General view of beam engine

This Meccano model of Watt's Rotative steam engine and is based on an engraving reproduced in ”Chambers Information for the People” (a part work encyclopedia published in the early 1840s.) This type of engine also known as a “Beam Engine” was designed and built by James Watt, the Meccano model demonstrates the main features of the engine, see engraving and key beolw. For many years I had wanted to make a Meccano model of the engine shown in the engraving and after visiting the Kew Steam Museum for the first time in 1998 I was inspired to build it, My original model was completed in 1999 and in 2011 decided to build an improved version that is shown here. The model is built almost entirely from Meccano parts although the 60 rods required for the six fluted supporting columns were cut from B&Q 4 mm steel bar. The only other non standard parts used are a 1" pulley with holes drilled to match those in the 1" bush wheel, a large diameter boiler and small ring flanges.

Side view of beam engine

The columns are made up from ten 7" (non standard ) 4mm steel rods these fit snugly inside part number 20b 3/4" flanged wheel , spaced from a central rod using Meccano plastic spacers.

fly wheel side of beam engine
The picture above is of the flywheel side of the engine taken during the construction.
I scaled the engraving plan up using the diameter of the large flanged ring P/N 167b  to form the flywheel as a reference for the proportions and size of the rest of the Meccano model.

The model is belt driven by an old video recorder motor, excellent for Meccano models although they run at a fairly high speed. One big advantage is they are designed for constant and silent running. I have run the model all day at many exhibitions with no problems. The picture below was taken during construction showing completed base before the fitting of beam and beam frame.

beam engine during construction

 beam.jpg Engraving

KEY to illustration showing the main functions of Watt's Rotative Steam Engine.

(C) Cylinder

(A) Condenser

(H) Parallel Motion

(R) Eccentric rod

(L) Flywheel

(M) Cistern

(O) Cold water pump

(W) Air Pump

(H) Hot Well

(Z) Governor

The scan above is from the original 1840 encyclopedia engraving that inspired the model.

July 26 2011 revised February 23 2024

The model can be seen in operation at the Museum of Power Langford on YouTube click the link below.

[*] Video made by Tim Surtell at the NELMC February 2024

[*] Earlier version of thel beam Engine model

[*]See also Watt's Beam engine

[*]Back to Gallery of Meccano Models.