KENNETH WELLS ENGINES

A site for all interested in researching, building or restoring Kenneth Wells-designed toy steam engines

PHOTO GALLERY: Pictures and notes of all my Kenneth Wells engines.

1) My first Kenneth Wells TE,  purchased 15/10/16 from Wisbech, Cambridgeshire.

Although the firebox has the holes drilled for attaching canopy supports, it is doubtful that a canopy was ever fitted. This sadly neglected traction engine has now undergone a full 3-month long restoration, which has completely transformed its appearance.  Pitting on the aluminium wheel castings and smokebox/chimney casting has been carefully repaired with silver-grey grade Milliput. Pipes have been re-soldered to cylinder pivot plate using a butane pencil torch and plumber's solder, following which the engine has been successfully steamed. All existing paint was stripped, and all parts carefully cleaned and either polished or re-painted as appropriate. Drive pulley was absent, but fortuitously a nicely machined one was present on my stationary engine and has been transferred across! (The builder had judiciously made one from the TE instructions to install, as the SE instructions in the book make no reference to adding a pulley to its crankshaft); a Mamod TE/SR drive band proved to be a perfect fit. Burner was also absent, so a refurbished Mamod TE/SR/SW burner for which there is just enough clearance through the firebox opening has been utilized. Painted parts are in Decostyle (Lidl) stove&BBQ satin black, with wheels in Plastikote 22112 satin 'hunt green.' Before and after photos below.

2) My first Kenneth Wells SE,  purchased 11/12/16 from Loughborough, Leicestershire.

Ran efficiently and quietly on its first firing after arrival, with no leaks. Tested using a Mamod TE/SR burner, which fits comfortably in the firebox due to this engine having a wider burner opening than is usual, giving the impression of open doors, as clearly seen in the photos. Restoration is now complete. All original paint was stripped, and the 3-wick burner's fuel tank was carefully cleared of its messy  solder smears  and its colour  changed from green to red to match the re-sprayed cast engine frame. New wicks installed . Base and firebox ends are in VHT satin black. A plug for the tank has been fashioned from 12mm dowel, centre-drilled 2mm for air venting and sealed with yacht varnish. The completed SE is mounted on a 300mm X 100mm polished oak plinth and I think looks very smart. Before and after photos below.

3) Steam roller project, based on Wells TE, as purchased 10/1/17 from Colchester, Essex.

Lack of relevant holes in the firebox confirms that this engine was never fitted with a canopy. The absent parts here are a steam exhaust pipe , a burner and a front axle spring; some work on  the unfinished cylinder and pivot plate is also needed to get this machine into a working condition.  The axles are significantly too short, and the smokebox/chimney  is poorly cast. Currently completely disassembled and all paintwork stripped, this engine will now form the basis of a KW-type steam roller conversion; a design for making a 2-piece wooden pattern for casting a new smokebox/chimney/front-rolls-perch unit has been drawn up. (This is based on the front end of an Armstrong-Whitworth prototype roller design). A foundry happy to forge such a casting at reasonable cost has been located just an hour's drive away - all I need now is to get the pattern together... oh, and acquire the front and back rolls of an old Mamod SR1...

4) My third unrestored Wells TE, as purchased 19/2/17 from Bournemouth, Dorset.

Against some strong Ebay competition, I really had to step up to the plate to secure this little beauty, which comes complete with the Wells specified ribbed canopy on twisted columns. Only the burner is missing, which seems to be almost inevitable, and the front axle spring which is easily rectified. Currently dismantled for restoration. Paint has been stripped from the firebox, the only painted part of the engine (through the builder using re-cycled white-painted steel!). Colour scheme is yet to be finally decided, but initial thoughts are black with yellow wheels, polished copper boiler and a white canopy.

5) My second unrestored Wells SE, as purchased 15/5/17 from Havant, Hampshire.

Complete with its 3-wick burner and Wells SV. May well be restored in yellow-and-black "Wells livery" as per the photos in the book.

6) My fourth unrestored Wells TE, as purchased 3/7/17 from Grantham, Lincolnshire.

Appears to have professional, factory-made smokebox/chimney unit and wheels, rather than the usual amateur castings for these components, though their source is a mystery. No burner or front axle spring (due to the fixing nut prohibiting fitting) but otherwise a complete and very well-made machine which should look a treat when restored. 

7) Wells steam wagon variant, purchased 16/7/17 from Loughborough, Leicestershire.

A very special and quite unique Kenneth Wells variant has entered  the collection, purchased from a fellow member of the Unofficial Mamod & Other Steam Forum, who as part of the deal made a new SV for it which is a lovely piece of craftsmanship. Successfully steam-tested before dispatch, this delightful addition to the collection is an overtype steam wagon, the body being closely styled upon the classic Mamod SW1 but with "the business end of things" being unmistakably Wells. The wording 'Slough Grammar' is cast on the front of the smokebox, and the quality of the build is such that it is surely the product of the metalwork teacher there rather than one of the students. It even boasts a reversing lever, something I've never seen before on a Wells, and sports an opening tailgate. Absent its rear wheels, first job upon receipt was to transplant an excellent pair harvested from a scrapped 1970s SW1 which fitted perfectly; a spacer and a couple of washers were then installed between the front axle and the perch bracket beneath the smokebox, to bring the body into level. (Just as I had to do on the restored TE featured above). I now very much look forward to giving this lovely but neglected model the TLC it deserves, and getting it all into pristine condition! (Unknown to me at the time, this was sold on to me by the same person who had sold me my first KW stationary, pictured above!) Seen below in "barn find" condition, also with new SV and temporary wooden rear wheels fitted for testing, and with their permanent Mamod SW1 replacements. (The blue wheel seen in the first 2 photos is a beautifully made wooden pattern for casting the rear wheels, which for some reason was never done, the project sadly never reaching completion by its originator).
Up-date: steam exhaust pipes have now been fitted, requiring drilling holes in the chimney to receive them; the ports in the cylinder pivot plate had, however, already been counter-bored to receive these absent pipes! Body is now mercifully completely de-rusted!

8) Wells marine engine variant, purchased 11/8/17 from Loughborough, ex-Germany!

The Wells SE was in essence a marine unit with a reversed engine. This Wells variant "corrects" the positioning, making it a true marine steam plant. Its engine frame, of the Wells bent steel type, is appropriately angled for a propshaft to be attached to the crankshaft via a coupling. Boiler and safety valve are of KW design, but with a neat water overflow plug added. The firebox is non-standard, having angled sides with rectangular air holes where they meet the similarly freestyle base; round holes in the long sides of the base allow a through flow of air. Lips at the top of the firebox sides will however need to be removed or adjusted to improve air flow, and a new burner will need to be sourced. The vendor, who acquired this engine from Germany largely for its non-Wells burner, very ably installed the piping and successfully steam tested it prior to sale on to me.  In keeping with its being a marine unit, an old shop stock Billing Boats 50mm diameter brass propeller has been attached to the crankshaft with a Meccano No. 63 brass coupling. The boiler has been stripped of its grey paint, and the copper and brass cleaned and polished, as a preliminary to full restoration.