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 by amateurs. 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 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 of course, and access to a lathe. Many fine models have been built in garages and garden sheds, even in the kitchen, 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!
Alan P. Bibby
There are three main periodicals covering the hobby in the UK, they are:
Model Engineer magazine published twice monthly by MyHobbyStore Ltd, 0844 412 2262, www.model-engineer.co.uk
Model Engineer’s Workshop, published monthly, by the same publisher www.model-engineer.co.uk/
Engineering in Miniature published monthly by Tee Publishing, 01926 614101, www.engineeringinminiature.co.uk
The publishers of these magazines also publish a wide range of books on related topics. Both will send a free catalogue on request.
The LINKS and MEMBER CLUBS pages on our website will take you to model engineering clubs in your area, as well as other interesting sites.
A few of the things we do can be seen via this link -- Photo Gallery