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Wells Stationary (sheet steel frame)


In c1972, Kenneth Wells wrote a series of three books entitled "Step by Step Metalwork". These books contained detailed stepwise instructions for making several projects ranging from the simple to the sophisticated. They were intended for use in school metalwork classes and the methods described were based on the facilities available in typical school workshops. Book three of the series contained details of two live steam toys; a stationary engine and a traction engine.

Most of the examples made were probably binned soon after the makers left school (or maybe before). Some, however, have survived to this day, mostly traction engines but also some stationaries. As can be expected from who made them and where, the standard of workmanship varies tremendously. This example of the stationary engine leaves a lot to be desired in that respect.

Because of their intended purpose, many diverse techniques have been used in the making. The boiler is copper with brazed end caps and soldered steam fittings. The engine components and safety valve are machined brass and the burner wick holders are copper. The firebox, base and burner fuel tank are bent steel plate. The flywheel is turned steel. The firebox sides are chrome plated.

The book described two options for the engine frame; a cast aluminium or mazac one and a bent sheet steel one. This example has the sheet steel version. (For an example of the cast version, see here

The meths burner is a three wick type with an external tank - somewhat oversized for the boiler. The boiler is 1 1/2" diameter x 5 1/2" long copper tube with brazed end caps. The safety valve is turned brass (slightly better than that described in the book).

The steam feed is taken directly to the engine port face, with no throttle or lubricator. The cylinder and piston are of traditional single acting oscillating design; 3/8" diameter x 11/16" stroke. The con rod big end fits on a crank pin on the flywheel. The crankshaft passes through a brass tube attached to the steel frame and is standard Meccano diameter, so any Meccano component can be fitted on the rear end. This is not the most accessible of places for a power take off point.

As acquired, the engine was in non-working condition. The steam pipe had become unsoldered from the boiler, the safety valve was incomplete and the piston was binding in the cylinder over part of the cycle. Several nuts and bolts were loose or missing. The paintwork was "fair" at best, but the paint on the burner was meths soluble! I have now fixed all these problems and completely repainted it in colours similar to those on the book cover. I have restricted my restoration to repairing to working order and repainting.

Make Model Made Description Cylinders Cylinder Type
Wells Stationary c 1970's? Stationary (sheet steel frame) 1 single acting
Piston Diam mm Stroke mm Valve Type Boiler Type Fuel Mechanical Condition
9.5 17.5 Oscillating Cylinder Horizontal Meths Good
Cosmetic Condition Paintwork Packaging Purchased Purchase cost Additional cost
Fair Repainted
30/7/2014 30.40