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Part 142-d: Motor Tyres

142Rubber Ring (to fit 3'' diam. rim)1924194133-initially ''Chassis Tyres''
142aMotor Tyre (to fit 2'' diam. rim)1927-046N°8
142bMotor Tyre (to fit 3'' diam. rim)1927-046N°10
142cMotor Tyre (to fit 1'' diam. rim)1929-008N°0
142dMotor Tyre (to fit 1½'' diam. rim)1929-000
155Rubber Ring (for 1'' pulley), black1927-127N°1''Flexible ring, 5/8'' diameter'' until 1937
155aRubber Ring (for 1'' pulley), white19371941000Used in outfits in this period
Four sizes of tyre, in black with post-war treads, and the rubber rings
Loading picture tyresmain

The parts

Tyres were very slow to show up in the Meccano system, despite many requests through the Meccano Magazine. In March 1921 they were "not thought fit to include in our system". In April 1924, part 142, the Rubber Ring (Chassis Tyre) was quietly included under "New Meccano Parts". Four of these were introduced into outfit 7 in 1926 (intended for the Meccano Motor Chassis) with the "New Meccano", reducing to three in 1928 (as the outfit 7 by then included the new Motor Tyres). These three were really only included in order to build the Motorcycle and Sidecar, Supermodel 3. They continued into the outfit L but did not appear in the new numbered outfits from 1937. Along with many other pre-war parts the rubber rings remained on the illustrated parts listings right through to 1952, but weren't on post-war price lists. They were effectively discontinued at the end of 1941.

Introduction of Dunlop tyres, Februrary 1927
Loading picture tyresnew

Finally, in February 1927, the Meccano Magazine introduced the 3" and 2" rubber tyres, manufactured in conjunction with Dunlop in a unique collaboration. The 3" tyres were introduced to the outfit 7 in 1927, and the 2" tyres in outfit 4 and larger from 1930. Post-war outfits have four 2" tyres in outfits 8 and above, but the 3" tyres are only supplied in outfit 10.

In May 1928, the new part 155 Small Rubber Ring was introduced. This was described as "primarily for use in frictional driving mechanism and ... in Meccano clutches, etc".

Clutch design from Supermodel 1 leaflet showing part 155
Loading picture tyre155use It was called for in the Supermodel 1 "New Meccano Motor Chassis" leaflet in the clutch, as shown in the diagram to the right. It could also (according to the Meccano Magazine) be fitted to a 1" pulley wheel as a tyre. This part is not included in the photo above. One was included in outfit 7 from 1928, increasing to two in 1930 and on to the L outfit. They are therefore quite rare, and also suffer the indignity of being inadvertently thrown out as they don't look much like a Meccano part.

In the usual way, Meccano tyres for 1½" pulleys were considered "unnecessary" in February 1928, but announced as "now available" in November 1929, along with the 1" tyre. Finally, all four Motor Tyres were available as in the top picture. These smaller tyres, however, didn't appear in any outfits until the inclusion of four 1" tyres in most outfits from 1951. The 1½" tyre was never included in any outfit, and so continues to be much rarer than the others.

In 1937, the new part 155a in white was introduced, fitting a 1" pulley properly, and included with all outfits. This rubber ring was significantly larger and thinner than the earlier part 155, and looks like the post-war part 155 shown in the photograph above, but in white rubber. Post-war, part 155a was dropped and replaced by the black version of the same thing shown above, now taking over the number 155.

Chronological variations

As usual, this is just a first attempt at the variations. Please email if you have more information

Part 142, Rubber Ring (to fit 3" diam. rim)

The rubber ring was manufactured from white rubber; it is now usually found somewhere between off-white and brown, and rarely with any flexibility. There don't appear to have been any variations between its introduction in 1924 and its demise pre-war.

Parts 142a-d, Motor Tyres

2'' tyre treads from left to right:
Dunlop Cord (1927), Dunlop (identical tread), Finer late pre-war tread,
US-made Dunlop Balloon, Post-war black, and Grey
Loading picture tyre2intread

The first tyres are easy to identify, as they are clearly marked DUNLOP CORD on the sidewalls. The tread consists of three rows of roughly square knobbles, the centre row of which are connected by a fine line of rubber. This is clearly shown on the pictures in the February 1927 Meccano Magazine introduction.

