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Pic 1: The Portsmouth Display Team line up for a team photo next to their stand. Pic 2: A ready to run model tug Atlantic on the Portsmouth MBC stand available from Howes Models. Pic 3: The Southern Model Lifeboat stand with 20 model lifeboats on show. Pic 5: Cornish Crabber, a super scale sail model made by Ross Adlington of the Springbox club (Alford). Pic 6: David McNair-Taylor holding his Aran Lifeboat.

As I drove across the South Downs towards Midhurst my thoughts turned back to previous years; in February 2005 I had driven past fields covered in snow in freezing temperatures, and in ‘06 we had a water shortage and a hose pipe ban meaning no portable pool to demonstrate the boats on. What a difference this year - 11 degrees C and I drove past clumps of yellow daffodils in sunshine!

I soon arrived at the Grange in Midhurst for the annual Model Engineering Exhibition. This is a super show with a very good selection of boat clubs along with a second hall full of rail layouts, and several other rooms with general modelling, aircraft clubs, dolls houses, horse drawn carriages, and a ride on train for the children.

I made my way to the main hall and found it full of boat clubs with several trade stands. I started round clockwise, first visiting the Portsmouth Display Team’s stand which had many of their display special effect models to view close up, and I realised what good models they really are; plus many of the members’ own private models that are just made for pleasure sailing. I managed to get a team photo of the team with their distinctive orange sweatshirts.

Next along was the other Portsmouth club with an interesting selection of scale models and a TV monitor showing a DVD of models on the water at various events.

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Pic 7: A super large RAF launch made by Jack Sharp of the Basingstoke MBC. Pic 8: The Stirling engine on the SMEE stand. Pic 9: No.6 tug, a footy fishing boat conversion from George Turner Models’ kit made by Mark Whiteaway of the Portsmouth Display Team. Pic 10: The world’s first motorcycle made by Dave Parsons of the Portsmouth MBC. Pic 11: The new super powerful motors available from Mobile Marine Models. Pic 12: A delightful fishing boat on the Basingstoke stand. Pic 13: PS Princess Elizabeth made by Chris Monk of the Crawley club from one of Richard Webb’s kits.

Other clubs present in the hall were Chichester, Selsey Bill , Basingstoke, Black Park, Springbox, Southern Model Lifeboat Ass., and upstairs on the balcony were Southwater Dabblers, Crawley, Liphook and Horsham clubs - all had stands with plenty of interesting models. In with the boat clubs was the SMEE stand with a selection of Stirling engines, most of which were running, and one that caught my eye was a high speed catamaran with two Stirling engines side by side and an interesting clutch system to select forwards and reverse. The engineer explained that Stirling engines cannot be reversed so the boat has two engines and the clutch selects the required one so the boat can move just as fast in either direction - in fact very fast he told me. These Stirling engines fascinate me and may be a future project for a boat model.

Downstairs I called at Mobile Marine Models to buy a G5 geared motor for this winter’s project, and whilst talking to Brian Ward he was very keen to show me his latest tug motor the, T12/T24, which he has bought in especially for powerful tugs. He explained these new motors have more torque and will swing a four-inch prop with ease.

Other southern traders present were Hunter Systems, Dateline Marine, Squires Tools and many rail orientated stands.

This is a super show and judging by the huge number of visitors it is a very popular one. I will leave you to judge from the photos.