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Griffin & George badged Mamod engines
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The original Griffin & George SE3

Back 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 time.

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!

As 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 steam engines.

Whilst 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.

So 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!!

My 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.

This 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 steam engine.

More information on the standard as well as G&G SE3 can be found at www.freesteam.co.uk

 

Points 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.

      Deleted 1979.

      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.

 

A closing note
Griffin 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



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A Mamod 'Griffin & George' SE3, c1969

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The Griffin and George SE3 in all its finery

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Some detail shots of an original Griffin and George SE3 c1969. Note the sprung whistle is a later addition.

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A very late badge engineered G&G with sightglass boiler

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Overview of a well used G&G SE3, c1969