IndianaRog and the Temple of Steam

Miniature steam engines by Jensen, Karsten, Stuart & Empire. Lionel & MTH trains. Wind up clocks & watches plus black powder cannons and mortars.


A little about Jensen Engines and Accessories

There are a miriad of makers long since gone out of business, and a few still around, but there is just something about Jensen's "Abrams Tank" demeanor that draws me to them.

Jensen is still very much in business at their original Jeannette, PA, U.S.A. location, and although "old world" in their manufacturing processes, they have a state of the art Jensen website worth a leisurely visit to view their currently made models, tour their one of a kind shop, see how they make their engines and meet the handful of people who ARE Jensen today. 

Their museum section Jensen Online museum for models dating back to the early 1930's is an excellent source for Jensen identification, and much of my information ties back to it.  I have also added in Aug. 2010, a specific tab to this website with a chronology of Jensen models and an extensive variety section covering #10's, 20's, 25's, 50's and 51's put together by two leading collectors. 

If you need parts for new or old models, Jensen generally has them and they are just a phone call away at: 1-800-525-5245  

Three key Jensen videos well worth watching:

First is a video made several years ago by a PA TV station, showing the people and facility where every Jensen is made:

Jensen Factory Video.

Second is another superb video of the Jensen factory done by www.ministeam.com in Sept. 2011:

Jensen Factory Video2 .

Third, is a 2015 historically significant video by fellow steamer "Reddrryder", documenting the fact that a Jensen 50 engine and generator combination produced the first electricity from nuclear heated steam in 1948 at the Oak Ridge Laboratories in Tennessee. 

Gil made an 800 mile trek to the Oak Ridge facility to make this video.  The Jensen 50/generator combo is still on display there.  Lots of behind the scenes access:

1st Nuclear Power Generation using a Jensen 50/generator combo


My Jensen favorites:
As of Sept. 2018, I have sold off all my Jensens except for my 51 Replica and a few misc. generator/lamp combos I may need down the road to replace parts on the 51R.  BUT, in the spirit of hobbyists who might want to see a particular engine...check the "Loved but Gone" tab where I keep one picture of each engine that has passed thru the Temple.  It has been a great process collecting, restoring and ultimately passing on these jewels.

While cast iron engine bases and riveted boilers were my "thing", there is NOTHING wrong mind you with the type that run on Esbit, use pressed metal bases and engine frames etc.  That is exactly what got me into this hobby via my Fleischmann and I've enjoyed almost every one of that type made by Jensen.  I have bought a number of Jensen 60's to use as gifts for budding steamers (young and old) and have one set aside for my grandson when he's old enough to have a "steam up".

It's just that once I hit upon the "Heavy Weights" so to speak, I opted to focus my Jensen collecting in that area.  It has taken me a few years of collecting to sort out what I really like vs. items that are just placeholders.  I've tried to eliminate placeholders and only keep pieces that fit the above criteria as close as possible. 


To Restore or not:

Each of my Jensen engines have been fully restored by me.  I have restored a number of others as well but sold them on and despite restoration, they have all sold at prices equal or better than those seen in the marketplace in original condition.  Apparently there are other collectors like me who want pieces near factory perfect. 

Purists usually argue that restoration destroys value, but fortunately I am not constrained by that concern...I don't mix my investments with my "toys".  These ARE toys, albeit high end ones, and what kid or adult would have ever wanted to get a rusty, leaky steam engine under the Christmas tree? 

I refinish mine to an equal or better degree than when they left the factory.  Over restored?  Yes, most definitely!  It's a pride of ownership thing I guess.  I run my engines regularly and get much joy from seeing them shine, look and work like new.


As laid out here on my website, I will walk you thru my Jensen examples in numeric order by model # not year of mfg.

Accessories:
As did most toy steam engine manufacturers, Jensen offered accessories to add to the enjoyment of running their steam engines.  Jensen accessories however are only in the form of generator/lamp combinations and workshop assemblies. 

Unlike the Nuremberg, British or other U.S. makers, there were no waterfalls, pumps, windmills, fans, fountains, sausage makers etc. etc.  I don't know why Jensen never expanded into those sorts of things, but something tells me Mr. Jensen probably thought they were trivial toys and not worth the bother, or the market was flooded with them and there was no value in being part of that.

The Jensen accessories, though limited in variety were of the very best quality and many exist in significant quantities to this day.

