Ernst Plank


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Ernst Plank was a big builder of live steam locomotives, plus a substantial line of stationary models and magic lanterns. Founded in 1866. Plank was one of the earliest builders of model steam engines, and is often credited with being the first to build model steam engines.

Purchased by the Schaller brothers in 1935, although this may have been prompted by the anti-Semitism that was rising in Germany at the time. Schaller became Noris Projecktor after WW2, and remained in business until 1965. I have seen a Noris produced film splicing tool, looks to be 1950's/1960's vintage, labeled Ernst Plank, so it would appear that Schaller kept the name alive for some time.

Of all of the Nuremburg makers, Plank probably made the most diverse and elegant models. Always finely finished, and often mechanically extravagant, such as the turbine and beam engines.

Plank had the unique habit of giving formal names to some of it's engines. Hence the Queen, Vulkan, and Duplex engines shown below

'Queen' turbine engine.

If the Marklin Compound is the king of this collection, this is certainly the queen. I have been looking for a turbine to add to this collection for some time, and what a turbine to find.  This one also carries a badge from A.W. Gamage, London, who was the UK distributor. (this particular engine came from the UK)

Note the boiler housing – quite interesting. It appears to be of the same design as the Plank magic lanterns, although it is somewhat smaller than the Plank lantern that I have.


Running notes: It fired up handily after heaven knows how many years of remaining dormant. The turbine operates with a faint whine when it runs, and even geared down, it operates at a considerably higher speed than do the piston engines of a similar size. Not a great deal of steam comes out of the exhaust port, and it does not exit at great velocity, so it appears that the turbine unit is putting most of the power in the steam to good use.

Plank also produced another turbine of a similar layout to the Queen, but larger and more elaborate. This is the 'Caesar'.


Beam engines
Dates to 1895.

That is actually the correct firebox for this model, as shown by the photo in the Schiffmann book. Sure looked like a replacement when I first saw a photo of this model, but much to my suprise, it sports the EP logo litho'd on the side.
A fascinating model to watch in action, as there are several mechanical motions ocurring at the same time. The piston, the beam, the flywheel, and the operating rod for the rotary valve, all going in different directions.

Plank later made another line of beam engines, the 106 "Watt" engine. However, the only reference material available on this particular engine simply lists it as a model 806.

This is what the finest Nuremburg engines are all about: elegance in motion.

Now, this is interesting, a beam variant of the Cosmos vertical engine.

Found this one in desperate condition, but it seems to have responded to a cleanup very nicely.
Some interesting variations on the 806. Flywheel is the older style with brown paint, which dates this one to before 1900. The base legs aren't brass, but cast iron, like the Duplex. Base has a crack, but it has glued back together.
Last photo shows it in as received condition.

One of the nicer Plank hot air engines, dates to around 1914.
This one was a tough restoration case. Had been sitting for what appears to be decades, both connecting rods were disconnected, and the power cylinder was frozen. Disassembly revealed that the inner workings were caked with congealed lubricant of some sort, but by great fortune, none of the metal parts had been damaged.
After a thorough cleaning and lubrication, it now runs like a champion. Personally, I find this style of hot air engine to be very handsome. Very expensive, too...


This appears to be the running gear from a 336, normally it would have a long wood base with tile litho, and a smokestack to house the burner. Scruffy, but functional. Looks like some arrangement for a burner in the base, with a fill tube and supply line to a nonexistant burner. Heat applied to the element gets it running along smoothly. Large Plank badge on the flywheel end.


425/2 'Vulkan'

The 425 Vulkan family of engines encompassed a wide range of sizes. This is the second smallest Vulkan produced. Curious arrangement - the steam line comes out of the base of the whistle.

425/3 'Vulkan'

Slightly larger version. This one has the sight glass cover - somewhat rare for a Plank engine.

That's the casting number from the base. Best I can do for now.

Not much left of it, but here it is...

104 'Noris'
All verticals with through-boiler axles were referred to as the 'Noris'. My plank catalog does not show this particular example with pressure gauge, so I am guessing a bit on the actual model number. All 104's had the round base, while 105's had a 4 leg cast iron base. .

??? possibly a Rapid

This one is an odd case. The flywheel painted brown with gold stripe indicates that this is an older Plank model. The boiler doesn't look right, but my oldest Plank catalog is 1914.

The only osc cyl horizontal made by Plank in 1914 was the 432 Rapid, so this may be an earlier version of that engine.


Smokestack tip missing. Burner looks correct.



My one and only Plank catalog shows what appears to be a later version of this engine, with a four leg cast iron base.



Thanks to the ultrasonic cleaner, most of the crud came off the boiler while most of the original finish stayed.


Dingy, but it's there.



This has the Plank single action slide valve. Not working right now, as the pin to time the valve is missing.


Burner is present.


Movie projector

One of the earliest produced, a variation on the magic lantern. Hand crank, 35mm film. I have a few strips of film for it, but they're so brittle that they can't be used.


Magic Lantern

Has lamp but no shade. While Plank steam engines are fairly rare, their magic lanterns are quite common.

Okay, so it's not a steam engine, but it does bear the EP winged logo.

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