Bristol MEX 2016

Braved Saturday′s somewhat inclement weather to drive the 110 miles to visit the Bristol Model Engineering & Model Making Exhibition. The exhibition, as in previous years, takes over most of the available space at the Thornbury Leisure Centre. Slightly different layout this year as the Centre was using one of the smaller rooms but plenty of models for visitors to enjoy and enough traders to supply all those engineering necessities and lighten your wallet. By my reckoning about 40 trade stands, 50 club stands and some 40 private exhibitors helped fill the display stands.

Bristol Society of Model and Experimental Engineers - Locomotive Display
1. Bristol Society Stand – GWR Rules

GWR Swindon works celebrates it′s 175th year and the BSMEE stand acknowledges this with a fine display of GWR locos. The Society also promoted a theme of “model making” for the show and this is reflected in the change of name for the event, which the observant will have noticed, I didn′t until I read the exhibition guide! Some of the GWR locos on display (1), two Saints nearest the camera 2908 and 2915 with 2286 a 0-6-0 Collet design tender loco on the left. Click On Photos For A Larger Image.

At the opposite end to the Saints are; (2) Frilsham Manor 7816 and Bradley Manor 7802. A general view of the BSMEE stand (3) and a view from the balcony (4) which shows how quiet it was, I think the weather and the Olympics conspired to keep potential visitors at home, apparently Friday was a lot busier. As last year I have selected just a few of the hundreds of exhibits on display.

Stockport Corporation Tram 1/16 scale
5. Stockport Corporation Tram 1/16 scale

In Hall 3 Greg Marsden had a splendid diorama of 1/16th scale trams (5). These are modelled in fine detail and are based on Stockport Corporation trams from the 1930s. There was a great deal of information with the display, too much to take in quickly, unfortunately there seems to be very little information online regarding either the models or the prototypes.

In the small Hall 2A I found Jack Snary with his Spithead Fleet Review through the ages. Jack is still updating this and there are now some 660 1/1200 scale models covering 5000 years (6). I think many of the vessels portrayed are now not strictly part of a fleet review. Somewhere there is an Egyptian reed boat from 3400BC. Many of the models are scratch built and Jack reckons that it takes from 15 to 120 hours for one model. A close up of the 1880 period (7) with some of the mainy sailing ships in the display.

Sharing Hall 2A with the Fleet Review were a number of small scale railway layouts and I was interested by the N-gauge layout demonstrating computer control of the locos. Photo (8) shows a little GWR tank loco, just visible in the cab is a blue plastic chip which contains the control circuitry. Also visible are the track gaps that make it all work. The track is live all the time and the loco motor is stopped started and reversed according to the signals received. Photo (9) shows the circuitry necessary to interface the track sections to the computer (and not a Raspberry Pi in sight). I imagine it gets seriously complicated for a large layout with many track sections.

Baker Monitor Hit and Miss Engine
10. Baker “Monitor” Hit & Miss Engine

This very good model of a hit and miss engine (10) by David Everett, I found in the gloom under the balcony. It is a 1/3 scale model of an American made Baker “ball hopper” Monitor 4hp hit and miss engine. The prototype circa 1912 would have been used on the farm for pumping water, chaff cutting or butter churning, indeed anything that needed a bit of rotary power. This is probably the only one of this particular model this side of the Atlantic as the castings are American (Pacific Model Designs possibly) and only a few sets were made.

Also in the under balcony gloom was Keith Wright with his Scratter Mill (11) being driven by his 1/3 scale Economy hit and miss engine. This is a good show engine, runs all day seemingly without problems, I have seen it at several shows. Back out in the light of the main hall the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust had a very interesting display with a collection of engine parts and loads of information. The Trust was formed in 1981 to promote and preserve the history and engineering excellence of Rolls-Royce. Two part sectioned engines were on display. Most well known probably is the Merlin (12) of Spitfire fame, this one complete with small model of the plane. Next to this a cut away of the Adour (13) A twin turbo-fan engine that was designed in 1965 to power the Jaguar. A modified version with no reheat is used in the Hawk trainer.

The model display area in hall 2 had some cracking private entries. I think my favourite model at the show was this Caird & Co. Slotting Machine circa 1830 (14) & (15). The model, one of several on display, by Maurice Turnbull is finely detailed and well finished in 1/12 scale. I would like to know how the operator turned the handwheel on top of the slotting ram, as the original would have been about 8feet up! Had to show front and back. Next door to Maurice′s display was another workshop machine model, this time a band saw by Tom Polatch. Photo (16) shows a 1/12 scale model of a MacDowell bandsaw from the 1870′s. The original was exported to Canada but apparently found it′s way back to Falmouth where it was still in use in 1990.

There were quite a few clocks on display and the first of this group (17) is a John Wilding design skeleton clock by Phil Bridgway from the BSMEE. Photo (18) is a coup-perdu skeleton clock by Hywell Lambert. This is a work in progress and by all accounts a bit of a pig to build and Hywel was telling me he has had to make several changes due to errors in the drawings. It will when finished be a very interesting clock complete with a perpetual calendar. I looked up coup-perdu, it is french for “lost beat” and is used to give the second hand an advance once per second whilst using a 1/2 second pendulum. The last clock is a St.Pauls Cathederal clock (19) which has going, striking, and chiming chains. This clock is also by Hywel Lambert, one of about eight he had on display at the show.

