The Mamod company is a British toy manufacturer specializing in building live steam models. The company was founded in 1937 in Birmingham in the British midlands by Geoffrey Malins. The name is a contraction of 'Malin Models'. The first models produced were of stationary steam engines, the company later also creating models of road rollers, traction engines and steam cars. These models were aimed at the toy market, so were simple to operate and ran at low boiler pressures for safety but were not accurate scale models.

The mamod TE1/TE1a remains the most popular model Mamod ever produced, selling no less than 486 thousand models up to 1996 . The most popular stationary engine was the Minor one, selling roughly 245,000 models, until its retirement in 1979 .

A characteristic of Mamod models is the simple but effective oscillating cylinder(s). These engines either run unregulated (in the smaller models) or have a simple reversing mechanism to alter the cutoff, thus controlling the power/speed and direction of the engine. Early models had single or multi-wick spirit burners while in the 1970s it the company changed to Hexamine solid fuel which came in tablet form and provided low heat and a safe form of firing.

The End of Malins Family control

The company went into receivership in 1980, but survived. Eric Malins, the Managing Director, and Steve Malins, his son, gave up control of the company, thus effectively ending the Malins family's relationship with Mamod. Since then the company has had several owners and manufacturing bases. It is currently (2006) in the ownership of the Terry family and is now based near its original home at Smethwick in the West Midlands. The company now produces a wide range of mobile engines, as well as some stationary models and machine tools.

An excellent book has been written by Steve Malins (Malins Models, pub 1996) which details the company's existence from the beginning with Geoffrey Malins, right up to 1996 when the Terry family took over the firm. Although out of print, second-hand copies can found.

Related companies

In 2006, two other companies were producing models based on the original Mamod designs:

  • MSS (Mamod Sales and Services) continues to manufacture and sell the basic locomotive and stock, as well as a new saddle tank model introduced in 2004.
  • Mamod Steam Models produces a wide range of Mamod models including an upgraded version of the SL-1 locomotive design with improved running gear.

In addition, the basic design of the Mamod has inspired several improved version supplied by independent manufacturers. Notable amongst there are the Creekside Forge & Foundry Baldwin, the PPS Janet and the IP Engineering Jane Several manufacturers also supply upgraded components for the original Mamod line. A particularly popular upgrade was to fit the locomotive with a meths burner which produced greater heat and therefore allowed higher boiler pressure and great hauling capacity.

The large number and low cost of Mamod models means they are still popular today. There is a thriving market in spare and replacement parts from a variety of small manufacturers. Second-hand models are cheap and readily available and are often used as the basis for conversions by modelers.

Running Requirements

Unlike more complex and expensive models, Mamod engines lack lubricators to store oil and feed it to the moving parts such as the piston and bearings. Instead, oil is applied from a bottle or can (supplied with the models) to the necessary parts before each run. On long runs, especially at high speeds, the piston will require further application of oil (the engine speed will often noticeably slow down and the action become more noisy as the cylinder starts to run dry). The engine will usually stall due to increased friction if it runs dry (especially if run under a load|). Mamod recommends a heavy automotive oil (grade SAE20, 30 or similar), but longer run times between oil applications can be obtained by using steam oil, which maintains its lubrication properties when emulsified.

Mamod Steam Railway

In 1981 Mamod introduced its first model railway, the O gauge live steam SL-1 locomotive, along with a small range of rolling stock and track. The model was of a narrow gauge railway and although it was not based on a specific prototype it was to approximately 16mm, thus representing approximately a gauge railway.

The Mamod Steam Railway, as it was known, was the first cheap, mass produced live steam set in Britain and sold well. Mamod quickly added to the range with further locomotives the SL-2 and SL-3 available in ready-to-run and kit form and in both O (32 mm) and 1 (45 mm) gauge. Special edition locomotives, further rolling stock and points were also made.

In all over 18,000 model locomotives were produced by the Mamod company as well as thousands of non-rail models.

The Mamod SP Range


Introduced: 1979 Discontinued: 1984 Replaced: Mamod Minor 1 Number produced: 27,500 Minor Variations in the type:

  • Some had the engine unit and frame the wrong way round
  • Some had old Mamod Minor 1 boilers due to the rivet where the boiler mounted chimney had been.
  • The engine frames where painted blue but at one stage Mamod decided to paint them black.
  • Had the old type Mamod decal instead of the newer type.

The SP1 (Steam power 1) was based on the SE range's Mamod Minor 1.It had the same boiler and engine unit and flywheel. The main differences were that it has a new black die cast chimney and a special narrow solid fuel burner. This was also the only Sp engine to feature a water plug as the boiler was too small to fit the standard Mamod sight glass. The other main difference was the base; this was basically the same as a Mamod Minor 1, the only difference being that it had 4 holes, one in each corner. The firebox remained the same as the older Minor 1. The exhaust is a straight out into the air type. These engines could drive at least 1 or 2 tools.


