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Midlands Meccano Guild

(Author: Mike Cook)

97th Meeting Model Report

Midlands Meccano Guild

Model Report

97th Meeting - Saturday 10th October 2015

by Mike Cook

(Photos taken by Bob Thompson, Mick Burgess & Richard Payn)

It was raining on the east coast just before I left for Baginton, but by the time I was on the road the weather had settled down to a bright autumn day. After an uneventful journey I arrived at Baginton village hall to find the familiar buzz of an MMG meeting in full swing. After greeting friends old and new it was down to business as usual – the interesting business of reviewing the large number of Meccano models brought by members to the meeting. There seemed to be a lot of members present and a cursory look around confirmed my observation at the last meeting that our membership has grown in recent times and, once again, some new members were signed up at the meeting. As at the last meeting, the large number of models on display slowed my progress and I struggled to get around in the time available. I know I missed one or two so, as always, my apologies to those I have missed or misrepresented in any way.

I started my personal model tour with the MMG “Establishment” and first off was the splendid model brought along by our chairman George Illingworth. It will come as no surprise to learn that the model was of an Iveco fire engine, or to be precise an Iveco/Emergency One light rescue pump of the Warwickshire fire service. The model measured about 18in overall length, it was carefully constructed using mainly red and nickel parts to give an appropriate and impressive appearance. It was nice to see the model displayed together with an original works drawing from which George had scaled his model.

Next was the “Splendid” motor car chassis display model presented by our secretary Roger Marriott. The model was based on the Model of the Month instructions in the MM for August 1956 and does not appear to be based on any particular prototype but resembles his old 1936 Morris 8 and the post-war Morris Minor. Those familiar with Roger’s model building skills will appreciate the meticulous care taken in building the model, the use of the correct period red and green colour scheme and the evident attention to detail. The controls are mounted on the front of the display base and enable operation of the two speed and reverse gearbox, the clutch and the brake. The original design has been modified to place the chassis on a rolling road enabling all four wheels to rotate at the same speed and to respond to changes of gear. The pedal and gear change linkages in the original model were provided by cord (!) and these have been modified to provide more positive operation.

Moving on to the next model I found a three cylinder marine steam engine built by our treasurer Paul Brecknell. Since this model was described in some detail in my last report, I will not repeat myself here. However, to remind those who may have forgotten, the model was based on the 1950's No. 9 outfit model (9.18), but heavily modified and built without the limitations of outfit contents. This eye catching model was constructed in pristine light red and bright zinc parts with the flywheel and feed pump cylinders in blue. In Paul’s usual style, the model includes considerably more mechanical detail than shown in the original building instructions.

Then I came to a diminutive mechanical digging machine built from the contents of a modern Evolution outfit by our past president Ken Wright. This nice little model was about 12in long and I believe it is a free lance design by Ken and built from the contents of a standard outfit.



Roy Whitehouse is a long standing member who is well known for his impeccable collections of all things Meccano. On this occasion he brought along a small assortment of interesting items including an unusual Dinky Toys Aeroplane set, comprising several restored aeroplanes, in a reproduction box, and a Hornby 0 gauge Palethorpes sausage van mounted in a Palethorpes dispatch box as sent by LMS. And for those with longish memories, Roy also brought along a small clock model built by the late Les Gines – it is nice that the memory of some of our enthusiastic late members is kept alive in this way.

Then I came to a collection of six Dinky Builder outfits brought to the meeting by Colin Bull. Nicely presented, all of the outfits had been restored to an extent and were restrung as per the originals. Two outfits were early pre-war issue and of the remainder, Colin had painstakingly reconstructed the boxes and the labels to a very good standard.


Tim Martin brought along a small collection of unusual models which suggested that an obtuse sense of humour was lurking quietly in the background. First was a novelty mantel clock constructed in blue and yellow parts and fitted with a cheap quartz clock movement.


His next model was very unusual and rather amusing – a Konkoly Meccano Sailor built in mid red and green colours. The model is basically a pillar about 24in high and down which the sailor, made from a pair of short axle rods and a coupling, rattles when released at the top. Tim used this device as a ten second timer switch to activate his third model which was a small reading lamp constructed in Eitech parts. The idea being to set this contrivance up at the bottom of the stairs such that the lamp lights the stair well. On retiring for the night the “sailor” is released giving Tim just ten seconds to get upstairs before the light is switched off! His final model was a Masterbuilder oil drilling rig; about 18in high, motorised and built entirely in black coloured parts.

