Model Engineer Exhibition 2012


Grahame Palmer's S.Y. Komet

This year’s show continued to bump along the bottom in respect of the number of competition entries and not just in respect of the marine contingent. The situation was not helped by an unavoidable rescheduling of the exhibition's dates  in early November, which placed it just after another major model engineering show and immediately before one of the premier annual model boating shows. Nevertheless, the entries were all of a very high standard and clearly appreciated by the visiting public. There were also some very good models on display in the Loan Class.

The lack of the support for the marine competition is not just due to the timing of the exhibition though, as the average age of active model boaters, particularly on the scale side, is steadily increasing and they tend to view their hobby as a predominantly relaxed leisure interest rather than an opportunity to compete with fellow modellers, a very different situation to that of 25 years ago.

Support included the Victoria Model Steamboat, Blackheath and Phoenix clubs with some excellent models while Deans Marine hoisted a solitary flag on behalf of model boat traders.

The models

Just one Gold Medal was awarded and this went to Graham Castle for his model of the steam canal boat Lord Dundas of 1821 built to 1:32 scale at 685mm long. Spectators initially tended to overlook this small exhibit on the Friday although I hope that the addition of the Gold Medal sticker caused them to take pause subsequently as this was a model that really repaid close study. Graham has become known for his quirky subjects associated with the early years of the Industrial Revolution when all sorts of experiments were tried out, many involving use of the new fangled steam engines to replace manual and animal methods of locomotion. Lord Dundas was designed as a passenger boat for the Forth and Clyde canal, plying between Glasgow and Edinburgh and exhibited many features now common to small passenger ferries such as a twin hull catamaran design and lightweight construction. Unlike its modern counterparts however, Lord Dundas was powered by a locomotive boiler amidships driving a single paddlewheel mounted between the two hulls. This was intended to reduce wash which might otherwise have damaged the canal banks. A cabin at each end of the vessel accommodated a total of up to 150 passengers. The boat appears to have been successful and continued in service for about five years.

This exhibit took Graham three years to build and entailed extensive research into the original constructional techniques which influenced the building of the model. Although entered in a Static class, Lord Dundas featured working pistons and linkages to drive the paddle wheel which could be viewed via a mirror mounted on the display plinth. Graham had also provided a binder clearly describing his research and detailed building techniques. The finished model was exquisite, particularly in respect of its finish and the authentic textures applied to visible surfaces. It richly deserved its award together with the H.C Evans Trophy for research.

David Brown presented another quartet of RN submarines. This time his subjects were the experimental cruiser submarine X1 of 1925, the submarine monitor M1 of 1918 with its 12 inch gun and two more modern examples, the A class submarines Affray and Alliance both completed in 1945. M1 and Affray met tragic ends, the former being rammed by a merchant ship in 1925 and the latter being lost due to an unknown accident in 1951. HMS Alliance was reconstructed after the war and is now preserved at the RN Submarine Museum in Gosport, where she is currently suffering from pigeon corrosion! As usual, all David’s models were to a similar high standard, but after close examination we felt that HMS X1 just pipped the others in terms of content and complexity which raised it from Bronze to Silver medal standard but I would stress that this judgement was slightly on the subjective side. David’s models are always most attractively presented and I hope the photos do them the justice they deserve. X1 also won the Earl Mountbatten of Burma Trophy for best warship model.

A Silver medal, along with the Model Boats Kit Class Trophy was awarded to Grahame Palmer’s entry of the German steam yacht Komet of 1911 from Deans Marine. Grahame’s model had been extensively enhanced from the basic kit including the provision of wood planked decks and panelling and displayed a very high standard of finish and workmanship. It really was a very impressive model.

Colin Vass won a Gold medal last year for his magnificent HMS Warspite which was an exceptional model in every possible way with its overall standard of workmanship and numerous working functions. This year it made a further appearance in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Challenge Trophy. I think it is fair to say that it again commanded more interest than any other model in the Exhibition competitions which was all the more disappointing for marine modelling enthusiasts when it was passed over by the judges in favour of a Fordson tractor! However Colin had some consolation in that his earlier model of HMS Hood to the smaller 1:192 scale was awarded a Bronze medal while his French tug Le Caux merited a Very Highly Commended Certificate.

The other models in the marine classes were all of a high standard. Raymond McMahon’s Malaysian Police Launch Sangsetia, which was awarded a Highly Commended Certificate,  incorporated lots of interesting onboard  detail although the external finish was perhaps a little glossy. Bob West’s cable layer St. Margarets, which I first saw at Brighton earlier this year, was as impressive as ever. Its Highly Commended Certificate reflected the judges’ view that the on deck detail was of higher quality than the rather uneven and glossy hull finish that was afforded no favours by the overhead lighting.

Kelvin Castle entered a very nice example of an Archer class RNAS patrol vessel with a subdued finish but which lost a few marks due to its commercial fittings and some lack of detail, noticeably on the onboard inflatable. It nevertheless well deserved its Highly Commended Certificate.


So, to sum up, some excellent models on display as usual but not as many as we would like to see. For those who don’t want to enter the competitive classes, the Loan Class is an attractive alternative and does a great deal to promote our hobby to the exhibition visitors. So look out for entry details for 2013 on the Model Boats website: