Bundy man wins highest engineering accolade
BUNDABERG model engineer George Punter invested 4000 hours over four years and travelled more than 16,000km to win this year's Duke of Edinburgh Challenge Trophy with his working scale model of a 1913 Saunderson and Mills F Universal tractor.
The trophy is the highest accolade in model engineering. It is awarded annually at the Model Engineer Exhibition, which was held this year at the Doncaster Racecourse in England.
It's the pinnacle for some of best model engineers in the hobby.
To be eligible for the trophy, the 76-year-old retired school teacher had to take out the gold award at the 2016 Model Engineering Exhibition in the road-going vehicle category. Achieving this qualified him to enter for the Duke of Edinburgh Challenge Trophy.
George first saw an original Saunderson and Mills F Universal tractor in the Geraldine Vintage Car and Machinery Museum while holidaying in New Zealand years ago.
He spent two weeks taking photos and his own measurements before returning to Bundaberg. He made 220 sheets of drawings, all the patterns and castings, along with the machinery and electronics to create the award-winning masterpiece.
The model engineer may have achieved near perfection with his award-winning tractor, but it has not dulled his passion to keep building beautifully crafted miniature machines.
Walking into George's backyard, he says "welcome to paradise" as you reach the entrance to a shed that's full to the brim with all the tools and equipment needed to follow his dream.
Although it may have taken years of long hours and hard work, the model engineer said the end result was worth every minute, as a working miniature model of either a train, tractor or boat with all the details of the original was created without a blueprint design in sight.
When asked if George ever thought he was born in the wrong era or a few decades too late, he replied: "I'm just glad to wake up each morning and follow my passion now."
As each year passes, George has moved with the times and said he is now aided by technology with engineering programs on his computer and the use of his 3D printer for some parts.
"I used to do all of this on my drawing board and now I've learnt how to have 3D models on the computer screen, it's marvellous," he said.
"I would encourage anyone, at any age, not to go into a vacuum when they retire. Do something like this and keep your brain active and keep going."
With his brilliant mind, George may have been able to lead a life as an engineer, but he said there was definitely one decision he never regretted and that was living life as a teacher and mentor to the young.
George said he was proud to now be recognised along with other model engineers who had won the Duke of Edinburgh Trophy in the past.