Midlands MEX 2022

I visited the Midlands Model engineering Exhibition in Warwickshire on Thursday (13th). Arrived around 10AM after a good journey along the M40 and A423. Only slight delay caused by construction work for HS2 just outside Southam. Found something that vaguely resembled coffee and then started off around the show. First thing to be said is, that to me, it appeared smaller than on previous years. Particularly noticeable in Hall 2 where about one third of the space had been set aside for tables and chairs. Outside also looked a bit sparse with only twelve of the Fosse Way Steamers in action. The usual portable rail track was absent as were any other outside displays save two catering wagons.

1. Ashmead @ Lympsham Wharf
1. Ashmead @ Lympsham Wharf
This was my ‘Best in Show’ a diorama of Lympsham Wharf on the River Axe with an impressive model of (1) the Severn trow Ashmead by Anthony Judd. These barges were used for local trade in coal and timber on and around the River Severn. This is a freelance model based on Bridgewater built Norah (c.1868). Ashmead was build as a radio controlled sailing model and is fully operational with servos controlling the rigging and rudder. The diorama was added later. Photo does not do the model justice due to the poor lighting and crowded background. I thought this would make an excellent museum display, when her sailing days are over of course. Gained 3rd place in competition class 10.

Cooch Vertical
2. Cooch Vertical Engine
Practically the first exhibit you see on entry is (2) this large vertical column engine, the label unfortunately described it as a ‘vertical boiler‘, hopefully the label was altered at some point in the show. Cooch & Son were agricultural equipment makers in Nottingham but I am unable to find any mention of steam engines, their speciality was potato sorters, so not much help there. Reminiscent of the Benson vertical column engines but the column appears parallel rather than tapered. Nevertheless a fine model by John Fysh and competition winner in class 5.

For A Larger View – Click On The Image

Vertical boiler and steam plant
3. Vertical Steam Boiler
Just so that there is no misunderstanding this is a vertical boiler!

On the Wolverhampton & District Model Engineering Society was this freelance model of a vertical steam boiler and associated plant (3). The boiler was sized to suit a section of 6.625″ copper tube from a club member. The boiler is based on an Atkinson vertical boiler but with larger fire tubes. At the front of the picture are plastic patterns used to cast the ash pan vent, chimney cap and base. The boiler can be used to steam a Stuart No.4 engine and future projects along with testing injectors. An excellent piece of kit by Dave Bickerton.

For A Larger View – Click On The Image

A quick look at some of the competition and display models. The 0-4-0T locomotive ‘Tich’ by Dave Lee (4) was highly commended in class 2 for 3.5″ gauge locomotives. The LMS/BR 20T Brake Van to diagram 1919 by Adrian Morris won class 4 and the GWR Toad Brake Van by Dave Lee was 3rd

An excellent model, which was attracting much interest and comment, was a BSA Goldstar DBD34 motorbike (5) by John Luscott in 1:3.5 scale a worthy recipient of 1st place in class 15. A rather nice display model was this (6) 4-cylinder 4-stroke I/C engine ‘Seal’ to an old design by Edgar Westbury.

A vacuum engine to a design by Jan Ridders is next (7), built by John Wing to a much better standard than the one I made a few years ago. A Clarkson Horizontal Steam engine (8) by John Fysh was highly commended by the judges in competition class 5. A model (9) of the engine from the battleship ‘USS Monitor’ by David Rhodes was I thought rather good.

10. Foghorn & carronade
10. Foghorn & Carronade
This was an unusual model in the competition but displayed on the SMEE stand. John Clarke has modelled (10) part of the deck from an early wooden lightship c.1892 showing a manual/mechanised foghorn and a carronade. A very different model earning 3rd in competition class 15.

For A Larger View – Click On The Image

Hereford Society of Model Engineers (11) were awarded 3rd place for best society display. I found this well completed Ugears wooden locomotive kit (12) which had been motorised using a a stepper motor and 3D printed gears, at the back of the stand. The nicely finished Atkinson Steam wagon (13) by G. Sadler was on the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society stand.

On the Bromsgrove Society of Model Engineers stand I was drawn to this model of a Rail Breakdown Crane and matching truck (14) by Mike Evans. Not yet painted but I thought it looked rather good in it’s native steel and brass colours. The steam plant featuring a Stuart beam engine (15) by Ian Moone also looked well.

