Other British Engines
Not a lot seems to be known about Wilson engines but what I have managed to find out is that they were made by Wilson Brothers of Woodward Road, Kirkby Trading Estate, Liverpool, England, some time around 1948. They made two engines, both of which had vertical boilers.
This example is the larger of the two Wilsons. It is obviously a high quality item and is very substantially built. The boiler has a central flue and appears to be silver soldered. It is fitted with a lubricator and has a speed control valve, not unlike that fitted on a Burnac.
The engine is in very good condition for its age and is complete with the original burner. I am very impressed with it, it is a superb runner and is rapidly becoming one of my favourites
This engine is a complete mystery. It is 9½ inches (24cm) tall and it has no maker's marks of any kind on it anywhere. With the engine was an unusual square vaporising type spirit burner. I do not usually use this burner as it burns with far too fierce a flame and only last for a few minutes.
There is a photograph of one of these engines in Basil Harley's book "Toyshop Steam" (colour plate number 5). Unfortunately there is no information on it, the caption, , merely states that the engine "looks English"
This engine was generally in very good condition when I acquired it and I was delighted to find that it was in full running order. It has benefited from a good clean and I have also repainted the base which is, I think, cast aluminium.
At Steam Toys In Action, in February 2008, I met a gentleman who owns one of these engines. He felt that they were made by Mastrand. Mastrand made a steamroller in the early 1950s that was sold by Gamages in London. It is believed they also made a stationary engine, is this it?
Toytown Flyer / Harbro Flyer
A rather basic, but attractive, little engine made in Britain just after the Second World War. In the November 1946 issue of Meccano Magazine the famous London department store, Selfridges, were advertising them for sale at 14 shillings and 7 pence (73p in modern money).
The advertisement only describes the engine as a "vertical oscillating steam engine" and gives no details of the maker. So who made them? That is not a straightforward question to answer as the identical engine has been documented as being produced by two manufacturers.
This example, according to the instruction sheet supplied with it, is a "Toytown Flyer" and was manufactured by Dixon Plastics Ltd. of Earls Barton, Northamptonshire. Other examples exist with instruction sheets that describe the engine as a "Harbro Flyer" and give the manufacturer as the Harbro Engineering Company of Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
It is possible that the engines were manufactured by one company and sold, under licence, by the other. It is also possible that the two companies were part of the same group, Earls Barton and Market Harborough are quite close, less than twenty miles apart.
These engines are characterised by the lack of a conventional safety valve. The instructions state; "It should be noted that an automatic safety valve device is provided in the method of spring-loading the cylinder pivot." Another unusual feature is that these engines have been found with two burners. Was this a simple case of providing a spare, or was it to allow the power to be increased by using them both together? Ironically, having said that, the burner is missing from my example.
Not a lot is known about the engines produced by Latimer Products of Latimer Road, Teddington, Middlesex, England. They produced two models in the years immediately following the second world war. There was the small L4 and the much larger and more substantial L5. Curiously the two engines shared virtually no common components.
Latimer Products engines were sold under the name "Plane Models".
The Latimer L4, with its horizontal boiler and vertical cylinder, has an unusual layout for a British made engine. Another novel feature is the combined chimney and safety valve, which also acts as the boiler filler cap. It is quite a small engine, the boiler is about the same size as that on a Mamod Minor 1.
This one was in good condition when purchased and has been left as found. It is complete with the original burner.
Victorian Metal Models
Victorian Metal Models Ltd. were based in New Street, St Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands. During the 1970s they produced a small steam model based on an 1858 Thomas Aveling portable engine, as far as is known this was their only steam model.
The Castle Products stationary engine was another British engine dating from the late 1940s – early 1950s period. Very little is known about these, but they are well made and run nicely.
Sadly the original burner is missing but they were very like S.E.L burners, so one of those will make a reasonable substitute.
Swan steam engines were produced between 1920 and 1925 by the Hobran engineering company ltd of Wolverhampton.
This example of these rare engines has had a hard life and is missing its chimney and steam pipe. So far I have only attempted to conserve it to prevent any further decay. A full restoration may follow at some time in the future.
Another mystery engine, it is quite small, about the same size as the Mamod Minor 1. The question is; what is it? It might be another of those obscure items from the post war period. I have seen at least one other example, so it is probably not a home build, however, another possibility is that it is a school project engine.