Monday, 16 February 2009

Steaming The Wilesco...

Most people who enjoy steam engines will own a "Steam Toy", as I do. My engine is a Wilesco D405 Class Traction Engine. However, one of Britain's best known steam toy manufactures is Mamod. They offer small locomotives using miniature boilers and basic valve gear. Power to drive the locomotive is then transferred from the flywheel to the road wheels using a metal band. However, Wilesco, a German make, offers engines with drive via cogs, positioned on back axle, the firebox side and the flywheel rod. Mine is one such engine. Modelled on the traditional road locomotive, the loco offers:-A solid fuel-fired boiler, cog-driven drive, working whistle, chain steering and a working safety valve. The valve gear is quite conventional, offering forward and reverse gear down to quite a slow speed. The cylinder includes a removal screw-cap for oiling purposes. Firing wise...Wilesco recommends "Esbit" tablets, however, I use "MSS" (Mamod) fuel as you seem to get twice as much for your money (as they are a bit thicker), and the smell isn't as strong for indoor use. You can get 3 in the burner tray and they last for 20 minutes or so, depending on the conditions which you are running in. Today, I used my Wilesco locomotive for the first time since Christmas. It was steamed with its new living van and road tyres, both specially manufactured by Forest Classics. The engine happily ticks over with the safety valve feathering, as the full boiler pressure (15psi) can be maintained quite easily with a "good fire". With the drive engaged, the engine can happily move along the ground with its living van towed behind. At Christmas, the engine did a "miniature road run" when it took 25 minutes to run 60 metres! It also took 8 tablets and 2 oilings, whilst still moving(!), to keep it running homeward. There was no need to refill the boiler however. After its 25 minute "epic journey", the engine had just a little bit of water left in the glass, and ticked over until the pressure had completely diminished. To dispose of the engine, I remove the safety valve, open the whistle, and then turn the engine upside down. As long as it is still relatively hot, most of the water will easily drain out. This reduces the limescale risk. The burner tray is left to cool and the safety valve replaced. The whistle can then be shut and the cylinder oiled.

Once oiled, the flywheel can be turned 3 or 4 times to make sure the oil is "worked" into the various parts. The engine is then cleaned a little and placed back on my shelf with its wooden living van behind! "Steam Toy"s are good fun and, Wilesco's especially, look quite realistic. I'm sure it'll be out steaming again soon!

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