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Newbie looking for best boat for mini steam marine engine

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Derek Ellis09/02/2020 16:24:28
16 forum posts

Find I have time on my hands (semi-retired), a pool in the backyard and cottage north of me in Canada, and want to build a wooden boat (abs hull) with a mini working marine steam engine, but don't know where to start. Any suggestions, place to go to get info, specific boat(s) to start with, best starter steam engine etc. Fairly handy building cottages, just not in miniature... Thanks in advance. Derek/Kanata/Canada

Colin Bishop09/02/2020 18:22:35
4508 forum posts
6059 photos
398 articles

Hi Derek,

As an absolute beginner it's best to do a bit of online research and reading up.

You could start with a Krick kit.


Our resident expert Richard Simpson has written a lot about starting off with steam models and getting back issues of magazines with some of his articles would be a good place to begin. Hopefully he will see this topic.


Derek Ellis09/02/2020 18:48:10
16 forum posts


Thanks, good advice. will get a subscription to be able to read his (Richard Simpson) articles. Liked the Krick Borkum or Anna. Will do much more research before I take the plunge. D.

Dave Cooper 609/02/2020 19:40:28
163 forum posts
16 photos


There's a lot to be said for joining a model boat club (or even a full-size one as they sometimes have modelling interests).

Don't know if you've got one in your part of the world, but, as well as having a great deal of knowledge, they can be a good source of parts, kits (some semi-built) and much more...

Good luck with your first project (let us see some photos of the steamer !)


Richard Simpson09/02/2020 20:07:51
99 forum posts
74 photos

Hi Derek and welcome to the forum. Starting from nothing is not easy to guide someone through as there is so much unknown on both my side and yours however a few basic thoughts might help. As Colin says a subscription to Model Boat Magazine to give you access to back issues and a large number of steam related articles would be useful reading. There are some useful books as well and, as Dave mentions, joining a club with a resident steam enthusiast is invaluable.

Failing that we are here as well!

Very basic thoughts to give your research a bit of direction.

1) Go for an open hull as opposed to a closed one for your first model. It is easier to operate and maintain and is an invaluable learning tool. Progress to an enclosed hull as a future project.

2) Use a kit to get you off the ground. The Krick ones are perfect for the beginner while still allowing plenty of scope for personalisation. I am a great fan of the Borkum however the Anna is even simpler to build but you might find it a little restrictive sooner. The Victoria has huge potential and can be made into a beautiful model.

3) Start with a simple plant, preferably all on a common base and provided as a complete plant by the manufacturer. Have a look at the Miniature Steam range in Australia. For the Borkum the Clyde plant is perfect. Avoid the complications of feed water but consider controlling gas consumption with an attenuator valve.

4) Learn as much as you can about the gas cooling effect and how it can be accomodated in your model. Disposable gas tanks are more flexible to use for a beginner but your plant may already be fitted with a refillable tank. You will have gas cooling challenges with a small gas tank and the lower temperatures found in Canada.

5) When you get your complete plant on a base play around with it on your workbench to get familiar with operating it. Then take it outside and play around with it again in different temperatures to see how differently it behaves. Learn why and what you can do operationally to minimise some of these effects. An attenuator valve and disposable gas tanks both play a big part in this.

That, in conjunction with some article reading, should give you enough to be thinking about for a while!

Any more questions feel free to ask here.

Edited By Richard Simpson on 09/02/2020 20:08:13

Derek Ellis09/02/2020 20:49:45
16 forum posts


Brilliant suggestions, am looking for a club in the Ottawa area as we speak. It is -31 celcius today, so no opportunity to go to the rivers or ponds to talk the model boaters. Very much appreciate your approach to reading and research as a first step. Once I decide on the right kit and power plant, will share my journey of discovery with the forum - let's to learn.


Richard Simpson09/02/2020 22:33:20
99 forum posts
74 photos

Derek, I used to work on merchant ships between the UK and Montreal. I once had to look after refueling on deck in -32 C, a memory that has always remained very clear in my mind!

I'm looking forward to hearing which direction you decide to take.

Good luck

Derek Ellis12/02/2020 22:01:02
16 forum posts


Getting warmer here, only -3 today. I took the forum's advice and am going to a Modelers club meeting March 4 in my area that has some guys with steam capacity/expertise. They hope to have a few people bring their steam fitted boats for a look. Also talking (via email) to miniaturesteammodels in Australia re: what they think is a good match for the Borkum boat. Can't wait for the ice to leave and see the boats on the ponds, but that is months away sadly...

Thanks for being there to ask questions. Going to get subscription to MB next week (digital).

Richard Simpson13/02/2020 10:28:01
99 forum posts
74 photos

Excellent news Derek, you will learn a lot from the club just by looking at the models and asking questions.

Miniature Steam are also extremely helpful and, I am sure, will be able to suggest the right plant for the Borkum. I actually did a review in Model Boat Magazine a few years ago of the Clyde plant and fitted it into my own Borkum for a test run. If you cannot find the article when you gain on line access to back copies let me know and I will find out which issue it was in.

Derek Ellis13/02/2020 15:06:59
16 forum posts


Will look for that article on your Borkum/Miniature Steam.

I did contact John at Miniature Steam re: your suggestion of a attenuator valve.

­He replied: "I do not recommend a gas control valve on a 3" boiler. The savings in gas and extended run time are very limited. Gas control valves are more suited to our 4" boiler steam plant range. If you have your heart set on one we can supply and fit one.

What do you think, is it a nice to have not a must have (for a beginner like me).

Again thanks for your time.

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