Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wilesco Models - Superior Toy Steam Engines

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wilesco Models
Superior Toy Steam Engines


  Finding new material is like a world-wide maze. I'll go to one site and fine new and interesting information, then I'll find another site, and keep moving. If you are a regular reader to my blog, you'll know that I've already written about toy steam engines. Last week, I discovered that these fine steam engines don't sit there and pump out energy by themselves. They have accessory toy accessory items that connect via a rubber band or closed circular wire. in this way, a turning spindle can transfer its energy from the engine to the accessory. 

  That was the "journey" as of a few days ago. But the search continued, and I discovered that there are still active and successful toy steam engine companies that continue making these marvellous  (marvelous, with 1 "l" if you're American) learning and entertaining toys.

   Yesterday, I wrote to Wilesco Models, and asked for permission to write about the site and present their fine photography. It's always a pleasure to see fine photography, and of course it saves me time in not having to refine and improve the images. I can a speedy reply from Mike (I'll have to get his surname), informing me that I had his OK. Not only that, but this was just 1 of his 3 companies, and that I should check out the other 2. Well, I did, I was even more amazed at these fine toys, and I willwrite them up in the future.

How does a Steam Engine Work?

   I'm always thinking and asking questions. Usually, I'm on the second question before I even get an answer to the first question. So my question was "how does a steam engine work"? I knew that a an energy source (fuel) heated up water to produce steam, but what happens after that? It turns out that there is a piston with values, slightly similar to a car engine with its pistons and valves. 

   As steam is produced, it passed on to a piston, and the piston moves. The movement is transferred to a round circle (spindle) that had a groove in it. The groove has a wire or rubber band that is attached to an "accessory steam toy", so that the toy can operate. To get the piston to constantly move back and forth to transfer its energy to the spindle. There are release valves that release the pressure after the piston had moved, so that it can return to its previous position. Fresh steam will then enter the chamber to again move the piston, to move the spindle, to transfer energy to the toy.

  You can get a very good understanding of a steam engine by simply going to Wikepedia and searching for "Steam Engine".

The Toys

   It turns out that there are 2 types of toys. One of them is called a static steam engine. This simply means that the item doesn't move. It stays in one place, has the moving spindle, and the energy is transferred to the accessory toys. The other category of the steam engine is the mobile one. This is the category where the toy moves,and includes cars, steamrollers and trains. 

  What interesting and noteworthy is that the toys are made from models of real life machines from way back , rather than 2013 models. The fact that the toys are designed and modelled at that point in time is quite nostalgic (in a nice way) for me.

3 Mobile Machines

You can see that these machines are not mass-prioduced on some assembly line. They are individually handmade. I did read that Mike had just purchased a laser cutter to cut out metal the "modern way", which I'm sure is more exacting and quality-controlled.

What I also found most-interesting, is that he maintains an inventory of replacement parts for these toys. I'll show you these in another instalment from the other 2 divisions.

I intentionally left the writing in because the narrative is quite interesting and educated you about these beautiful toys. I have a feeling that these toys are more popular in Europe and Great Britain than in North America, but there are toy companies in the USA that are major sellers of all kinds and brand names of steam engines. I have seen photos of British groups of adults and children gathered in flat areas where I'm sure they belong to clubs. The get-together is to show off their fine toys, and to chat up the latest news.

 Fine Examples of Static Machines With their Accompanying Accessory Toys

The above is the fuel source for these steam engines.

The above photo illustrates an all-in-one engine and accessory toys.
Notice that if you order one of these, it may take up to 2 months to get it, because it is custom-made , and is not in the usual inventory of merchandise.

The above accessory and person certainly looks familiar.  
It resembles the original toys that were made  in the 1920's

The above item is capable of running several machines at once.
Notice that all of the bases of the machines have holes. I would assume that for safety reasons, the toy has to be screwed or nailed into a heavy base such as wood. 

Wow! The abover item is certainly very colourful  and  interesting at the same time.

I don;t know if the above item is based on an older-generation model, but it must be certainly fascinating to young children, and adults as well. 

The quality photo helps to easily show how the accessory item works.
It would be screwed down to a piece of heavy wood or tabletop. The silver spindle on the right with the groove would have a metal wire band running from it to the static steam engine.

The new with the old is exemplified above.
A modern era LED light flashes to replicate the spot welding of the welder.
However, the welder certainly appears to be from the 1920's-1930's. I especially like the welders red cap, and those "repairs" to his apron!

So that's it for today. For myself it was a very enlightening and educational learning experience.

That's as always for dropping by, 
and have a great part of the day or night, wherever you may be.


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