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Bowman Models were made at Dereham, Norfolk between 1928 and 1936. Products included stationary steam engines; boats powered by steam, clockwork and elastic; the overscale steam railway system, and many other items.
For some reason I've been in love with the Bowman engines since I first saw one. They have that look about them that really states that they could only have been made in one place and at one time. This kind of model engineering went out with WWII. They're also quite astonishingly British - in fact, the foreword to their catalogue is written in an inimitable hectoring late-colonial style.To a non-Brit like myself this is utterly fascinating. They had something to be proud of though; the fact that so many of their engines survive in such good condition 70 years after the demise of the company says something. They really are very well built, simple as they are, and virtually indestructable. The Bowman design is immediately appealing: robust and functional, but well thought out and well balanced. Another thing I like is that decorative details has been kept to a minimum - everything has a function and works, there is a complete absence of fussy fretwork, embossed metal or anything like that. These engines look like they mean business, and they do.
Some of the contemporary Bowman adverts talk about, for example, the M122 lifting 112 lbs with pulleys - this is of course a meaningless figure (thank you Roly), as with suitable pulleys any engine will lift any weight. A much more meaningful measurement of how effective these little engines are would be to post a picture of my index finger here - I tried to stop my 122 in full steam by pressing down on the gear wheel, and was rewarded with a rather nasty little nick! Not  to shabby for a 70-year old toy, your modern Mamod will not do that. Bowman engines are definitely pre modern health&safety standards - must be part of their appeal!





Bowman M135


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This Bowman M135 was in an absolutely filthy state when I got it (to give you an idea - when I prised off the cylinder cover cap, a very dead wasp was revealed), and had a few really nasty dents in the boiler where something heavy had been dropped on it. I managed to clean the engine up and pull the dents out - they're no longer visible, a bodywork specialist would be proud of me!

I LOVE this one - it has a really pleasing look about it, and it runs like a demon - I have to hold on to it to prevent it from dancing off the table! The combination of sounds from the engine and the whirring gears is a pleasure to the ear.

This engine's really what Bowman is all about - it has all the design features you find in their big engines, but in a very pleasing compact package. The fairly massive cylinder cover hides the fact that this is an oscillating engine. The oiling system is simple but ingenious: the oiler drips oil through a hole in the cylinder cover onto a felt pad behind the piston, and so keeps the engine lubricated. The geared takeoff makes this engine quite powerful. It is single speed, single acting and non-reversing but it really runs very well (and very fast!). The spent steam is exhausted into the chimney, which "smokes" nicely.

To me, this is the "essential" Bowman - this engine started off my collection, and I think it would make a good starting point for anyone considering adding a Bowman or two to their collection.

This engine did not come with a box, but I was lucky enough to get hold of an original striped cardboard one later (see below). It isn't 100% accurate as the label states it's for an E135 (wooden base), but close enough for me!

So, all in all, a nice, clean and complete example and a personal favourite.



Bowman M101

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I've had a Bowman 101 for a few years now, and it could best be described as a good runner, but not much to look at - someone in the past had really gone to town on it with hacksaw and solder. Then, an equally tatty 101 came up for sale very cheaply in the US, and I noticed that between them they had enough good parts to make a true parade horse. Through the services of IndianaRog this engine was swiftly acquired and repatriated to the UK.

Now I'll be the first to acknowledge that I probably slightly underestimated the amount of work needed, but, two weeks later, here we are, and I'm thoroughly pleased. I've done a separate page to my experiences in restoring this engine, but among other things it has had the boiler stay replaced, burner structuarally restored, full stripdown and respray, and a hell of a lot of polishing!

A little bit of factual information for you: the Bowman 101 is the largest model made by Bowman, and it really is BIG - it positively dwarfs all the other Bowman models. The flywheel is an inch-thick disc of solid brass, and weighs a pound. The single oscillating cylinder has a stroke of 1 inch, and under full steam this engine's a sight and sound to behold. Bowman claimed in one of their ads that this engine could drive a sewing machine directly, and I'm happy to believe that.

This engine's of course an amalgam of two engines, but stylistically it is a later model, as indicated by the presence of a steam throttle. The safety valve is however the earlier type. The engine sits on a meccano-drilled metal base, and is therefore an M101, rather than the E101 which has a wooden base.





Bowman M122

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The M122 was the engine I wanted but couldn't afford....then two came up at the same time on EBay. One of them was incomplete but with some useful bits, the other one looked complete, had the original box but appeared terribly neglected.
I did something a bit naughty and got in touch with the seller of the latter, and agreed a price with him we were both happy with. Many thanks to EBay user Rojan0 - you're a star!

When the engine arrived, a quick examination showed that it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought. Lots of corrosion on the metal bits, sure, and tarnish and dirt on the brass, but 99% complete and nothing seized or jammed.
To cut a long story short - with a bit of part swapping from the second engine I bought, and five evenings of graft I managed to restore this engine to nearly-new status.
This is possibly Bowman's "flagship" engine. It is certainly very fine. As with all the Bowman engines, it is nothing very advanced or refined, just extremely well made and to very close tolerances. As a result, the cylinders generate some very serious compression - with the steam valve closed, it isn't easy to turn this engine over by hand. With a little bit of tuning this engine will happily self-start, and run very confidently at a wide range of speeds. It is also VERY powerful - easily the most powerful Bowman. As with all twin cylinders, it's fun to put a heavy load on it, and watch it stagger along at slow speeds. At full speed, this engine has to be bolted down, otherwise it will dance off the worktop.