Now the next display was the stuff of which health and safety nightmares are made! Tom and Matthew McCallum brought along what must be a very rare collection of early Meccano high voltage motors and ancillary equipment. I counted five motors dating from the early 1920’s, at least one of which was low voltage and run from an accumulator. The rest were designed to run directly from the mains supply with various types of rheostat controller. The controllers are visually interesting since they incorporate an early incandescent bulb which acts as a voltage dropping device to the motor. Nothing was shielded and nothing was earthed so the potential for a shocking experience was all there! I found this lovely display all very interesting and caught myself pondering on the longevity of early Meccano enthusiasts!

Probably one of the biggest models we have seen for some time was brought along by Gregg Worwood and it dominated the rear wall of the hall. The model comprised a two span viaduct measuring about 12ft long and carrying a railway track of, I think, 4½in, or possibly 5½in gauge. Sitting on the track was a substantial Shay locomotive coupled up to a skeleton log car and a caboose; all very American in style. To give you some idea of size, the rolling stock wheels were made up from a 6in diameter plate and a 5½in diameter circular girder to represent the flange. The standard of construction was pretty good, with a fair attention to detail, and the intelligent use of various coloured parts made for an eye catching display.

Nearby was another large model, a coal loader, built and brought along by Paul Merrick. Built largely from red and green parts, the structural aspects of the model were based on various successful designs by Oscar Fontain, Keith Cameron and Brian Compton. However, Paul’s strength is in digital systems and he had developed and programmed his own electronic controller for the model. When I saw the model Paul was grumbling that the digital controller sequencing worked perfectly, but some of the mechanical precision was a bit short of the mark! He did also explain that the model is still in development.

Next door were three typical models by Sid Beckett. He is a past master at devising models attractive to youngsters and this time he brought a BMX bike, a very small helicopter and colourful rendition of Thomas the Tank Engine. The BMX frame was built up using cleverly adjoined sleeve pieces to represent the frame and the wheels were 3in pulleys with tyres; overall it was about 12in long.

The loco was somewhat larger having a track gauge of 5½in, coupled wheels based on 3in pulleys and an overall length of about 15in. The boiler and cab lifted off the chassis as a complete unit to enable access to the running gear – I know this as when I saw the model Sid and helper were busily trying to banish some gremlins from the interior works. Sid had also done a very good job utilising Meccano part colours to represent the colourful prototype and I am sure his grandchildren have enjoyed playing with this model.

Once again Tony Knowles brought along some examples of alternative construction systems from what must be a very large collection by now. First of all a “nodding donkey” oil well pump built from a small Konstrux outfit. Konstrux was a German system dating from soon after WW2 and known to have been produced from 1946 to 1950. The basic hole pitch of the parts is 12.0mm, all parts are finished in matt black and the nuts and bolts have an M4 thread. The model is made from a Deuteron outfit, the second of the five sizes produced. It has 40 different parts, and it is assumed that there were probably more in the larger sets, but no details are available. The nuts and bolts used in the model are substitutes for those missing from the outfit, likewise some of the angle brackets. The motor is of course a commercial item since no Konstrux motor is known to exist.

Tony’s next model was of a small dockside crane built from a South African Maakeets construction outfit. Maakeets means 'make something' in Afrikaans, and it was the only known South African system which competed with Meccano from the mid 1950s to the early 1970s. But it suffered from poor quality parts for some of that time. The Maakeets system had 86 different parts including strips, angle girders, flexible plates and gears. The hole spacing and screw thread of the parts are the same as Meccano, but some, especially the gears, look similar to those in the German Mekanik system. Other parts are obviously unique to the system, for example, a one-piece crane jib side frame and various corrugated sheets for making crane cabs. Outfits 0 to 6 and a similar range intended for schools were produced and the crane model shown was made from a number 3 outfit, it is complete except for its brackets nuts and bolts. Tony’s final model was made from The Empire Educational Kit and is also believed to date from soon after WW2. Curiously the hole spacing along the strips, and plates is 5/8in, but in the cross-wise sense the holes are spaced at 7/16in. Holes are 3.9mm in diameter, the original nuts and bolts were probably 4BA and axles are 2.7mm in diameter. Only one size outfit is known and loose parts are almost equally rare – the lifting bridge model is made from all the parts that Tony has been able to find in over 25 years of searching. In the absence of any genuine nuts and bolts substitutes are used in the model.

