Type Private
Industry Toys
Founded 1937
Founder(s) Geoffrey Malins
Headquarters Smethwick, Warley, UK
Area served Worldwide
Products Toy steam engines
A Mamod SP1 stationary engine circa 1979

The Mamod company is a British toy manufacturer specializing in building live steam models. The company was founded in 1937 in Birmingham in the British midlands by Geoffrey Malins. The name is a contraction of 'Malins Models'. The first models produced were of stationary steam engines, the company later also creating models of road rollers, traction engines and steam cars. These models were aimed at the toy market, so were simple to operate and ran at low boiler pressures for safety but were not accurate scale models.

The TE1/TE1a traction engine remains the most popular model Mamod ever produced, selling no fewer than 486 thousand models up to 1996.[1] The most popular stationary engine was the Minor, selling roughly 245,000 models, until its retirement in 1979.[1]

A characteristic of most Mamod models is the use of simple but effective oscillating cylinder(s), usually single-acting. These engines either run unregulated (in the smaller models) or have a simple reversing mechanism to alter the cutoff, thus controlling the power/speed and direction of the engine. Early models had single or multi-wick spirit burners while in the 1970s the company changed to hexamine solid fuel which came in tablet form and provided low heat and a relatively safe form of firing.


The end of Malins family control

The company went into receivership in 1980, but survived. Eric Malins, the Managing Director, and Steve Malins, his son, gave up control of the company, thus effectively ending the Malins family's relationship with Mamod. Since then the company has had several owners and manufacturing bases. It is currently (2006) in the ownership of the Terry family and is now based near its original home at Smethwick in the West Midlands. The company now produces a wide range of mobile engines, as well as some stationary models and machine tools.

A book has been written by Steve Malins[1] which details the company's existence from the beginning with Geoffrey Malins, right up to 1996 when the Terry family took over the firm. Although out of print, second-hand copies can found.

Related companies

In 2006, two other companies were producing models based on the original Mamod designs:

  • MSS (Mamod Sales and Services) continues to manufacture and sell the basic locomotive and stock, as well as a new saddle tank model introduced in 2004.
  • Mamod Steam Models produces a wide range of Mamod models including an upgraded version of the SL-1 locomotive design with improved running gear.

In addition, the basic design of the Mamod has inspired several improved version supplied by independent manufacturers. Notable amongst there are the Creekside Forge & Foundry Baldwin, the PPS Janet and the IP Engineering Jane. Several manufacturers also supply upgraded components for the original Mamod line. A particularly popular upgrade was to fit the locomotive with a meths burner which produced greater heat and therefore allowed higher boiler pressure and great hauling capacity.

The large number and low cost of Mamod models means they are still popular today. There is a thriving market in spare and replacement parts from a variety of small manufacturers. Second-hand models are cheap and readily available and are often used as the basis for conversions by modelers.

A new firm, Dream Steam, supply a full range of parts and service for original Mamod (and the Mamod-based MSS) railway products and the range of parts formerly supplied by IP Engineering.

Running Requirements

Unlike more complex and expensive models, Mamod engines lack lubricators to store oil and feed it to the moving parts such as the piston and bearings. Instead, oil is applied from a bottle or can (supplied with the models) to the necessary parts before each run. On long runs, especially at high speeds, the piston requires further application of oil (the engine speed often noticeably slows down and the action becomes noisier as the cylinder starts to run dry). Because of increased friction, the engine usually stalls if it runs dry (especially if run under load). Mamod recommends a heavy automotive oil (grade SAE20, 30 or similar), but longer run times between oil applications can be obtained by using steam oil, which maintains its lubrication properties when emulsified. Castor oil is a very effective alternative, providing better lubrication than automotive oils, and is available at most drug stores.

Mamod Steam Railway

A 1980 Mamod SL2 steam locomotive and two RW5 passenger coaches

In late 1979 Mamod introduced its first model railway, the O gauge live steam SL-1 locomotive, along with a small range of rolling stock and track. The model was of a narrow gauge railway and although it was not based on a specific prototype it was to approximately 16 mm, thus representing approximately a 2 ft  (610 mm) gauge railway.