Introduced: 1979 Discontinued: this engine is still in production. Replaced: Mamod Minor 2 Number produced at the end of 1995: 36,878 Minor Variations in the type:

  • Engine frame was changed from blue to black at a later date
  • Some engine frames are screwed on some are riveted on
  • Some sight glasses were screwed on some were riveted on
  • Sight glass cover was either chrome or brass.

The SP2 (Steam power 2) was an all new design. It replaced the Mamod Minor 2 and was similar to it in a few ways. This engine had the same sort of boiler as the Minor 2 and engine unit and frame. These engines where very powerful despite there size and could drive the whole set of tools easily. The exhaust was a straight out type like the sp1. The engine frames on these where also painted black at a later date like the SP1. A version of the SP2 with an integral dynamo is also produced. Called the SP2D, these models feature a larger-diameter flywheel. The dynamo is mounted at the base of the chimney and driven by a belt from the flywheel. A small bulb is fitted to the top of the chimney to provide load, but the dynamo can be wired into larger circuits if needed.


Introduced: 1979 Discontinued: 1984 Replaced: Mec1 Number produced: 9,067 Minor Variations in the type:

  • Some reverser handles were red some black
  • On some the Gears were brass instead of plastic
  • The crank end was painted black but on some examples it was left metal
  • Was the second model to feature the old Mamod decals of the SE range.
  • Some sight glasses were screwed on some were riveted on
  • Some sight covers were chrome some were brass

The SP3 (Steam power 3) was based on the Mec1 Meccano engine. It was basically the same apart from it had a solid fuel burner, sight glass, whistle instead of the steam dome, plastic gears instead of metal ones on the crank shaft for driving Meccano models, it had two decals a Mamod one and a Meccano one and finally the whole base was painted silver. The boiler was a standard Mamod one as used on the SP2 and SP4. This engine could also drive the whole set of workshop tools. The exhaust was a straight out type.


Introduced: 1979 Discontinued: this engine is still in production. Replaced: Se1a Se2a Number produced at the end of 1995: 41,191 Minor Variations in the type:

  • Some sight glasses were screwed on some were riveted on
  • Some sight covers were chrome some were brass

The SP4 (Steam power 4) was the middle engine of the range. It featured the standard Mamod boiler and die cast chimney. This engine frame for this engine was mounted on a silver plinth. This engine had a reverser which allowed the user to make the engine run in reverse or forward. It could drive the all the tools easily. This engine’s exhaust was sent down some pipes and actually went up the chimney so the chimney would be seen with all the exhaust steam blowing up it. The problem with this was the steam often condensed in the bottom and would settle there also all oil would be left there too.


Introduced: 1979 Discontinued: 1985 Production restarted in 2005. Replaced: SE3 Number produced: 10,461 Minor Variations in the type:

  • Some sight glasses were screwed on some were riveted on
  • Some sight covers were chrome some were brass
  • A special version was made for Griffin and George for schools and educational purposes.

The SP5 (steam power 5) was the top of the range engine. It had a longer boiler and a twin cylinder engine unit with a reversing handle for both directions. The engines can easily drive a workshop due to the fact it has a bigger boiler and twin cylinders. The engine like the sp4 had the exhaust going to the chimney but for some reason on the sp5 there is a small pool in the bottom to collect the condensed steam and oil so it could easily poured away, and also they came with a small sponge in the bottom of the chimney to soak up any left after. This engine also featured the engine unit being mounted on a plinth. The crank ends of this engine had the words Mamod stamped into them and this can only be found on the SP5 and earlier SE3 as well as some 1960s SE1s and 2s.

The new model of SP5 produced since 2005 is largely the same as the older models, but has different crankshaft ends. Instead of the 'throws' of the other engines, the new SP5 has simpler circular ends for better balance and smoother running. The SP5D model comes fitted with a belt-driven dynamo and light.


Introduced: 2006 Replaced: N/A Number produced: ??? Minor Variations in the type:

  • None

The single-cylinder SP6 is the most powerful engine Mamod have produced, and is unique in the range due to being fitted with slide valves rather than an oscillating cylinder. It uses the same boiler/burner unit as the SP5 (fitted with a pressure gauge and regulator valve). Like the SP5 it has circular crank ends. The same engine block has been used on the larger mobile models.

Mobile Engine Range

Mamod produces a wide range of models capable of moving under their own power. These vary from models of actual steam vehicles (such as traction engines and steamrollers, to steam-powered models of non-steam vehicles (such as cars and a London Bus.

Traction Engine TE1A

This is the 'classic' Mamod model and has been in production almost without change for over 50 years. It is a model of a typical traction engine with a full-length canopy. The engine itself is an oscillating-cylinder unit, larger than those used in the SP range (see above). It has a reversing lever to control the speed and direction of the model. Power is delivered to the back axle by means of a power band running from the flywheel to the rim of one of the back wheels. This can be removed to allow the engine to run stationary or to drive stationary equipment. The front axle of the model is mounted on a pivot to provide a crude form of suspension. It is also steerable, by means of a shaft running from the axle up the chimney. A control rod can be attached to the top of this shaft with a wooden handle on top to allow the operator to steer the model as it moves. The TE1A has a green boiler, red spoked wheel and flywheel, a white canopy and a black smokebox/chimney. It is also available in a distinctive alternate paint scheme, with a polished brass boiler and maroon wheels.