Keeping Tony Company was David Hobson, also an enthusiastic collector of alternative construction systems. David’s contribution to the meeting was a very colourful display of late Trix outfits and models. In the late 1960s and in to the 1970s, Trix started to produce their outfits using coloured parts – blue, yellow, red and green being common colours and this resulted in rather more attractive models, typical examples of which were brought along by David. Three boxed outfits were displayed to show the variety of colour schemes available at that time. The built up models shown included four Trix racing cars made up in different colour schemes, a splendid model of a four cylinder marine diesel engine built from pristine red and green coloured parts and a larger “Gigant” racing car in a fetching blue but, surprisingly made from twice normal size parts.

Moving on, I found myself inspecting a superb model of a 1920s/30s V8 aero engine built from first principles by Terry Allen. The engine is destined for a Piccard racing car of which some photo’s were shown at the meeting. The engine is a work of art, very compact at about 7½in long, and incorporating a lot of Meccano brassware. Each cylinder appears to be represented by a sleeve piece surmounted by twin overhead valves. The exposed valve gear is an impressive feature of the engine and it is all working, being driven from the crankshaft as per prototype. Small polished cooper pipe is used to represent the inlet and exhaust manifolds, and altogether it is a very fine example of modelling skill. This is definitely not one to be missed, so watch this space.

According to my notes, the next models I came to were built from standard modern outfits collected by Geoff Devlin. The models comprised; the helicopter from Crazy Inventor outfit 7650, the motor car with powered drive from Xtreme outfit 6820, the motor car with powered drive and the bug with flapping wings, both from Speedplay outfit 7901. Geoff gave me his notes on these models and all suffered from various deficiencies which made their construction less than straight forward. In some instances he needed additional nuts and bolts and in others the parts just did not fit together as intended. I got a strong sense here that all of the models could have been better designed.

In the past I have enjoyed several conversations with John Reid on the topic of his steam threshing machine that he has been chipping away at for time. So it was good to see the finished article at the meeting. The following description was decanted from the note John kindly gave me at the meeting. The model was based on a Ransomes 1926 pattern threshing machine and was built to an approximate scale of 1:10. The source material for the model came from a series of articles in the Model Engineer magazine in 1982/3. The scale of the model was chosen to complement that of the combine harvester described in Meccano outfit 10, leaflet 10.13. The model was deliberately constructed with an open framework to show the internal workings and functions of the many individual components that go to make up a threshing machine. The full scale machines were driven by a steam engine or tractor via a longish belt. The model is powered by an electric motor concealed in the number 1 fan, which is located between the lower main frames just forward of the rear axle, and I can testify that it runs very smoothly and is most interesting to see in motion.

Ken Senar needs no introduction as a builder of exceptional large scale models, so it was sad to learn that his most recent big model, the prize winning Orlyonok, a Russian Ekranoplan wing in ground effect air vehicle is to be his last such model. In future he will concentrate on smaller more manageable models, although I am sure the high quality will remain a principal feature. However, Ken brought along the front fuselage and cockpit section of Orlyonok as a reminder of the outstanding success of this model. In addition we were each given a Bulletin supplement containing a description and photos of Orlyonok prepared by Ken.

He also brought along what might well be the first of his smaller models – an excellent model of a 1920s steam crane built by Grafton & Co. of Bedford. The prototype for this model is in store at Blists Hill Victorian village, Ironbridge. The model has a vertical boiler, appears to run on rail track and is about 18in long, in fact typical of the period. The model is still in construction and is awaiting its jib and rope work, so watch this space for the next instalment on its progress. Ken also showed me a very small aeroplane model built by a young seven year old lady of his acquaintance. He was obviously impressed that the model utilised only four nuts and bolts and few parts, but the result was clearly a well proportioned aeroplane.

