The Bowman factory in Dereham, Norfolk, was leased from Hobbies Ltd. As well his own range of steam toys Geoffrey Jenkins produced a number of items that were sold under the Hobbies brand name. These included stationary steam engines and some superb steam boats.

Hobbies advertisment

From the "Meccano Magazine" May 1927

It has sometimes been said that Bowman only built the steam plants for the boats and the wooden hulls were made by Hobbies. This is not the case, both the hulls and the steam engines were made in the Bowman factory by Geoffrey Jenkinsí workforce.

Superheated "Pioneer"

Hobbies Pioneer Steam Engine

In 1927 Geoffrey Jenkins experimented with superheated engines for the Hobbies steam launches "Pioneer" and "Peggy". The two engines were similar in design but the Pioneer engine was bigger and more powerful. The boiler was contained in a cylindrical brass shroud with two chimney like vents on top. The steam pipe was quite long and was coiled around the boiler a number of times to provide a degree of superheating. Originally the steam pipe was lagged with non-inflammable asbestos string. These engines worked well but were complicated and costly to manufacture, in 1929 production of the Pioneer engine ended.

Hobbies Pioneer Advert

The Pioneer engine unit is basically the same as that used on the Wormar Elite and, as can be seen from the photograph below, it is very similar to the later Bowman 158.

Pioneer and 158

The Pioneer engine was removable from the boat and was fitted with drive pulleys so that it could be used to power other models if required. It was also available as a separate unit that a purchaser could install in his own hull or use it as a stationary engine.

This superb example is in fine condition for an eighty year old engine. Apart from the safety valve, which is a replacement, it is in original condition. The original burner has long gone and asbestos lagging has been removed. It still runs beautifully and is a fine tribute to Geoffrey Jenkins' engineering skills.