Affiliated to the Southern Federation of Model Engineering Societies.

The Burrell Saga (just a short update continued from the January newsletter)

I think the end is insight, although very little work has been done to the engine during January, this is down to the cold damp weather and my garage suffering from condensation caused by the ever changing air temperatures. I have sprayed all of the bright metal in the garage with a rust preventative including the machine tools and the traction engine motion parts.

Major tasks on the “to do list” (which seems to never end) include manufacture of the water gauge protector and source some toughened glass, modify the car trailer so that a suitable frame and canopy can be made and  fitted to cover the engine and fit some additional lashing rings. Make a suitable small ride on trailer/seat.

The boiler cladding, brass bands and insulation will be fitted after the first, hopefully successful steam test towards the end of the month, weather permitting.

Martyn Jones

 A Life Time Passion for Steam,  by Mike Penny.

My apprenticeship years….

I now come to what is probably a special time in most people’s lives, I leave school, it was on Friday 24th July 1955, I celebrated my fifteenth birthday on August 5th and then started work on August 10th.Unlike now work was plentiful for school leavers, the second world war had been over ten years, the country was getting back on its feet again and there were three or four jobs for every one of us. I had known for several years what I wanted to do, grandfather was a bricklayer as was dad and two of his brothers, so it was in the family, plus I had been going with dad at weekends for several years when he did the odd spare time job, and by the time I started work I was fairly good at laying bricks. A five year apprenticeship in bricklaying had been arranged for me with James and Crockerell Building Contractors and Civil Engineers who were based in Durrington, dad was working for them at that time and grandfather had worked for them before the war.


At this time the firm was doing a lot of work up on the airfield at Boscombe Down, this was where dad was working so I went off with him that first morning, seven o’clock on our bikes for a seven thirty start. The site was an eye opener for me, all of the top and sub soil had been cleared off down to the chalk leaving a level area of two acres or more, this was not a pleasant place to work because when the sun shone the glare and heat reflecting off the white chalk surface was very tiring. The main structure was to be a hangar for the Fleet Air Arm, most of the steel frame sections were stacked close by a quite large rectangle of concrete bases, cast into the chalk with bolts standing out of them down the long sides ready to receive the stanchions which would support the steel trusses that formed the main part of the roof. All this became clear to me in the coming weeks as the frame work was erected, what interested me more was the steam roller, standing to one side of the would be hangar looking quite sad, with the front fork broken in two one side of the head stock, it had been rolling some of the hardcore base already laid for the hangar floor, I assumed some of the rubble had been a bit big and the bumping and banging over the top by the roller had caused the front fork to break. The roller was a single cylinder Burrell no. 3991, 6nhp, 10 tons new to Dingles of Cornwall in 1924, latter sold to James and Crockerell, now in preservation and owned by Nigel Isaac, the engine is usually referred to by its name “Daffodil”.


This of course was my first day working for James and Crockerell, I found out in the coming months that the managing director Mr P Barber was a keen steam fan and in the civil engineering side of the firm had several steam rollers that were still working, also at this time I could not imagine how involved I would become with steam during the next four years.


As the weeks passed Daffodil was replaced with another of the firms rollers, this was a big single cylinder 14 ton Aveling, this engine had a story attached to it and like several of the firms steamers had come up to Wiltshire from Cornwall, at this time James and Crockerell had a timber yard and saw mill at Kelly Bray not far from Callington and some of the engines came from there. Early in 1955 it was decided to bring the 14 ton Aveling up to Wiltshire on the train, unfortunately a national rail strike started on May 28th which eventually ended on August 8th but before it had been on long Mr Barber decided to drive the roller back. Well the story is that he had left Cornwall and was not far into Devon and climbing quite a steep hill, part way up was a thatched cottage and according to the owner who was looking out of the front window, a hot coal came out of the chimney of the roller, landed on the roof of the porch, also thatched, this caught fire which spread up into the main roof. How badly damaged the cottage was I was never told, but later that summer Mr Barber appeared on national TV, there was a program at that time call “Guess My Story” I believe there was a panel of people with a chairman, they were allowed to ask a certain number of questions to find out what the story was, I never saw this program as we did not have a television at this time, but apparently they guessed what Mr Barbers story was, not surprising I suppose as it had made most of the national daily papers. Well that was the story as I heard it, whether it is exactly the way it happened I am not sure, I never heard how the Aveling got the rest of the way up to Durrington but it did make it. A few weeks after the big roller arrived up on the airfield it was inside the new hangar rolling the hardcore ready for the concrete floor, all the steel framework was up and tightly bolted together, on this particular day a couple of painters were up on the roof framework giving it a coat of paint, the roller was passing quite close below them and a couple of times when he was almost under them the driver gave the regulator an extra big push, but he timed it wrong and the exhaust blast missed them, instead of leaving it he had to try once more and this time he caught them, the painters could not see the joke and one of them tipped  his tin of paint down over the roller, the driver then had to spend the rest of the afternoon and use lots of cotton waste cleaning off the engine.


