The objectives of the Society is to create and maintain interest in model making of all types, small machine tools, tool making and experimental engineering connected to models.
The first meeting of the Incorporated South Australian Society of Model Engineers was held in 1927. A prominent early member was Fred Hercus; the Hercus name will be known to most who formerly studied metal work in schools and colleges as most training lathes carried the Hercus brand, they were built in Adelaide.
After using a portable track for many years in 1947 the society negotiated with the railways to get the use of the vacant land at the fork of the then Willunga and Hills railway lines. This land is elevated from its surrounds because it contains the spoil from the building of the Goodwood underpass. With the transfer of the SAR assets to the Commonwealth the land passed into the ownership of the Unley Council. Society volunteers maintain and improve the grounds
Over the years an elevated three gauge track was erected, the clubrooms built and the boating pond excavated. The site was developed as a park like settings with facilities for the public.
The boiler house was erected first to house a vertical boiler from a steam crane and more recently a horizontal boiler. Some historical exhibits are located here, the oldest dating from the 1880s, there are two industrial engines from the former Brompton gas works together with a collection of working model beam, mill and vertical type engines. The boiler, which is fired with scrap wood, supplies steam to operate the engines and to blow the whistle.
More recently the tracks have been lowered to ground level and considerably extended; the 7 ¼" gauge track was added.
The grounds, lawns, trees and facilities are kept in top condition by members of the society at regular working bees. We have a bore which provides water for the lawns and the pond.
Locomotives range in size from the diminuitive Juliet running on 3 ½" gauge to the massive Koppel running on 7 ¼" gauge, it is approximately one third full size. The power can be steam, internal combustion or battery/electric.
All the steam locomotives are privately owned, many having been built by SASMEE members. Even to own a steam locomotive takes a degree of skill just to maintain it for reliable operation. You do not own a steam locomotive, a steam locomotive owns you.
Diesel outline locos are generally of the battery electric type have all been built by members.
A small electric powered diesel outline loco can be purchased for approximately $2000. Steam locos range in price from $5000 to $30,000 depending on size, complexity and condition.
Steam locomotive boilers must be designed, built and tested to comply with the Australia Miniature Steam Boiler codes and must be routinely tested.
Membership is open to any person over the age of 14 who displays a genuine interest in model engineering. Applicants between the ages of 14 and 18 years are classified as Junior Members. Full Membership is over 18 years of age. Country and Family Members benefit from a reduced subscription.
The Society conducts a General Meeting on the second Tuesday of each month. The meeting starts at 8:00pm and the agenda includes business, lectures, films, videos and guest speakers.
Copyright, William Sims, One Tree Hill, SA, used with permission