Sans-serif text on the first tyres
This image does not belong to the webmasters and is copyright.
Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
Mick Burgess
Loading picture tyresanscord

Mick Burgess has kindly provided pictures of what is obviously the first type of tyre, as it matches perfectly the image in the Meccano Magazine. These tyres show the text in a large, wide, sans-serif font unlike anything previously used by Meccano. They also don't show the word MECCANO although they do (like all other tyres of this era) include Made in England in small letters. These tyres appear to be very rare, does anyone else have some? They are effectively a Dunlop product sold by Meccano, rather than a Meccano part.

Fine (top) and chunky (bottom) versions of Dunlop Cord text
Loading picture tyredunlopcord

The next version includes the word MECCANO and moves to the standard Meccano serif font. I believe that there are two distinct versions of this tyre, distinguishable in that the Meccano Dunlop Cord text is much finer on one than the other. The photo to the right shows a (probably earlier) high quality moulding at the top and a lower quality chunkier version below. I don't believe that this is a mould or age artefact. If you look at the O in CORD, it is noticeably different in style and the contrast between thick and thin is much greater than in the lower example. We don't have dates, obviously, but these can be identified individually once you know what you're looking for, which is the key element in these things.

The next version is identical, but is missing the word CORD. Thus the tyres show only MECCANO DUNLOP around the sides. We are not sure when this change happened, but it is likely to be somewhere around 1930. The previous varieties are too common for it to be much earlier than this.

There is a US-manufactured version of this tyre, easily identified by the stamping DUNLOP BALLOON around the edge. The tread is also significantly different, being diagonally cut. This is likely to be late 1920s as well, when A.C.Gilbert was still manufacturing Meccano parts. Since it's a US-made part only, we shall consider it a variation for the moment. This is a shame, as the tread is much more realistic on this tyre than any of the others.

The third variety has the tread change to a much finer style, with the three previously distinct rows almost blending into each other as a strap across the tyre with a small gap between them. The wording around the sides of the tyre remains as DUNLOP MECCANO. Again, the exact date is unknown, but these tyres are seen in late pre-war outfits so it must be some time in the mid-1930s. These fine-tread 3" Meccano Dunlop tyres appear in the very first outfits 9A and 10 post-war, in 1950-51.

The three major tread types: Early, Fine, and Square profile
Loading picture tyretreads

Post-war tyres change their tread style again, and most importantly lose the Dunlop reference, now stamped only MECCANO (along with Made in England). The tyre now has a much squarer profile, with regular straps across the tyre. The separation into three lines disappears, and the tyres appear as in the top picture on this page. The 2" tyres part 142a appear in this new style by 1950 or earlier, but as stated above the 3" tyres part 142b are still supplied in the old style for a couple of years. This is probably just using up old stock.

These tyres aren't common, however, having been supplied only in outfits 8 (for the 2") and 10 (for the 3"). There was a very short production run of these before the tyres changed colour to a light grey around 1954 or so. The light grey tyres are by far the most common variety, lasting right through the rest of the 1950s and 1960s.

At some point early in the 1970s, the tyres changed to a black neoprene. These tyres are much more practical as they don't suffer from hardening in the same way as the older rubber ones. They are easily identifiable as they are quite shiny. By 1975 at the latest all outfits 9 and 10 had these black neoprene tyres.

1.5'' tyres: Dunlop Cord, Dunlop, Post-war square, Grey, and Chunky treads
Loading picture tyre15intread

The only exception to this set of parts is the 1½" tyre, part 142d. For some reason, the tread on this tyre changed significantly to a much chunkier tread pattern, but quite subtle. It is extremely difficult to date this change, as the tyre was never supplied in any outfits. John Nuttall has spotted a set in the May 1955 Meccano Magazine, showing that they must be before this point. So presumably they are in from between the last Dunlop style and the square profile tyres. They are very common though, which makes it difficult to work out how this pattern developed. Perhaps a large number were manufactured, and then remained in the shops for a very long time.

After the demise of Binns Road, the tyres continued to be manufactured by the French factory and supplied in the "Enthusiaste" outfits up to the end of 1992. These tyres are of the latest style, but are made in a soft matt black rubber (not neoprene). They are stamped MECCANO - Fab en France.

There is then a truly terrifying array of special tyres that were released from 1980 to the present day. It might even be beyond the range of this website to identify them all, but then with all the help available maybe we could. To give you an idea of the problem, here is a CAD drawing of a small range of the later tyres. This image kindly supplied by Anthony Els.

