Steam engine hobby keeping Graham busy

Steam engine hobby keeping Graham busy

Cardup resident and Serpentine Jarrahdale Men’s Shed member Graham Pailthorpe with one of his creations. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

Spending hours in his Cardup shed building various scale model traction engines is one way Graham Pailthorpe keeps himself busy and out of the house. 

He picked up the hobby 20 years ago after coming from an agricultural background in Western Australia’s south-west. 

Mr Pailthorpe’s latest creation is a 2.4 metre long by 1.5 metre high John Fowler and Co Leeds steam Fowler engine, which took him roughly five years to build with every square inch of metal handcrafted from scratch. 

“This model was used from 1850 to 1950, mainly in the UK, and it took my fancy,” he said. 

“Agricultural type engines are a bit different and probably not many people have tried to build them so it is a bit of a challenge. 

“I take the models to vintage rallies and the South West Model Engineers group based in Bunbury have meetings as well so I take them there too.” 

Mr Pailthorpe said he was self-taught, calling himself a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none. 

When he is not in his own shed he is with the men at his beloved Serpentine Jarrahdale Men’s Shed in Mundijong tinkering with wood, metal and enjoying the camaraderie between mates. 

“The model building keeps me out of the house and the men’s shed is a good excuse for a day out,” he said. “I was looking for something to do in my later years to keep myself active and this seems like a good fit.”