HOME Collection Alga

Alga - John Ericsson

c 1975?






This engine is an excellent example of Swedish engineering. Made by the company Alga, it is, I believe, the only steam toy model they have made. It is an impressive looking and well engineered toy, which is unusual in many respects.

The whole burner & boiler setup is enclosed in a large outer casing, cylindrical in shape with a hemispherical top. An extension to this casing supports the chimney which, unusually for a toy engine, carries away the burner fumes as well as the steam exhaust. The Esbit burner is mounted on a sliding mechanism with an interlock designed to prevent little fingers extracting it or dislodging it accidentally. It also ensures the burner is located in the optimum position under the boiler. It is designed to take a single rectangular Esbit tablet.

The boiler itself is a small vertical pot boiler (approx 50mm diameter x 60mm height) with a total capacity of just 100ml; i.e. about 75ml water capacity. On the top are mounted a whistle, weight type safety valve, filler plug and a steam dome (hidden under the cover). The whistle looks like a standard Mamod type but I don't know if it was supplied by Mamod or is a copy. The top half of the boiler is surrounded by heat insulation which reduces heat loss and reduces the finger burning potential of the case.

The steam feed is taken from the dome to a single-acting oscillating cylinder, approx 7.5mm diam. x 20mm stroke, mounted on a simple folded metal bracket. It has a reversing lever which engages in a notched slot, giving two forward and two reverse positions. Surprisingly, it seems to run faster in the intermediate positions in each direction. I don't know if this is what was intended. The trunnion bolt spring pressure is adjustable with a nice knurled nut. Two exhaust pipes are fed back to the chimney.

The crankshaft and flywheel are mounted separately from the cylinder in a pair of substantial bearing blocks. The shaft is oriented in such a way so that the drive pulley is well clear of the cylinder and the rest of the engine.

The whole is mounted on a large base plate with plenty of Meccano compatible holes. The base has two handles making it easy to move about while hot. It has four feet with suckers to prevent "walking" while running. This is not really required for vibration because the engine runs extremely smoothly. It would, however, prevent the base sliding under the tension of a drive band to any external equipment.

All parts of the engine, boiler housing, base etc are assembled with nuts and bolts, rather than rivets. This should facilitate repairs and maintenance. Not that it's likely to need much because it's robustly made.

Unusually for steam toys (apart from special editions) it has a serial number. This one is 05476.

Make Model Made Description Cylinders Cylinder Type
Alga John Ericsson c 1975 Stationary 1 single acting
Piston Diameter mm Stroke mm Valve Type Boiler Type Fuel Mechanical Condition
7.5 20 Oscillating Cylinder (reversible) vertical enclosed Tablets good
Cosmetic Condition Paintwork Packaging Purchased Purchase cost Additional cost
good original cardboard box 11/3/2009 75.00 0.00