Tag: Live Steam

Tewkesbury Mini-steam Weekend 2016

This morning I headed off to the Tewkesbury Mini-steam weekend held at the Tewkesbury Rugby Club grounds. This is the 2nd time I have attended this event, and I cannot believe that I have been in this town now for over a year. The event is held by the Model Steam Road Vehicle Society and showcases some of the smaller versions of the steam traction engines that are so popular around the country.

Last year was great, and while I did not do a blogpost I did showcase some of the images in my gallery. Unfortunately today the weather was not great and the sky changed colour quite a few times during my visit, and at one point it was even drizzling. But, steam is steam! let the steaming begin.

2017 can be found on it’s own page.

I arrived early (as usual) and did the rounds, looking for interesting steamers worthy of a second look. There was a really nice collection of vintage vehicles on show, and in my book the Ford Zephyr was tops until the Morris dropside van came along.

I was however not here for the cars. I was here for the steamers!

ministeam 024

So many distractions!

As I was saying, the accent in this event is not on full size traction engines, but on smaller half/quartersixth sized ones. Do not be mistaken by the size though, those small machines are working replicas of the real things, and they are not made of plastic. 

This early in the morning steam was being raised and brasses polished and bunkers were being filled. 

And of course the gubbins had to be adjusted too, now if only we knew where the gubbins actually was.

And as the morning wore on more steamers were waking up and steaming across the grass, smoking from the long extensions in their chimneys, while some just stood around smoking!

The steam wagons are interesting vehicles, and they do present a different set of challenges to the operator. 


Unlike last year when there was some sort of grand parade, I did not see one advertised this year, or not for the period that I had scheduled for my visit. Like it or not, I was not keen to hang around here the whole day, especially with drizzles coming and going. You can bet though, the moment I was out of earshot the grand parade commenced. 

I was also very impressed by the way the whole family gets roped into the occasion, and even the dog has a go.

Now remember, one bark means left, two barks means right! 

These machines were never built for speed though, they belong to a very different age, and of course age group. But it is good to see many youngsters and women participating in driving and keeping the machine in peak condition. 

These machines do not come cheap, and many have been in the family for a long time, They are more of an investment as opposed to a toy.

I have to admit Maud (image beneath) was a stunning machine with a fair turn of speed too. She is based on a JH McLaren machine. 

While the beauty beneath is based on a Wm Allchin Ltd Machine

To me though the best machine had to be the 15 Ton crane, 

There is definitely something dignified about these machines, whether is it the almost silent running of the machine in neutral, or the slow almost waddling gait as they pass by.

These are the machines that make small children point and get excited over, and which older men like me look at wistfully. Like their cousins that run on rails, they are machines from a different era, but they still have the ability to turn heads. Such are the machines of legend.

Random images from the cutting room floor.

© DRW 2016-2018. Created 25/06/2015

Toy Trains and things.

I am fortunate that I live just around the corner from The Rand Society of Model Engineers in Florida. Its not the sort of place I do visit often, but when I do get out there I am always impressed by what I see. This past weekend of 24/26 September they hosted  various SAR Steam Locomotives in a static and running display.  

To say that that the models were amazing would be an understatement, I had never seen some of the locos before and they did not disappoint at all. I think the star of the show was the very impressive 15F that was running. Its a huge model and is just like its real life sister.


The part that amazes me is how such a small loco can pull such large weights. Realistically the cylinders of these machines are not very big, yet they easily pull themselves, a grown man and the tender, as well as any attached rolling stock and their passengers. In fact, given how small some of the locos are, it is really astonishing how effective steam can be as a propulsion medium. Granted though, there is always the problem of carrying your coal and water wherever you go.


The other thing is, these models are not the sort of thing you buy out of a shop. The majority of them are handmade, and some take years to complete. The one model that was about 30% completed had already taken over 7 years to get there. And, once completed, you still need to get that boiler certified. No wonder the hobby seems to be dominated by older males. Youngsters come into it by inheriting their father or grandfather’s locos, they don’t sit down and make their own, unless they have a very highly developed machine shop and engineering bent.   

GF Garret.

GF Garret.

The other problem we have is that the pool of real live steam engines in South Africa is very small, so being able to build a model based on the real iota is often almost impossible because the real thing is no longer around. Fortunately model engineers are a very skilled group so they can still do an amazing job of recreating the real thing in miniature. All I know is, I really admire their talent, and am even jealous when I see those loco’s hurtling around the track. Yet I am fortunate to be able to see this, just think how many youngsters spend their days indoors glued to their playstations and computers and miss out on the heady smell of smoke and steam.
More images of live steamers that I have photographed previously at the RSME can be found at http://allatsea.co.za/blog/railways/live-steamers/
DRW ©  2011-2018. Images recreated 19/03/2016