Bowman M140 and Dynamo

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The 140 is a much sought after engine, and is getting pretty hard to find. It is the smaller twin cylinder, but it packs a mean punch and is possibly more powerful than any of its bigger brothers. A real little workhorse, no wonder it has a huge fan base. I've paired it up with the Bowman dynamo, and it's a marriage made in heaven!



Bowman M130

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The rarest of all Bowman engines, this one is complete with it’s pristine box, set of instructions and funnel. It runs like a scalded cat!




Bowman M158

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One of the smaller Bowman engines.
This is an "entry level" Bowman, the smallest model but one (there is the M167 which doesn't have the geared layshaft). Precisely due to that geared layshaft this is still a very usable engine, which'll happily drive a few of the lighter driving models. It's also a quite pleasantly proportioned little thing.



Bowman M167

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The 167 is perhaps the plainest of all the Bowman engines.....it is "the little big Bowman", the smallest engine to still use the full size piston and cylinder. It has been stripped back to bare essentials....no gearwheel, fancy flywheel or anything like that, just a single cylinder and a small brass flywheel - but of course, it being a Bowman, it works absolutely brilliantly. This little engine is getting very hard to find, and had eluded me for some time, so I was very glad when my good forum friend Atticman offered it to me in exchange for a steam boat hull at STiA 2009.

The video shows it powering a small dynamo.




Bowman M175

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The M180's slightly bigger brother - the boiler is marginally larger, and it has a geared layshaft. This is one of the later Bowmans, with a rolled tinplate chimney and a mazak flywheel. It was in a very sorry state when I hauled it in from eBay - it looked like it had been buried in peat for the last 50 years or so (see picture).
So I set about merrily with polish, fine grade wet and dry, wire wool and what not, and also did a 95% repaint. I then fitted a new decal, only to be informed by Colin Laker that the 175 never had one - it's gone!

How does it run? Silly question - it's a Bowman! The small cylinder driving the gearwheel results in a beautiful "purring" engine note, and for an engine this size it is surprisingly powerful.



Bowman M180

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One of the last steam engines made by Bowman of Dereham, and their smallest - the boiler is only marginally bigger than, say, a SEL 1550. Instead of the usual brass, the flywheel is painted cast iron (probably mazak alloy) and the chimney is pressed and rolled tinplate.

This little engine was winking at me on a shelf at STiA 2006, it came from the same source as my SEL 1520 and 1530. A deal was swiftly made and the engine came home with me. Cosmetically it was in a very poor state, lots of rust on the firebox, no paint left on the baseplate, but everything was there, including that all-important burner, which was, for a change, in excellent condition!
So, the usual stripdown, polish, repaint.

This may be a humble little engine, but it's very pleasing to the eye. How does it run? Need you ask? This is a Bowman! It buzzes along like a hummingbird. It always tickles me that Geoffrey Bowman-Jenkins wrote in the instructions for stationary engines: "we have known some engines three to four-years old still doing trojan work". Well, this little engine is over SEVENTY years old, and runs as well as the day it was made. In fact, I have yet to encounter a Bowman that will not run. I sincerely hope that "GBJ" somehow knows this, in whatever place it is old toymakers go to.





Wormar Super C and Bowman Driving Models

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This is, to all intents and purposes, a pretty rare engine. The "WorMar" range of engines, of which this rather fine twin cylinder model is the largest, was made by Geoffrey Jenkins before he decided to use his middle name "Bowman" for a brand of toys. They were made for a toy company "Worboys and Smart" of Luton in the mid-twenties, but they are definitely and unmistakably Bowman engines, from the meccano drilled base plates to the typical poker burners. The hard soldered boiler is contained is a brass sleeve which has a tremendous chimney effecct - the little meths burner suddenly becomes incredibly effective. The geared countershaft will take any meccano fitting.

This is a pretty fine example, and I paid less for it than I should have. Somebody had set about it with a soldering iron, and one of the steam pipes was pretty badly mangled, but nothing I couldn't rectify. The nickel plating on the baseplate has all but worn off, but idf you look VERY closely in good light you can just make out the engraved decal which has "British Made - the Wor-Mar Trademark - Jenkins Patent" on it.
The workshop I incorporated it into is a bit of a favourite and a real crowdpleaser.pretty rare as well. Consists of four Bowman driving models. a Doll lineshaft the engine. This is all bona fide Bowman style, as Geoffrey Jenkins imported his driving models from Germany, where they were made by....you guessed it.....Doll & Cie. The drill and press I've had for a while, but the bandsaw and tablesaw where sourced for my by my steam mates IndianaRog and Peter "RocDoc" B. respectively - so a big thankyou to both these fine gentlemen!
The simulated tile base I thought was in keeping with the designs of the 1920s and '30s. It's paper, sourced from a dolls house supply shop, and varnished with antique pine finish varnish to age it a bit. Finally, the Wormar engine drives the whole setup with a Binns Rd. era Meccano drive chain......lots of very satisfying whirring and clanking going on, and the Wormar has NO problem pulling this setup at all.