Another excellent stand was that of the City of Oxford Society of Model Engineers with a wide range of interests covered. Nicely finished in red is this example (16) of a Boulton and Watt Bellcrank Engine. The original was from 1802 and designed for use in the smaller businesses where a purpose built engine house was too expensive. Alongside this was the RPM Ltd. Bagnall tank engine (17) which was a rebuild project. Just to show that engines are available in colours other than red this fine 1/12 scale example of James Booth’s Rectilinear engine of 1843 (18) by Brian Holland was completed this year. Well worthy of a 3rd place in class 5 of this years competition.

Lets pop outside for some fresh air and a coffee. On the way out and next to the door of Hall 2 was the Midlands Meccano Guild stand. Most noticeable exhibit on the stand was the large replica of USS Missouri (19). The original was an Iowa class battleship which is now permanently moored in Pearl Harbour as a floating museum. Model by Steve Briancourt, commended in competition class 10, has rotating and elevating gun turrets and rotating props.

This was fairly early so the catering queue wasn’t that long (20) and there wasn’t much going on outside at the time. The Fosse Way Steamers were fairly widely spread around the field at the time.

Stephen Lee was demonstrating how traction engines were used around the farm, his 4″ scale Foster ‘Lady Jane’ (21) was working away driving one of Bamford’s grinding mills, not sure exactly what the mill was designed for but for farm use these were usually employed for feed preparation. This mill was a full size one and in real life would probably have been rigged to smallish stationary I/C engine. A full size traction engine would have been severely over the top for this mundane task.

The 4.5″ scale Foden short wheelbase lorry ‘Penny’ (22) was being shown by Chris & Ian Clipston, excellent. Just next door was Anthony Batting’s 4″ scale Fsoster agricultural engine ‘Lillian’ (23) driving a fully operational 4″ scale Ransome’s baler. Real mini straw bales. An impressive bit of kit. Of the 12 engines at the show the last image is of my favourite, it just looked right. Les & Sue Riley’s 4″ scale McLaren Road Locomotive ‘Maud’ (24) perhaps I liked it because it is the same blue as my car!

A selection of fine locomotives selected at random from around the show. On the Gauge 3 Society stand a Coronation class locomotive ‘Coronation’ (25) with tender and coach. Designed by William Stanier for the LMS the streamlining on many of this class was later replaced by a more conventional front end. This loco was liveried in blue with ‘go faster stripes’ rather than the LMS red. On display was the A4 Pacific ‘Silver Fox’ (26) under construction by Tony Bickerstaffe, excellent engineering and is going to be a ‘cracker’ when completed. Highly commended, in class 3, was Mike Pavies’s 5″ gauge LMS Class 2F Dock Tank (27). This was built to Derby works drawings over a period of 4 years.

2nd place in class 3 was taken by Alan Crossfield’s superb 5″ gauge GWR 4-2-2 Achilles Class locomotive ‘Royal Sovereign’ (28). An early GWR loco designed by William Dean the first examples were broad gauge with a 2-2-2 wheel arrangement around 1891. The original Kerr Stewart & Co. 0-4-2T ‘Hampton’ (29) was one of 3 built for the Metropolitan Water Board to run on the 2′ gauge railway that ran between the works at Hampton and Kempton in London. Whilst the railway still exists under preservation at Kempton the locos unfortunately were all scrapped. The model is built in 3/10ths scale so 7.25″ gauge. Last in this group, on the Coventry M.E.S. stand, is the 45mm gauge Darjeeling Class ‘B’ locomotive (30) built from drawings from the internet. The model is gas fired and fitted with radio control. I think the chap sitting on the coal bunker would prefer to be in the GWR carriage behind.

Plenty of excellent model ships and boats around the exhibition, here are just three that caught my eye. On the Welwyn Garden City Society of Model Engineers stand was this well turned out completed Graupner kit of (31) the Rescue Cruiser Eiswette. This fibreglass hulled model is a 1:20 scale model of the vessel currently based in Nordstrand in Germany, Length 19.91m – Beam 5,0m – Draught 1,3m – Displacement 40t – 1 Engine 1630hp (1232kW) – Speed 25 knots.

