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Spanner 2010 week 3

(Author: Various)

Selected Spanner messages 18th to 24th January

Tower Clock

Here is a photo of the mechanism of my tower clock, built to a design of John Wilding in CQ (49?), and also incorporating John's striking mechanism from a later CQ. The clock rewinds itself every 10 minutes. The weight is pairs of wheel flanges bolted to bush wheels and threaded on an axle. The space between the flanges is filled with No2 lead sinkers from a fishing tackle shop. Collars and meccano ball bearings didn't give enough weight.

It keeps very good time on two faces (left and right below), two more to be added when I have the necessary parts. The strike works quite nicely too, chiming on a bicycle bell. Unfortunately the family rose up as one and said the strike has to go as we already have two clocks in the house striking the hours (loudly).

At the SE Queensland meeting last Sunday it got a severe attack of stage fright and refused to go, although it did strike at random as I wrestled with adjustments on a steamy hot Queensland afternoon. Back home with no one watching it started up quite happily and has been going ever since.

I have put some more pictures in the gallery here.

(Peter Holtham)

Oxton NMMG Meeting

I have uploaded the photos I took at Oxton today. You can see them here:


Richard Payn

Hello everyone

I thought I would drop you all a line about Oxton as indirectly Spanner correspondence over the past year was responsible for the 'airshow'!

Over the past year I took great pleasure from Spanner in seeing all your models of various aircraft and the correspondence on the aeroplane sets. No one at Oxton in September could remember the last time we had had a good look at these sets so I suggested to Jim Gamble and Anne that we invited members to bring all their planes to the next meeting for a sort of mini airshow. And Saturday's display was the result!

My advice to enquirers was ' if it's a model of a flying machine of any description, bring it' - and thus I was delighted to welcome Tony Parmee's superlative airliner - a Boeing 777, I think, as well as John Lacey's space vehicles built for the Space Centre show and all sorts of other flying
objects. Not only that - 2 young modellers who were brought to Oxton for the first time by their taxi drivers brought Meccano planes as well!

I make no claim to originating themed meetings - TIMS and others have done that very well for several years - but we were delighted at the outcome. But what I would also like to pass on is this - which is the thinking behind my opening remarks to our members on Saturday.

Inevitably over the past few weeks, like many of you I have stayed indoors and taken the opportunity to 'tidy up' (pause for hollow mirth.............). As I have gone through the contents of my files and mag back numbers and noted the massive contributions of the great Meccano builders of the past, it occurs to me that today we have more information and variety of modelplans and the like than ever before.  When you add in the vast contribution to ease of access to info provided by the Internet and, of course, Spanner, my not very original contention is that the best days of Meccano are to -day. And the reason for that vast 'view' is, as much as anything, that we stand on the shoulders of those giants of the past for laying the foundations.

(At this point I was moved to quote a favourite sonnet of Dante Rossetti - but the members made it clear to me they don't 'do' poetry! (grin))

Accordingly, I suggested to our members that not only do they 'take' from the hobby but - motivated by JFK's sentiments about what his countrymen could do for America - ask themselves what giant footprints they too can leave on the sands of Meccano Time.

A sentiment that might usefully be echoed elsewhere?

I hope for an interesting Meccano Year - as ever - and have no fear of being disappointed!

Geoff Brown

Letters on Meccano winding keys

Does anyone have an explanation of the letters stamped on various Meccano winding keys, like S (happens to be on a small black key) and B (on a larger key), etc.?

Charles in NZ, although these winding keys don't have part numbers as far as I know, do you document them on your parts website?

Jim Bobyn

Each Meccano Key (I think from the early 30's) was given an alpha code often, but not always, stamped on the Key. These are listed in the Catalogues, Parts and Price lists in the 30's.

Tony Press

While I don't know what the letters stand for (surely 'S' for 'Small' and 'B' for 'Big' is too trite!) I did notice earlier this evening when perusing Meccano price lists from 1959 that the keys were listed as follows under the "motor" section:


43,901 B key for No. 1 Clockwork Motor 10d

43,903 S key for Magic Clockwork Motor 4d

Gerarde Nixon

Peter Searle posted the following information on the HRCA forum:

A Key: No.1 boats, including "Duck", MO locomotive
C Key: No.3 boats
D Key: No.4 boat
E Key: No.5 boat
H Key: No.1 Special locomotive
J Key: No.2 Special and No.3 locomotives
L Key: No.2 boats, M1, M3, Nos. O, 1 locomotives

S Key: MO locomotive
H Key: M1, Nos. 101, 501 locomotives

H Key: Nos. 30,40,50,51 locomotives
S Key: All Post-war speedboats, No.20 locomotive.

In a later discussion; the 'C' key was questioned - this was thought to be supplied with No.3 boats but appeared to be too big for the original paper packet supplied with a Racer III boat.

