Merryweather Fire King - a novice build

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Bob Wild

Well-Known Member
Jan 12, 2019
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W Yorkshire
This thread is to describe my progress in building the above fire engine. I first came across the plans in a magazine article published in 1908 here Engine 1908/ModelEngineerFireEngine1908Small.pdf
If you look you will see the drawings leave a lot to the imagination. So my first challenge was to produce my own using Fusion 360. Attached is my progress to date. Some time later I came across a full set of plans from a French website drawn by a guy in New Zealand! So far I’ve started on the chassis and the front suspension.
One of the reasons for starting this thread is hopefully to get some help in stuff that is new to me. Starting with the leaf springs
a) How on earth do I form the 4mm eyes at each end?
b) The material used is spring steel. It is currently in the anealed state. What is the best way to harden an temper them?

I’m attaching a few pictures of my progress so far. Also a roller bender which I made and a proper drawing from the guy in New Zealand


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MView attachment 113818 hello
I already made this truck, for the spring leaves I used strapping

hi. That is really an interesting thread, which fills me with hope. The video is terrific. I was a bit apprehensive about the wooden wheels, but having seen yours I might have a go. Did you make the spokes parallel so you could feed them in easily. It looks to me as if tapered ones would be a nightmare. I’ve nearly finished forming the transverse spring. Still not sure about bending the eyes. And as I said earlier, I’ve no experience with heat treatment. I suppose a bit of experimentation is called for.
Thanks for the advice. But I’ll be a bit delayed as I have to take the family skiing
Well, I’ve finally made all the springs. Here’s the bender in action. But more of that later

I made a jig to bend the eyes. It is made from a thick piece of hardwood beech that I had lying around with a template drawing glued to it and a couple of pins at the centre of the eyes. My intention was to swage the metal round the pins, but my first attempt was a failure because they were too short. So I replaced them with pins an inch long and those worked just fine. I formed the eyes with a length of bar and a big hammer.


And finally I have five springs. Quite pleased. Next job is all the mounting brackets and (peculiar) axles.


Enjoy, Bob
Good afternoon, in the rainy antipodes.

Was sorting through some digests, and found Bob’s thread.

I have the 1908 drawings, and the DeWal drawings, but hadn’t come across this video before, but have seen another, of a larger scale unit running along streets under radio control. Will have to hunt up the link for you.

I also have a set of Model Engineer articles, by Gunther Kallies, and a set of plans for Edger Westbury’s 1894 Shane Mason horse drawn model.

My plan (dream !!,) is to build them in tandem. I suspect that I will find the Shane Mason easier, as I have access to a full size working machine, via the Fire Services Museum of Victoria.

Along with these models, I also have several side by side, and fore and aft, hand pumps, of British, and German patterns. Again, having access to full size working models is not making it completely easy, as trying to “scale down” the mechanisms is being difficult.

One of my great worries has been springs, but I may have a partial solution, in that I‘m going to experiment with salvaged motor mower starter springs. Failing that, with your blessing, I’ll copy your method, if I may.

The other “terror” I’ve been trying to figure out is the shaping of the wheel spokes, but I may follow gg8920’s lead, and go for straight spokes.


Ian Munro
Hi Ian,

Nice to read your comments and interest. Like you I have quite a few concerns. I agree about the wheels. In 1 inch scale, making them from wood seems daunting and I was also going to make then with straight spokes. I cheated with the springs. I started off with spring steel, but abandoned that in favour of mild steel. Much easier to work, and the weight of the model won't require much flexing. The bender I made worked admirably and working with a paper template was quite satisfactory.

My big worry is the crankshaft. The first model that I built was a Stuart Turner 10v, and it looks to have more or less the same size cylinder. I'm thinking about using two of these, but I'm not very happy about making the crankshaft with the two valve eccentrics in the middle. So I'm thinking of turning the cylinders through 180 degrees so I can slide the eccentrics on from the outside of the cranks. I think there's enough room to do this, but I'm still working on it with Fusion 360. We shall see! In the meantime my next challenge is to figure out how to make the front axle mountings which are offset in two planes. A bit of head scratching there to come up with a suitable jig.


