Steam Powered Whim Model

Article by Gordon Freegard 2018

Early in 2018 I was approached by Loek Proper from Holland, who was endeavouring the make a working model of the Steam Powered Whims that operated in the timber industry in the south of Western Australia. Only four of these machines were ever made and are now totally gone forever. Using only the images on our website he has created an absolute marvellous real working model. The detailing is incredible. This is the story about the creation of the model.

First of all, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Loek Proper, 59 years old, married, and living in The Hague, the Netherlands. I had worked for a contractor, and did volunteer work teaching the elderly fellows computer lessons. I have also worked for years at the probation service and as an auto mechanic. Because of medical reasons I no longer work. That’s why I now relax with my two Siamese cats and fill my time with hobbies. I am a blues musician, and play a blues harp, and I like touring on my powerful motorcycle, but my biggest hobby is model building, especially “Live steam”.

I am fascinated by the rugged forestry and wood extraction in America among other things around your 1900’s. Around this time, the cut down trees in the forest were usually still dragged by using oxen or horses. But evolution did not stand still, so around this period the first steam-driven machines came into the woods that took over these activities.

And from this nostalgic logging machines became my interest. I wanted to revive these machines again. Because there are usually no drawings or blueprints of these first machines, at most some patent-drawings, it is a challenge for me to build a model such as a logging machine. I also wanted to know everything about the history and life around the scale model to be built. For me, all my model machines really must work on steam.

I have already made many nostalgic machines such as American steam donkeys and one very special logging steam tractor, the Lombard Log Hauler. But I have also built models of old logging trains such as the first Climax, Dunkirk and Heisler. These can be viewed on my website “van De Puffende Schoorsteen” (The Puffing Chimney) –

Because I usually look for a special logging machines in books or on the Internet, it was then that I came across a group of photos collected by Gordon Freegard, webmaster of the Pickering Brook Heritage Group. These featured a very unique timber industry machine exclusive to Western Australia, the Steam Powered Whim. These machines are very rare as only four were ever built. Following forest fires and scrap metal dealers cutting up these old machines as they stood idle in the forest, there now is nothing left.

Because unfortunately all the Whims have gone, I had to get all the information from those pictures. The model that I made is in scale 1: 10.
MODEL; Total Length 96cm = 37.8″
ORIGINAL MACHINE; Total Length 7m80cm = 26ft approximately

Largest Height 55cm = 21.6″ Largest Height 5m40cm = 18ft approximately
Largest Width 38cm = 15″ Largest Width The track width was about 4 metres. = track width is the widest measurement of the Whim

Fortunately, there is some general information about the size of the Whim, that I could use for my model. I was also very interested in the history of these powerful rare Steam Powered Whims.

By carefully looking at the photos and enlarging them I came across many construction questions. But other details were not visible because
the Whim was so high that no pictures were taken of it, let alone all the details of the steam engine and operation. Also because the poor quality
of some of these rare photos, it was not always easy to analyze. Now that was a challenge to determine the details and to maintain, as close as possible, a truly historical level in the construction of the model.
My thanks go to Gordon Freegard, because without his research and photos, I and many other people, would never have even known of the steam powered whim’s existence. It is therefore a great satisfaction to see the end result.

Loek Proper

Here are two Youtube videos showing this fanastic model in action. Well worth watching and viewing the details that has gone into the making of this one tenth scale model.


References: Article: Pickering Brook Heritage Group
Loek Proper

Images: Pickering Brook Heritage Group
Phil Wyndham
Loek Proper

Videos Loek Proper