Published: 17th October 2014
Kidlington (near Oxford) is the location of a Meccano Rocket Scientist! Philip Sampson promised his brother Keith that he would present him with a supermodel and he was slightly taken aback when it arrived.
In fact he was astounded when presented with a two foot long model of Stephenson’s Rocket which is a scale replica made from Meccano. Model fanatic Philip could not buy all the pieces he needed, so he created the rest himself out of metal. Mr Sampson, a 67-year-old lives in Kidlington near Oxford, said: “I couldn’t believe it myself when I was finished.”
Jennifer Sampson’s father has been a train fanatic from a young age and now at 61 years old remains fascinated by steam and the role it has played in Britain as well as the rest of the world. He takes his daughter Jennifer around Britain to steam railways, railway museums and she says his passion on the engineering and history of steam trains is clear to see on these visits.
One of his favourites is Stephenson's Rocket and he introduced his brother, Philip to it, explaining how it works, and the role that it played. He then also became fascinated by it and decided that he would make an exact replica of the engine but only using original Meccano pieces that he had collected over the past couple of years.
So Philip Sampson spent thousands of pounds on making the Meccano model obtaining original parts from a website that specialises only in original Meccano pieces. Every item on the engine has been made and put together with his bare hands. For example, the brass has been hand welded and he even made the track out of mahogany and bought a magnifying glass to resemble the magnifying glass as seen on the original rocket. One frustration was that he couldn't find proper train gauges online, so had to settle for miniature clocks!
A family wedding took place in July in Darlington and the brothers visited the steam museum to see the Rocket. There measured and photographically recorded the engine from every angle trying to figure out the exact mechanism which my uncle has then recreated with his bare hands.
After toiling with the project it was handed over as a gift to Keith from Philip and has become an instant family heirloom. The engine took eighteen months to construct and rail.co.uk is proud to be able to acknowledge the work that has gone into this and the satisfaction it has given to all involved.