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Stringing Cards

Loading picture smallstring Stringing cards were used to hold parts in place in Meccano outfits, from the thirties right through to the 60's (and even later for the larger outfits 9 and 10).  This was a very labour-intensive operation, but had two big advantages.  It secured and protected the parts well for shipping, and more importantly it allowed them to be displayed well in the shop windows. 

Mint, unused outfits with their stringing intact are highly prized by collectors, not least because they are obviously together as an original dated collection and haven't been re-assembled by a later collector or dealer.  However, outfits that have been unstrung and used can be re-strung to show how they would have originally appeared in the shop and to the first owner.  This page describes some pointers to re-stringing an outfit.  Ideally, you will already have the original stringing card in the outfit, but if you haven't got one there are images on this page to download and make your own.

Outfits were strung with cord similar to (but not always the same as) the genuine Meccano hanks of cord, part number 40.  Depending on the era, the string was thicker or thinner than part 40.  Most of the time, the cord was red pre-war and green post-war.  Late 20's and early 30's dark red/green outfits were strung with both colours.  The green parts were strung with green cord and the red parts with red.

Tiny washers, apparently sourced from the Hornby Trains production line, are used to start the stringing.  The cord is knotted and passed through the washer, and this washer stops the knot from pulling through the first hole. 

Making reproduction stringing cards

When making your own stringing cards, you first need to find the correct cardboard.  The card is somewhere in the region of 1000gsm (1.3mm), but has a yellow top sheet.  I use 700gsm rough cardboard (also known as flax paper, to some), and laminate a thin yellow 270gsm card of the right colour to the top of it, before cutting the sheet out. Each of the stringing card images below gives details of the overall size of the card required.

The largest cards (for example, the top of the 9A and 10 outfits) are thicker, approximately 1.8mm overall.

The most common holes are 1/8" (about 3mm) diameter.  For bosses, a hole the same size as the boss (3/8") is made, with a small square extension for the set screw, if there is one. A very small number of bosses use a 1/2" hole (e.g. 2" and 3" sprocket wheels and the 6" pulley).  When using a punch, you may find that you only need a 5/16" punch to make a 3/8" hole in cardboard, as the punches are often designed for leather.  Try it and see, until you get a hole that fits a standard boss snugly but without forcing it.  1930's 'letter series' outfits have smaller stringing holes, about 2mm instead of 3mm.

Using the card images stored here

Download the correct stringing card from the link below, and save it to your computer.  On the image will be a description of the overall size of the card, but the images are already the correct size. Print the image out at this size (most paint programs will get the size right provided you make sure you don't scale it or tell it to fit the image to the page).  For the larger cards, if you don't have an A3 or larger printer, you'll need to print the image on two pages and tape them together carefully.

The images are the right way up (looking at the top of the outfit, where the parts go).  Lay the printed image over your cut-out card and either punch straight through both layers or mark each hole by pricking through the paper into the card.  Note that some stringing cards have optional holes for different eras.

Once you have punched all the holes (both the small ones and the boss holes), you can start stringing. Many of the images show you the start position, and how the string goes from one hole to the next on the back of the card.  You can see how the front looks from a picture of your outfit either on this site or one of the many others on the net.  Although the front must look right, it is very doubtful that outfits were absolutely consistent as far as the reverse side is concerned.  You can choose yourself whether to be rigorous about the reverse side stringing or not.

Above all, this site is intended to help you have fun doing this.  Obviously we're not trying to encourage you to re-string outfits in order to pass it off as an original one -- that's fraud however well you do it.  I like to write 'restrung' and the date I did it on the back of the stringing card, which adds to the interest of the outfit as well as making it plain what's happened.

Stringing card images

To download a stringing card image, right-click on the outfit number in the list below, and select "Save Target As..." from the menu, or "Save Link As..." if you're using Firefox.  You'll be asked where to save the image on your computer.

Red/green outfits

Outfit 00, 1958. Restrung
Outfit 00a, 1950s. Original stringing
Outfit 0, 1951. Original stringing
Outfit 0a, 1958. Original stringing
Outfit 1, 1952. Possibly original stringing
Outfit 1, 1959 export (larger) card.
Outfit 1a, 1956. Original stringing
Outfit 2, 1945-53. No stringing information
Outfit 2a, 1959. No stringing information
Outfit 3, 1951/2. Original stringing
Outfit 3a, 1954/55. No stringing information
Outfit 4, 1950's. No stringing, valid 46-54
Outfit 4a, 1950's. Restrung, valid 46-54
Outfit 5, 1951. Original stringing, valid to 1954
Outfit 5a, 1950's. No stringing, valid to early 60's
Outfit 6 upper card, 1950's. No stringing information, valid to 1954
Outfit 6 lower card, 1950's. No stringing information, valid to 1954
Outfit 6 card, 1954-58. Single-tray outfit, no stringing information
Outfit 6a, 1951. Restrung (unreliable stringing information)
Outfit 7 upper card, 1951. Suspect restrung, valid to 1954
Outfit 7 lower card, 1951. Suspect restrung, valid to 1954
Outfit 7a, 1954-58 (at least). No stringing information
Outfit 8 upper card, 1949. No stringing information, valid to 1954
Outfit 8 lower card, 1949. No stringing information, valid to 1954
Outfit 8a lower card, 1949-54 No stringing
Outfit 9 gears card, 1950. No stringing information, valid to 1954
Outfit 9 upper central 'sprocket' card, 1950. Valid to 1954
Outfit 9a upper tray gears card, 1950-54 No stringing
Outfit 9a upper tray lower card, 1954-58? Later stringing
Outfit 9a upper tray left-side card, 1950 Original stringing
Outfit 9a upper tray right-side card, 1950 Some stringing information
Outfit 9a lower tray top card, 1950-54 No stringing
Outfit 9a lower tray central card, 1950-54 Some stringing information
Outfit 10 top gears card, repro. Valid 1950-1962 Presentation cabinet
Outfit 10 upper tray card, repro. Valid 1950-1962 Presentation cabinet
Outfit 10 middle tray top card, repro.
Outfit 10 middle tray left card, repro.
Outfit 10 middle tray centre left card, original stringing. Three required
Outfit 10 middle tray centre right card, original stringing. Two required
Outfit 10 middle tray centre right top card, repro.
Outfit 10 bottom tray lower card (1954-), repro.

Nickel outfits

Outfit 6, 1922/23. Upper wheel card
Outfit 6, 1922/23. Lower wheel card

Dark Red/Green outfits

Outfit 1a card, 1928-35. No stringing information
Outfit 2a, 1934 (valid from 26ish). No stringing information
Outfit 3, 1928. No stringing information
Outfit 3a gears card, 1930-35.
Outfit 3a small parts card, 1930-35.
Outfit 4 gears card, Dec 1927. Most parts present
Outfit 4 upper card, Dec 1927. Some stringing information, in colour
Outfit 4 lower card, Dec 1927. Most fixing information, in colour

Blue/Gold 'letter' outfits

Outfit D stringing card, 1934-37. No stringing information
Outfit E upper tray card, 1934-37. No stringing information
Outfit E lower tray card, 1934-37. No stringing information

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