in 1969 Malins engineers began to make a special version of the SE3 twin
cylinder steam engine. This to the uninitiated eye looked like any other SE3,
however this version was a little different as it was built with a silver
soldered boiler. It was only supplied to Griffin and George who were (and still
are) large educational suppliers for schools and colleges; I distinctly
remember the lovely Griffin logo on all their lab equipment even as a child. A
couple of other minor points distinguished the ‘G&G’ version from the
standard SE3; it did not have a boiler mounted stop-cock/regulator like the
standard SE3, it was fitted with a small union nut/compression joint instead.
It also carried a distinctive foil badge, mounted ahead of the flywheel/engine
frames. As far as I can tell this was the first Mamod steam toy fitted with a
silver soldered boiler. Presumably the boiler was supplied in this
configuration to ensure that it could withstand the odd boiler ‘boiling dry’ scenario!
These engines took a lot of punishment and from my own collecting experience
are hard to come by today, let alone in good useable condition. Since these
fine engines were only supplied to Griffin and George, very few people had seen
one let alone heard of one. Steve Malins book of 1996 mentions it and I think
that where most collectors had learned of the engine’s existence. I’d seen one
way back in 1978, the most notable difference I could see at the time was the
foil badge. I duly noted this when comparing it to my Mamod catalogues of the
engine was supplied with a comprehensive booklet entitled ‘Malvern Energy
Conversion Kit (Griffin improved mark II)’. This booklet not only showed how
the engine was steamed and maintained but included comprehensive
experimentation instructions using dynamos, switches, cells and measuring
equipment such s galvanometers – it is written for scientists and teachers and
details lists for all the necessary equipment available from G&G, for each
experiment. As I have said these engines led very hard lives and the SE3 at my
school was no exception – soot covered the whole boiler with the odd bit of red
enamel poking out on the base plate from beneath a mixture of oil, rust and
grime. I could always tell when the SE3 had been run in a preceding physics
lesson because when entering the lab there was that distinctive smell of burnt
meths, an aroma which can still be sampled to this day after steaming my other
engines on the kitchen table at home!
far as collecting today, the G&G SE3 represents a sought after engine by
Mamod enthusiasts, good examples fetch strong prices. Examples with the box and
instruction booklet and presented in prime condition fetch price tags in excess
of £130.00. I have spoken to many collectors at shows and they always say that
my example has been the first they had ever seen. About 2,000 of these engines
were manufactured, presumably in batches, as the silver soldering process is a
little different to soft soldering. The engine was probably made from 1969 to
around mid 1970s as examples with turned brass as well as the sprung reset
whistle can be found. The engine can also be found fitted with the rare
screw-on cranks and short-lived push button whistle as well. A lot of the
engines I have come across have the curious hammered effect green engine frame
paint, which seems to have been in existence from roughly 1967-c1972. According
to Steve Malins his father might have got a ‘job lot’ of it cheap back in the
1960s, when I last enquired at STIA 2010 as to why was this type of paint used.
One other minor variation to look out for is a slightly different version of
the foil sticker, which is rectangular instead of the more common lozenge
shape. Malins Engineers continued to supply Griffin and George with steam
engines although later SE3s were just badge engineered as far as I can tell, as
they carried the usual SE3 steam tap and were presumably just soft soldered.
Later engines still after the SE3 had been discontinued in 1979 were the
Griffin badged SP4 and SP5 engines. These models represent a good vein of
collecting if you are fascinated in acquiring particular variations of Mamod
on the subject of badges, the typical Mamod decal of the time, a type I have
coined the description as a ‘compressed scalloped edge’ version was applied to
the firebox end and tended to last longer than the early large rectangular
decal types which burnt off the firebox side.
there we have a brief overview of a rare variation of the much-loved SE3. Today’s
stringent health and safety laws mean that children can no longer experience
the fun of watching their physics or science master grappling with a hot meths
burner or coaxing a reluctant SE3 into life to demonstrate the conversion of
heat into motion, sad really as I’m sure many would agree, it’s so much more
fun when there is just a hint of danger involved!
My G&G SE3
This example is my second and was acquired about eight years ago. It is in
exceptional condition for one of these types and although has been steamed is
in a state that is far removed from the forlorn example which inhabited our
prep lab back at Widey Boys High in the 1970s… A friend says that mine must
have gone to a posh school as his probably went to a secondary modern since it
has had the proverbial knocked out of it!!
SE3 dates from around 1969-72, although it has a sprung whistle on it, it
originally came with a turned brass type, which is currently on a 1958 SE2. The
engine sports plain boiler ends as well as standard cranks. The flywheel
carries two power take off points – a grooved hub as well as a 1” brass pulley
– this configuration can vary.
example comes with its badged box as well as the all-important instructional
booklet, which at 16pp, measures 8.5 x 10.75 inches. I include some pictures of
the engine as well as the booklet for those interested in this sought after toy
information on the standard as well as G&G SE3 can be found at
to note about Griffin
and George supplied engines
1969 introduced with silver
soldered boiler and union steam pipe fitting to boiler, special badging.
Examples can be found with
standard as well as screw-on cranks.
Whistles can either be brass
turned type, push button or from 1972 - sprung reset type.
G&G Decal is a metal foil
type in a distinctive lozenge shape. Narrow rectangular version can sometimes
be found. Later examples are a thinner printed foil silver type with a
different design and black overprinting.
1977 solid fuel burner.
1978 sight glass fitted.
Badged SP4 single and SP5
twin cylinder engines available from 1979 with silver rectangular badges.
Original Malins SP5 and hence
the Griffin badged SP5 deleted 1985.
still supplies Mamod steam engines today, including the SP2/D, SP4, SP5D (New
version), SP6 as well as the TE1a.
This was used in Toy Steam News, Summer 2011