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The Wilesco FAQ of model steam engines

Again and again we receive numerous questions from steam engine fans who would like to learn more about the steam engine models from Wilesco. We have summarized the most popular questions here, and the collection is constantly being expanded.


The burner slide cannot be detached

Due to safety regulations, the guide of the burner slide is arranged in such a way that the burner slide can only be inserted against a slight resistance and thus cannot slip out. Please always pull the burner slide out of the burner guide in a warm state and place it on a fire-resistant base so that fuel remains cannot stick. Please do not pull out burner sliders that have cooled in the guide, but loosen with feeling by slightly angling. In addition, we recommend to operate Wilesco steam engines exclusively with our Witabs dry fuel. With steam engines, which are fired with Witabs alone, the problem of the hardening burner slide does NOT occur!

Gas cannot be filled with the model D48

Over time, the design of the Euro filling valve has changed. Please try to gently press the tip of the filling tube on the gas ampoule with flat pliers. We have had good experience with this measure so far.

Fixed piston

Presumably the plunger has not been properly oiled. We recommend using Wilesco steam engine oil or HD30 or HD40 engine oil only. You can try to make the plunger popular with graphite oil. Subsequently, all residues of the graphite oil would have to be carefully removed.

Drive spirals do not remain connected to each other

As shown in the diagram, first turn the drive coils back 3 – 6 turns to the left so that the spiral itself remains without tension; then turn the pointed end with 3 – 6 turns to the right into the other end so that the coils of the spiral interlock.

We recommend that you install the drive spirals lightly on tension and possibly. to use spirals No. 00825 with D = 2,5 mm. The spirals for the centrifugal regulator (1 bag = 5 pieces) have the best. -No. 01 621. Recommendation: You can also shorten other drive spirals at the blunt end to the corresponding length.

Leaking boiler

A boiler can leak if it has been heated with too little water. Therefore, we specifically point out in our operating instructions that the water level must always remain visible at least at the lower edge of the viewing glass in order to ensure minimum water filling. In addition, we recommend that you also refill water when adding Witabs. If not followed, the solder joints may liquefy and the boiler may leak. Unfortunately, it is not possible to repair the solder joints, the entire boiler has to be replaced. Should leakage occur at the boiler, from which water or steam escapes, the steam engine must be shut down immediately (remove the burner slide and operate the steam pipe). A necessary repair may only be carried out by a specialist or by the company WILESCO.

Replacing plastic levers

When mounting the plastic lever, you should dampen it slightly and rotating until it stops in the hole. Any broken remnant is automatically pressed out. Due to the very tight tolerances, it may be that the lever sits relatively tightly at first use, However, according to experience, this normalizes with further use.

Oil in boiler

Please note that, according to the operating instructions, the vapour shut-off valve must be closed when oiling. Oil in the boiler probably can’t be completely removed. Safety is not affected by this. You can try to fill water with detergent (do not use vinegar or other highly corrosive agents) into the boiler with the shut-off valve closed. Let this mixture act for a while, shake and let it leak. Repeat the process several times. Important: There must be no detergent residues in the boiler before re-starting, otherwise the piston will be destroyed!

General questions

From what age are steam engines suitable for children?

We recommend an age of 8 years for our Wilesco steam models. Here it depends on the maturity of the child and e. g. the technical understanding.

For safety reasons, however, steam models should only be operated under the supervision of adults!

How can I determine the year of construction of my Wilesco steam model?

Here are some tips to help you determine the year of construction:

  • From the beginning of production (1950) to the beginning of the 1970s, the cylinder cladding of our steam models was grey-blue. (Exception: for steam rollers the cylinder lining was always black)

  • Black varnish has been used for the cylinder cladding since the mid-1970s.

  • Steam whistles with weight were manufactured by us until the mid 80s.

  • From 1980 onwards, markings (under the base plate) can be used to determine the year of construction of a model. In the case of steam rollers, the markings are under the bottom plate of the cab. Examples of the stamps can be seen at the top of the picture. The first stamp shows a “170” which is the year 20 (17) and the personal number 0. On the second stamp, which is placed next to it, the month is depicted in Roman numerals.

  • Until the late 1990s, the handwheel was red. From 2000 a black handwheel is used

  • Plastic levers have been installed since 2005.

