Model Engineer Exhibition 2016

Colin Bishop Reports

There was no exhibition held in 2015, but it resurfaced in September 2016 at the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, Surrey, which occupies the famous old race track and airfield site. Admission to the exhibition included the museum as well, so there were lots of full size engineering related things to see as well as their miniature counterparts. The historic venue and old buildings did however mean that the exhibition was rather fragmented around the site and housed in various spaces in two blocks over two floors, with the rather depleted trade presence occupying a large marquee a little distance away. Signage was improved during the course of the show to help visitors find their way around. Subsequent comments were positive about the juxtaposition of full size and miniature engineering.

Marine models

It was very pleasing to see a much stronger marine competition entry than has been the case in in recent years, supplemented by models in the Loan Class and on three of the club stands including those of Hanwell and Phoenix. Obviously not every model qualified for an award, but there were none present that didn’t fully deserve to be there as fine examples of model boat building.

No less than five Gold Medals were awarded, something we haven’t seen for many years now. Two of these went to working model battleships and the first to HMS Renown, a Victorian second class battleship built by Andrew Dalton.

HMS Renown

This is an interesting subject and the last of her type as second class battleships were intended for foreign climes where they were unlikely to encounter superior opposition and her main armament was four 10 inch guns rather than the usual 12 inch.

To reduce the heavy hull fouling that occurs in warmer waters, the hull was first sheathed in wood and then in copper, an expensive process which added weight, but necessary in regions where dry dock facilities were few and far between. HMS Renown was a pretty ship, lighter in appearance than her first class consorts with a marked sheer to her hull and became Admiral ‘Jackie’ Fisher’s favourite, serving as his flagship while C in C Mediterranean Fleet. Andrew’s model captured HMS Renown beautifully in exquisite detail and the more you looked, the more you found. The multiple ship’s boats were a tour de force in their own right. It was clear that a huge amount of work had gone into this absolute gem of a model which perhaps surpasses even the superb models made by the late-Brian King. HMS Renown was also awarded the Earl Mountbatten Trophy for the best warship model.

HMS Iron Duke

The second battleship was of a later generation, being HMS Iron Duke, Admiral Jellicoe’s flagship at Jutland, the model being constructed by Geoff Dixon. As a ‘Super’ Dreadnought, HMS Iron Duke has a much more warlike appearance than HMS Renown with less scope for fine detail, but Geoff had incorporated a number of working features into his model with the main armament able to train and simulate gunfire using an ingenious adaptation of water mist technology which is more commonly used for imitation funnel smoke. The model build has been a long running topic on the Model Boat Mayhem website forum and it was a pleasure to see the finished article. Unfortunately it arrived late in the day and was not displayed to best advantage, but I hope that did not mean it was overlooked by the visitors.

Edwardian Steam Launch

The third Gold Medal went to an entirely different craft altogether. Our first impression of Ian Gerrard’s Edwardian Steam Launch was that it was rather bigger than the usual example of this type of model at 1:5 scale, but obviously very well constructed and finished. So it came as no surprise that it was propelled by a Stuart D10 steam engine. At this point things started to get very interesting as the steam plant did not have a conventional boiler as one might expect, but what Ian describes as a ‘Once Through Steam Generator’.

In its essentials, this is what would normally be regarded as a flash steam boiler using a 50 foot coil of copper pipe to generate the steam supply. Ian supplied technical notes, which there is no space for here (it has been fully described in Engineering in Miniature Magazine), and which explained how he has used sensors in conjunction with computerised controlled feedback procedures and automated mechanisms to enable this normally rather erratic method of steam generation to deliver a smooth sustained power output consistent with the performance required from a launch model.

Ian had done all the experimentation and computer programming himself which is impressive to say the least. Not content with that, the model also features remote voice control for boiler and steam functions together with an electronic compass permitting compass steering instructions and an on-board MP3 player repertoire.

The model boat itself returns telemetry data back to the controller, monitoring key operating parameters and perhaps I should also mention that the Stuart D10 engine was built by Ian from raw castings!