A range of modern tyres, drawing in CAD
This image does not belong to the webmasters and is copyright.
Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
Anthony Els
Loading picture tyresmodern

Parts 155 and 155a, Rubber Ring

5/8'' Rubber Ring, from 1927-37
Loading picture tyreoriginal155
Suggestion from April 1929 Meccano Magazine
Loading picture tyre155asatyre

The first part 155 was a small fat ring, described as being 5/8" diameter. This is an unusual part, not originally intended as a tyre. It was designed for the clutch in the Supermodel 1 "Meccano Motor Chassis". We can see from the Meccano Magazine April 1929 entry shown right that the ring was suggested for use as a tyre, until November 1929 when the Dunlop 1" tyres were introduced. No variations on this part are known. The examples identified so far have an inside diameter of around half an inch or slightly more, and an outside diameter of slightly less than an inch (0.9" or around 7/8"). They are considerably smaller and fatter than the later versions.

The small fat version of 155 continued on, being supplied only in outfit 7 and outfit L, until it was joined in 1937 by the larger 1" thin white rubber ring part 155a. These were obviously intended as tyres, as four were included in all outfits except outfit 0. They sadly don't survive well.

Post-war, part 155a was discontinued and part 155 became an identical but thin black rubber ring. The old fat rubber ring designed as a clutch was replaced by this new thinner version. Part 155 was made from black shiny neoprene from the mid-1970s, along with the other tyres.

Blueprint for part 142a, 2'' tyre
This image is taken from the original set of Meccano blueprints used by the factory.
These originals were scanned by Tim Edwards, and the scans can be viewed
on www.meccanoindex.co.nz by clicking on the link in the text.
Loading picture bp142a

The blueprint to the right shows part 142a, the 2" tyre. Originally drawn on 31st March 1933, this part went through the following changes:

17/4/47:Tread detail added
5/6/47:Made in England marking added
18/9/50:Inner diameter subtly changed
21/3/52:Rubber grade identified

The original blueprint for this part can be seen by clicking here.  

Variations and oddities

US-manufactured DUNLOP BALLOON tyre, clearly marked Made in USA
Loading picture tyreballoon The most common variation to the tyre is the US-manufactured Dunlop Balloon tyre, shown right. Dunlop Balloon was a major brand in the US at the time, so this made sense as part of the joint manufacturing of these tyres. Very soon after their introduction, A.C.Gilbert bought the US Meccano plant. Kendrick Bisset, specialising in US Meccano, helps us out here:
The US Meccano tires (the American spelling was used in US Meccano literature), at least the 142b, were still being supplied in Gilbert-Meccano outfits as late as 1933, and probably as late as 1935. Meccano type construction sets were apparently not made in 1936; the US Blue and Gold outfits of 1937 and 1938 apparently did not have 142a or 142b tires, though they did have 155 in white. Kendrick Bisset

Spanish-branded Pirelli tyre, origin unknown
Loading picture tyrespanish Much less well-known is this very unusual Spanish Meccano tyre, marked Nacional Pirelli - Manresa. Manresa is a town in Catalonia, Spain (near Barcelona) where the Pirelli factory was.

There is a history of special Meccano parts being resurrected by the Spanish Meccano factory (such as the loom parts), and this looks like another one.

French-branded Pneu Michelin tyre, origin unknown
This image does not belong to the webmasters and is copyright.
Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
Mick Burgess
Loading picture tyremichelin Mick provides us with another special, a French manufactured tyre marked PNEU MICHELIN twice and (smaller) FABRIQUE EN FRANCE. This could easily have been a French version of the first tyres, manufactured this time by Michelin.

Did Meccano do separate identical deals with Michelin and Pirelli for different countries?

Note that this tyre is not marked Meccano, but then neither were the first UK versions. It might possibly not be Meccano, but it seems likely.

Dealer spare parts boxes

Individual part numbers

Part numbers for the parts on this page are as follows:    Unique part numbers
For identification, each variation has been given a suffix to the main Meccano part number. These suffixes consist of a two-character code for the colour, and if there are many variations, a further number and sometimes letter code to identify each variation. See the bottom of the 'Parts' page for further details.

You don't need to worry what the codes are, just click on any one for a photograph.