Dave Bradley brought along a “minibus delivery van” constructed from Meccano using blue and green parts set off with red wheels to imitate the original Marklin model. Dave downloaded the instructions from the Girders and Gears web site – a useful resource for those not in the know. The van is model number 101 in the Marklin 1014 outfit instruction manual. The model is about 15in long to give you some idea of size and is rather smaller than the models we usually associate with Dave.

However, the van was quite over burdened by the most unusual model alongside which was brought along by Richard Smith. The model was called “Jamie and his trike” and represented a young lad on his little three wheeled tricycle, constructed at a scale close to full size. If you did not see the original of this model you will probably need a photo to appreciate what I am trying to describe. The trike was modelled from mid red and green coloured parts, the rear wheels being built up using 5½in circular girders and circular plates, and the single front wheel was built up in a similar way to give a substantial finished wheel of about 7½in diameter. Jamie was represented by his skeleton, comprising strips, girders and brassware all finished in a pale blue colour. The whole construction was then placed on a rotating turntable based on a very nice red and green geared roller bearing for display purposes. I think Richard must be commended for his imaginative choice of model, the high standard of his modelling skills and the excellent degree of finish he managed to obtain.

As an aeronautical engineer the next model I came to was very firmly in my “ball park”. Neil Bedford brought along his very nice model of a German Hannover CLIII ground attack aircraft, a biplane dating from WW1. This model was very nicely put together utilising a convincing mix of yellow and zinc parts, and appropriately set off by the addition of German aircraft markings. The model was about 15in long with a wing span of about 18in and set up on a stand for display purposes. I have often been tempted to build aircraft models, but I usually give up when considerations of the construction of a small cambered wing section come to the fore. I am most encouraged by Neil’s excellent work, as he managed most successfully to build a twin skinned cambered wing section with a chord of about 3in only – no mean achievement that!

And now for some road vehicles, the first of which was built by Peter Evans. The model is an accurate scale model of a MG L type Magna Salonette Sports Saloon produced in the 1930s. The car is a four seat, two door sports saloon. The model was constructed using parts painted to match the typical MG green and with the trim modelled with zinc parts to represent the original chrome finish. The overall length of the model is about 15in. Features of the original car which have been incorporated in this model are, a sliding roof, a rear luggage compartment boot and bucket seats which tilt forwards to allow access to the rear seats. When the boot lid is open, a trunk or picnic hamper could be carried with straps to secure for the journey. A foot well provided extra leg room for the rear passengers. The spare wheel is carried in the front wing on the passenger side. I am grateful to Peter for that brief description of his very fine model.

Next door was two trucks built by Michael Bent. What I found was a pair of similar open back trucks constructed to about outfit No.8 size in mid red and green coloured parts. They were obviously variations on a theme as Michael described one as a Bedford truck and the other as an Austin truck, and as far as I was able to see, one of the trucks incorporated a tipping mechanism. Both trucks were about 15in long and provided a nice comparison which served to indicate their differences and similarities.

Coming to the end of the row I found Paul Hubbard engaged as always in the construction of his latest model project. He had just started the construction of a heavy lift railway breakdown crane. The original model design was by Tom McCallum and appeared in CQ71 some time ago. At the meeting the crane chassis was at a fairly advanced stage of completion and Paul was working on the cab and match truck. When completed this model will be about 3ft long and we can look forward to seeing it at the next meeting.

On the next adjacent corner was the undercarriage of a very large crane in the course of construction, brought along to the meeting by Richard Payn. The prototype was a Sobemai balance crane; a very large modern version of a dockside crane and of which Richard showed me some photo’s. The massive undercarriage measures about 2ft wide by 2ft 6in long and stands on three large tracked bogies. It is built in a red and green colour scheme and incorporates a substantial amount of mechanical detail typical of Richard’s models. Each bogie is about 9in long and the track comprises many 2½in flat girder sections hinged together – the total number of hinges used for the three bogies totalled 204, which represents a considerable investment! So far this is an impressive achievement, but the superstructure is even more massive, the finished crane will be quite enormous and will incorporate a lot of complex mechanical detail. One to look out for next time although I expect that it will be difficult to miss!