  • Round or oval blue stickers were used from the 50s to the mid 70s. It is not possible to derive the exact year of construction from this, as the changeover took place smoothly.

  • From the 80s, the sticker also has a TÜV mark and is rectangular / red (on the drive models oval / red).

  • Since 2000 the model number is also on the sticker.

What to do in case of paint damage?

A paint damage on the steam model is the nightmare of every steam fan. That is why we get quite a lot of questions on this subject. Unfortunately, Wilesco cannot supply paint to correct the damage, as our steam models are coated with plastic. Many people also ask for the RAL value in order to be able to buy a shade that comes as close as possible to the shade of the steam engine. Unfortunately, Wilesco is unable to give any information here, as the colour shade has changed slightly several times over the years of production.

In order to conceal the paint damage, we recommend that you choose a heat-resistant paint from specialist paint shops.

Condensed water tray under the fireplace deforms – Why?

The condensed water tray may burn or deform if one or more lit dry fuel particles enter the boiler house outside the burner slide.

Older models

Weight for steam whistle

The weight (25 g) for the steam whistle is unfortunately no longer available. This version of a steam whistle was replaced by the steam whistle with chain pull no. 01517 or 01963.

When using this whistle, it is essential to have a spring safety valve on the boiler.

Steam whistles with weight were manufactured by us until the mid 80s. Until about 1970, the steam whistle with its weight was recognized as an overpressure valve. It no longer complies with today’s safety regulations.

R200 nuclear power plant

The model R200 was built between 1959 and 1965 and was still available on the market until about 1970. The selling price at that time was about DM 70,00. Today, the nuclear power plant has a collector value of up to € 1,000. The drive unit corresponds roughly to the D10 steam engine. Production was discontinued as the electric heating no longer met the safety requirements.

The original operating manual of the Wilesco nuclear power plant can be downloaded here.

Steam engine D12

The Wilesco steam engine D12 in the electrically heated version was manufactured by us until 1980. The model steam engine D12 with dry fuel heating was produced until 2013.

Steam engine Wilesco D28 el.

The Wilesco steam engine D28 in the electrically heated version was produced by us until 1981. The D28 is the largest single cylinder steam engine in the Wilesco range. You can be recognized by the steam dome at the pipe connection on the boiler. Special spare parts for the D28 el are unfortunately no longer available.

Steam engine D32 electric

The D32 el was produced by us between 1951 and 1981. The last non-binding recommended retail price in 1981 was 890 DM. Approximately 200 – 400 pieces per year were produced. We cannot give you a collector’s value, as Wilesco itself does not trade in used models. The collector value depends on demand and condition of the model. One has already heard for well-preserved models of collector values between 1,000 and 2,500 euros.

A new edition of this model can be found here.

The weight of the Wilesco D32 electric is about 7.5 kg.

Model-specific parts for the D32el such as the left unit, the feed water pump, the boiler etc. are no longer available or available. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to carry out repairs on this model, but we have a list of repairers you can contact for repairs.

Star system

What is the performance of my steam engine and how many drive models can I drive?

Unfortunately, there are no exact power measurements for our Wilesco model steam engines. The capacity depends on the boiler volume, the efficiency of the cylinders (single or double), the flywheel mass and the intensity of the heating. We show the performance of our steam models, which can be used for attachement models, in star points. We also indicate the power requirements of our drive models in star points. A higher score, means a higher power consumption. You can find this information on our homepage. Our most powerful model, the D24 (25 star points), can drive two to three Dynamos M66 (1 M66 requires 5 star points) under full steam. The Dynamo M66 is a DC generator that generates a voltage of approx. 1.5 to approx. 3 volts depending on speed and gear ratio. Until mid-October 2007, the Dynamo was equipped with a 6 V light bulb (0.1 A).

The speed of the D242 is approx. 1,400 – 1,800 rpm depending on the steam pressure. This model achieves a power in the lower single-digit watt range.

Unfortunately, no performance measurements have been carried out on the model D430 (Wilesco steam locomotive). This is an estimated power of about 1 Watt.

General advice to achieve the highest possible power/transmission:

  • Take steam models to full steam with the expected amount of dry fuel. If you fill in hot water, the performance increases.

  • Attach drive spirals easily to tension (not too loose not too tight)

  • Check the bearings of the drive models and use some Wilesco Oil on the movement parts


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