This really was an extraordinary model, combining period charm with state of the art engineering and technological expertise and demonstrating Ian’s wide range of different skills, and we had no hesitation in awarding a Gold Medal together with the H.V. Evans Trophy for Research and Presentation. Ian was also very happy to stand by his model answering questions from fascinated show visitors.

Kit Class Gold Medals

The final two Gold Medals were awarded in this Class. The first went to David Wooley for his HMS Skirmisher based on the Deans Marine kit. Regular readers will be familiar with Dave’s long running series of articles in this magazine detailing his very exacting work in enhancing this Deans Marine Victorian third class cruiser kit and I very much enjoyed seeing the pretty much finished article which just shows what you can do with a commercial kit if you set your mind to it.

The second Gold Medal was awarded to Arthur Barlow for his model of the Der Seekadett steam launch from Marten, Howes and Baylis. Arthur had incorporated a number of improvements into the kit as supplied, including remaking various fittings and the wood deck gratings. The overall finish of the model was quite exceptional and really did show the kit to its best advantage.

Other medals and awards

One Silver Medal was awarded and this went to Stephen Duckworth’s Saunders-Roe Seaplane Tender. These boats were used to transfer passengers from airline flying boats to shore between the world wars and Stephen had carried out considerable research in building his authentic model. The hull presented some problems, it being a complex shape with many curves and was constructed in diagonal planked balsa. The finish and detail on the model was immaculate and it was nicely presented on a base with images of the period.

Alan Ludbrook has a track record of choosing unusual subjects and this year’s offering was the French Battleship Ram Tigre of 1871, scale 1:72. An example of something from an experimental period in naval history, this warship combined a ram with a twin gun turret forward and was intended for coastal defence purposes. The hull was actually of wood with iron plates fitted over the turtleback upper deck to deflect incoming shot. Although a relatively straightforward subject, Alan had made an excellent job of bringing this naval dinosaur back to life and the iron armour plating was very well simulated. The model was awarded a Bronze Medal and a number of Certificates were also awarded.

A Very Highly Commended went to Robin Lee for his impressive model of the German pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee built on a Fleetscale hull with some commercial fittings, the remainder of the model being scratch built. The planking was particularly well done. It is difficult in competitions for this type of model, which combines commercial and scratch built elements, to achieve sufficient marks to take it into the medal categories, but this is the way many models are built these days. His KM Admiral Graf Spee is an excellent model in all respects.

Brian Rose’s lake steamer Josephine was also given a Very Highly Commended Certificate. This model was attractively presented to show the internal cabin detail and powered by a Cheddar Models Pintail engine and boiler. It was very well finished although we did feel that some of the deck varnish was perhaps a little overdone.

David Reynolds is well known for his matchstick models and had entered HMS Victory using this technique. The proportions of the original vessel had been retained (not always the case with this type of construction) and the rigging had been very well done indeed. This is as probably as good as you could hope to find of its type and was awarded a Highly Commended Certificate.

Commended Certificates were awarded to the following:

Mick Nicholson, firstly for his WW1 Coastal Motor Boat No. 4 which captured the essence of these risky craft which relied upon dropping the torpedo off the back of the boat and getting out of the way quickly. It was nicely finished with the crew members adding to the degree of realism. Mick also received a certificate for his well detailed naval steam picket boat converted to a torpedo boat, demonstrating the versatility of these craft.

Ray Renowden for MTB No. 49, originally built by him as a boy from a Vic Smeed design in 1963 and renovated in 2007. His original build must have been to a high standard as the model still looks very good today.

Peter Shires for a lug rigged Norfolk Broads Day Boat, plank on frame in mahogany, which was well researched, executed and presented.

Peter Perry for his example of the classic Fairey Swordsman fast motorboat. This was generally very well finished, but let down a little by the narrow and varying width deck planking which was rather too glossy at this scale.


At the time of writing it remains to be seen if the Model Engineer Exhibition will continue at the Brooklands Museum in 2017. It is clear however that a lot of visitors did enjoy the opportunity to explore the museum and its transport and aviation related engineering historic collections, and will no doubt return if this is the case.