In August, David Nelson completed a model of The Trillium.

The Trillium is a unique and historic ferry that was built in Toronto in 1910 by Polson Iron Works and used to carry passengers between the city of Toronto and the Toronto Islands.  She was decommissioned in 1957 then restored to operating condition in 1974.  Today she continues to operate as part of the Toronto ferry fleet and usually runs on weekends when passenger volumes are high.

David started this beautiful model at the end of 2019. This model is built to a scale of 1:48 and has dimensions of 37.25″ long, 11.5″ wide at its extreme and 2″ deep.  The engine has a stroke of 1.25″, the bore of the high pressure cylinder will be 0.36″ and the low pressure cylinder 0.71″ and drives a pair of paddle wheels. The engine operates on compressed air using the same valves and links as is used on the full size vessel.


This is a profile of the model mounted on its base and the bow and stern are identical. Note the two wheel houses so this ferry could sail back and forth between Toronto Harbour and the Toronto Islands without having to turn around.

The engine is a compound engine.  High-pressure steam from the boiler enters the smaller, high-pressure cylinder.  Exhaust steam from the high-pressure cylinder becomes input to the larger, low-pressure cylinder.  The steam entering the low-pressure cylinder has lost some of its energy and pressure driving the high-pressure piston so it is larger in order it to deliver a more meaningful force.

For a complete history of David’s Trillium project see his web site at

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