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Fine Antique Live Steam Pond Model, British Steamship

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An especially fine and great looking antique live steam powered 'Pond model' of the period 1900 - 1930 meant for sailing under steam in a lake or other body of fresh water.

The model represents a very interesting class of British steamship active throughout the British Empire from the 1880s to World War II. Vessels of this type were oversize examples of classic British harbor tugboats built to operate in the open sea. They saw service as ocean going tugs, salvage and rescue vessels, pilot steamers, customs vessels, and in time of need tenders to naval vessels. Previous to 1900 most of these vessels had completely open ships-bridges shown in this model. However open bridges were a tough place to be in the North Atlantic Ocean during Winter. Consequently lots of these vessels were fitted with closed wheelhouses to protect captain and crew. Some open bridge ships as exemplified by this pond model continued to work in the Atlantic. Others operated in the Mediterranean Sea, Indian Ocean, China Seas, and off the Australian Continent wherever British shipping interests existed. 

Working steam powered models were being built in England from the time their full size prototypes were first launched. During the industrial revolution as the number of engineers and skilled machinists increased so did the craft of building scale models of working steam engines to power ship models sailed on ponds and lakes. The building of steam powered model railroad locomotives also flourished. The building of operational model steam engines is still popular. Far more antique locomotives and stationary engines have survived than steam powered pond models. This is likely due to the locomotives and sationary engines being rugged complete steel and brass entities whereas pond models were hollow wood hulled vessels with delicate wood superstructures housing working steam engines whose operation exposed wooden structure to flameable material, considerable heat, and live steam, not to mention the normal hazards to which ship models are subject.

This exceptional pond steamer is a fine representation of a real ship with excellent form and detail. It contains one of the most complete examples of an antique live steam marine steam engine we have encountered. The model is also in excellent antique condition.

This model was built with a top quality very sophisticated two cylinder brass & steel Marine steam engine. There is an engine driven secondary pump and other controls not usually seen on antique pond models. The engine has a more complex exhaust system than usual, venting through the funnel and a port on the side of the hull. We are not expert enough in live steam to understand all the functions with which this engine was built. The three blade brass propeller is carried on a steel propeller shaft requiring two complete differentials. The engine boiler is a proper marine water-tube type with sight glass and safety valve. It is far more sophisticated than those usually seen on pond models in that it is fed by a pump operated system drawing water through a hose connected to a fitting on the bottom of the hull drawn by a pump operated by the large hand lever seen on the starboard side of the engine. The boiler is fired by a large spirit burner mounted in front of the engine featuring four burners which line up beneath the boiler. The burner has both a filling fitting and open/close fitting. The engine is in fine unaltered original condition with the exception of its steam guage replaced at some point in its working life. When we turn the propeller the engine turns over smoothly as do its attachments. The burner is easilly removed from the hull. The engine and boiler are mounted on a steel base plate and can be lifted out of the hull by removing four screws and detatching one of the propeller universal joints.

The pine hull is built in with seven 'lifts', very accurately modeled and carved. The rudder is a brass rack and pinion type which operates smoothly with a brass direction indicator on the deck. The finely modeled deck and upper works show excellent detail with hand crafted brass details including steering wheel, engine telegraph, binnacle and speaking tubes. The model is fitted with four working deck mounted naval type ventilators and two cowl ventilators aft of the funnel. The deck is divided into two lift out sections for servicing and examining the boiler and engine. The forward deck section lifts out giving access to the burner, while the main section lifts out - after lifting off the engine room glazed skylight - giving full access to the engine & boiler.  The model is mounted on what is likely its original oak stand.

This beautiful antique pond model is in overall excellent original condition retaining nearly all its paint and varnish with excellent patina and old surface. Rigging lines - which usually disintegrate with age - have been restored with proper linnen ones utilizing the original brass fittings.

An outstanding example of a rare period Victorian Live Steam Pond Model in excellent condition for a collector desiring one of the best of its type.

Dimensions: length 36", beam 7 1/4", overall height 20 1/2", weight 17 lbs.

Price: $ 4450.00

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antique tug boat model with live steam engine



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