Jensen Model #51 Replica (standalone section)

Jensen turbine/generator setup

In 2006 I was fortunate to be one of the first buyers of Jensen's new model 95G turbine power plant featuring a new design of turbine by Karsten Gintschel of Germany.  I got serial #3 signed by Mr. Jensen.  I kept that plant for several years but ultimately sold it on as I was not completely satisfied with the plant's ability to make enough steam to keep the turbine/generator spinning at optimum level. 

Ever since selling my original 95G I sort of regretted it, as I truly loved the turbine...it just needed more steam IMO to operate at it's best.  I then realized I could tap the steam from my Jensen 51 replica with it's 5" x 10" boiler heated with 1620 watts. 

In 2011, steam friend John sold me his 95G which was in like new condition, probably 2008 vintage.  I didn't fire it upon receipt, instead I disassembled it and opted to make it into two projects I have had a mind to do for some time.  This first project was a standalone turbine/generator to be powered from my 51R.

Here is the 95G as received from John in virtually factory new condition.

Here is how it looks today less boiler/firebox (Oct. 2011)

What you see above is the turbine from the 95G mounted on a nice custom made walnut wood base and lashed to Jensen's #15BL (ball bearing) generator.  The #15BL runs with a bit less resistance than a stock 15 and as I had an example of the ball bearing kind, I put it to work. 

Next photo shows the opposite side of this setup

Visible above are the mods incorporated to improve performance and looks IMO.

1) Visible between the turbine and generator is a small steam "shield" I made to block the steam from wetting down the generator which it tends to do on the 95G.  That simple bit of aluminum blocks 100% of the condensate that would otherwise tend to drown the generator!

2) A switch has been added behind the generator.  This lets the turbine get up to speed before adding the extra load of illuminating the bulb or allows the turbine to spin even faster without any bulb load.

3) The stock generator lamp bulb Jensen uses on a 95G is a lower voltage/amperage type called a #352X.  Given my setup puts out more voltage and amperage, I was able to go with a higher voltage/amperage bulb called a #502 which puts out more light without burning out.  The bulb's threads were also better concealed by adding a chrome washer and O ring which seals the electrical contacts from moisture.

4) The steam line was reconfigured to enter from the walnut base and I swapped in an earlier "skinny snowman" type wood handle on the steam valve.

5) I had some nickel plated screws, so used those on the bases of the turbine and generator...just a bit nicer than stock.

The photo below is a closeup of the brass geared 10 to 1 reduction/transmission that is a stock part of the turbine.  The gear train enables the high speed but low torque of the turbine to supply slower speed but higher torque needed by the generator.  Those gears, flywheel and main shaft driving the flywheel ride in six ball bearing races reducing resistance to a minimum. 

The shortened condensate drain is seen on the lower left.  The reworked steam line now enters at the lower right with steam valve above it.

At the end of the day...is this setup any better than what issues stock as a 95G from Jensen?  In my opinion, absolutely, this thing is a screamer tethered to 30 PSI of constant steam pressure, and the generator operates at an optimal level. 

CLICK HERE for an instant video


Standalone Jensen steam boiler

As a followup to my Jensen turbine/generator setup noted in the previous paragraph, I took the remainder of a Jensen 95G plant and used the boiler/firebox to create a standalone steam source for orphan (no boiler of their own) engines in my collection. 

The salmon firebox/stack color was replaced with a black paintjob as quickly as I could get it done...I am NOT a fan of Jensen's salmon pink!

The 3 inch x 6 inch boiler is heated electrically by an internal 660 Watt immersion rod heater which gets up to steam and pressure quickly and maintains it there for all engines I have tried except my turbines (which are tethered to my Jensen 51 replica's boiler for ample steam and pressure).

A pressure gauge was adapted to fit in the front boiler top hole previously used for the steamline.  Steamline was moved to the rear most boiler hole and feeds a steam valve mounted lowdown to the rear.  Here steam will be tapped for any engine desired.  Safety valve was "uprated" with greater spring tension, to consistently give 25 PSI vs. typical 12-20 PSI of stock safety valve.

Simple project with a very useful outcome, all mounted on a nice routered walnut base.  Here is a video of this boiler feeding a Stuart S-50 while electric input has been throttled down with a variac to allow low pressure steaming in this case.

CLICK HERE for an instant video