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OMC-2 Beam Engine kit

Build this thoroughly British desktop toy – then watch it chug away on your desk

OMC-2 Beam Engine kit

Image: Hugh Threlfall

September 11 2009
Jonathan Margolis

And now, another soaraway Technopolis exclusive. Witness Microsoft’s new steam-powered iPod slayer. It may look a little retro, but it burns a fraction of the coal of the Apple original. Just my little joke… This is a wonderful battery-powered model of an early-19th-century beam engine. You buy it as a kit, which can be put together with basic Meccano or Airfix model skills – no machining or soldering needed. It takes a month or so of delightful evenings to build.

The OMC-2 model pictured is one of a range produced in his immaculate workshop near Chichester by retired engineer David House, who invented the mass-production nebulisers children use for asthma. House assembles the kits from real engineering supplies. Just unpacking and handling the beautifully-made parts is a treat, let alone building the models. Once made, they are fascinating toys to keep on your desk or boardroom table. I spent hours watching my beam engine chugging away. It’s all wonderfully eccentric, all-British fun.

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