Tracing the Roots: A Journey Through the History of Model Engineering | StirlingkitJanuary 12, 2023
What is Modelling Engineering?
Model engineering is the practice of designing, building, and operating miniature versions of machines and structures. The history of model engineering can be traced back to the 18th century, when the Industrial Revolution brought about a new era of technological advancement.
The earliest known examples of model engineering can be found in the form of clockwork models, which were used to demonstrate the principles of mechanical engineering. These models were typically small, intricate, and highly detailed, and were often used as teaching aids in schools and universities.
(From Wikipedia, Exhibition model of an alarm clock mechanism with two mainsprings )
As the Industrial Revolution progressed, model engineering began to evolve, with the advent of steam-powered models. These models were used to demonstrate the principles of steam power and were used in a variety of applications, including propulsion for boats and trains.
Model engineering in 1866. Apprentice mechanic John Satchell poses with his father and his medal-winning model shunting locomotive at the 1866-67 Intercolonial Exhibition, Victoria, Australia. Image: Museum of Victoria ST037829
Encyclopaedia Britannica/UIG/Getty Images
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, model engineering began to take on a more recreational aspect, with the rise of model railways and other hobby-related applications. These models were typically smaller in scale than their industrial counterparts and were built for the enjoyment of hobbyists and enthusiasts.
In the mid-20th century, model engineering experienced a resurgence in popularity with the introduction of plastic models. These models were cheaper and easier to produce than their metal counterparts, and were therefore more accessible to a wider audience. As a result, model engineering began to grow in popularity, with a wide range of models being produced for a variety of different applications.
A 4-year-old boy starts painting an assembled plastic model of the Lightship
In recent years, advances in technology have led to the development of more advanced and sophisticated models. Computer-aided design (CAD) software has allowed for the creation of highly detailed and accurate models, while 3D printing technology has made it possible to produce models quickly and efficiently. Additionally, the use of radio-controlled technology has allowed for the creation of highly realistic and detailed models.
Today, model engineering is enjoyed by enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, from children building plastic models to experienced engineers creating highly detailed and accurate models. With the continued advancement of technology, it is likely that model engineering will continue to evolve and grow in popularity in the years to come.
(from flickr, midland model engineering)
How Does the Model Engines Develop in History?
Model engines, also known as model steam engines, have a long history that dates back to the 19th century. The earliest model engines were made of cast iron and were powered by steam. They were typically used as educational toys to teach children about the principles of steam power and mechanics.
In the late 19th century, model engines began to be made out of brass and copper, which made them more durable and more accurate in their movements. They also became more detailed and more realistic, with many of them featuring intricate gears and moving parts.
Miniature oscillating-cylinder steam engines: A scientific instrument maker’s ‘A-frame vertical oscillating engine from the 1880s.
In the early 20th century, the demand for model engines increased with the rise of model engineering as a hobby. Model engine makers began to produce a wider range of models and designs, and many of them began to specialize in making specific types of engines, such as marine engines or stationary engines.
early 20th century workshop from imeche
In the mid 20th century, the model engine hobby began to decline as interest shifted towards other hobbies such as radio-controlled model airplanes and cars. However, in recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in model engines and model engineering, as more people discover the joys of building and operating these miniature machines.
Photo from Modelairplanenews
F150 RC Car in 1986
Today, model engines can be powered by steam, internal combustion, or even electricity, and they come in a variety of sizes and styles. They are widely used for educational purposes, as well as for recreation and for display. They are widely available on the market and there are many hobbyist and enthusiast communities that share information and knowledge about building and operating model engines.
Who Invented the first Model Engine?
The invention of model engines, also known as model steam engines, is credited to a number of individuals and companies throughout history. The earliest known model steam engines were made in the early 19th century by inventors such as George Stephenson and George Cayley.
Early Stephenson locomotive in Samuel Smiles' Lives of the Engineers (1862).
Sir George Cayley Hot Air Engine
One of the early pioneers of model steam engines was a British engineer named Samuel Morey, who patented a miniature steam engine in 1805.
American inventor Samuel Morey made early internal combustion engines and was a pioneer in steamships
The Samuel Morey Memorial Bridge across the Connecticut River, connecting Fairlee, Vermont, and Orford, New Hampshire, opened in 1938 (Wikimedia commons)
Another important figure in the history of model engines is John Ericsson, a Swedish-American inventor who developed a small steam engine that could be used to power a model boat.
Braithwaite and Ericsson's entry for the Rainhill Trials. Illustration from The Mechanics Magazine, 1829.
In the late 19th century, companies such as Marklin in Germany and Bassett-Lowke in the UK began to mass-produce model engines for the growing market of model engineering hobbyists. These companies were instrumental in popularizing model engines and making them more widely available to the public.
In the 20th century, model engine makers such as Stuart Turner in the UK, Wilesco in Germany, and Mamod in the UK continued to develop and improve model engines, creating more detailed and realistic models for hobbyists and enthusiasts.
The stuart model Grove Mill Steam Plant
mamod Mark III
Today, many different companies and individuals continue to make and design model engines, and the hobby is enjoyed by people all over the world.
Why was the invention of the model engine important?
Model engines have had a variety of uses throughout history. Some of the main uses include:
1）Education: As I mentioned before, model engines were used as teaching aids in schools and technical colleges to demonstrate how engines work, and to give students a better understanding of the fundamental concepts of physics, engineering, and technology. They were also used as a way to educate and entertain children, who were interested in science and technology.
2）Model engineering: Model engines were popular among model engineers and hobbyists who enjoyed building and operating miniature steam engines as a hobby. They were used to build and operate a wide range of models, including model boats, trains, and stationary engines.
3）Research and development: Model engines were also used in research and development, particularly in the field of steam power. They were used to test and refine steam engine designs, and to develop new steam technologies.
4）Entertainment: Model engines were also used for entertainment, such as in fairground and amusement park attractions. They were used to power miniature rides and attractions, such as model trains and boats.
5）Commercial application: Model engines were also used in commercial applications, such as in miniature power plants, and in small-scale industrial applications.
In conclusion, model engineering has a long history dating back to the 18th century, and has evolved over time to include a wide range of applications and uses for education, model engineering, research and development, entertainment, and commercial applications. . From clockwork models used as teaching aids, to steam-powered models used to demonstrate principles of steam power, to hobby-related models, and now with the help of technology, advanced and sophisticated models. Model engineering is enjoyed by enthusiasts all over the world, and will continue to evolve and grow in popularity in the future.
What do you know about model engineering? welcome to comment below.