The button above turns on and off the display of DMS numbers (where they are known). The DMS (Development of the Meccano System, Hauton and Hindemarsh) published in 1972 and added to in 75 and 82, suggested part numbers for every variation of every Meccano part. These numbers aren't perfect, but they are recognised and also referenced in the EMP (Encyclopedia of Meccano Parts, Don Blakeborough).

More about bosses More about stampings More about paint colours
White rubber ring, for 3'' pulley24-41.wh      
Black rubber ring, 5/8'' diam.27     bk1 
Dunlop Cord, sans-serif text, coarse tread27 .bk1bk1    
Dunlop Cord, fine print, coarse tread27? .bk2bk2bk2bk2  
Dunlop Cord, coarse print, coarse tread?? .bk3bk3    
Dunlop, coarse tread30? .bk4bk4bk4bk4  
Dunlop, fine tread34? .bk5bk5bk5bk5  
White rubber ring, 1'' diam.37      wh
Black rubber ring, 1'' diam.45     bk 
Meccano only, square profile50? .bkbkbkbk  
Meccano only, chunky profile50?    bk7  
Grey rubber54 .gygygygygy 
Meccano only, square profile, black neoprene70 .bk6bk6bk6bk6  

Please send us pictures of missing parts! Hints and tips for pictures
Take a picture of the part in very good light, preferably on a plain yellow background, without a flash but with a tripod.
Ideally, trim the picture to about 150 pixels per inch of the Meccano part (unless the part is particularly big or small), save it as a reasonably good quality jpg file with a filename of exactly the part number, for example 19b.ni1.jpg, and email it to us by clicking on 'Contact us' at the top of the page. Thanks!

Further information

Total number of messages on this page: 26.  This is page 1 of 5.   Next

NP      (at 10:28am, Mon 8th Aug, 22)

When Michelin tyres 142C and 142D were introduced they co-existed with Dunlop tyres 142a and 142b. The tyre side walls are stamped MECCANO 142C(or D) PNEU MICHELIN MADE IN FRANCE.

Richard Payn      (at 4:29pm, Tue 18th Aug, 20)

I doubt it Michael, unless they were really cheap. I’m happy enough using Meccano wheels, building hubs where 3” pulleys need help.

Michael Knowles Bath UK      (at 3:05pm, Tue 18th Aug, 20)

I have been into Meccano since 1950 and every few years have made working models, mostly heavy vehicles and mechanisms. In 1990-91 with Nick Rudoe of the WLMS I co-built an 1/8th scale working model of a Scammell Constructor 6 x 6 with a Decaperm motor and six-speed gearbox. I had made two visits to NZ in 1977 as Export Manager Distributor Sales for Rolls-Royce Motors Diesel Division, with special interest in the Scammell Crusader range imported by Domtrac and assembled in various lengths for artic and rigid-six applications with dog trailer. We began a project to have 1/10 scale wheels and solid tyres made at 4 inches diameter. It nearly succeeded. Does anyone think there would be enough demand for an attempted restart to make model trucks and buses in 1/10th scale?

Brendon Jones      (at 5:16am, Fri 21st Feb, 20)

Hi. Do you have any information on tyres suitable for the spoked wheels. Thanks

Anthony ELS      (at 6:32am, Mon 11th Feb, 19)

It is possible to resurrect early-era hardened rubber tyres. If you look at the original tyre manufacturing specification from Meccano part drawings, Meccano favoured oil-extended rubber (to preserve the molds for long production runs). That means that it is mainly the oil that is leaching out that is causing hardening (oxygen damage is another attack). This remedy works on tyres that are hard, but do not have extensive surface degeneration. 1/3 Xylene and 2/3 oil of wintergreen (by volume). Soak tyre for 24 to 48h (or any other type of hardened rubber product). Remove and allow Xylene to gas off. One of two things happens when soaking: either the tyre (or most of the surface detail) dissolves (too far gone), or the tyre returns to a reasonably soft, rubbery state (and stays that way). 50/50 success by test so far (I've mainly tried old, black Dunlop tyres so far). Some guys boil the tyres with OOW and water. Others use 25% rubbing alcohol, 75% OOW. Tyres will forevermore smell of eucalyptus-mint (Methyl Salicylate). These are relatively dangerous chemicals - handle at you own risk.

Bob T      (at 6:11am, Mon 6th Feb, 17)

Peter, The 142j tyre was available during 2004-2009 in the following sets:- 1524, 2715, 2725, 2371, 5700, 0524, 0532, 0546, 3702 & 3703.

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