I wasn’t confident about bending the u-bolts to get the threads in the right place, so I prefabricated them and silver soldered the parts together.

Before, with a strip in place to keep the alignment


A bit of cleaning up and this is the result


Next was the forming of the rear axle - a semi-circle to clear the boiler. My first attempt was a dismal failure. The strip was far too thick for my bender; I managed to snap off the handle! So I resorted to shear force and bent it round a piece of brass which was 31/2 in dia. Allowing for the springiness of the material I ended up with a semi-circle which was 4 in dia. This was soldered to the axle which started off at the full width and trimmed after it was soldered.


And finally I had all the parts :


This is the rear axle assembly

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There were hints of rust so I decided to paint the two axle assemblies:

The rear


The front


Both on the chassis


Next up, the steering gear
Finished the steering gear and moved on to the drivers seat. Couldn’t resist the temptation to paint it. Well it is Fire Engine Red


Next job is to start on the engine and pumps. I’m a bit daunted by the pumps. They are made from two large blocks of brass with a lot of milling.


There are two like this. My main worry is about the water passages. I have to drill two right through the length of the body with the remaining holes at right angles. After that the design calls for the long holes to be plugged at either end. A question for the experts - what is the best way of achieving a water tight seal on such a plug? I can think of a few ways of doing this - glue, silver solder, soft solder, force fit. Which is best? Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
I think I put on tight plugs


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Thanks gg89220. I’ll try that. What about the connecting pipe between the two pump bodies? Is that an interference fit too?

for pipe 5.07 a tin solder on the top and a sealant on the bottom
Time for an update. Here are all the water pump parts

Modified the accumulator to be the same as the one I made for Tubal Cain’s Lady Stephanie. I thought it looked prettier!

Used my homemade ball turner, which worked quite well.

And this is the complete assembly mounted on its manifold.

A big worry of mine was how to keep everything in line. So I used a pair of rods through each of the engine cylinders and pump cylinders, and then clamped them together before drilling the holes for the mounting shafts.

All went fine wrt to lining things up. You can just make out a 4 mm rod going from the engine bottom cover and through the pump top cover.
But I now have a few problems:
1. The original design of the pumps used a casting, but I had to prefabricate them using the pump body and mounting plate screwed together. But then I realised that there was only a millimetre face to seal. I thought this was much too small for a sealing face, so I decided to solder them together. But my big problem now is how to clean up the parts. I soaked them in cleaning agent to get rid of the gunge but am now left with (copper?) staining. How can I get rid of that?
2. I’m really worried about leaks and think I should pressure test the pumps before I go further. I can seal off the pump top cover and manifold outlet but how do you pump water into the inlet?
3. What about sealing the joints? I’ve got some Hylomar. Is that any good for the screwed joints? And for the flat faces should I use a paper gasket and maybe some Hylomar as well?

Any helpful suggestions would be most appreciated.



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Solved the pressure test problem when I realised the Fire King already had a hand pump for boiler feed. So I can use that:

And it works:


Still worried about how to make the seals

This is a really great looking project Bob. I just saw it for the first time and your work looks great. As far as the “fire engine red”, being a retired 42 year firefighter, is there any other color to paint a fire engine?

Nice work!
John W
As far as the “fire engine red”, being a retired 42 year firefighter, is there any other color to paint a fire engine?

John W

During 1953 we had 'Green Goddesses' as extra vehicles in the even of a nuclear war.
During the WW2 Blitz in London, we had concrete fire floats. In 1941 when I had just joined the Boy Scouts, I got my 'Fireman's Badge'. What colour the Auxiliary Fire Service had- I simply cannot remember.
What I have, however is a 'tin hat with Fire stencilled on it and a service respirator in a pleasing shade of khaki(☺) and my late wife's 'Mickey Mouse' respirator. All I have really is my little fireman' axe which I dug out unexploded incendiary bombs. As a Goldstar in RAF 31 Squadron, I had my battle dress tunic which came from the Royal Observer Corps. What colour our 'blood wagons' were- I would guess RAF Airforce Blue.
Meantime W/Bro John-

Norman at 90!

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