“Robin is a member of our Boiler Group, a place where members meet to construct and test their boilers under the watchful eyes of our three boiler inspectors, Ron, Phil, Noel and Steve. At the group he is constructing parts for his model traction engine, and you can read more about the ideas behind this model in the article, ‘Robin’s Covid Project,’ below.
Besides constructing them, Robin likes to take every opportunity to view a variety of steam models.”
Robin’s article in flip book form
Robin’s Covid Project
During the early stages of lockdown in 2020 l decided l needed a project to get me through the year. As with most technically minded people l am fascinated with steam power. Many years ago, l contemplated building a 15 inch gauge locomotive, but built an outboard powered riverboat instead. Back to the present ! As a project, l settled on building a model steam traction engine.
The steam traction engine was the first attempt at mechanised farming but had limited application owing to its slow speed and poor manoeuvrability. They were reasonably successful in the land clearing and logging industry, where they could be favourably compared with bullock teams. These early tractors were often used as stationary engines driving portable sawmills and various agricultural machines. As the modern tractor developed, with its internal combustion engine, the steam traction engine’s popularity declined.
The Traction Engine above is based on a freelance design by an English steam enthusiast by the name of George Hughes. The scale is probably about 1.5 inches to the foot. I have varied from the original design quite a bit, but it sort-of looks the same.
The basic specifications are as follows … Length 600, Width 350, Height 450, with a stepped 100 X 115 diameter X 300 long marine type boiler powering a single cylinder with a 25 diameter X 32 stroke piston. The drive train is by chain to the live rear axle with a ratio of 16 : 1. A 2 kg gas cylinder to fire the boiler is carried in the wagon.
As a child l lived in Greenmount near the then main east-west rail line and can remember the double headed steam goods trains struggling up through the hills. The area through there, now known as the Mundaring Shire, was earlier known as the Greenmount Road Board. I have been told of memories of a traction engine land clearing in the Glen Forrest area in the 1930s, so l called my rig Greenmount Contractors, imagining that a company of that name could have operated in the Eastern Hills area.