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Meccano Blue/Yellow/Zinc Outfits

In 1970, a new colour scheme was launched for Meccano.  The silver painted parts of the mid-60's had already been dropped in favour of zinc plating in the UK, but this colour scheme was never used by the factory in Calais.  In fact, French Meccano had missed out on three colour changes.  After the war, the Calais factory continued with gold painted strips and blue flexible plates, dropping the pre-war cross-hatched lines.  This colour scheme was still in place in 1969.  The two factories agreed to 'combine' their colour schemes into one: zinc strips, yellow flexible plates, and blue for flanged plates, pulleys, and circular parts. 

The most significant change, however, was the dropping of the number 9 "Master Engineer" Set, and the renumbering of all the lower outfits up by one.  Thus, the new outfit 9 was in fact almost exactly the same as the 1969 outfit 8. 

Chronological summary

A brief summary of the many changes and new releases during this period is as follows:
1970 New colour scheme of blue/yellow/zinc.  Set 9 deleted and all lower outfits 0-8 renumbered 1-9.  Sets in new dark blue boxes with silver lettering.  Conversion sets renamed from 'a' to 'x', so Conversion set 1x converts a set 1 to a set 2. 
Sets 3M and 4M released, being the new sets 3 and 4 with the junior powerdrive 4½V motor included.  New set 4EL released, which was the new set 4 plus the contents of the old Electrikit, less any duplication.  New set 5ME set released, which was the new set 5 plus the Powerdrive motor and some new electronic components.
1971 Pocket Meccano set introduced January 1971.
1972 Clock kits 1 and 2 introduced.
1973 Nuts changed from square to hex (part 37c).  Army Multikit and Highway Multikit sets introduced.
1974 Super Highway Multikit set introduced.
1975 Combat Multikit set introduced.
1976 Crane Building set introduced.  2½'' strip (part 5) changed style to have truncated, rather than fully rounded ends.
1977 Standard Meccano sets packaged in new 'unisex' boxes showing pictures of boys and girls playing with Meccano for the first time since the early 1908 Duke Street manual.  A disastrous move that positively turned boys off from buying Meccano, obviously.  E15R discontinued and two Marklin motors imported to replace it.

Pictures wanted!

If you have any pictures of missing outfits below, or another picture of an outfit that is better or not quite the same as one that's already here, please help us by sending a copy of it! It would be very much appreciated.  You can email it straight to us, or upload it to the Rust Bucket forum...

Meccano Sets

Pocket Meccano
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1971 Pocket Meccano Outfit
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Pocket Meccano

The tiny Pocket Meccano outfit was targeted at a sale price of 25p in 1971.  It contains a whole lot more entertainment than its frugal contents might suggest.

1974 Pocket Meccano Outfit
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Loading picture BYZPocket1974 It actually sold for 39p as the parts had gone over the original budget, but was still a great success.

To the right are shown a pair of outfits – 1971 at the top (note the black plastic plates showing this to be a very early set, using up old 1960's parts), and 1974 below that with the newer manual and updated box design.

Dealer display pack of Pocket Meccano Sets
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In the shops, the Pocket Meccano was supplied in the 'matchbox dispenser' pack shown to the left.  This could be found in all sorts of places, not just toy shops and traditional Meccano outlets.


Meccano Set 1 (early 70s)
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Meccano Set 1 (1977)
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Meccano Set 1

To the left, an early outfit 1 in blue box.  To the right, a 1977 version of the same outfit in the later 'unisex' box.  It has been (unkindly) pointed out that the girl in the photograph is a substitute for the cat in the 1920's small parts box picture, except that the boy is taking less notice of her.
Meccano Set 2
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Meccano Set 2


Meccano Set 3
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Meccano Set 3
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Meccano Set 3

To the left, the earlier outfit 3; to the right, the 1977 repackaged version.
Meccano Set 3M
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Meccano Set 3M

Set 3M effectively replaced the Junior Power Drive outfit of the previous era, but it is a substantially smaller set.  Note that the Junior Power Drive was a set 3 with the additional motor, but since the sets were all renumbered in 1970 the set 3M is equivalent to the older set 2, with the same 4.5V motor.


Meccano Set 4
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Meccano Set 4 in 1977 box
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Meccano Set 4

To the left, an early 70s outfit 4, and to the right the same outfit in the 1977 modified box.  Note that the flat trunnions should be placed under the part 1 and over the triangular plates (as in the photo to the right, even though they can slip out!), where there is a notch for them, rather than being pinned under the trunnions like the 'restored' example to the left.
Meccano Set 4M in 1977 box
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Meccano Set 4M

In 1977, Meccano added the new crane motor to the outfit 4 and sold it as outfit 4M. You can see that the box lid design is very similar to the one above right (but the models do include the motor). There is a sticker on the box lid saying "Now contains new 1½-4½ volt d.c. motor & matched battery box (as shown on lid)", even though the box itself is clearly only for this outfit.
Meccano Set 4EL
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Meccano Set 4EL
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Meccano Set 4EL

Set 4EL contained the normal Set 4 contents, bundled with the previous Electrikit parts.  The Electrikit was sold on its own, with a label stating you needed at least an outfit 3 to complete the models, (now set 4 in the 70s), but this was not always noticed by the public.

