Steam excavator header

mec3l.jpg Excavator
digger bucket part 169mec3r.jpg Excavator 3/4The Steam Excavator has got to be one of my favourite old Meccano models. The original plans for this model were published in 1929 as Super Model Leaflet 19a. This replaced the earlier SML 19  also a steam Excavator but of a much more crude appearance. The 19a SML was a showcase for the new Meccano steam engine and the recently introduced digger bucket part number 169, shown on the right. This attractive part included in the large Meccano outfits was not produced after the second world war

The model was specifically designed to use with the new Meccano steam engine as its power source and was.  In my opinion this was the only worthwhile plan published by Meccano for the steam engine, other plans were a paddle steamer and steam wagon. There was also a plan produced that was an a version of the SML derrick crane but as far as is know this was never printed, although the model featured in Meccano advertising.

As I do not have one of these engines in my collection I used instead a Meccano Power Drive electric motor. At the time I constructed the model I did not have a digger bucket so used a design based on that used in the previous Super model leaflet SML19. The model is great fun to operate and see in action and must have been a big hit at the time of its original publication.The model can easily be adapted to use later Mamod / Meccano engine.

Punta Arenas steam excavator

original brochureThe photograph above shows a very similar type of steam excavator in an open air museum in Punta Arenas,  Chile. The photograph is from Meccanoman, Joe Attard of Malta, that's him in the picture and he gives a good idea of the scale of these machines.This must be one of earliest tracked excavating machines in the world

An illustration from the original Super Model Leaflet is shown left depicting a similar type of machine to the Meccano model. The design of the Excavator looks much older than 1929 more akin to those of the late 19th century. Although machines if this type would have had very long working lives. Unlike modern excavators running on crawler tracks these machines normally moved along broad gauge railway tracks, propelled by their own steam engine.  They were also know as Steam Navies .Although looking cumbersome and slow compared with modern machines these excavators did the work of many men, with picks and shovels. In old films you can see how fast they could work. The operators of these machines were both highly skilled and highly paid.

Revised May 05 2015

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