Paul Ritchie reports on the latest developments at miniature traction engine kit company Steam Traction World following recent investment.
There’s encouraging news from Steam Traction World, which continues to grow following recent, significant investment in new machinery at its factory in Daventry. The company supplies traction engine kits that are fully machined and ready for assembly after final de-burring, sanding and then painting. Most models tend to be purchased over a fixed period of time so the succession of parts arrive at regular intervals, enabling the builder to build as they pay for each stage of the construction.
To continue to back the operation, managing director Dean Rogers decided earlier this year to invest in a new, £100 000 CNC lathe – a Puma GT2600L. With a gap of 1.2m between turret and spindle, this lathe will enable work to be completed on all the longer items in the production process, such as axles and boiler barrels. With the previous lathe being over 25 years old, the new machine clearly provides a great opportunity to utilise the benefits of new technology. This now takes the company’s CNC machine total to nine, although it still operates manual machines as well, such as its gear cutter.
Since Brexit, Steam Traction World has been required to re-submit each of the 20 different boiler designs for re-approval, as dual certification is now needed – ‘CA’ for the UK and ‘CE’ for the rest of the world, which was a significant piece of work to undertake. But all of this has been completed against a backdrop of continued business growth, as more and more people have joined the ranks of miniature engine builders. In fact, so much enthusiasm has been shown that Steam Traction World has introduced a ‘fast track’ purchase scheme, where kits are provided in three stages over a 12-month period, in response to customers wanting to complete a build at pace.
One area for which the company has faced customer criticism in the past relates to the supply of spare parts. A key advantage of its engines is that all the parts are catalogued, with the vast majority available ‘off the shelf.’ However, the business struggled to find a way to service this area in an efficient way for its customers. But it’s now introduced an online shop for parts, and has a dedicated member of staff – Traci – who oversees this important aspect of the business. As a result of this development, feedback is now much more positive and, with over £400,000 invested in spare parts, most are now available.
The company’s biggest-selling engine remains the 4in Burrell agricultural traction engine, of which a staggering 524 kits have been sold overall. Currently, though, the most popular is the double-crank compound 4in Burrell road locomotive, which has 38 being built currently, compared to 14 of the showman’s variant in build.
In total now, 1,343 Steam Traction World engines have been built, or are the process of being built, which is a remarkable achievement, a tribute to the way the company has responded to customer requirements and a real-world confirmation of the quality of the products it produces.
This news item comes from the latest issue of Old Glory, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE
1914 HMS Caroline restoration continuing well