No one on the site had any sympathy for him, he was well known for his strange sense of humor. The months passed by, the hangar was roofed and the sides cladded, a finished concrete floor was laid inside, we had already built concrete bases down the long outsides of the hangar and single story sectional huts had been erected on them to be fitted out as restrooms, stores and toilets etc. The two rollers had gone back to the yard, I was working on one of the other sites when Daffodil went, so I never knew whether they brought a replacement fork and fitted it on site, or got her up on a low loader and did it back in the yard. (continues next month)

Burrell “Daffodil”, Mid 50’s Andover Rally.

Roller in  James and Crockerell’s yard, Durrington 

Can you offer a service or assistance?    

If you have a skill or knowledge of how to do something that may be helpful to any of our members please come forward, it can cover anything associated to our hobby, from engineering knowledge, model painting and lining, driving and steaming techniques of model engines or real ones come to that, so don’t be shy please forward details to the secretary.

Running a 1 inch Maxitrak Burrell

In this article I’ll try and explain how to run a 1 inch Maxitrak Burrell, following my almost 2 years experience with one. But first of all I’ll describe how I came to own one. In May 2010, on the 30th to be precise, a large box arrived. The box looked familiar, in that it had been on the back of a 4 inch scale low-loader that my Grandpa had just purchased along with a 4½ inch Burrell and a 4 inch Foster. Unscrewing the lid revealed a small Burrell engine! Unfortunately there was only one steering chain, so my Mum very kindly nipped around to B&Q to get some more chain. Meanwhile, I tried to steam it up in Dad’s shed, all went well until I opened the throttle to much, the throttle valve flew across the shed and the whole building filled with a 100PSI worth of steam! This was soon fixed and the chains fitted and over the next few weeks I used it a lot and had it pulling me along.

Now I will explain how to run it:

First of all fill the boiler with water until it overflows preferably with rain water, after the first couple of runs chalk water helps build up a light layer of fur. Then fill the gas tank with butane-propane mix. I recommend filling it only half way or filling in short burst otherwise when you light the fire you’ll have flames shooting everywhere. Then fill the displacement lubricator by opening the water drain at the bottom, replacing it and filling with oil.

Moving on, open the smoke box door, light a blowtorch, lighter etc. and turn on the gas. The burners should then light. If only one lights turn the gas down until you hear the other one light, then the gas can be turned up again. Shut the smoke box door and turn up the burner until it starts howling (although you can adjust the burner to stop the howling). You can now oil all the moving parts. When 50PSI is showing open the cylinder drains, put the reversing lever forward and unscrew the throttle a couple of turns. After any condensate has cleared, close the cylinder drains and allow the cylinder to warm up. Then put it into gear and drive the engine about. When you want to do passenger hauling you may want to open the smoke box door a little so as not to blow out the fire. If oil shoots out of the chimney, open the throttle a little more. The trailer should have ball bearings although mine currently doesn’t have any bearings at all! When water gets low on the gauge glass, shut off the fire and if you are not going to do another run, allow the engine to cool down before cleaning and putting it away for another day! I have found it to be a great fun miniature to use and is very quick to fire up, along with being surprisingly powerful!

By George Hounslow