Maudslay's Paddle Engine 1827

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Company: Airfix - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Hornby America - Website: Visit Site
Box art

The Engine

After Robert Fulton proved the viability of using steam to power a nautical vessel with his steamboat Clermont (also known as the North River) in 1807, steam power began to sweep wind-powered vessels from the seas. Constant improvements to his engine were made and Maudslay's Paddle Engine patented in 1827 was one such improvement. It was a style of engine that used improved valve chests and gear and these so called Penn Oscillating engines were in use for many years. (I hope somebody understood all that as I didn't.) The largest such engines were fitted into the paddle wheeler Great Eastern designed by Isambard Brunel. However, the engines could not be adapted to the higher steam pressures that were being introduced and the paddle engine gave way to the inclined direct-acting engine.

The Kit

Consisting of 111 pieces of rather soft light grey plastic, this kit is no easy build. Rather than an introductory kit for children, it is more of a display model for an engineering exhibition. There are many, many moving parts, all of which must operate in synchronization with each other. You really have to study the instructions because unless you're a steam engineer, there is no point of reference or familiarity with this subject. Many parts look similar, but are, indeed, different and are NOT interchangeable. In addition there are about 10-15 parts that are not used. I suspect that in a previous incarnation this kit was motorized and these parts were for that purpose.

There is practically no flash, but there are mold seams and knockout pin marks. You could spend a long time cleaning up all the mold seams as they are everywhere and in some places it is essential to clean them up as they could inhibit the operation of the model. I just did those that I thought would keep the machine from working correctly to save time.

Read the instructions. Well, rather look at them as they have no text. Make yourself familiar with what goes where and how it works when you get it there. To facilitate painting, it's best to do this beast in subassemblies and you need to know what you can glue together and what has to wait. Identify the contact locations of all moving parts and either mask them off before painting or make sure you remove the paint before assembly. Test fit everything and dry fit subassemblies to each other to see how they interact. One thing that complicates painting is that two metallic colors are needed, steel and brass. These are notoriously soft finishes and can be tricky to mask. I chickened out and just used big box store metallic spray cans. Maybe not the best choice, but fine for the purposed of this review.

When you get to final assembly, you need to be very careful with cement/glue as the tiniest amount on the wrong surface could keep the whole thing from moving. In addition, it helps if you lubricate the joints with a light coat of petroleum jelly.

The rather huge paddle wheel weighs as much as the rest of the model and sags a bit on its drive shaft, so make sure you get a good strong joint. An optional crank is provided for the other end of the crankshaft, but it is pretty flimsy. I suspect that at one time, two paddles were provided, one for each end, just as it would be in a ship.

An interesting build, all in all. Not your usual Sunday afternoon at the workbench, that's for sure, but makes a pretty striking display piece.

Thanks to IPMS/USA for the chance to review this kit and to Hornby USA for providing the review sample.


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