Kingsbury Water Park Model Boat Club, who were awarded 2nd place for the best society display, had an eclectic mix of vessels from hydrofoils to sailing yachts, and this model (32) of the paddle steamer Waverley caught my eye. Waverley is the world’s last seagoing paddle steamer was launched in 1946, has a triple expansion steam engine. The paddle wheels are 18′ diameter with 8 feathering floats per wheel. For more information see Waverley Paddle Steamer.

Last but not least in this group of photos is (33) RRS Discovery on the Knightscote Model Boat Club stand. I quote the label: Discovery 1901 – Scratch built to original design (pre 1926 re-fit). Scaled up 1970 Air-fix plans used as none available in this scale or design. Wooden double-planked hull and some 3D printed parts. Propulsion by electric motor and standard radio gear. Build time approx 8 months. – Owner/Skipper Pete Rye.

A few more from the display and competition stands. The (34) HA01 Stirling Engine by John Wing was a nicely completed example of a small Gamma configuration stirling engine.

With the absence of the Guild of Model Wheelwrights it was good to see this (35) model Gypsy Caravan. This is what the label says – “Eastleigh Young Engineers Club – Gipsy Caravan made from Coffee stirrers and cocktail sticks. I ran a STAYATHOME project for the Young Engineers using Facebook Messenger one-one during the Lockdowns. They made models in their kitchens using coffee sticks, superglue and loads of very frustrating hard work, I had to make everything at my end to demonstrate — I got carried away! Patrick Hendra.” The hard work was repaid with a 3rd in competition class 12

I don’t think there are many (36) Wimshurst Machines about these days, the last I remember seeing was in the science lab at school quite a lot of years ago. This example by David Nunes combines old with new technology. Many of the parts are 3D printed but the finished machine would most definitely be recognised by James Wimshurst around 1880.

A group of unusual models next. The Savage Centre Engine (37) by I. Tricklebank was on the Erewash Valley Model Engineer Society stand. I would like to see the rest of the carousel that goes with it, very nice work. The next two exhibit were on the Bromsgrove Society of Model Engineers Stand and both by Pat Cross. (38) is in the best of Steampunk traditions a crazy assemblage of parts to make the Expanding Time Illusion Generator, excellent. (39) is back to reality with a fine replica of a Victorian Kaleidoscope, couldn’t get to look down it though.

The Erewash Valley MES stand (40) was well laid out with space to see the exhibits and well labelled. Birmingham Society of Model Engineers also had a good stand and I picked out Lady Jane (41) displayed under the club logo as representative. This model is based on the Mobile Marine 1:32 scale ‘Lady T’ representing an early 20th century twin screw steam tugboat. Image (42) from the Coventry M.E.S. stand is a 5″ gauge 0-4-0 De-Winton loco, based on a narrow gauge De-Winton loco but with chain drive. Boiler is 5″ diameter multi-tube to LBSC design. The engine is a Stuart Double 10.

A couple of clocks in this group. First up again from the Coventry stand is a Scissors Pendulum Clock (42) to a John Wilding design, image I’m afraid lets it down too many reflections from the case. From the competition stand what is described as a ‘Small Weight Driven Tower Clock’ as tower clocks go it might be small but at about 10′ off the ground I couldn’t get far enough away for a good photo. MY photographic failings aside the clock by Andrew Dunn scooped 2nd place in class 9 of the competition.

Back to engines. The 1:4 scale Bentley BR2 Rotary Radial engine” (44) was displayed centre stage on the Erewash Valley stand, a fine piece of engineering by P.Clarke. David Rhodes claimed 2nd place in class 5 of the competition with this (45) Bodmer’s Sliding Cylinder Steam Engine.

On the Birmingham stand was this good looking model (46) of a Cowans-Sheldon 75T Rail Breakdown Crane, modelled in soft soldered brass and nickel silver, this is a functionig replica in 10mm:1ft scale. The Quorn Tool & Cutter Grinder (47) on the Coventry M.E.S. stand was an excellent example of home made tooling. On Wolverhampton & District M.E.S. was (48) a well made Guards van but the dog is going to escape because someone left the door wedged open.

That just about does it for the show, well worth the visit smaller than last year but lets hope will be better next year.

Show Competition Results – Full results in pdf format
Show Report by Meridienne – includes best club stand results
Show Video Visit – YouTube video by LMS4767

Stuart Steam Engines
Stuart Turner Model Steam Engines