Note that the lower tray (right) is identical in contents to the Set 4 tray above, but laid out differently.

Meccano Set 5
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Meccano Set 5 1977 box lid
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Meccano Set 5

The new box lid from 1977 is shown to the right.  Contents are the same as the pre-1977 outfit to the left.
Meccano Set 5ME
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Meccano Set 5ME top layer
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Meccano Set 5ME

Set 5ME consists of the normal set 5 contents, plus the six-speed Powerdrive motor and a number of electronic components contained in the Electronics Set shown below.
Meccano Set 5ME bottom layer
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Loading picture byzOutfit5MEbottom This particular outfit has manuals marked Meccano-Triang, dating it to 1972.  Close-ups of the upper and lower tray are shown to the right.
Meccano Set 6 inside
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Meccano Set 6, from 1977
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Meccano Set 6

The contents of Set 6 are shown to the left, with both trays showing.  To the right at the top is a picture of the later 1977 version of the outer box.

Meccano Set 6
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Loading picture 1970Outfit6 Below that is shown the earlier 1970-76 blue version of the box.  Both boxes have the same contents, as usual.


Meccano Set 7
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Meccano set 7 from 1973
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Meccano Set 7

The image to the right is of an outfit from 1973, and below it an example of the range of paperwork now being included in the standard outfits. The manuals include the small leaflet for Set 1, a combined 2/3/4 manual, and a combined 5/6/7 manual.

Meccano set 7 contents from 1973
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In addition to the guarantee slip, there is a description of the change of outfit numbers (made back in 1970), a note of the changes in the parts contents, and a note about the change from square to hexagonal nuts made during this year.


Meccano Set 8
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Meccano Set 8


Meccano Set 9
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Meccano Set 9

From 1970, set 9 was provided in a neat oak-ply box. The parts were laid into three polystyrene trays, under the bottom of which were three wooden dividers. These dividers could be placed into the box to organise the parts once they were unpacked.

The manuals include separate editions for sets 8 and 9, as well as the usual combined manuals up to set 7.


Meccano Set 10

This superb example of a Meccano Set 10 from 1973 spent many years in Peter Matthews' Meccano Museum in Johannesburg. Since 1986 it has belonged to William Irwin.  Note that this outfit has grey tyres, even though the 'official' colour of the tyres by this time was black.  Meccano would often use up old stocks of parts in less common outfits like the 10.
Meccano Set 10
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10-set top drawer
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10-set top drawer revealed
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10-set 2nd drawer
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10-set 3rd drawer
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10-set second drawer revealed
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10-set 4th drawer
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Below, we have another mint outfit.  This one is from slightly later, but still probably 1972-73.  The 2'' tyres are still grey, but the 3'' tyres are black.  The special screwdriver is wooden.  There don't appear to be any spring cord connectors or hooks (parts 58a and 58b), which were introduced to the 10-set in 1973.  However, we know that 10-sets in particular were often made with stocks of older parts, so the grey tyres and wooden screwdriver are no surprise.

1972/73 outfit 10 cabinet
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top drawer overall
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top drawer middle and lower layers
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second drawer overall
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second drawer lower left
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second drawer lower middle
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second drawer lower right
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third drawer overall
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third layer under instruction manuals
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bottom drawer overall
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bottom drawer under cards
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Further pictures of this outfit can be seen in the gallery by clicking here.

To the right is an even nearer mint example, including packaging and the outer shipping crate.  Greg Rahn is obviously time travelling to get outfits like this.  The outfit shown here is dated 1975, and has black tyres and the later (1974-on) aluminium handles on the chest.  As we saw above, 3'' tyres changed to black before the 2'' ones did, but they are both black by this time.

1975 10-set shipping crate
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1975 10-set in cardboard inner package
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1975 10-set top drawer
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1975 10-set second drawer
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1975 10-set third drawer
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1975 10-set bottom drawer
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Meccano Conversion Sets

Conversion sets were packed into small cartons, containing plastic bags of parts.  The manual for the next outfit (if required) was rolled into the box.  You can see that there are only three sizes of box, one for sets 1x, 2x, and 3x, another box the same length and width but twice the depth for sets 4x to 7x, and a similar sized but longer box for set 8x (because of the 18½'' angle girders, part 7a, included in this set).

