" Minnie" 1 inch Scale Traction / Road Engine
United Kingdom - Manufacture date: 1970-73
Bore = 3/4", Stroke 3/4", Flywheel diameter = 4 1/2"
Style: Dual Action , Horizontal

Dimensions: 18" length x 8" width x 11 1/2" height

Traction Engine

Traction or Road Engines are a fascinating area of miniature steam, I'd really never paid much attention to. I'd seen them as I surfed steam sites but most were 2" or larger scale and far too large to fit into my collection. Those who collect steam engines learn quickly that these little gems eat up available shelf space in a hurry.

This hand built little fellow was for sale over on Bob Hubert's web site and, as is his habit, he offered it at auction on Ebay. The 1 inch scale had dimensions small enough to make it an attractive piece, so I waited for the end of the auction and snatched it once I saw the final bid price would be within reason.

Bob contacted me and informed me that the little engine was in great mechanical shape, but wasn't quite up to snuff in the paint department. The paint was chipped in a good number of places and the exposed cast iron and steel treads were rusty. The Builder had originally given it a fair paint job, but age and handling had been hard on it.

As I waited for the engine to arrive, I began studying other Traction Engines and Showman Engines for ideas on how best to restore this one. If you've never searched the web for Showman Engines, I heartily suggest you do so. These engines are some of the most beautiful machines ever built. Their use of brilliant paint schemes and polished decorative brass make them works of art in their own right.

"Minnie"Traction Engine
(Before Cleanup)

Traction Engine Cylinder Section

Traction Engine Cylinder Section

When the engine arrived, it was much as Bob had described. Luckily, the paint chipping was mainly along exposed edges. The "Minnie" is made almost entirely of brass, and having noted the heavy use of polished brass on the large show engines, I decided to try to incorporate some of the fanciful feel of real show engines, into my new toy. After a bit of study, it became apparent that strategically exposing some of the underlying brass would eliminate most of the paint problems. An extensive cleaning ensued to remove the dirt and grime, after which I gently removed areas of paint from the boiler straps, stream lines, cylinder, steam chest and relief stacks. As I gently polished the newly exposed brass to a high shine, the "Minnie" quickly began to look like she was getting ready for a Steam Fair in the English countryside.

Traction Engine

The "Minnie" is a fully functional 1 inch scale miniature of the real thing. This one was built by D.R. Clarke and friends, of Nottingham, England from what appear to be Reeves castings. Hundreds of rivets were painstakingly hand bucked to create the body, wheels and boiler (complete with working boiler tubes). In this photo you can see the throttle lever and the Stephenson linkage which gives the tractor, forward and reverse capability. The engine also has a 2 speed transmission. By shifting the transmission lever to the center position one can place the tractor in neutral, allowing it to function as a stationary power unit, or to operate the winch which is mounted behind the drive wheel. A working parking brake is mounted behind the other drive wheel. The tractor has its own feed water pump with a water reservoir tucked neatly under the floor of the driver's compartment. All in all this is one well designed and executed engine.

The paint on the engine could use some improvement and will probably be redone at some future date, when time allows for taking the engine apart for a full restoration. If anyone has information or a source for adapting a scale governor or whistle to this machine, I'd be most pleased to hear from you.

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