I suspect our resident motor guru will be able to shed some light on this and fill in the gaps/make corrections.

Stuart Judd

B. For Clockwork Motors No 1a and 2
There was also a special long version of the A Key for the
non-constructor Car which I think is marked M

Post war Keys
T replacing the D for the new silent wind Reversing Clockwork Motor, later replaced by a new style of D Key.

I have most of Keys and will photograph when I get a chance

Tony Press

Tony has certainly got there with this most useful list.

What I can add is that I have the actual drawings of the A, B, C, D and E keys! Jim Gamble thrust them into my paws a few years ago and said he thought they were of no interest to anyone!

There is a great number of interesting things about them and I will have to spend some time examining them. However one or two things do stick out on first scan -

The B key originated during WW1, intended for the no 1 motor of the time. The first date on the drg is 1915 and one cancelled issue shows it with 2 holes in the handle! It went through numerous design changes over the years, both in length and construction and, as seems frequently the case, is found without markings too.

My own perception is that originally the A key was intended to be the Trinity Motor key. However I understand that those in captivity bear no markings at all, as indeed is the case with the only one I have which came with one of my Maerklin versions of that giant contraption. The A key drg that I do have is dated 1933 and, while I am not certain that that is the original date, it does suggest that the decision to designate that the A model probably followed after the designation of the B key and the realization that the Trinity was a dead canard.

The B key obviously fitted the 1A motor throughout its long life and postwar in longer form the postwar no 1 reversing motor. I have also found it in widespread association with the later no.2, 2 Special and no 3 locos instead of the J key which is a larger square version of the common Hornby H key and as uncommon as they are common.

The first no 2 Meccano motors on the other hand shared an el cheapo unmarked key with a simple rounded corner rectangular handle - presumably until someone twug that since it had the same winding spindle as the 1A it might be a good idea to use the B key with it! I don't think it was a shortage as all the specimens of the 1A I have had through my hands, including those concurrent with the then new no 2 motor have had the B key!

I have still to investigate the 1930 no 1 non rev motor but most of mine have one of the Hornby small keys, invariably unmarked. However 2 or 3 boxed later ones come with the long D key. In particular I am glad that Tony mentioned its successor the T key. That is a useful weapon indeedy and very handy for our various M3 series tank engines as well as the no 1 non rev motors.

Finally my box of keys is littered with a large number of Hornby keys undignified with letters but with various design and stamping differences. I am given to understand by one of the scions of the HRCA that some of these are RARE ! Particularly the versions with solid barrel used with the iconic
2711 loco!

If you have any of these rare keys, make sure you identify them in your will and leave them to your favourite charity or Yours Truly! Otherwise the HRCA may swoop upon them!

In the meantime I will have a careful look at the drgs and come up with some info on square sizes etc.

All for now - time for scoff.

Geoff Brown

Non Meccano identification

The picture of the attached strange Meccano type parts were in a pile of Meccano I found at a local car boot sale. Does anyone recognise it? It has some strange hole divisions on the ends of some of the plates but the rest are the same as Meccano.  If it is of any use I will put it on ebay

Laurie Long

Those are Gilbert Erector parts, made in New Haven, Connecticut, USA. The blue plates are from 1935-WWII or possibly WWII-1950. The red plates are from 1927-1932.

Charlie Pack

Yep, on the Erector already named... but the pulley looks to be Vogue (at a long distance guess :-)

(I don't remember any Erector green pulleys...and it'd be a fairly easy check as Vogue screws are 4BA thread)


No.5 Outfit Model Truck

Picture shows my grandson playing with a truck from a No 5 outfit.

I have modified it somewhat.

I altered the tipping mechanism to something I felt was a bit more realistic. I added rear mudguards, seats in the cab, fuel tank and front bumper. The rear wheels I doubled up.

The steering I have modified as the front wheels in the manual design were not parallel . The body of the cab has been modified a little to prevent the wheels fouling the bodywork.

More photos are in the gallery here.

Laurie Long

Coke drum

Attached is a work in progress. Its a coke drum as used to convert bitumen from Canada's Oil Sands into synthetic crude oil. The model is 3 ft 6" high, the original is about 150 feet top to bottom. The scale was based on whatever diameter I got by connecting two 12.5" Strip Plates in a circle and overlapping 2 holes at each end. The drum is shown in coke cutting mode. A high pressure water pump, bottom left, provides cutting water at about 4000 psi to the drilling rig up top. Most of this is left to the imagination but the drill stem does go up and down, and the jet pump rotates. I couldn't figure out how to pump water through a rod. There will be an elevator on the left to get the operator up to the drilling platform. These drums typically are built in sets of 4, 6, or 8. This project continues my oil theme which started with the "Oil Donkey Meccano" currently operating on Youtube.