I was then “buttonholed” by John Hornsby who wanted to tell me about his new model of an equally massive crane, currently in construction. The prototype for the model was a Gottwald AK680-2 mobile crane and John’s model will be built at approximately 1:16 scale. To put things into context have a look at this crane on the internet – it is very large and the mobile chassis has no less than 10 pairs of steerable wheels! (You will also find it enlightening to check out Richard Payn’s Sobemai crane on the internet whilst you are at it.) So far John has made the massive 650 ton 14 sheave block, the 325 ton 7 sheave block and the 90 ton single sheave block all fitted with “rams horn” hooks. Also on display was a rather smaller 30 ton single hook block and one of the two trestles used to support the boom whilst rigging. All he has left to make is the crane, and this will take a very substantial amount of Meccano parts to complete. Another one to look out for next time which will also be difficult to miss!

Continuing with the crane theme, I then came to a much smaller model built by Roger Burton. The model was the "Jumbo" mobile crane, built from the correct period red and green colours, and for which building instructions are given in the No.8 outfit manual from the 1950s. Roger provided us with his appreciation of the model as follows; parts of the crane were easy to build but others were somewhat difficult because of the lack of detail in the instructions. The steering linkage was rather crude, being a long arm attached to the steering column and protruding through a side window of the cab. This was then attached to a long rod which ran alongside the body before disappearing inside the rear part of the crane body. His modification is not very pretty but at least it is hidden underneath the crane. The jib side frame structures are fairly flimsy and the separation between the frames is critical where they come together at the front. Having said all that, it was an interesting model to build and is somewhat different from the mobile cranes we see today. The last point was very well made given the company he was keeping at the meeting!

Having had my fill of cranes, it was then a pleasure to look at a smaller model of a Yorkshire steam wagon build by Dave Phillips in his usual pristine style. For those who don’t know, Dave’s models are always scaled for easy transportation and they are pristine since he restores and repaints all of his parts, which others might simply reject. Dave explained that the model is his freelance interpretation of a steam wagon having the less common layout in which the boiler is mounted horizontally across the width of the cab. It looked very attractive in its predominantly red and green colour scheme and measured about 15in long.

Next door it was good to catch up with John Palmer again who I had not seen for some time. It was no surprise to see that John brought two small trucks to the meeting. The first was the Leyland truck built from the No.6 outfit instruction manual from the 1950s. This is a fairly basic model, but never the less, it looked nice when put together carefully using the correct period mid red and green coloured parts.

John’s other model was his own interpretation of a breakdown recovery truck built using the same approach as for the Leyland truck and at a compatible scale. This model made very good use of blue plates and zinc coloured strips and girders to give a most attractive reproduction of the original prototype, a photo of which was shown next to the model.


Next on my tour I came upon a collection of assorted smallish models brought along by Phil Rhoades. The small models comprised an excavator and a traction engine made up from various smaller outfits. He also had a No.1 clock kit, shown built up but not running. Of particular interest, Phil had a No.7901 modern Meccano outfit which he picked up at a car boot sale and which builds a futuristic looking grey plastic sports car. What caught Phil’s eye was the electric screw driver provided in the outfit for assembling the model. However, the screw driver is subsequently used as the motorising pack for the car. Since this unit has a geared output and self contained batteries, it could make a useful power source for lots of smaller models without the problem of trailing wires. Neat!

We usually associate Terry Pettitt with compact but mechanically very detailed road vehicle models built to an exceptionally high standard. However, on this occasion he brought along an equally fine model of a Metropolitan Vickers single cylinder horizontal gas engine. Terry informed me that the model has made an appearance on a number of past occasions, so it is not new. As always, the model was very carefully constructed, it measured about 12” long and was running quietly and smoothly when I saw it.

The same display space was also occupied by two transport models brought along by Brian Edwards. Brian needs no introduction as a builder of compact models, always in mid red and green colours and usually within the scope of a No.10 outfit. His first model was of a 1950s Sentinel lorry, with under floor engine and configured for use by the British Oxygen Co. for the bulk transportation of liquid oxygen. In this format, the rear chassis carried a large insulated flask of unmistakeable shape – quite a feat in itself to get that shape right in a small model. Typically for Brian, the model was about 15in long and very nicely presented in his trade mark colour scheme. Brian also brought along a model of a 1950s BSA motor cycle and side car in the distinctive style of the AA. I wonder how many members can remember seeing those out and about on the roads?

