Building a Wilesco Accessory Board

Building a Wilesco Accessory Board

February 2024 Categories: News

A popular way of building a working collection of Wilesco, Mamod and similar products is to set up a live steam board comprising stationary engines and accessories arranged with connecting line-shafts and drive belts.

It may sound easy in principle but where do you start? How many accessories can your engine power? What type of wooden board do you need to find? This article should hopefully help answer those questions!


Step 1 - Baseboard

Find a suitable wooden board. As a baseplate, Wilesco recommend a baseboard of chipboard or glulam at a minimum of 16mm thick. This baseboard can be painted to improve the look of your layout.

Why not be creative? Advanced model railway technologies means there are some superb materials now readily available to make your layout look authentic, from false grass to workshop walls... just keep flammability in mind around the steam engine itself!

Top Tip - Check out our Creal Miniatures range for some inspiration.


Step 2 - Fasteners

You will need suitable woodscrews for your steam engine and accessories. Mobile engines will not need to be screwed down but can be prevented from moving with miniature wooden chocks. 

The screws should be of 3mm diameter. The recommended length of screw depends on the depth of the engine or accessory base plate. The key is that they must be long enough to fasten securely into the board but not too long as to poke out from underneath.

Top Tip - For the best look, we recommend using dome-head screws or similar.

Typically the screws used for steam engines will be 35mm to 45mm long whereas for the accessories, they can vary from 10mm to 45mm long. 


Step 3 - Belts

Before fastening your engine and accessories down, ensure that all pulleys which you intend to connect are in a straight line. The drive belts (Z80 - Z827) should be slightly strained but not stretch to ensure they provide the friction needed. 

All belts have two ends - a tapered end and a blunt end. The tapered end twists into the blunt end to form a loop. 

Shortening a belt: you can shorten a belt by simply cutting the blunt end down by the required amount. You will then be able to re-join the tapered end into the new blunt end forming a smaller loop.

Lengthening a belt: you can join belts of any length together end to end by twisting the tapered end into the blunt end. Be sure that two belts are the same diameter before joining them together. 

Pulleys can be moved along line-shafts by loosening the grubscrew slightly, sliding it along and retightening the grubscrew. 

Now you have the basics of actually setting up a board, how do you go about choosing the correct engines and accessories? The Wilesco Power Rating is here to help!


Step 4 - Choosing the Correct Accessories for your Steam Engine 

Wilesco have cleverly devised a way of owners being able to plan their arrangement based on the power output of their steam models and matching that to the requirements of their accessories. 

Every steam engine from Wilesco is given a Power Output Rating. This can be found on our website under the specification part of each listing. The larger the power rating, the more powerful the steam engine is.

Every accessory from Wilesco is given a Power Requirement. This can be found on our website under the specification part of each listing. The accessory power requirement is a scale from 1 to 4; accessories rated at 1 require the least amount of power whilst those at 4 need the most power to run. 

In terms of how we use the information above, the combined power requirement for all of the accessories to be driven (when added together) must be less than, or equal to, the power output rating of the steam engine.

If the total power requirement, when added together, exceeds the power output rating of the steam engine, the whole layout will not run correctly. 

Hopefully this gives some insight into how to use our website and how to figure out what steam engines are capable of running which accessories.


Step 5 - Have you got everything you need?

Now for the final part; you have your perfect engine matched up with the ultimate accessory layout but have you got everything you need to safely run it?

As standard, there are two fuel tablets per box with preassembled Wilesco Steam Engines along with a small sachet of oil - this is sufficient for one full length steam-up. 

It is worth considering our Wilesco Fuel and Oil Starter Pack as a great way to get kitted up for future steamings. 

It is also beneficial to have a good array of Wilesco Drive Bands to run everything as smoothly as possible. 

 And finally, don't forget to read the operating instructions included in the box. These instructions are full of useful hints and tips to ensure successful, and safe, operation of your steam engine.

Shop the complete Wilesco Range

Happy steaming from the team at the Milbury Model Company!