Frank Curry

No.1 Aeroplane

For those interested in aeroplanes and to inject some Meccano content, this is my latest acquisition. Not in the best condition but do you ever find these in anything like good condition? However, the lettering was in pretty good shape and I was loathe to strip the paint off for a full repaint. The white parts though were in serious condition and something had to be done there.

So to match the semi scruffy appearance of the rest of the plane, I just painted over the existing old paint and bare spots and while now covered, at least they show some signs of compatibility with the condition as a whole.

The 1937 set was virtually complete except for the prop and had a lot of extra parts so made out OK. The box is repaired but not restored in the fashion exemplified by some Spanners - best I can do! The parts are kept in the aero models dept and never see the box again anyway!

When did the change to a curved corner occur on the front fuselage side panel? Anybody know? Most No.1's are squared off.

Brian Willis

Always nice to a Meccano Aeroplane especially in the slightly less common blue and white. Its always a dilemma whether to to restore or conserve. I think you have made the right choice here, it would be almost impossible to replicate the sprayed registration letters.

Alan Esplen

Hi Brian I have attached a picture of the 3 variations that I am aware of ( excluding the corrugated ones )
The silver version with squared ends is from the 1931 flat winged sets however in 1932 when new parts were introduced a front side panel of the same size was introduced but a rounded upper edge at the front. This can be found in silver and then in the new colors as can be seen from the blue example attached.

Following on from this the special sets introduced in October 1933 in these sets the fuselage parts were again changed with the result that the front side panel was shorter than its predecessor which can be seen in the third example in the picture.

Another interesting find recently was a wheel spat held on by lugs, pic attached. This was the intermediate stage between those carriages without lugs and those fixed in place by spot welding. the spat was introduced in 1932 with the new parts so presumably the first runs had the lugs to fix them in place. I have no idea when they were first spot welded in place.

Interesting stuff eh.

Gary Higgins

It could be variable. All my made up No 1 and 2 Constructor Planes in silver with red wingtips, shaped Wings and Roundels have 'tabbed' wheelspats. I have a made up No 1 in blue/white with Roundels and it has spot welded spats and a boxed No 1 in blue/white with Wing numbers which means it is a later plane, but it has 'tabbed' spats.

Tony Press

Pop Video

While the music might not be to your taste, the video will be.


David Usher

Meccano, Lego, and Minibrix

The arguments about the relative value of Meccano versus Lego will roll on for ever. Both systems have their merits and downsides. Lego however have the advantage in that it is now the worlds most popular toy and is constantly being developed.

What is not generally realised is that the basis of Lego is a British patented invention from 1939 by a certain Hilary Page (male) who produced plastic interlocking blocks under the name Kiddicraft.

A Danish company later to be known as Lego, obtained manufacturing rights and later bought the patent. They improved the connecting system and so the system we know today was born.

The was however an even earlier system, made in Britain, called Minibrix, in which standard sized bricks locked together by studs. The bricks were made of rubber and were used mainly to construct buildings. The initial sets introduced in 1936 had brown bricks and various sizes of cardboard roofs. The roofs were soon changed to rubber sheeting of various sizes. Within a few years a second set was introduced using black and white bricks and roofs made from separate tiles. This set was known as the Tudor series.

Like Meccano, sets came in different sizes and could be extended with accessory sets. The largest set in the brown bricks being the Number Seven and the largest Tudor set being a Number Three. There was a De-Luxe set in a wood cabinet which contained the largest set in both systems. (Just got my first example)

Minibrix is based on half inch modules and is compatible with Meccano. I have a large collection of Minibrix of both types and showed a combined Meccano/Minibrix model at the last Henley Club meeting.. The model of a typical moated English manor house, has a working Meccano drawbridge and a lifting portcullis , both controlled with the latest Meccano infrared system. The interior is braced with Meccano girders.

I have previously shown other hybrid models here on Spanner at at various Club meetings.

Here is a picture of that model and in the following email one of my latest creation using Tudor bricks

I am at the planning stage of a Tower Bridge model again combining both systems.

Tony Homden

test      (at 10:09am, Sun 23rd Aug, 20)

Минуту назад анализировал материалы сети, неожиданно к своему удивлению открыл лучший веб-сайт. Гляньте: . Для моих близких вышеуказанный ресурс явился очень привлекательным. До свидания!

judith joseph      (at 6:36am, Sun 7th Nov, 10)

did you have the junior set, in pastel colours? Did you see the bricks being made? Or the rubber being manufactured in great sheets over high rollers? The smell of the factory was sublime. Did you ever press out universal pins? The history of why they didn't develop is not as simple as stated in another website, that they grew complacent. Not so. But, that's another story.

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