1970s conversion set 1x
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Conversion Set 1x


1970s conversion set 2x
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Conversion Set 2x


1970s conversion set 3x
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Conversion Set 3x


1970s conversion set 4x
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Conversion Set 4x


1970s conversion set 5x
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Conversion Set 5x


1970s conversion set 6x
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Conversion Set 6x


1970s conversion set 7x
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1974 conversion set 7x
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Conversion Set 7x

To the right is another example of set 7x. The parts are now packed in clear plastic pockets (compare with the half-white packets from pre-1970). Note that there are two spanners in this outfit. This is presumably because of the change to hexagonal nuts, and the owner of a pre-1973 set 7 would need the two new hex spanners.


1970s conversion set 8x
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Conversion Set 8x


Themed outfits

Army Multikit from mid-70s
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Army Multikit

The Army Multikit (and the Highway Multikit below) were introduced at the start of 1973, and represented many new departures for Meccano.  The manuals were in the form of photographs for each step of the build, and there were many specialised parts such as the cab, gun barrel, new wheels, and plastic caterpillar tracks.  In addition, the nuts in the Multikits were hexagonal, for the first time in over 70 years.  These hexagonal nuts gradually replaced the square nuts in all standard outfits during 1973.

The Army and Highway Multikit outfits were extremely successful for Meccano, and sold in very substantial numbers.


Highway Construction Set
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Highway Multikit

The Highway Multikit was introduced alongside the Army Multikit at the start of 1973, containing many of the same parts, particularly the cab and wheels, but in different colours.  It was slightly cheaper than the Army Multikit, representing the missing caterpillar tracks.


Super Highway Multikit
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Super Highway Multikit

The Highway Multikit, along with the other 'themed' sets, were a great success.  To expand the range, Meccano added caterpillar tracks to the highway multikit and launched an expanded "Super Highway Multikit" in January 1974.  All the models in the Highway Multikit could still be built, and a second manual was included to show the eight new models possible.

Note that the red sprockets in this set have no collet nuts, and are supplied with short black plastic inserts to avoid the need for couplings on the axles.  Compare these with the parts in the Caterpillar Track Pack shown above.

Combat construction set from 1975
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Combat Multikit

The Army Multikit in particular was so successful it was decided to launch a smaller version of the same theme, and the Combat Multikit was the result in 1975.  At half the price of the Army Multikit this set looks like pretty good value for money.


Crane Multikit from 1976/77
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Multikit Crane Building Set

The Crane Building Set was launched in 1976, and contains instructions for a good selection of cranes. The small motor (now known as the "Crane motor") was also included. Note that a number of parts were painted yellow that aren't usually found in this colour scheme, including the 3" pulley, strips of all kinds, and even the double brackets. The nuts and bolts are brass (whereas they are zinc in the contemporary standard outfits).


Clock Kit 1
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Clock Kit 1

In 1972, Meccano launched two quite ambitious Clock Kits.  The advertisement for the first one can be seen in the Meccano Magazine of May 1972, and the second is shown as "coming later".  Although the Clock Kit 1 was not a particularly good clock, it was fairly cheap.


Clock Kit 2
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Clock Kit 2

Clock Kit 2 was a completely different affair.  It contained a fiendishly complicated striking (not chiming) mechanism, that was quite difficult to get working correctly.  Neither of the clock kits were particularly successful, but the Clock Kit 2 contained a great selection of gears and was tremendous value for the parts – even more so when the sets were discounted to clear the old stock!  Clock Kit 2 continues to command a high price second-hand because of the parts it contains.


Accessory sets

1970s Mechanisms set
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Mechanisms Set

The Mechanisms Set was introduced in 1959, and continued in a new box into the 70s.  Although it didn't contain as many useful gears as the Gears Set, it did have plenty of other Meccano parts that came in handy, and a much better manual describing useful simple mechanisms.
1970s Gears set
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Gears Set

The Gears Set was introduced in 1949 and improved as 'Gears Set B' in 1956.  It remained most Meccano boys' introduction to gears, as very few outfits contained any useful selection of gears.  Even the Set 9 of the 70s had a limited selection.
1970s Electronics Set
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Electronic Control Set

The new electronic components in the 5ME set were also supplied in this Electronic Control Set, from 1970.  "Electronic" is rather overstating the capabilities, as the set consisted of a battery box, light, electromagnet, relay, and connecting wires.  The one electronic component was a light-sensitive cell that could switch the relay when the light shone on it. 
1970s Caterpillar/Flexible Track Pack
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Caterpillar / Flexible Track Pack

The Caterpillar Track Pack was introduced in 1973, for both metal and plastic Meccano (in slightly different boxes). In 1975, the Caterpillar company complained about the use of their name and Meccano changed the name to "Flexible Track Pack".  The contents are identical, both boxes are shown. 
Early Super Tool Set
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Later Super Tool Set
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Super Tool Set

The 1970s Super Tool Set looks a lot more useful than it is.  To the left is the earlier type, carried over from the silver/yellow/black period with the larger handled screwdriver.  Somewhere between 1973 and 1975 the screwdriver changed to the pear-shaped handle, and you can see the polystyrene tray was changed to fit the new screwdriver.

