by John

Today is the 40th successive day that Victoria has had NO new covid cases. It seems worth the prolongued horrendous lockdowns experienced earlier this year. Full marks to our public health officials, health workers in hospitals, and politicians. (yes, even the politicians. They had a steep learning curve, and made mistakes, but I believe that they tried very hard to make correct decisions.)

The result is that we had our first face to face GSMEE meeting since January. And with Christmas just a couple of weeks away, it was our annual Xmas BBQ. I hasten to add that the vegetarians in our group were well catered, as well as the omnivores.

There were 5 entries in the club competition for making a small engine, and it was convincingly won by Neil McMeekin. Neil’s engine was beautifully finished and it ran smoothly without any mechanical noises. Frank Mullins 2 entries both ran well, and he was awarded the second prize.

Judging the competition engines. checking the finish, and running on compressed air. To the right is Rudi vanderelst’s “Britannia” which is taking shape with Rudi’s expert attention and knowledge. Rudi was a marine engineer, originally on steam ships, and what he does not know about triple expansion engines ………… Hanging on the staircase rail is a one meter micrometer, brought in by Chris Tywonek, our resident gun expert.

The “models on the table” included my still not finished scale model Armstrong cannon. It is now painted, and clear lacquered.

In the foreground is Stuart Tankard’s model of an Otto D2 gas engine, originally made in 1895. As usual with Stuart’s work it is perfection in motion. Not quite finished, but when it is, I will post a more detailed description and photos.

To the right of that is a bronze cannon cypher off an Ottoman cannon which was captured in Mesopotamia in WW1. The wooden mounting plaque is from a British Spitfire propellor. Owned by Laurie Braybrook, at 95 our most senior member, and raconteur extraordinaire. Laurie fought in WW2 in the Pacific islands, and he has many wonderful stories.

Ottoman cannon cypher. I love the Arabic (I think) calligraphy, and the symbol of the horn of plenty. It is quite a thick and heavy object.

Behind Stuart’s Otto is a Bolton 7 horizontal mill engine, made by Neil Ellis. Again, not quite finished, but it is displaying an incredibly high standard of machining and finish. This is Neil’s FIRST model engine. Again, I will feature it in a future post with more details. Neil comes from a boatbuilding occupation, so he is no stranger to precision and machining, but this level of model engineering in a metal working beginner is amazing.

Then my cannon, which is probably suffering from some overexposure in this blog, so I will add just one more photo, since it has now been painted and laquered.

Still a few pieces to be added to the Armstrong. Our member Neville, who used to fire the original full size Armstrong at Port Fairy, saw the model for the first time today, and he was interested to see the hand wheels and other bits, which are missing from the Port Fairy original. I think that he was a bit disgusted that I have not made a vent/touch hole.

At the rear are Swen Pettig’s “Minnie” 1″ traction engine which is looking great, and his therapeutic Grasshopper Beam engine. I say “therapeutic”, because the Grasshopper is Swen’s escape from working on the Minnie. His size 13 hands have been a serious handicap to assembling the Minnie, and I gather that there has been much stress and frustration. (But he is talking about making a triple expansion engine like mine, so he is clearly a glutton for punishment. The barring slots in the flywheel of the grasshopper are an interesting feature, and I hope to get post from talking to Swen about those.

I think that everyone was excited and delighted to be face to face again, and looking forward to normal GSMEE meetings in 2021. Zooming has been a good “stop gap” but I think we are all ready to resume normality. Hopefully with no further lock downs.