The Worthing & District Society of Model Engineers is one of a number of similar model clubs and societies located throughout the United Kingdom. Almost every town and City has one and these usually include a miniature steam railway offering rides to the public. The most common gauge for this is 5" which is about 1/11th scale of the full sized version.
The Society is based at Field Place which is located a mile or so to the north west of Worthing town centre. There we have an elevated triple gauge (5, 3½, and 2½ inch) railway track of approximately 440 yards length, a clubhouse and workshop.
Rides are provided for the public on the second and fourth Sundays of each month from April to October. Please check the Public Running calendar to find out when public running days are scheduled.
In addition to providing public rides, throughout the year the club organises other events, such as an Open Day, Charity Day and at Christmas the ever popular Santa Rides. For a couple of weeks during August the club also hosts courses in model engineering although this year (2017) we will be unable to do so due to the unexpected passing of Ian Aitken who was instrumental in creating these courses.
Our members come from all walks of life and are very willing to pass on their knowledge of engineering and construction. From scratch built models, restoration projects and kit built models there's always help and advice available.
Model engineering is a fascinating hobby. So, what is model engineering?
Well, basically it is a hobby involving constructing machines in miniature. The primary areas of interest are live steam models, typically steam locomotives, stationary engines and traction engines. Others areas include internal combustion engines, Stirling (Hot Air) engines, radio controlled model boats, clock making, workshop equipment, miniature machine tools and ornamental turning.
We are a friendly group of around 100 members. Our interests include railway locomotives, traction engines, stationary engines, clocks and marine models. Meetings are held in our clubhouse at Field Place in Worthing on the second and fourth Thursday of each month with either a guest speaker or in-house programmes. Members also meet on Wednesdays and Saturdays for working parties, to run models or just have a chat and a cup of tea. So if you are interested come along or perhaps unsure, then put feelers out to us through the contact page of this web site and I, the Webmaster the club secretary or the Membership secretary will be happy to bring you along one evening.
March 2017. A 5" gauge model of a Merchant Navy Class Pacific under construction in a member's workshop.
Model Engineers typically produce models made in metal, usually mild or stainless steel, brass, cast iron, bronze or aluminium. These are machined from stock metal and castings. Some will be intended as actual working models whereas others as display models, or sometimes a combination of both. The model engineer usually purchases commercially available drawings which are used as a reference to make the models. However, some engineers produce their own drawings, or even work without drawings. The most elaborate models involve hand manufacture of hundreds or even thousands of parts taking as many hours to complete spread over a number of years.
Alternatively there are also some complete pre-manufactured kits available. These particularly suite new or inexperienced model engineers and fall into two categories, i.e., machined or unmachined.
Unmachined Kits - usually these consist of drawings, metal castings, stock metal and other fixings necessary to complete the model. They require the use of machining fascilities to complete and often require additional components and raw materials. Typically the minimum machining requirements are a lathe, drilling machine and possibly a milling machine as well. Therefore a fairly good knowledge about using these workshop machines is necessary to complete these type of kits.
Set of unmachined castings for a Stuart S50 Stationary Steam engine.
Machined kits - are a set of parts that are fully machined and only require finishing with hand tools, painting and assembly. A full workshop is not required. The kit will typically contain all the parts necessary to complete the model, including all fixings, fittings such as pressure gauges and valves. However, kits like these can be rather more expensive than their unmachined counterparts and availability can be limited as production runs are small due to the high price.
Some model engineers do not use any pre-fabricated parts, ready made kits or castings, or even drawings. This is called "building from scratch" and it adds another facet to the hobby.
The are several publications available to assist and inspire model engineers. The two principle ones are "Model Engineer" and "Engineering in Miniature". Both of these are published monthly and are available through newsagents or subscription.
In addition there are many books and articles written on the subject. The Club does have a reference library for members use.
Historically, some of the leading names in the hobby have been those who have encouraged others through their writings and articles, notably Edgar T Westbury, "LBSC" (Lillian 'Curly' Lawrence), Martin Evans and Tubal Cain (T.D.Walshaw).
Many of the projects published in the magazines contain detailed instructions and drawings for building steam engines in many different scales, some of which are capable of carrying passengers on a miniature railway such as we have at Field Place.
As well as the usual tools associated with, say, car maintenance, the model engineer's workshop will primarily also include a lathe and a mill. Historically these machines were manufactured by Myford or Bridgeport and were very expensive. However, there are cheaper versions available by suppliers such as Warco and Machine Mart (Clarkes).
A 2.5" scale gas fired steam locomotive and rolling stock made using a combination of a 'Roundhouse' kit "Katie" and scratch built adaptation to create the scale. Model built by Club member Dr. John Sayer.
If you are interested in joining us then you are welcome to visit us at Field Place on one of our meeting evenings or on a Wednesday or Saturday morning. Alternatively, you may use our Contact section to send and email or download and complete an application form.