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Stevens Model Dockyard

Stevens Model Dockyard 4˝ inch gauge Victorian Era Live Steam 2-2-2


Stevens Model Dockyard 4˝ inch gauge Live Steam 4-4-0 Loco & Tender Circa 1890, 31˝ inches Long x 8 inches High x 5 inches Wide Stevens's Model Dockyard was established by William Stevens in 1843 in Aldgate, London England to produce mechanical and scientific novelties. Though probably best known for their live steam 'Birmingham Dribbler Floor Locomotives' they actually offered a vast selection for the modeling community, including steamship and steamboat models, sailboat models, boat fittings, machine tools, marine engines, clockwork motors, electric motors, optical instruments, as well as complete stationary steam driven power plants. They also sold Meccano, Klipit and other branded items. Most of their products appear to have been made in the company's own workshops, but there may have been some items brought in and rebranded. Several models of locomotives were offered as well as a selection of rail cars and track to run them on. Little information is known about this company. After the death of William Stevens in December 1899, the business was carried on by his sons.

Stevens & Brown Dribbler live steam engine made 1887 Stevens’s Model Dockyard made and sold models, toys and parts for modellers and are often confused with the original Model Dockyard or Clyde Model Dockyard companies that dealt in similar products. A great deal of controversy has emerged in the collecting world as to which models now in existance were actually made by Stevens's Model Dockyard or by the other companies making similar products. Stevens Model Dockyard spirit fired live steam locomotives were either 2¾", 3¼" or 4½" gauge and made of brass. The 2¾" gauge trains were a more common scale used during the Victorian era. Models included a 2-2-0 Venus, a 2-4-0 #293 Tank Loco, a 2-4-0 #294 Invicta tank loco, a 4-4-0 #296 The Prince tender loco, a 4-4-0 Britania Tank and a 4-2-2 Bodicea model. Early engines were kept simple, Stevens Dribler live steam brass locomotive from the 1890's usually made of cast, machined and sheet formed brass, with a pair of oscillating cylinders driving the main wheels. Wheel axles, shafts and pins were made of steel. These engines were basically a boiler mounted on wheels, although simple decoration (usually bands of lacquer) was sometimes applied. They featured a wooden front buffer block. The later engines produced were more sophisticated and featured slide valve cylinders and a fair amount of detail.

Birmingham Dribbler or carpet railway describes a type of very early model railway. It is a bit of a misnomer, as the railway featured a model live steam railway locomotive, but no track – the locomotive was simply run across the floor. In some cases, the front wheels were even made steerable so that the trains could be run in a circle without track. Ironically, the cast brass wheels were flanged. Theses steam engines first appeared in the 1840's and became very popular Victorian model railway toys. The early spirit fired locomotives produced by Stevens Model Dockyard were often referred to as 'Birmingham Dribbler' types, or as 'Piddlers'. This was due to the tendency of these steam engines to spray and leak water and drip steam residue across the floor when running. For later model steam trains produced by Stevens Model Dockyard, track mounted on a wood base and made of iron was included. It was provided in 20' radius circles. Rolling stock included polished mahogany wood carriages, guard's vans, trucks, and a brake van.

The Stevens Model Dockyard 2-2-2 was released in 1890. Initially it was coal fired but later versions were spirit fired. The loco measured 20 inches long by 7 inches wide and was 4½ inch gauge. It featured a lever type safety valve, water level gauge, whistle, firedoor, water gauge tapes and forward/reversing gear. The smoke box door opened to reveal the water tube boiler, steam line and exhaust pipes. A fully working regulator was also fitted. The twin cylinders were double acting made from cast metal and fitted with working crossheads. The buffers were spring loaded. The loco retailed in 1890 for 25.00. It could also be purchased with a tender which extended the loco's length to over 30 inches. Like all dribbler locos, it could be run on the ground without track.

The company issued its final catalog in 1927/28 and the business closed after 80+ years in production. Items produced by Stevens Model Dockyard are easily identifiable by the word 'Stevens' stamped in an arch shape on the underside, usually accompanied by the year of manufacture.

Stevens Model Dockyard Victorian Era Live Steam Venus Locomotive Brass Birmingham Dribbler Piddler made 1880

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