A little bit about some of the trade stands. A newcomer to the show was Emvio Engineering, the company is locally based in Bristol and has been steadily expanding for the last couple of years. New to Emvio and the show is a small milling machine, the EMV-25VBB bench-top mill (20). This has a 1.1kw DC brushless motor and belt drive and I can confirm it is very quiet when running. The quill is R8 and compatable with a range of quick change tooling which Emvio have developed. This is an ideal machine for CNC conversion and a kit will be available soon, I was told. The machine is at a good price too of £1150.00 at the time of writing. See Emvio Website for more information. Also on the stand was a rather nice 2-spool 3D printer the BCN3D (21) and Emvio can supply print heads and other spares for a range of printer systems.

Another newcomer at the show was EMS (International) Ltd. who have developed a range of DRO kits to suit the hobby market. Starting with a two axis lathe system for a show price of £299.00, I am very tempted. Spotted some nice ready to run model locos for sale on Silver Crest′s stand (22) in Hall 2, if you happen to have a bit of spare cash.

The Guild of Model Wheelwrights always put on a good show (23), this year was no exception with many fine models on display. I picked out just one to highlight the craftmanship, the rather unusual “Flapper” tar sprayer by Brian Young (24).

The Cardiff Marine Modellers put on a good display but could probably have done with a bit more room, some of the exhibits were a bit close together making for awkward photography. This model of a small fishing boat built by John Evans (25) caught my eye as did the rather good Mississippi stern wheeler behind it (26). The Surface Warship Association had a good display and my selection here was HMS Scorpion (27) a Weapons Class anti-submarine destroyer built by Colin Watson. I also picked out this 1948 built model of the battleship King George V. You can see in photo (28) the valve driven radio control receiver and the ex-GPO switchgear used I think as a speed controller. The model was built by John Chantrill and was donated to the Association by his daughter, having languished in the garage for many years. The plan is to repair the mouse nibbles and generally clean it up with a bit of sympathetic restoration. It might even sail again with a modern radio system hidden beneath the original.

Model ship building was well represented at the show and on the Yate & Sodbury Model Sailing Club stand was a good display of warships. Some like HMS Rodney and HMS Hood at the rear of photo (29) were scratch built while others were derived from kits. Even a small plastic kit (30) can be made to sail with a bit of ingenuity. The motors are stripped from radio control servos whilst the servo electrics are used to provide the drive and to balance the output from the four motors. Apparently these models can be a bit difficult to ballast, relying on very light control gear and small batteries. They don′t like to be sailed in choppy conditions either as it is difficult to keep the water out!

A collection of interesting exhibits from around the show. Stroud Society of Model Engineers had a good selection of exhibits, I picked out the Verto steam engine and boiler by Bryan Cole (31) and their loco display fronted in my photo (32) by a 3½” County and the little chap driving the GWR 1400 series tank loco. No show would be complete without a few hot air engines, the Stirling Engine Society had more than a few, a selection of LTD engines (33).

A work in progress, one of the shows themes, by Alex DuPre showed a number of self designed engine parts and assemblies, the machining looked excellent to me (34). Well there were plenty of trains and ships at the show and the flying department was not left out either. The Beaufort Model Flying Club stand (35) in Hall 3 put on a good display and you could have a go at flying a helicopter or drone in the netted off area. By way of something completely different, all the fun of the fair (36), shows Dave James′ 4mm scale funfair.

I have an interest in stationary steam engines so I found a few at the show. Galloways Non dead Centre engine is a bit of a peculiar one and seems unnecessarily complicated, still it was made in 1838, (37) is Mike Bowell′s version, of what I think is the Anthony Mount design, on the BSMEE stand. Reuben Smith was showing this model (38) of a Ransomes Portable Engine on one of the display stands and another private entry was Chris Eatherton′s display (39) of unusual engines. At the front is Suzanne an outside motion vertical engine, centre is a Fairbairn column engine and furthest away a model of the Gorgon steamship engine.

The South West Meccano Club had this representation of Brooklands Garage replete with 1930s racing cars (40). Just to prove that you don′t need high power machinery to build models, West Wiltshire Society of Model Engineers was demonstrating the use (41) of this Drummond hand shaper. My first steam engine was a Mamod and there were plenty on display (42). The Severn Mendip 16mm Group had their portable display at the show, a quick view of a loco passing through Mendip Vale station (43).

I quite enjoyed the show and it made a change to be able to talk to some of the exhibitors without being jostled by the crowds and to take photographs easily. The lack of visitors however was not going down too well with the traders who have to pay quite a lot for stand space. Photo (44) is of Tracy Tools stand and shows the problem, normally at shows you have to push and shove to get near the front! I think probably a lot to do with Saturday′s weather which also detered all but the most stalwart outside exhibitors. Last (45) was my view as I left just after 4pm which shows what I mean. Still it was a good day and the drive there and back wasn′t too bad despite a delay on the M4 going home.


  1. Written By: George In September 2016

    Thanks for the mention! Was good to meet you in person.

    • Written By: Journeyman In September 2016

      Pleasure, any idea when the cnc upgrade kit for the mill will be available?

  2. Written By: George In September 2016

    Yes, I am aiming to get these by years end. Have already have some preliminary designs and will try and ensure that the customers will not need to machine the saddle as is commonly required.

    • Written By: Journeyman In September 2016

      Look forward to seeing that. If the ballscrews/nuts can be fitted without machining that will make a CNC upgrade much easier. Good luck. Will check back on the EMVIO site later.

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