Motors

1970s E15R electric motor
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E15R Electric Motor

Now showing its age in design terms, the E15R was still a powerful motor.  Introduced in 1958, it can be traced back directly to the 1920's motors and was required for most of the 10-set models.
1970s Clockwork Motor No.1
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No.1 Clockwork Motor

Still almost unchanged from the original design of 1931, the Clockwork Motor gets a new blue box to match the rest of the sets from the 1970s.
Magic Motor
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Magic Motor

Very little changes in the Magic Motor, except for the box design.
Meccano horizontal steam engine
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Steam engine instructions
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Steam Engine

The new horizontal Steam Engine was introduced in 1967 (although many think it dates only from the 1970s).  The engine again is unchanged, with a new box to match the 1970s outfits.  The instructions on the reverse of the box are shown to the right.


1977 EU1071 motor bought in from Marklin
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EU1071 Electric Motor

This exceptionally ugly motor was imported from Marklin in Germany to replace the E15R in 1977.  It was, surprisingly, quite powerful and sold for less than the old-fashioned E15R which it replaced.  The objective was to save money by closing down expensive production of lower volume items.


1977 EU1072 motor bought in from Marklin
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EU1072 Electric Motor

Matching the above for ugliness, the bigger brother EU1072 motor was also imported from Marklin in Germany, and although it was powerful it was far too expensive to sell well, at almost twice the price of the old E15R.


4½V Junior Power Drive Motor
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4½V Crane Motor
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4½V Motor

The Junior Power Drive motor was still available, as supplied previously in the Junior Power Drive set and in the 1970s in set 3M.  In 1976, the Crane Multikit contained a newer and smaller motor (shown right), which seems to have replaced the Junior Power Drive unit.


6-speed Gearbox
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6-speed gearbox

Intended for use with the Junior Power Drive motor, the 6-speed gearbox was similar in design to the Power Drive unit, but is just the gearbox with a red universal joint for connecting to the motor.
Hand Generator
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Hand Generator

The Meccano Hand Generator was a short-lived motor accessory bought in from Japan intended to provide power for the Powerdrive motors.  While it was interesting that it worked at all, it provided nowhere near enough power to be a satisfactory alternative to a transformer, and wasn't particularly cheap. 
Battery Control Box
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Battery Control Box


Manuals for these outfits

Clicking on the following images will display a copy of the relevant manual for this era of Meccano outfit.  Warning – These files are very large (the size is given next to each one).  The time it will take to download each one depends mainly on your connection speed.  As a rough guide, 10MB takes about 35 minutes to download on a dial-up modem, around 1-2 minutes on 'ordinary' broadband, or as little as 5-10 seconds on a very fast connection.  You have been warned!

The best option is almost certainly to click on the manual images with your right mouse button, then select either "Save Target As" or "Save Link As" and save the manual to your computer for viewing later.

Further information

Total number of messages on this page: 38.  This is page 1 of 7.   Next

Nick Smith      (at 3:06pm, Tue 28th Jun, 16)

On the basis of a very limited sample - I think The Triang version of the Blue Yellow Zinc sets have Silver lettering, as it says; later Airfix versions of the box have plain white lettering - and a (c) date.
Also,the The 4M came out with the first version of the Junior Powerdrive before the Crane (and hence before the mark 2 Junior Powerdrive) - curiously, both variants have the 620 12/4.5V battery box whereas the crane has a smaller battery 3V box [13624]

Grant Warner      (at 11:55am, Fri 29th May, 15)

I have a 1974 Pocket Maccano set Made in England. All complete including manual not been used. It has a label sticker on the front " CONSTRUCTION SET JUE DE CONSTRUCTION " believe its the second box not 100% due to the label sticker. looking to sell.? Contact Grant Either Email grant.warner@sky.com or contact number 07795691277

sid      (at 2:47am, Sun 16th Feb, 14)

whats the retail price of meccano set10

Six speed Sidney      (at 11:01am, Wed 23rd Jan, 13)

Slightly off topic, I know, but a dedicated motor section in its own category would be great.

Does anybody rate the French MR motor? I acquired one by chance this week and find it amazingly powerful for its size. Its compact dimensions makes it very handy as well.

keith walsh      (at 10:51am, Sun 2nd Dec, 12)

hello I have got a Original Meccano woodern box set9, in great condition,
Email me on keith_kathy1@yahoo.co.uk
looking to sell,

Ghall9999@hotmail.com      (at 10:10am, Sat 20th Oct, 12)

Hi,
what's the retail price of Meccano set bleue- yellow 1970 - box no.5
Thank you
Ghislian Allaire


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