Problems in getting your Mamod engine running properly?

Whether you have a Stationary Engine or a Mobile Engine here we tell you how to get up a head of steam and see your engine run just as it  should.


  • You will need to have a Mamod engine before you can get one going! These can be purchased cheaply on eBay and if you look there over a period of a month you will see many different types in various states of repair. They range from "ready for restoration" to "immaculate unused".
  • If you are buying an engine, you will have to decide upon either one that remains in a fixed position, known as a Stationary Engine or one that moves along the ground known as a Mobile Engine.
  • At this point, we can assume you have either purchased a secondhand engine, dug yours out from the attic or indeed purchased one brand new.
  • There are some basic things you now need to do starting with "getting it running"!
  • Two things at least are now needed. Water and fuel.
  • Water is to be carefully poured into the boiler through the hole in the top where the Safety Valve is located. Do not completely fill the boiler.
  • On the boiler back plate, either look at the Water Level Glass or as with older engines, the Water Level Plug hole, and stop filling when the correct level is reached.
  • If you have a Water Level Plug type, this is the time to screw it, finger tight, back into the hole.
  • Fuel next. Now let's look at what to do about fuelling up. There are two types of fuel. Present day fuel is in solid tablet form which are placed into a burner tray. It may be necessary to cut these tablets down in size to fit your particular burner as they do differ in size in accordance with the boiler size. Older models have spirit burners which contain either non replaceable gauze or replaceable wicks that soak up their liquid fuel.
  • The liquid you need here is Methylated Spirit. With old type rectangular shaped gauze style burners you should pour an amount of Methylated Spirit directly into the top of the burner - just use your judgement as to how much. If you have an even older type of engine it will have a round tank burner with wicks numbering between one to three. Again, just fill up the tank through the filler hole and refit the brass screw cap finger tight.
  • Now you are nearly ready to fire up. But wait, you need to squirt oil onto the moving parts. To put it simply, any moving parts that are in friction contact with another need some oil. You can buy Mamod oil although any oil is better than no oil! You can use car engine oil, handy man oil or the real Mamod thing. Don't use grease as it will not flow and so will not lubricate fully.
  • Now check that your Safety Valve (and Water Level Plug) is tight and your water level is correct. Spin the flywheel using your finger to get the oil around a bit and to ensure everything runs smoothly.
  • Place the burner close to the engine and ready to insert under the boiler. Just practice this once before light up. And then, the action begins! Using a box of matches, ignite the burner and using the burner handle, place the burning burner neatly under the boiler. From now on, do not leaving your engine until the burning process is completed and the hot boiler is not in harms way.
  • Gradually the water will begin to get hot and then raise a head of steam. Steam will begin to hiss in the area of the piston. Now you can gently flick round the flywheel. It revolves in a clockwise direction as seen when looking at the piston side of the engine.
  • Everything should now be running smoothly and you can let it run until the fuel runs out. If you want to stop it running very temporarily you may place your finger into the flywheel to restrict its movement. If you do that, the Safety Valve will fizz with boiling steam and water until you allow the flywheel to run again. This is not a dangerous thing to do and can be quite fun but just be wary of the very hot spitting steam!
  • When you have had enough of running the engine, ensure that all water is emptied out of the boiler. Store with the safety valve and water level plug left out (this will prevent any corrosion and stuck valves in the future). Then just put it away - clean it if you want to but it's not absolutely necessary. Just a little tip at this point, you can use T-Cut car polish to clean both the boiler and pipes along with the painted surfaces. Take care though because any cleaner is an abrasive and that will eventually take its toll. So, clean or dirty? You decide!


  • When considering whether to buy brand new or secondhand you need to decide if you want a challenge or a ready to run model. As with most purchases, the more you spend, generally the better the value for money.
  • Most engines exchange owners on eBay. You will get pretty good value for money with some engines being rare and immaculate. You will get what you pay for and will always need to spend at least £30 to get something that is ready to run or maybe needs a small amount spent on it to make it run perfectly.
  • A word of wisdom and experience: Be prepared to be disappointed with your purchase from eBay but don't lose heart because 90% of non working engines can be economically restored without any experience. If your engine turns out OK you have got yourself a lovely model like kids enjoyed over 50 years ago.
  • Mamod parts do wear out and so if you find the Safety Valve does not allow adequate steam pressure, or the Piston/cylinder Assembly is losing excessive steam it will be necessary to replace the offending part. New parts can be cheaply obtained from Internet web sites and eBay sellers.
  • Model Enthusiasts offer a free advice service which can be a lifeline to the new Mamod enthusiast.
  • Any faulty or broken part or even a new boiler can still be easily obtained


  • Be careful when using Methylated Spirit because it easily spills and so can catch fire and burn where not intended.
  • Do not let young children near a hot engine because little fingers can get hurt or in the worst case, burned.
  • Make sure that when you refill the burner device (solid or liquid) that you always refill the water boiler. If not, you could damage the rubber washers on the Safety Valve in which case a new valve will be required.