Which Mamod?

A very popular starting point for Live Steam. With their low cost comes a number of problems which can be discussed here
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dewintondave
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Which Mamod?

Post by dewintondave » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:44 am

Which Mamod loco is the best bet? The saddle tank looks very attractive. But, would the lovely finish cope with the heat over time?
Image

Would the standard loco be better?
Image

Many thanks.

Best wishes,
Dave.

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Post by dougrail » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:45 am

Hi Dave,

The saddle tank looks great, a review in a recent issue of Garden Rail found that it did run alright but that the Ltd Ed Diamond label peeled off in the heat. Plus as a Ltd Ed it's more of a collector thing but it is a well functioning loco.

The side tank is more common but a few members have run them and well; one chap was recently able to customise his to make it less of a robber's dog. I'd probably say the side tank edges it out but be aware; both are of riveted construction sadly.

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Post by mikewakefielduk@btinterne » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:34 am

The side tank is a good runner and very easy to adapt. Drill out any pop rivets you don't like and replace them with bolts/screws/whatever (I have).

Unlike others I've never had any issues with the piston O rings not doing their job. With the most recent purchase of a Mk11 I found the quality control had taken a dive, but that may be because I was wanting it in a hurry just before Christmas. Nothing serious, just a bit annoying.

I'm not a great fan of pot boilers because of problems with paintwork getting damaged. So far I've got through two sets of side tank decals by turning the gas a little too high (Mamod will send you spares if you ask nicely).

Currently my Mk11 has radio control of the regulator which I find necessary given the gradient and tight curves of my track (the only locos that will go round it without R/C are Regners with their 6:1 geared reduction and a Mamod Brunel which I re-geared to around 5:1). On cold days when opening the regulator to climb the slope the Mk11 makes a very satisfying chuffing noise (and I don't have a Chuffer fitted).

My main complaint, and this will apply to both locos, is the naff design of the in-line oiler which results in a huge amount of oil being used, dumping it just below the smokebox where it flows back into the burner and so, I suspect, damaging the ceramic.

Of course, you get what you pay for. A Roundhouse loco will be better made but just look at the price difference.

Can't comment of the saddle tank as I haven't got one, but would certainly be concerned about the effect of heat on the paintwork.

Chris has both so he'll be better placed to make a comparison.

Mike

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Chris Cairns
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Post by Chris Cairns » Sun Nov 03, 2013 6:35 pm

Hi Dave,

I'll try to answer your question from my experience of both these locos. Firstly have a look at my YouTube videos which are posted on the Mamod website - http://youtu.be/aTH7_uuTiuc & http://youtu.be/h_E_0eGpgAk The Saddle Tank is running with a Summerlands Chuffer fitted in that video.

These are both toy models which are constructed using Mamod's current method of rivets (we have asked them several times to produce a kit version but no progress so far). They use the same boiler, cab & lubricator, and powered chassis with the differences just being the Side Tanks or Saddle Tank. In my opinion the method used to mount the Saddle Tank is worse than the Side Tank, with my Saddle Tank's cab poorly fitted.

Mike advised us of a design fault with the Mamod gas burners, which will still affect the Saddle Tank loco (they were made in a limited batch of 100 - new burners should be suitably modified by Mamod for the Mark II). I've not read the Garden Rail article that Doug (dougrail) refers to, but looking at the photo in the viewable index on-line the reviewer has been turning up the gas too much (the metalled label has been blackened on the Saddle Tank). I recommend to all new owners that they paint/mark a line on the regulator & gas valve wheels so you know where they are being set to.

We have already discussed the deficiencies of the lubricator design in this Forum, as it is a total displacement design (no through steam pipe) and Mamod have "cheap'd" out on the exhaust pipe (it does not reach up into the chimney). I have found by reducing how much steam oil I put in the lubricator (not as much as the instructions) I get less of a mess on the front smokebox apron, and I've fitted a deflector plate so it does not affect the burner as much.

As to running I've found my Saddle Tank to be the best runner, but it was bought 2nd hand having been run by Mamod on their demonstration video, then running in the garden by it's previous owner. His videos showed that the 'O' ring piston rod glands do leak occasionally (another Mamod design fault) but most owners just seem to accept it (steamie1's modified Mark II did it on video as well) as it does not really affect the running.

You would need to check with Mamod but they were recently producing the Mark II with an extra boiler insert fitted with a blanking plug, allowing another fitting like a water top up valve or whistle to be fitted. However Dream Steam seemed to be selling the older stock without that extra boiler insert.

In terms of Mamodification the Saddle Tank probably offers the easier option to de-rivet the loco, as the Side Tank's are spot/tack welded to the cab side. However it does have that ugly Diamond Jubilee plaque riveted (poorly on my example) to the cab roof. Back in April 2013 David Terry (Mamod MD) told me they had sold 70 of the 100 Saddle Tanks and you could still get the optional matching ruby red tender.

You asked about the heat over time. So far I've been lucky with my Mark I & II locos where the label on the side tank is just sticky plastic but have not melted yet, but unlike Mike I have not run my locos outdoors yet. I would recommend taking those plastic stickers off straight away as when they do melt (like on my William II) they do leave an imprint in the paintwork that cannot be removed easily. The labels on the Saddle Tank are metal backed, however the bottom of my Saddle Tank already has scorching marks from the previous owner turning the gas up too much or running the loco a lot backwards (the burner gets affected by air being pushed through the cab front which is not fixed like the Side Tank version). I've drilled out the burner venturi and sealed the jet holder in with PTFE tape which has improved the burner's stability. Certainly as you would expect the Saddle Tank loco runs hotter than the Side Tank . I'm not sure what paint Mamod actually use but they do not use any primer first and the black chassis paint is easily scorched by stray flames so I guess it is not VHT paint. The crinkle paint on the boilers seems to stand up to the heat better, but again no primer has been used first.

So it really depends on what you intend doing with your loco. Keeping it in original format but adding a few beautification bits & pieces, or going for a completely new style bodywork. Effectively they are the same running chassis with different tank styles fitted, and you pay an extra £31 for the ruby red colour & a limited edition plaque.

Chris Cairns.

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dewintondave
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Post by dewintondave » Sun Nov 03, 2013 10:00 pm

Thank you chaps.

David.

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The Denying Dutchman
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Post by The Denying Dutchman » Sun Nov 03, 2013 11:08 pm

mikewakefielduk@btinterne:91269 wrote: Of course, you get what you pay for.
I find that no excuse especially because were not talking about a cheap toy. £300 or so is a lot of money in my book. Mamod has been making locomotives since 1979 and if they still can't make a flawless loco in 2013 then they're either incompetent or they don't care. Or both!

Sorry for sounding so harsh, but long ago Mamod used to make quality steam engines. It's time for them to get their act straight.
Paul

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Post by mikewakefielduk@btinterne » Mon Nov 04, 2013 5:21 pm

I should have been clearer in what I was saying. I did not mean to suggest (because a Mamod is half the price of a Basic Series Roundhouse) it was OK if the Mamod had some faults. Far from it. What I meant was that because a Mk 11 is sold for around £300, after tax, it has to be made in such a way that Mamod can still make a profit. Its not hand-made but it is hand-assembled and so, as labour costs are expensive, the assembly time must be reduced to a minimum. Hence pop rivets instead of screws. (Having said that, the Roundhouse Basic Series still has the odd pop rivet, perhaps I should have said Regner instead).

There's never any excuse for poor quality control. The problem of design weaknesses is different of course and often boils down to the amount of time and skill a particular firm has for research and development.

Mike

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