At first sight, it may seem that many model engineering clubs and societies are focussed on live steam, predominantly steam locomotives, to the exclusion of everything else. Dig in a little deeper though, and it quickly becomes clear that the ‘outdoor’ scale railways are the tip of the iceberg with many modellers engaged in other, smaller, activities.
Whilst SMEE may not conform to the ‘usual model’, it has no outdoor rail track for instance, it is certainly the case that SMEE covers a wide range of modelling interests. Indeed, SMEE members do not limit themselves to models or, indeed, engineering. A brief list of members interest would include live steam locomotives, in a wide range of scales, live steam traction and stationary engines, as well as electric powered locomotives. As most modellers know, building such models requires numerous jigs and workshop tools. Unsurprisingly, many modellers obtain as much satisfaction from the building of these ancillary items as from the traditional model. The same comments apply to builders of internal combustion engines and the jigs and work-holding tools required.
Of course, not everyone builds models, some push the boundaries a little wider and get involved with digital and electronic devices – ranging from converting workshop machinery to CNC, experimenting with electrical discharge machines (EDM) to designing and building electronic tachometers.
At the other end of the high-tech scale is what might be called ‘old-tech’ where SMEE members interested in pattern-making and casting techniques. Further beyond and we’re into the non-modelling areas of interest such as ornamental turning, clock-making and wood-working skills generally.
It comes as no surprise that there is a range of skill to match such diversity of interest, and many of SMEE’s interest groups provide information support networks to those needing help – if you have a question, there’s sure to be someone with both the answer and the desire to share that knowledge with you.
Most of SMEE’s interest group hold periodic formal gatherings at Marshall House, and some are using ubiquitous technology, such as e-mail and down-loadable video to reach out to members who cannot get to Marshall House – it puts a slightly different slant on the ‘experimental engineers’ part of our name!