Steamroller SR1A

This is a steamroller variant of the TE1A, using the same boiler, burner box and engine as the TE1A. It has larger, solid rear wheels with a front roller carried on an extended front frame. This model is not fitted with a canopy. It has the same colour scheme as the traction engine model.

Showman's Engine

This is another model based on the TE1A in the form of a Showman's road locomotive. Like the real-life showman's engines, it uses the basic form of a traction engine with the addition of a few aesthetic details. The Showman's model has twisted-brass canopy supports, a (non-functional) chain-steering drum and a typical bright paint scheme with a maroon boiler and yellow wheels. The main mechanical difference between the Showman's and the TE1A is the fitting of a solid flywheel to the former model. The Showman's has a dynamo mounted over the smokebox, which powers a series of LEDs fitted around the canopy. This is driven by a drive band from the flywheel.

Steam Wagon SW1

The final TE1A variant in the range is a steam wagon. This uses the burner/boiler and engine from the TE1A, with the same front axle, attached to a lorry-style rear body with a cab and 'trayback' load bed. The engine is fitted with a smaller-diameter flywheel than the other models to produce a higher top speed. A live rear axle with distinctive diamond-spoked wheels is fitted, with the usual belt-drive from the flywheel. The model has red wheels and a blue body, with a white quarter-length canopy over the engine and boiler. The model has details such as mudguards and a cargo of 'barrels'.

An alternative colour scheme is carried by the SW1B model. Here, the model has deep brown bodywork and black wheels.

'Centurion' TE1AC

'Centurion' is a larger, more powerful version of the TE1A model, fitted with Mamod's new slide valve engine (as used on the SP6 engine). In other respects it is the same as the smaller model, with the same layout and green/red colour scheme.

'Challenger' SR1AC

'Challenger' is the steamroller version of 'Centurion'. As with the other models, it has been adapted by having an extended front frame carrying the front roller and larger solid rear wheels. Unlike the smaller steamroller model, it has a full-length canopy like the wheeled models.

Showman's Special

This is the Showman's version of the 'Centurion' model. It has the same added details as the TE1A-based Showman's model and the same colour scheme.

Silver Limo SA1L

This is a model of an Edwardian-style limousine, similar to the Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost. It is finished in grey/sliver paint with black upholstery and hood. The boiler forms the 'bonnet' of the car with the sight-glass for checking the water level being the 'radiator grille'. The oscillating-cylinder engine is mounted externally on the left-hand side of the model, driving a small solid flywheel mounted externally on the right-hand side via a shaft. This shaft drives the rear axle by a power band. This arrangement provides much higher gearing than the traction engine-based models, allowing a higher top speed. This chassis and layout is used on all the other Mamod road vehicle models. The wheels on the Limo are in the style of wooden carriage wheels (as found on cars of the period) with pneumatic tyres. Details such as mudguards and carriage lamps are fitted.

The Limo is also available in a different colour scheme, with maroon bodywork and brass/gold wheels. This is designated the SA1B.

Fire Engine FE1

The model uses the standard chassis with front-mounted boiler and mid-mounted oscillating engine, but the rear body carries a Fire_engine#Turntable_ladder, complete with exposed cranking wheels. The model is painted bright red with polished chromework, and is similar in appearance to fire engine produced by Leyland in the 1920s.

Delivery Van DV1

This model represents a typical British light commercial vehicle of the interwar period. It has an enclosed rear body with twin rear-opening doors and an open driving position. It is painted dark green with brass detailing and carries Mamod corporate livery.

Post Office Van PO1

This is based on the DV1 model, but has an extended rear body and an enclosed driving position. Like real Post Office vans of the period, it is painted red with black mudguards, wheels and bonnet. It carries the 'GR' royal insignia, presumably dating it to the reign of King George V.

Le Mans Racer LM1

This model represents a typical Edwardian or interwar 2-seat racing car used for long distance races such as the Le Mans 24 Hour Race. Whilst using the same basic chassis and layout as the Limo, it has a two-cylinder engine, with external cylinders on each side of the car to provide more power. It has an open 'cockpit' with an aerodynamic sloped rear end. It is painted with blue bodywork, mudguards and wheels, with a chrome boiler cover, and carries the racing number '12'.

London Bus LB1

The 'flagship' of the Mamod Mobile Range, the London Bus is based on an early double-decker design such as the LGOC X-type. It carries the livery of the London General Omnibus Company and carried Mamod adverts in the style of the Edwardian period. It has red bodywork and black wheels. It shares the distinctive spoked rear wheels with the Steam Wagon model (see above). It has an open top deck with an open rear staircase. It is also available in a dark green livery.


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