The Mamod Steam Railway, as it was known, was the first cheap, mass-produced live steam set in Britain and sold well. Mamod quickly increased the range with further locomotives, the SL-2 and SL-3, available in ready-to-run and kit form and in both O (32 mm) and 1 (45 mm) gauges. Special edition locomotives, further rolling stock and points were also made.

In all over 18,000 model locomotives were produced by the Mamod company as well as thousands of non-rail models.

The Mamod SP Range

A Mamod SP1 stationary engine circa 1979


Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
1979 Mamod Minor 1 1984 27,500

Minor variations in the type:

  • Some had the engine unit and frame the wrong way round
  • Some had old Mamod Minor 1 boilers due to the rivet where the boiler-mounted chimney had been.
  • The engine frames were painted blue but at one stage Mamod decided to paint them black.
  • The old type Mamod decal instead of the newer type.

The SP1 (Steam Power 1) was based on the SE range's Mamod Minor 1. It had the same boiler, engine unit and flywheel. The main differences were that it had a new black die-cast chimney and a special narrow solid fuel burner. This was also the only SP engine to feature a water plug as the boiler was too small to fit the standard Mamod sight glass. The other main difference was the base; this was basically the same as a Mamod Minor 1, the only difference being that it had 4 holes, one in each corner. The firebox remained the same as the older Minor 1. The exhaust was a straight out into the air type. These engines could drive at least 1 or 2 miniature tools.

A Mamod SP2 stationary engine


Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
1979 Mamod Minor 2 - 36,878 (to 1995)

Minor variations in the type:

  • Engine frame was changed from blue to black at a later date
  • Some engine frames are screwed on, some are riveted on
  • Some sight glasses were screwed on, some were riveted on
  • Sight glass cover was either chrome or brass.

The SP2 (Steam Power 2) was an all-new design. It replaced the Mamod Minor 2 and was similar to it in a few ways. This engine had the same sort of boiler as the Minor 2 and engine unit and frame. These engines were very powerful despite their size and could drive the whole set of tools easily. The exhaust was a straight-out type like the SP1. The engine frames on these were also painted black at a later date like the SP1. A version of the SP2 with an integral dynamo is also produced. Called the SP2D, these models feature a larger-diameter flywheel. The dynamo is mounted at the base of the chimney and driven by a belt from the flywheel. A small bulb is fitted to the top of the chimney to provide load, but the dynamo can be wired into larger circuits if needed.

A Mamod SP3 stationary engine


Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
1979 Mec1 1984 9,067

Minor variations in the type:

  • Some reverser handles were red, some black
  • On some the gears were brass instead of plastic
  • The crank end was painted black but on some examples it was left metal
  • Was the second model to feature the old Mamod decals of the SE range
  • Some sight glasses were screwed on, some were riveted on
  • Some sight covers were chrome, some were brass

The SP3 (Steam Power 3) was based on the Mec1 Meccano engine. It was basically the same except for a solid fuel burner, sight glass, whistle instead of the steam dome, plastic gears instead of metal ones on the crank shaft for driving Meccano models, two decals—a Mamod one and a Meccano one, and silver paint over the whole base. The boiler was a standard Mamod one as used on the SP2 and SP4. This engine could also drive the whole set of workshop tools. The exhaust was a straight-out type.

A Mamod SP4 stationary engine


Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
1979 SE1a & SE2a - 41,191 (to 1995)

Minor variations in the type:

  • Some sight glasses were screwed on, some were riveted on
  • Some sight covers were chrome, some were brass
  • The SP4D version sported a dynamo but was uni-directional only. Rare.

The SP4 (Steam Power 4) was the middle engine of the range. It featured the standard Mamod boiler and die cast chimney. The engine frame for this engine was mounted on a silver plinth. The engine had a reverser which allowed the user to make the engine run in reverse or forward. It could drive all the tools easily. The engine’s exhaust was sent down some pipes and actually went up the chimney so the chimney would be seen with all the exhaust steam blowing up it. The problem with this was the steam often condensed in the bottom and would settle there, and oil would be left there too.

A Mamod SP5 stationary engine


Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
1979 SE3 1985.A new version,the SP5 Mk2 1335,was introduced in 2000. 10,461

Minor variations in the type:

  • Some sight glasses were screwed on, some were riveted on
  • Some sight covers were chrome, some were brass
  • A version was made for Griffin and George for schools and educational purposes. This essentially was just a badge engineered model. (A badged engineered SP4 version can also be found). It was not silver soldered like the early SE3 version.

