How to run a Mamod Steam Engine

How to run a Mamod Steam Engine

November 2023 Categories: News

Recommended for use under adult supervision.

Running of a Mamod steam engine should take place in a well-ventilated space and on a smooth surface (not carpet). They can get very hot when in operation and incorrect use could cause a fire or injury.

Preparing and Running a Mamod Traction Engine (TE1a)

  1. Fill with water. Unscrew the safety valve and carefully pour clean water into the boiler using a filler funnel or syringe. Stop filling when the water reaches the appropriate level. On newer engines with a sight glass, this will be between the two arrows towards the top of the glass (located at the rear of the engine). On earlier engines with no sight glass, you will need to remove the threaded plug from the rear of the boiler and fill until the water runs out of that hole and then replace the threaded plug until it is firmly finger tight.  
    • Hints & Tips: Use HOT water to minimise the start time and maximise running time. Avoid overfilling to prevent water pumping through to the piston and causing an excess of hot spitting steam when operating.
  2. Check safety valve. Before replacing the safety valve, ensure it is free by pressing it on the ground and check that the O-rings are intact. The top of the safety valve should act freely on a spring when pressure is applied to allow steam to escape. Replace the safety valve until it is firmly finger tight.
  3. Oil moving parts. Using Mamod Oil (or another medium-grade motor oil, such as SAE 10/30 or similar), thoroughly lubricate all the moving parts (shown in the diagram below).
  4. Fuel up. Place Live Steam Fuel Gel (see blogpost here on using Gel as a fuel) onto the burner tray.
  5. Fire up! Place the burner close to the engine, ready to be inserted under the boiler. Ignite the gel from the front end of the burner tray using matches or a lighter, then, using the burner handle, position inside the firebox.
    • Note: Do not refill the burner without topping up the boiler with water again (and ensure pressure has been drained from boiler before doing this).
  6. Power on. Gradually, pressure will build up inside the boiler and steam will begin to hiss around the safety valve and piston. At this stage (around 5 minutes), push the forward/ reverse level into drive and give the flywheel a flick with your finger.
    • Note: Do not leave your engine while the fuel tablets are burning at any stage. If the water level falls below the bottom of the sight glass then the burner should immediately be removed (and extinguished if still burning), and the boiler refilled before further use.
  7. Running and driving. Use the forward/ reverse lever to control the speed and direction of operation. To engage the model’s drive function, screw the steering rod into place in the chimney and place the drive band around both the rear near-side wheel and the flywheel. Operate the drive function using the forward/ reverse lever, flicking the flywheel again if required.
    • Hints and Tips: Carefully add more oil during operation if moving parts appear dry.
    • Note: The engine will only drive when enough pressure has built inside the boiler, if it does not drive straight away then allow more time for the pressure to build.
    • Note: Over-using the whistle will increase the time pressure takes to build-up.
  8. Cool down. Allow the engine to run until pressure is fully depleted or remove the burner and extinguish the flame. Allow to cool, then drain the boiler of water and dispose of white ash that remains from burnt-out gel.

Warning: Do not remove the safety valve until pressure is fully depleted and the engine cooled. Steam can be released more quickly by operating the whistle.

See the full range of Mamod Steam Engines and parts on offer in our online store.