Some time ago Mei Jones built the sports car model 4.17 from the 1950s No.4 outfit, resplendent in the correct mid red and green colour scheme. This model was reported on after the October MMG meeting in 2012. Encouraged by the complimentary comments about that model Mei decided to build another version in an imaginative alternative colour scheme, so he re-painted some surplus strips black, hence the black, yellow and zinc presentation of the new model. This model also includes the addition of an external spare wheel and there is no doubt that, seeing the two models together, the new colour scheme is an eye catching success. Whilst on the nostalgia trip, Mei also brought along the forge crane model 6.16 from the 1950s No.6 outfit instructions. However, his choice of parts was for blue, yellow and zinc colours fixed together using allen head bolts. The model also incorporates several alternative parts to improve it in general. In particular Mei chose to use angle girders to replace strips and the composite strips have been replaced by ones of the correct length. The use of the 'narrow' version of some brackets helped with the alignment of the running rails. So it seems that there is still plenty of mileage yet in those popular 1950s models built from the standard outfit instruction manuals.

The next model I came to was the “Giant Dragline Excavator” as featured on the covers of many Meccano instruction manuals from the 1950s and built by Terry Wilkes. I do not know if Terry made use of MP87 building instructions, or whether he simply “eyeballed” the model directly from an instruction manual cover. The model looked very authentic to me having been modelled very nicely using yellow, blue and zinc coloured parts. The information provided by Terry tells us that he managed to build the model from the contents of a late No.10 outfit together with a few extra parts and the motors to drive it.

Tony Homden often comes up with some novel ideas for his models and on this occasion his focus was clearly on the Spitfire aircraft as built from the Meccano single model outfit. Firstly, he is of the opinion that the Spitfire model was poorly designed, particularly the engine cowling which bears little resemblance to the actual aircraft. The use of the special banana shaped flexible plate, part number B709, seemed to be the problem.

Tony rebuilt the spitfire model and by substituting a two and a half inch square flexible plate for the "banana" plate achieved a much more realistic result. An extra half an inch was added to the length of the nose which gives a more realistic appearance. He also lengthened the rear fuselage and rebuilt the wing to a more authentic outline. Other modifications included the addition of 5½in strips fitted across the fuselage to join the wing panels together, a much simplified propeller attachment, improved cockpit glazing using a long transparent plate curved to fit, minor changes to the tailplane, fin and rudder, and the addition of white invasion stripes.

Secondly, using a similar Spitfire model, Tony mounted it into a suspension structure so that it could be activated by a control stick and hence demonstrate the motion of the aircraft. The model is mounted on a vertical rod in the suspension frame such that it can roll, pitch and yaw in response to the control stick and rudder bar, via a complex interconnecting mechanical arrangement. An electric motor drives the propeller, which is loose on the motor shaft and spins due to friction, this is a safety feature to prevent injury. The wing mounted "cannon" are represented by red LEDs fitted into rod and strip connectors. The propeller is started by operating the “ignition” switch to the "on" position and depressing the start button briefly. The motor receives a starting voltage of ten volts which spins the propeller up to a very high speed. Releasing the button causes the motor voltage to drop to about three volts for continuous running. Another interesting feature is gun firing, activated by a push switch at the top of the control stick. Depressing the button activates a PDU in a separate control box, which drives a standard Elektrikit commutator to supply intermittent power to the red LEDs in the wing mounted cannons. All together rather interesting – it is surprising what can be achieved with a small model Spitfire and a lot of imagination.