The SP5 (Steam Power 5) was the top-of-the-range engine. It had a longer boiler and a twin-cylinder engine unit with a reversing handle for both directions. The engines could easily drive a workshop due to their bigger boilers and twin cylinders. The engine, like the SP4, had the exhaust going to the chimney but for some reason on the SP5 there was a small pool in the bottom to collect the condensed steam and oil so that it could be easily poured away. They also came with a small sponge in the bottom of the chimney to soak up any left-overs. The engine unit was mounted on a plinth. The crank ends had the word Mamod stamped into them and this can only be found on the SP5 and earlier SE3 as well as some 1960s SE1s and 2s.

SP5 Mk2 1335 SP5 Mk2 1335. SP5D Mk2 1335D. The new model of SP5,the SP5 Mk2 1335 Twin-Cylinder Model Steam Engine, produced since 2000- is largely a new design in its own right,and the whole layout of this model steam engine has been changed:The positions of the components are in reverse, the cylinders and chimney are now on the lefthand side for example - and there is also another difference: the lefthand end of the crankshaft has the usual counterweight type of crank as on the SP5 Mk1,SE3 Twin and other engines,but the righthand end of the new SP5 Mk2's crankshaft has a more efficient and far more attractive crankdisc for better balance and smoother running.Furthermore,this engine has one-piece cylinders,the bore is 8mm = 5/16 inch,and stroke 19mm = 3/4 inch. The SP5D Mk2 model comes fitted with a belt-driven dynamo and light.[1]

A Mamod SP6 1338 stationary engine

SP6 1338

Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
2006 - - -

Minor variations in the type:

  • A limited edition version was made for Forest Classics around 2006. This engine featured a green baseplate.

The single-cylinder SP6 1338 is one of the most powerful engines Mamod have produced, and is unique in the range in being fitted with slide valves rather than an oscillating cylinder. It uses the same boiler/burner unit as the SP5 Mk2 1335 (optionally fitted with a pressure gauge). It has circular crank ends. The same engine block has been used on the larger mobile models.

A Mamod SP7 stationary engine


Introduced Replacing Discontinued Number Produced
2009 - - -

Minor variations in the type:

  • None

The twin-cylinder SP7 is the most powerful engine Mamod have produced, and is unique in the range in being fitted with twin slide valves rather than oscillating cylinders. It uses the same boiler/burner unit as the SP6 (fitted with a pressure gauge). Like the SP6 it has circular crank ends. The same engine block has been used on the larger mobile models. The SP7 is currently available by special order only.

Working models and machine tools[2]

A Mamod model power hammer

The company produced a range of model workshop equipment with diecast metal bodies, and bases designed to be compatible with Meccano. The range comprised:

  • Model power press - fitted with 13/8" flywheel and a brass eccentric
  • Model power hammer - fitted with 13/8" flywheel and a black diecast hammer
  • Miniature line shaft - enabling several models to be run at one time, fitted with a silver steel shaft, one 21/8", two 3/4" and two 1/2" Meccano-compatible pulleys
  • Miniature polishing machine - with two 11/4" felt polishing wheels
  • Miniature grinding machine - with one fine and one medium 3/4" grinding wheels.

Mobile Engine Range

Mamod produces a wide range of models capable of moving under their own power. These vary from models of actual steam vehicles (such as traction engines, steamrollers and steam marine engines) to steam-powered models of non-steam vehicles (such as cars and a London Bus).

Traction Engine TE1 and TE1A

A Mamod TE1a traction engine with the original packaging

This is the 'classic' Mamod model and has been in production almost without change for over 50 years. It is a model of a typical traction engine with a full-length canopy. The engine itself is an oscillating-cylinder unit, larger than those used in the SP range (see above). The TE1a differs from the TE1 in having a reversing lever to control the speed and direction of the model, whereas the TE1 was forward drive only. The TE1 was claimed to cover a third of a mile in ten minutes on a single filling[2]. Power is delivered to the back axle by means of a drive band running from the flywheel to the rim of one of the back wheels. This can be removed to allow the engine to run stationary or to drive stationary equipment. The front axle of the model is mounted on a pivot to provide a crude form of suspension. It is also steerable, by means of a shaft running from the axle up the chimney. A control rod can be attached to the top of this shaft with a wooden handle on top to allow the operator to steer the model as it moves. The TE1A has a green boiler, red spoked wheels and flywheel, a white canopy and a black smokebox/chimney. It is also available in a distinctive alternative paint scheme, with a polished brass boiler and maroon wheels.

