – review of the BDS 460 Belt & Disc Sander is now online.