MODEL ENGINEERING as a hobby is concerned with the making and operation of working miniatures of engines and machinery of all kinds. It tends to focus on the artefacts of history, but modern machinery often has appeal for the model engineer too. The hobby embraces locomotives and railway equipment, road vehicles, stationary engines of every kind, marine engines and equipment, clocks, machine tools, hand tools, jigs and fixtures, production machinery, in fact just about anything that has moving parts and "does something" is a potential subject for the model engineer!
Steam is the favourite motive power, but petrol engines are popular too, ranging from simple two-stroke engines to precise working models of the Rolls Royce Merlin and similar engines of wartime fame. Even pulse jets and gas turbines have been made and successfully operated in model form. Hot air engines working on the Stirling cycle have also become popular in recent years.
A certain amount of skill is obviously necessary to achieve the standards seen at exhibitions these days and this can put people off. But model engineering can be pursued at many levels and this is reflected in the diversity of membership of most model engineering clubs. For every club member working to Gold Medal standards there are hundreds of ordinary mortals working at some lower level, or even just talking about it, still enjoying the social exchange of club life in the King of Hobbies. All you need is an interest in some aspect of the hobby and a willingness to muck in with whatever is going on, and most clubs will be very happy to have you as a member. Subscriptions are typically between £20 and £30 per year. Members come from all walks of life, and just about every trade profession and calling is represented.
Some basic hand tools and a workbench are necessary too, as is access to a lathe. Many fine models have been built in garages and garden sheds, and the lathe and other more expensive equipment can be that of a friend or fellow club member, a school, or one of the many evening classes and afternoon classes run by sixth form, FE and technical colleges. Where there is a will there is a way!
Model Engineer magazine, twice monthly by subscription, Engineering in Miniature magazine monthly by subscription and Engineers Workshop from newsagents.
The main publishers of books on model engineering topics are Nexus Special Interests Ltd, 01442 66551, publishers of Model Engineer, and Tee Publishing, 01926 614101, publishers of Engineering in Miniature. Both will send a free catalogue on request.
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