And now for something entirely different; a superb model of a Tandem Compound Mill Engine built by Howard Somerville. Howard’s note informs us that the model is based on the 1894 Roberts "Peace" engine in Queen Street Cotton Mill Museum, Burnley. Running at 68 RPM, this 500 HP engine powered the whole mill, simultaneously driving over 1,100 looms and other machines via belts, pulleys and 2,250 feet of shafting. The model was built to an approximate scale of 1:10 measuring about 3ft long, 1ft wide and having a flywheel of 12in diameter. The model was built to the very high standard that characterises Howard’s models together with an exacting attention to detail in the valve gear, which is complicated by the fact that the engine is a horizontal tandem cylinder type. The model is ideal for display purposes and runs continuously and quietly for as long as required. Every 25 seconds, it demonstrates the action of the centrifugal governor regulating the engine's speed by adjusting the Dobson trip gear on the Corliss valves of the HP cylinder. A superb model which performs as good as it looks.

Continuing my model tour, at the other end of the hall I came to our president Geoff Wright who had brought along his Grandfather Clock for our delectation. Since I was running out of time I am grateful to him for producing a decent write up for me, most of which follows. Since the clock was built some years ago, some of Geoff’s information is not as good as he would have liked. However, it gives us a good overview of the problems associated with Meccano clock building. The clock was designed and built from the contents of a mid 1950s medium red and green No.9 Meccano outfit with the following additions:- Nuts, bolts, washers and spring clips in particular. To provide the critical 60:1 gear ratio for the second hand drive, an obsolete 20 tooth pinion was substituted for a 19 tooth pinion and zinc plated parts were used for the clock hands to improve their visibility. When first built the clock had some problems achieving reliable operation of the escapement which employed a 36 tooth sprocket as an escape wheel. This year Geoff decided to have another attempt at completing the model, after reading a constructional article in CQ describing a Meccano clock by Dr. John Stark, who had a similar problem with its Meccano Sprocket escapement. This he cured by substituting an Ashok replica sprocket. Dave Taylor stocks these, which finally enabled Geoff to achieve successful continuous running. At this time Geoff carried out several other modifications to the clock to enable easier dismantling and re-assembly for transport and, among other Items, he fitted adjustable feet to allow levelling. Since so much time has elapsed since the start of this project Geoff can no longer be sure that the clock can be constructed from a No.9 outfit. Features of the clock include a single hourly strike, a days of the month dial and, following a challenge by Frank Paine of SELMC, another dial shows the phases of the moon. These two secondary dials employ driving band reduction drives which give a reasonable approximation to the required ratios. A few additional bands were required for this modification. Taking the long view, Geoff reckons that this model has been the most challenging and complex model he has ever attempted, and it will be a relief to return to his usual transport modelling.

Unfortunately I ran out of time before I had quite finished my tour and I missed John Ozyer-Key, so I did not get a proper look at the heavy engineering which is his undisputed domain. He brought a model of a Tatra 8×8 pipe carrier vehicle. The prototype is a seriously heavy duty vehicle which can be configured for various roles and is manufactured in Czechoslovakia. The pipes this vehicle shifts are about 3ft diameter and about 30ft long. The vehicle is sufficiently robust that it can be used in all terrain operations as well as on normal roads. Needless to say it is also used by various military forces around the world. I would recommend that you check this vehicle out on the internet and I am sure, like me, you will be impressed that John tackled such a project. However, he has an exemplary record for building big Meccano road vehicles which incorporate a lot of fine mechanical detail and I am sorry I missed the opportunity to inspect this one.

For the same reasons I also missed the models brought along by Geoff Burgess. His listed vehicle models were also equally muscle bound but dating from an earlier and mechanically simpler age. His first model was of a Foden Timber Tractor.



His second model was of an ex-RAF Thorneycroft mobile crane, the kind of crane frequently seen on RAF airfields not so long ago. Unfortunately, that is all I can tell you about these models.



Whilst in the heavy duty vehicle domain, I almost missed Mark Rolson. However, I did catch him for long enough to have a brief look at his latest engineering masterpiece. If I got it right, the prototype for his model was a Ford Doe 4wd articulated tractor – the kind with two engines, one forward and one aft of the chassis articulation joint. As ever Mark has made an excellent interpretation of the original, taking care to model the mechanical detail correctly. His choice of colour scheme favours the prototype really well, being blue and yellow. To give you an idea of size, the 4in diameter built up wheels are fitted with the familiar large scale “ashtray” tyres and the overall length of the model is about 24in. I must have proper look at this model whenever I next get the chance.