Steamroller SR1 and SR1A

This is a steamroller variant of the TE1 / TE1A, using a shorter boiler but the same fire box and engine as the TE1A. It has larger, solid rear wheels with a front roller carried on an extended front frame. The standard model is not fitted with a canopy but the kit version is (SR1AK). It has the same colour scheme as the traction engine model.

Showman's Engine

This is another model based on the TE1A in the form of a showman's road locomotive. Like the real-life showman's engines, it uses the basic form of a traction engine with the addition of a few aesthetic details. The Showman's model has twisted-brass canopy supports, a (non-functional) chain-steering drum and a typical bright paint scheme with a maroon boiler and yellow wheels. The main mechanical difference between the Showman's and the TE1A is the fitting of a solid flywheel to the former model. The Showman's has a dynamo mounted over the smokebox, which powers a series of LEDs fitted around the canopy. This is driven by a drive band from the flywheel.

Steam Wagon SW1

The SW1 steam Wagon is another variation from the basic TE1a in the range first produced in 1972. The model is largely attributed to Steve Malins, grandson of the founder of Malins Engineers. Apparently Steve took his inspiration from a book entitled 'The overtype steam road waggon' (Published in 1971 and written by Maurice A Kelly). This model has a 75cc boiler. This uses the burner/boiler and engine from the TE1A, with the same front axle, attached to a lorry-style rear body with a cab and 'trayback' load bed. The engine is fitted with a smaller-diameter flywheel than the other models to produce a higher top speed. A live rear axle has distinctive diamond-spoked wheels (closely based on a Foden design, the wagon is sometimes referred to as the 'Foden Wagon'). A spring steel belt-drive supplies power from the double reduced flywheel drive. The model has red wheels and a blue/green or sometimes brown body, with a white quarter-length canopy over the engine and boiler. The model has details such as mudguards and a cargo of 'barrels'. More recently limited edition models have been made in a darker shade of green as well as black. Other rare variations to the SW1 include a blue version of the model with white lettering on the rear payload body, as opposed to the standard gold lettering.

An alternative colour scheme is carried by the SW1B model. Here, the model has deep brown bodywork and cream wheels.

ME1, ME2 and ME3 Marine Steam Engines[2]

After the failure of the Mamod Meteor and Conqueror boats (1949–52) it was surprising that Malins Engineers got back into marine engine models, but they did and in 1958 introduced the ME1 (similar to the pre-war ME1 but with a vapourising spirit lamp) and the ME2. These marine engines were supplied for fitment into model boats of about 24" in length. The manufacturer claimed about fifteen minutes of fast steaming per filling. The engines were finished on polished brass, chromium plate and red and green paint. A methylated spirit vaporising spirit lamp provided power.

The ME1 was a direct drive engine with dimensions of 31/4" X 14" X 35/8" high. The boiler was 41/4" X 13/4" diameter. The cylinder size was 3/4" stroke by 5/16" bore, driving a two-blade 11/4" propeller.

The ME2 was introduced in 1958 at the same time as the ME1. Dimensions of this engine are the same as the ME3, except that it had a Mamod upright engine as opposed to the SEL upright engine used in the ME3. The ME2 was not particularly successful and was replaced by the ME3 in 1965. Today very few ME2 engines have survived and consequently prime boxed examples command prices well into three figures when they do appear from time to time. The fact that the ME1 represented a complete engine unit, whilst the ME2 basically was the boiler and engine unit probably worked against their success. Of the three engines produced by Malins Engineers, the ME2 barely made it to 1,500 units (which makes it as rare as an SE4 type engine) before being pulled due to its slow sales. As said they command three figure prices, especially if boxed and complete.

