St.Albans and District Model Engineering Society

Feb 2023 Club Night Report

Nice to see members are arriving a bit earlier and that gave us a prompt start for 7:30. Mike Collins had some words for all and then myself. I do forget myself sometimes I went to book my seat with Noel and then remembered I was part of the action for the evening!

Putting my other hat on I checked on some new members and recruited Dave(y) Jones to us for the same job which has worked out very nicely. I decided on a recently new member as he would be able to tell us when we got it wrong.

For our talk, Malcolm and I were going to go down memory lane, just 35 years ago! The facts are that Malcolm found that he had put a diary together at the time and it was published in a now defunct magazine and he had fortunately stumbled across the magazine!

So the evening was based on our taking part in a World Enduro Event, 24 hours running, yes that's right throughout the night. My part in the presentation was to stop Malcolm from assuming we were all gifted and could easily follow his reasoning etc.
At the start Malcolm did not even have the boat and so had to make a choice and opted for a 50 inch Naval Picket boat powered by steam. The organisers kept his application on hold until he could get his end of it going.

So boat hull bought and basics and sorted out and then calculations for engine speed and a likely steam engine and boiler to power it, all yet to be designed and built. The details are all available elsewhere on this web site. Malcolm was constructing and a good friend Don a fellow member was at the other end of the 'phone for queries.
Part way through this Malcolm came to me with an article on indicating water levels using LEDs in a working boiler on a loco and asked if I could help. You bet, I love to have a project and a problem. Took me a week and a bit to get the first circuit worked out, essentially to sense the water level and then drive a standard RC servo to operate the output from a water pump. All available as above.

(Read more about Roy's circuit design HERE)

But you can imagine there were a lot of untried parts in the whole steam and control system and we were putting them all together with a deadline!

The 3 of us got together in Malcolm's garage (never seen a car!) and there was more room then as well. We were ironing out the problems found along the way. Flame outs were one I remember and I recall Don saying give it more air so more holes were drilled and that was cured. I had made a tachometer for Malcolm a bit before and this was in use as well. I was at a loss in calibrating it, then by chance found that pointing the probe at a neon light was spot on for 3000 rpm!

It had all started to come together and I have to hand it to Malcolm his theory on paper was spot on in practice, the engine turned over at just under 1500 rpm on load!

We had a break at 9 for a chat over tea and coffee and we could allow a full half hour as we had had an early start. I was pleased to see that all returned, Oh well we must be doing it right! So down to the day in question.
I remember it well, it was a short one for us as we were sunk with all hands after just 7 laps and we were not the first either. It was a typical June day, terrible weather, blowing a gale and the adjacent lake hosting crewed yachts were called in at midnight due to the conditions. Anyway 'we wuz robbed', It was the force of the wind that swung the boat around and I was driving as well and we were hit amidships rolled over and sunk. Did he say sorry nope! Did not even stop for survivors. So Malcolm and, I think, another were out in the rescue dinghy and I pointed to the position, (it was man overboard from full size sailing that clicked in to practice).

Boat was retrieved but there were too many things wrong to carry on, all our provisions for running for 24 hours came to nought. We had planned to suck in most of the lake, boil it and turn it into steam and return it to whence it came, bit tough on the fish though. The transmitter was set up to run from an outside source and there was a row of gas cannisters all waiting their turn.

So we went home to bed. We turned up after lunch the next day to find out what had happened, our nemesis did not win, well some good news at least. We were surprised when we were also given our medals, treasured at the time but lost in the garage now.

We had a very relaxed Q & A time after and shared a few thoughts as well. The membership seemed to like us and were rewarded with applause at the end.

Thanks go to the refreshment team and the chair movers without you it would not be possible.

Roy Verden 16.02.2023