Then I got as far as my good friend Colin Reid who brought along a typical assortment of Meccano miscellanea, most of which he had acquired at ridiculously low prices at auction. Several steam engines were in pride of place and included a 1914-22 Meccano (Bing) vertical boiler engine, the classic 1929-34 Meccano vertical boiler engine, a 1970s Meccano/Mamod engine and a small 1950s SEL Minor engine. He also reported that a few days earlier he had acquired a 1966 Meccano No.10 outfit in a four drawer cabinet, all in very clean condition for the paltry sum of £300. I don’t know how he does it! Nearly every time I see Colin he has a similar enviable story to tell.

Apart from himself and his latest photo material, Bob Thompson also brought along a new Meccanoid G15 programmable robot. Once set up, the robot is set in motion by spoken commands. Unfortunately, like most of my experience with speech recognition software, the receiver frequently fails to recognise the command correctly. Bob tried to get the robot working for me but it had a few problems of misunderstanding and either ignored the command or did something else. I don’t think this Meccanoid is ready to take over the world just yet! Bob also brought along some hardbound collections of his excellent Meccano photography produced to a superb standard. I did not have enough time to find out more about these collections, but I believe they can be produced online provided the material is edited into shape first. As ever Bob was kept busy working hard on his photo record of the meeting. His new model title cards seem to have worked well for the first time at this meeting. However, we all need to be more rigorous in their use in future. The cards helped me quite a bit, they helped George on his model tour and they also helped Bob with his photo records.

The next model I looked at was a fine version of the 1931, 4½ litre Blower Bentley beautifully modelled in mid red and green parts by Tony Wakefield. You will remember that I reported on this model at the last meeting when it was not yet complete. Tony was anxious to show me that he has now finished the model and in particular he has managed to fit it with a folding hood which he demonstrated to me. He also pointed out one or two other refinements and I can recommend that that you look out for this evocative model in the future.

The last model I looked at very briefly was an astronomical clock in the style of a grandfather clock, brought along by Richard Howard. The clock is GSM6 by Pat Briggs in the GMM modern supermodel series. The model is not yet complete although I believe the clock is working. In Richard’s words, “the astronomical functions are to follow”! I hope we will be given the chance to see the further development at the next meeting.

Having arrived at the piano corner I realised, once again, that I had missed the models brought along by Mick Burgess, which usually adorn the piano. Since he leaves at lunch time I often fail to get to his models in time to report back. However, Bob’s little title card saved the day as Mick had listed his models on one of these cards. So all I can give you is the list of the models: Model 8.14 – streamlined open top sports car, model 7.4 - giant articulated lorry comprising tractor unit and low loader trailer and model 7.8 – side tipping wagon. All of these models are described in the mid 1950s outfit 7/8 instruction manual. Mick’s fourth model was another car built from a description in MM, presumably also of 1950’s vintage. And that concluded my own personal model tour.

It would not be appropriate for me to sign off before acknowledging the presence of our resident “wheeler dealers”. It was good to see Mike Rhoades again with his familiar orderly selection Meccano parts, items and literature. The back room was about half full with a vast array of Meccano parts, outfits and literature under the watchful eye of John and Linda Thorpe, some even spilled out of the building onto the back lawn. As always, Tom and Matthew McCallum brought along a very modest assortment of parts for disposal at knock-down prices. Quite a lot of stuff was also being sold by MMG on behalf of the widow of the late Mike Brammer. So, there was plenty of scope for those enthusiasts seeking to boost their Meccano collections – unfortunately I did not have enough time to spare to browse.

Finally, you should be aware by now that, once again, I ran out of time before I could note all of the models and builders present at the meeting. This is due to the fact that over the last two years or so, the number of models and modellers has increased by nearly 50% and the number giving me a brief written description of their models has declined. If you would like to see a decent write up of your models in the report then it would be extremely helpful if you would give me a brief written description (200~300 words) of your models at the meeting. I can scan printed text into the report very easily, but hand written is OK too.  If nothing else, please complete one of Bob’s new title cards on the day. A last word if I may. There was a large number of models at the meeting and all, with one or two exceptions, were of a modest size. However, the general quality of a large percentage of the models was of a very high order such that it was pleasure to have a closer look – it would seem a pity if these models were not properly recorded for want of some essential information.

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