There isn't a great deal known about the Mersey Model Company. They were based in Cooper's Buildings, Church Street, Liverpool, and made engines from 1937 to 1941 at their works in Wallasey. For that period, Mersey were in direct competition with Mamod for the toy steam market, with Stuart Turner and Bassett-Lowke occupying the more up-market end.
Mersey made a range of engines, ranging from one cylinder to three cylinder oscillating engines. They are beautifully made from heavy grade brass, and all have the characteristic wooden base, and a burner which has firetubes which protrude from beneath the wooden base - it is very common to find Merseys with the underside of the base badly scorched (mine's barely marked, indicating either a careful owner or little use). The engines are classified by a number followed by the letters "R" for reversing and/or "G" for geared.


Mersey 51


mersey-51

The "baby Mersey", the model 51. Unfortunately minus the burner, so I haven't been able to try it out yet, but it runs like clockwork on compressed air.



Mersey 52r


53r2

I've lusted after a Mersey ever since I saw my first one in the flesh at StiA 2006, in this case John Chapman's gorgeous No 52. This beautiful little engine came to me thanks to the good services of mr. Jon Penn, a true gentleman and model train connoisseur extraordinaire. It was in very good condition when it got to me, complete with box, and only required the firebox repainting and a gentle polish. The only thing that is curious about this engine is that it looks like its piston and cylinder have been replaced with an early "Hobbies" cylinder. As this is of the same time, that doesn't bother me one bit.


box

The reversing valve itself is unique in an engine this size, and I have not seen anything similar. It is a very simple arrangement, effectively swapping the inlet and outlet ports on the cylinder block, but very nicely executed and beautifully machined - the whole arrangement is very satifyingly solid, and having an extra lever to throw adds a lot to the appeal of this engine. Also visible in this picture is a small inline oiler. The Merseys also have a nice whistle with a bakelite handle, and a typical conical safety valve. The original Mersey piston has a packing groove and two oil grooves. The whole package makes a visually very attractive engine, unmistakeably British but with a few visual refinements that are a departure from the usual British austerity found in models of this period. They are also very satisfying runners!




Mersey 53G


mersey-53-blue


This wonderful model was offered to me as a swap by a kind gentleman who found me through this website....many thanks Peter! It had been in his possession for 55 years. It was in very good condition when I got it, just needed a bit of a fettle and a polish, and it ran absolutely perfectly straightaway.





Mersey 54R


54Routside

The Mersey 54R is one of those engines I would never have dreamed I'd own one day, and if it hadn't been for the intervention of Jon Penn, who is hereby elevated from superman status to minor deity, it would never have happened. This engine reached me in superb condition - the previous owner had stored it correctly, so I really only needed to wipe the grease off. The 54R is a very rare engines - Merseys don't come up all that often anyway, but you certainly never see this one. Possibly the only Mersey that's rarer than this is the three-cylinder radial, but I have never seen a complete example of this.

This engine is a vertical twin cylinder, driving a large solid brass flywheel. The engineering is, as on all Merseys, incredibly elegant - a beautifully made reversing valve sits on top of the cylinders, which in turn are coupled together with turned brass manifolds - no slppy pipework here. The exhaust is piped back into the stack, and shoots out very satisfying jets of steam when this engine is working hard. The cylinders are just over 180 degrees out, and the engine is of course self-starting and self-reversing. A large 5 wick burner provides ample steam.

The pistons are typical of the Mersey range - they contain a very deep groove which is packed with a suitable material, followed by two oil grooves, which are fed by a sizeable inline lubricator. The safety valve is also very typical, with the unmistakable conical top. A real credit to the design of this engine is that it is much smaller that it looks - footprint is about the same as a Mamod SE3. It just oozes quality - for example, the supports for the line shaft are solid brass, as is the large pulley.

How does it run? Well, poetry in motion begins to describe it……..