The smallest and cheapest engine in the Mersey Models range was the Model 51. A simple and basic engine with no frills, it had a vertically mounted cylinder and featured Mersey’s characteristic safety valve with its conical top. The Model 51 was normally supplied with a two-wick burner, which was sadly missing from this example
This engine is in excellent condition, however, when tried with a borrowed burner, it stubbornly refused to run. There was plenty of steam pressure and everything turned over freely, but it just could not be persuaded to go. An examination of the piston revealed that there was little or no packing in the groove. Some fine cotton, soaked in steam oil was wound into place and I tried again. This time success, it ran very smoothly, proving the value of the original design.
Slightly larger than the Model 51 and with a very distinctive angled piston the Mersey Model 52 was produced four variants. This one being the basic one with no gears or reversing mechanism.
A lovely example, it is in super condition and is complete with its original box. All I have done since acquiring it is to give the engine a gentle clean and touch up the paint on the burner, which had mostly worn off.
I bought the engine at "Mr Bowman's Birthday Party" at Abbey Pumping Station, Leicester. (More information on this event can be found at the Steam Toys In Action Website.) It had probably not been run for years but after fitting new wicks to the lamp and a good oiling all round it burst into life and ran superbly, watched by a small group of fellow enthusiasts.
The burner that came with it had two wicks, which raises an interesting point. The Model 52 has three holes in the base and discussions with other Mersey owners confirms that the Model 52 normally has a three-wick burner! So the question arises is this burner actually from a Model 51 rather than a Model 52?