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1/35 scale Ransomes Portable Steam Engine

Started by Gordon Ferguson, December 23, 2020, 12:15:32 PM

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Gordon Ferguson

It's been a long time since I posted any of my builds , purely I admit because of the hassle I have had posting pics on this forum ...... moan over !

Barney sent me details of an image resized which I have at last figured out , so now I have opportunity to salve my conscious for all the pleasure I get from this group by hopefully putting something back

I should warn those of a sensitive disposition that some of the in-progress shots show images which might might be upsetting to those more used to hi-tec engineering and associated equipment ....... my main tools still consist of ruler , scalpel & sanding sticks and the occasional use of a micrometer

So the Ransomes portable steam engine , circa 1890-5 came about after various conversations with Barney who is building something far too complicated for me but that did stir my interest in finding a rather simpler steam engine to try my hand at ...various web searches came with these portable steam engines which were used to provide power for threshing machines, etc on farms in the late 19th century .

I finally settled on the Ransomes one , basically because I loved the curved spokes on the flywheel  ! And then further research un-earthed a very useful drawing

Further news to follow

Gordon Ferguson

Well that's a good start , photos loaded and showed up  ;D >

Ok, as I said the curved spokes on the flywheel really appealed to me ...... so I started with the flywheel.

My normal method of laminating strips of 10thou plastic inside a circular template of the correct size to form the the outer rim.

Then the curved spokes , plastic again ..... I am not good with metal , again laminated against a curved former and when dry 1/2 round strips were added to to inner and outer edges to give the curved rounded appearance of the originals. The spokes were then added individually to the outer rim and and a central hub added, along with the detail of the strengthening ribs.

The laminating method was also used to create the rims for the wheels .

Gordon Ferguson

Well with the flywheel and wheels rims built ..... I moved on to creating the main components

In the first pic, you see the chimney, formed from from plastic tube, laminated base and the whole thing blended together with my usual mix of superglue and baking soda .... followed by some careful sanding .
The firebox, formed in plastic from various laminations .
Main boiler from a spare piece of tube that was just the right diameter ..... sometimes you do get lucky
Wheels etc
All these components were first just blocked out to check basic dimensions and fit before going to further detailed , as shown in the firebox where rivets from a variety of sources have been added , fire door and hinges etc, etc .
The steam cylinder and steam chest were again just blocked out first before detail was added ...... in this case was lucky enough to find a picture of one dis-assembled which helped greatly to get the look , if not the accuracy

Gordon Ferguson

So, starting to fit bits together ........ I did warn you at the start that ther would be some un-settling scenes and here they are , the bench   :D

Gordon Ferguson

Last post tonight and the story nearly up to date ..... most of the components dry fitted together , wheels finally done .... ran out of supplies and in the current time took weeks for replenishment .

Since these were taken final details on the wheels done and most the riveting finished off , the front axle support has been rebuilt ..... why does the info always turn up just after you have built your best guess, which turns out to wrong !
The crankshaft need a rebuild ..... long story but I got the relationship between cylinder and crank wrong

More updates in a few days time


Nice to see you back - your build well I think its wonderful - and the technics used to build - it just shows what can be done without the use of 3D Printings and computer aided drawings and all things "mind boggling" well they are to me !! The one thing I like About Gordons work is that he appears to copy the real thing "to the book" a thing that I find hard to do - I suppose I end up getting away with it by building "Odd Bods" that have many variations of the prototypes - example many early Tractors were built at different factories and more than often built to different customers requirements - then its add on bits and repairs it gets though-out its life time of service eg: on the job field maintenance and different replacement parts all this I think adds to the "Odd bod-ness" to a machine
Sorry to ramble on a bit but its all about building models - with what you have - not that Im against all of this High Tech stuff its just that I and many others just don't understand it !
Back to the  steam engine  its just outstanding - just keep it coming I love it
Saying all that Im just about to ask the narrow gauge tractor man Bernard (and all others if they wish to join in) about Photo Etching process for his drive chains   
Never Let someone who has done nothing tell you how to do anything
Stuart McPherson

shropshire lad

Hi Gordon ,

   Good to see you back at the coal face and producing great looking models again . I wouldn't worry about how you reach your destination and that you use "low tech" methods to achieve it , because once it is painted no one will be able to tell whether it is made of fancy brass , or lowly styrene .

    Have you returned to civilisation yet after your sojourn in the land of the Haggis Munchers ?

    Have a good Christmas ,



Why isn't there mouse-flavored cat food?
George Carlin


Wow, that model is more impressive than somewhat! It's also pretty small. It offers hope that someday I might develop sufficient manual skills to emulate such artistry. Satisfactory.

By the way, Gordon, welcome back.


Les Tindall

Gordon, your workbench looks just like mine (except its staggering how many tiny pieces I have that fall to the carpet and just disappear!)   Thanks for all that build info, very useful with superb results.  Funny I was thinking of making something similar but was putting it "on the back burner" with the difficulty of the wheel spokes.  You made it seem so simple.

Bill Gill

Gordon, Like you I have only a few simple tools. Unlike you, I don't have the skills (yet) to make the quality of models that you do over & over, but repeatedly seeing what you can do encourages me to push on and try harder. Thanks for figuring out how to post photos and updating your work!

Ray Dunakin

Absolutely awesome work, Gordon! Your laminating method for creating curved shapes is brilliant, and will be very useful to me. I have often avoided such shapes due to the difficulty of cutting such shapes from styrene sheet, as well as the tendency of the resulting shapes to warp.

Visit my website to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!

Ray Dunakin's World


Nice project, Gordon. Fascinating what you can build from plastic strips. And I'm very impressed by the regular rows of rivets on the boiler.


Gordon Ferguson

Thank you all for your kind and generous comments .......

Think the basic construction is now done , a new front axle and support has been made and everything is riveted ... I hope. A lot of pipe work and associated stuff like safety valve, etc, etc still needs to be done but that will all have to be after initial paint stages are completed .

Hopefully, shortly I will try and answer a few questions I have been asked about the wheel construction via SBS .... not my strongest skill so don't get to excited

Gordon Ferguson

Ok , I will try to add some detail on the wheel construction ...... there is nothing new here and if anybody wants to add a different way of doing something please feel free , there alway better or different ways to approach anything .

The first area I start with is the rim construction, I usually keep to the old wood working rule of laminating ..... the layers should always be an odd number ...3, 5, 7 etc , etc

In this case I wanted a fairly thin rim so I cut 3 strips of 10 thou approx 6mm wide .... sorry about the mix of imperial and metric . These strips are pre-curved by pulling them over the edge of the bench , they are then fitted into the relevant sized circle in the template ....... I prefer to butt fit the end of the strip but you can over lap them and then deal with subsequent step at the end.
The the three strips are added into the template , ensuring the the joints are well spaced apart .

You notice I add spacers under template so that I can push strips half way through , this helps to ensure rim stays square .

At this stage I use the thinnest liquid I have along the edges of the strips , the thin glue wicks down the strips and left for 20 minutes or so becomes reasonably secure .

Whist that is drying I cut the the inner support for the spokes to attach , this was cut from 20 thou card with a spring bow compass, first the outer , larger , diameter is cut and then the inner one is cut .

By using spacers of the relevant height this inner rim is then glued in the centre of the outside wheel rim