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Part 113: Girder Frame

113Girder Frame191919780004 in outfit 7 from 1922-28
Girder frame in medium green, from 1950s
Loading picture Girderframe

The parts

The girder frame is one of the most elegant of Meccano parts, but one of the least expected.  It doesn't match the half-inch width of any other Meccano part introduced until the narrow strips finally arrived in 1962.

Girder frames are absent from the "New Meccano Parts" leaflet of September 1919 (printed in October), but are shown in the Meccano parts listing of December 1919.  We have to be careful with these dates, however – the new parts announcements are notoriously out of date and we have to wait until the March 1921 issue of the Meccano Magazine for the girder frame to be announced along with other "New Meccano Parts".

Diagrams from the 1920 patent application for the Girder Frame
Loading picture Girderframepatent The girder frame's most common appearance in Meccano is in the feet of the Giant Block-Setting Crane, Supermodel number 4.  However, it was originally conceived as a component to be used repeatedly to form something like a braced girder, as can be seen from the drawing at the top of this extract from the patent application in 1920.

The top diagram, and the side view shown top-right, also explain the stepped nature of the girder frame, intended to allow this composite girder to remain in a single plane when assembled.  A photograph of three girder frames placed together in this arrangement is shown below.

The diagrams further down show all sorts of variations on the original girder frame design, none of which were put into production. 

The girder frame appeared in the 1919 "Inventor's Accessory Outfit B", and subsequently four were included in the largest outfit 7 from its introduction in 1922.  They were dropped, however, from this outfit after 1928.  This coincides with its first appearance in the Supermodel 4 leaflet, which perhaps would have maintained its sales as a spare part.  The use of the girder frame in Supermodel 4 is certainly the reason for the continued strong demand for this part to this day.

Although it never appeared in a Meccano Outfit again, the girder frame remained as a spare part right through to at least 1978.  Tim Edwards' parts lists show it as being discontinued in that year, although a very small number are known in dark blue.  This is not a common colour, though. The post-Binns Road listing of 1982 still lists part 113, so it seems possible it was not discontinued, but spare parts were notoriously difficult to find in dark blue.

Three girder frames fit neatly together as per the diagram in the patent application
Loading picture Girderframethree

Chronological variations

Nickel plated girder frames with various stampings
This image does not belong to the webmasters and is copyright.
Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
Mick Burgess
Click on this image to see a larger version.
Loading picture Image36247

Introduced in 1919, this part went through the usual finishes from nickel through to dark blue that would be expected of any Meccano strip-like part.  No changes appear to have been made to the part in that time.

To the right, you can see a variety of stampings of the first nickel-plated versions of this part. They include MFEA, Meccano in various orientations and the right-most example with no stamping.

Variations and oddities

Unusual unstepped girder frame in nickel plate
This image does not belong to the webmasters and is copyright.
Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
John Bader
Loading picture Girderframeflat Just the one oddity here – an example from John Bader of a nickel plated girder frame completely flat (without the steps in it).  The only one we've seen, this is most likely a manufacturing mistake.

Dealer spare parts boxes

Medium green and light green girder frames
This image does not belong to the webmasters and is copyright.
Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
William Irwin
Loading picture Girderframespareparts2 The above image show packs of three girder frames in a spare parts box, in medium green (top) and light green (bottom), as shown by the change from yellow to light green label.  Note that the box is considerably longer than it needs to be (long enough to fit a 7½'' strip), and that they are inexplicably packed in threes! Perhaps this is a cunning plan to force a dealer to buy two packs when the customer wants four parts?

Individual part numbers

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

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

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

More about bosses More about stampings More about paint colours

Neils Gottlob's line drawings (where available) can be viewed by clicking the part number at the top of the table.

Nickel plated19.ni
Dark green27.dg
Medium green (pre-war)33.mg1
Gold painted34.go
Medium green50.mg
Light green58.lg
Silver painted64.si
Zinc plated66.zn
Dark blue78.db

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

Further information

Total number of messages on this page: 9.  This is page 1 of 2.   Next

Tom Robinson      (at 2:01pm, Thu 29th Apr, 21)

I have a nickel plated girder stamped
PAT No 145357

Zoe Tomosett      (at 4:47pm, Wed 13th Jan, 21)

I have an unstepped gold stamped girder frame and can send a pic too if you like!

Nick Anscombe      (at 4:27am, Thu 27th Nov, 14)

I agree that the girder frame is unusual. It is far too unsubstantial for use in the titan crane ( it makes the bottom end far too spindly)and I think it's use may well have been dictated by the company in order to boost sales of the component.
Cheers. Superb website

Richard Payn      (at 1:57pm, Wed 13th Apr, 11)

All my dark blue girder frames (I now have 10) are all stamped Meccano Made in England. Although there are some DB parts which were over painted zinc, none of my girder frames have zinc underneath them. I'm guessing, are yours are on EBAY at the moment Andy?

Andy Knox      (at 1:05pm, Wed 13th Apr, 11)

I have 8 girder frames in dark blue but I can't tell if they're repaints or originals. There are a mixture of Meccano only and Meccano with Made in England underneath. Does the stamping help date them one way or the other?

TeeK      (at 4:44am, Fri 9th Apr, 10)

anyone else notice that fig. 5 looks almost identical to the spring that was used to keep the reels in place in some of the older VHS video tapes?

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