The ME3 was basically like the ME2 measuring (31/4" X 81/2" X 35/8" high) equipped with a heavier duty engine unit (An SEL 1560) designed to turn a bigger propellor. The unit utilising the ME1 boiler, but with a stroke of 1/2" and a bore of 7/16" that could drive a 11/2" diameter three-bladed propeller through a dogged pulley arrangement, as opposed to the stern tube system used by the ME1. It is generally assumed that the 1560 engine unit was more troublesome than the Mamod units, however there does not seem to be any evidence to suggest this. All the marine engines made by Mamod (including the 1560) lacked lubricators and needed careful setting up to work correctly.The ME3 was in production from 1965 to 1972, when by this time all the SEL engine units that Malins Engineers has purchased at a knock down price from J and L Randall (SEL owners) had been used up.

'Centurion' TE1AC

'Centurion' is a larger, more powerful version of the TE1A model, fitted with Mamod's new slide valve engine (as used on the SP6 engine). In other respects it is the same as the smaller model, with the same layout and green/red colour scheme.

'Challenger' SR1AC

'Challenger' is the steamroller version of 'Centurion'. As with the other models, it has been adapted by having an extended front frame carrying the front roller and larger solid rear wheels. Unlike the smaller steamroller model, it has a full-length canopy like the wheeled models.

Showman's Special

This is the Showman's version of the 'Centurion' model. It has the same added details as the TE1A-based Showman's model and the same colour scheme.

Silver Limo SA1L

This is a model of an Edwardian-style limousine, similar to the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. It is finished in grey/silver paint with black upholstery and hood. The boiler forms the 'bonnet' of the car with the sight-glass for checking the water level being the 'radiator grille'. The oscillating-cylinder engine is mounted externally on the left-hand side of the model, driving a small solid flywheel mounted externally on the right-hand side via a shaft. This shaft drives the rear axle by a power band. This arrangement provides much higher gearing than the traction engine-based models, allowing a higher top speed. This chassis and layout is used on all the other Mamod road vehicle models. The wheels on the Limo are in the style of wooden carriage wheels (as found on cars of the period) with pneumatic tyres. Details such as mudguards and carriage lamps are fitted.

The Limo is also available in a different colour scheme, with maroon bodywork and brass/gold wheels. This is designated the SA1B.

A Mamod FE1 Fire Engine

Fire Engine FE1

The model uses the standard chassis with front-mounted boiler and mid-mounted oscillating engine, but the rear body carries a turntable ladder, complete with exposed cranking wheels. The model is painted bright red with polished chromework, and is similar in appearance to fire engines produced by Leyland in the 1920s.

Delivery Van DV1

This model represents a typical British light commercial vehicle of the interwar period. It has an enclosed rear body with twin rear-opening doors and an open driving position. It is painted dark green with brass detailing and carries Mamod corporate livery.

Post Office Van PO1

This is based on the DV1 model, but has an extended rear body and an enclosed driving position. Like real Post Office vans of the period, it is painted red with black mudguards, wheels and bonnet. It carries the 'GR' royal insignia, presumably dating it to the reign of King George V.

Le Mans Racer LM1

This model represents a typical Edwardian or interwar 2-seat racing car used for long distance races such as the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Whilst using the same basic chassis and layout as the Limo, it has a two-cylinder engine, with external cylinders on each side of the car to provide more power. It has an open 'cockpit' with an aerodynamic sloped rear end. It is painted with blue bodywork, mudguards and wheels, with a chrome boiler cover, and carries the racing number '12' Although this uses the same running gear and piston as the other engines, it is actually the fastest in the range of Mamods.

London Bus LB1

The flagship of the Mamod Mobile Range, the London Bus is based on an early double-decker design such as the LGOC X-type. It carries the livery of the London General Omnibus Company and carried Mamod adverts in the style of the Edwardian period. It has red bodywork and black wheels. It shares the distinctive spoked rear wheels with the Steam Wagon model (see above). It has an open top deck with an open rear staircase. It is also available in a dark green livery.

See also

  • Wilesco


  1. ^ a b c d Malins, P.S. (1996) Mamod: The Story of Malins Models, Mortimer : Mamod Sales & Service, ISBN 0-9529237-0-X
  2. ^ a b c Mamod stationary model steam engines, working models and miniature machine tools catalogue No.LYE 2244/5 Malins (Engineers) Ltd, Thorns Works, Brierley Hill, UK

Further reading

  • Malins, P.S. (1996) Mamod: The Story of Malins Models, Mortimer : Mamod Sales & Service, ISBN 0-9529237-0-X

External links

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