News Release Archive

N.S. MUSEUM--It's More Than the Chattanooga Choo Choo
It's a toot-toot, cling-clang and chug-chug at the 12th annual
Heat Engine Association's Model Engineering Show.

In these days of the World Wide Web, it is a pleasure to return
to the three-dimensional. For two days this month, Nov. 29-30,
the Museum of Natural History in Halifax will host an incredible
collection of authentically scaled working models --steam
locomotives, traction engines, "hit and miss" gas engines, and
other items with mechanical workings like clocks.

It wasn't so long ago that engines powered by coal and wood were
changing and opening the world, much as computers are doing
today. But there were no laptop versions --many engines weighed
as much as 20 tons. Many were the triumphs of skill and
technology of their time, often drawing huge crowds at world's
fairs. The engines of steam were influential in opening
frontiers, much as the brigantines of the previous century drew
young men in search of escape and adventure.

The reproductions on display at the Museum of Natural History
consist of castings and often salvage material, with some parts
weighing 350 kilograms or more. They cost from a few dollars to a
few thousands. They show detail to the finest; exact measurements
are critical because everything must work. Their makers measure,
then scale-down each piece. They use lathes, precision tools,
drill presses or, if the tool isn't available, they make those

It's the memories of steam and whistles of a train off in the
distance that drives model engineers to travel the country and
the world in search of the "old timers" to copy.

"Maybe it is because we are all totally mad, but more likely it's
recalling those fascinating events and times in our childhood,"
said Ian Taylor, association member. "Making things work and
recreating something so exact satisfies our creative needs too."

The Heat Engine Association of Nova Scotia was founded in 1985.
Since then, members have held a show-and-tell each November that
draws participants from across the Maritimes to show off their
latest creations.

Association members also maintain and operate a model live steam
railway at Windsor where each summer visitors can jump aboard and
take a ride on a working steam-powered train on 670 metres of

This year's Model Engineering Show takes place Nov. 29-30 at the
Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History, Summer Street, Halifax.
Admission is free. If the weather is good, John Moffat will take
children on a ride around the parking lot on his miniature
traction engine.

For the real thing, full size, head to the Museum of Industry in
Stellarton, open year-round, to check out the Robb Engine, a
working stationary steam engine built in Amherst in 1908.


Contact: Ian Taylor or John Moffat
         Heat Engine Association
         902-477-1979 or 902-435-6916

         Brenda Boutilier
         Museum of Natural History

ngr                 Nov. 10, 1997                12:20 p.m.