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Parts 13-18b: Axle rods

One of the first things decided upon with the design of Meccano was the use of 8 gauge wire for axles.  This determined the size of the holes in the perforated strips, and from there the unusual size of the nuts and bolts.  It is one of the few Meccano parts that has hardly changed in a century, and yet there are subtle differences, as you will see.

13Axle rod, 11½''1901-482N°6Was 12'', then 11''
13aAxle rod, 8''1910-1374N°8
14Axle rod, 6½''1901-13134N°6Was 6'' until 1925
14aAxle rod, 5½''1962-n/an/an/an/a
15Axle rod, 5''1901-666N°5
15aAxle rod, 4½''1915-666N°5
15bAxle rod, 4''1934-n/a22N°3
16Axle rod, 3½''1901-12128N°00Was 3¼'' until 1906
16aAxle rod, 2½''1920-4136N°9
16bAxle rod, 3''1924-254N°10
17Axle rod, 2''1901-12128N°00
18aAxle rod, 1½''1922-996N°3
18bAxle rod, 1''1915-774N°4Was 18/a until 1922
Note: The numbering system for axles changed substantially, and is very confusing.  Extremely early rods were not numbered, and supplied in lengths for the user to cut to length.  For a while various part numbers were shared by more than one length.  Most numbers had settled down by the start of Meccano in 1907, except for the 1'' rod as shown, which was initially given the number 18, temporarily given the incorrect number 18a and then moved to 18b (to be in the correct sequence) in 1922.

The parts

The full range of Meccano axles, from 1'' to 11½''
Loading picture Axles The photo above shows the full range of axle lengths available since the start of Meccano in 1907.  The lengths run evenly from 1'' through to 6½'', then the 8'' and 11½'' at the bottom.  Although the majority of these axles are mid-50's, the 6'' rod is an earlier version of the 6½'' rod pre-1925, and the 5½'' rod wasn't introduced until 1962.
Three axle ends: cut-off, milled, and 70's
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Loading picture Axle ends

Chronological variations

The first (MME) axles were grooved to accept the MME 'feather' key.  As stated above, part numbers and lengths changed considerably during this early period.  But, after around 1907, the groove was removed and the parts became as we are all used to.  The only significant change was to the ends. 

Early (pre-war) axles have their ends cut off sharply, as shown by the left-hand axle in this photo.  Lengths were not particularly accurate.  In the 30's the axles gained 'milled' ends and a much better consistency of length (as per the middle axle in the photo).  The length is measured including the rounded ends.

Rounded axles on clockwork motors appeared even on the 1912 Trinity motor. Later the No1 motor in around 1919 and on had them as standard but the main axle selection became rounded in the first blue/gold sets of 1934. Jeff Jones
It is my opinion that later 70's rods can be easily identified by a much rougher end-milling as shown in the right-hand axle, although there are no DMS part numbers for these.
Cut-off end on Mechanised Army axle
Loading picture MAaxleend

Variations and oddities

The axles in the Mechanised Army outfit (1939-41) are blackened, and easy to identify. However, in an outfit recently investigated, the 6½'' and 4½'' axles had milled ends (as would the normal axles), but the 2'' axle had cut-off ends as shown to the right. This is unexpected for this era.

Dealer spare parts boxes

A range of axles in different spare parts boxes
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Loading picture 13spareparts

The picture above shows a range of different packs for axles.  At the top is the oldest, the patterned brown shiny paper pre-war (although these I believe are wrapped axles from an outfit, rather than for individual sale).  The paper envelope at the bottom left is also pre-war.  Yellow boxes date from the 50's, and the lighter yellow long box for part 13 is later still.

Note that the axles are packed in a similar way to the strips: parts 15 and 14a are in the same box, as are parts 16 and 16a.  Part 18b is still packed in 12's.  At the bottom right is an unusual red box from the late 60's (is it?), with a white sticker showing the part number (16A).

A selection of pre-war axles in paper wrapping
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Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
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Clive Weston
Loading picture Axlesparepartsprewar

The photo above shows a range of pre-war axles.  The bottom one is the earliest, with the green sticker indicating the red/green era (1928-33).  The red-on-yellow scalloped stickers follow this, we believe, with either brown or light red paper wrappings.  The top axle (part 15a) is immediately pre-war.  Note that all the lengths are also shown in centimetres at the bottom of each label.

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
Descriptionfrom13 11½''13a 8''14 6½''14a 5½''15  5''15a 4½''15b 4''16 3½''16a 3''16b 2½''17  2''18a 1½''18b 1''
Grooved rod 01.mm .mm .mm  .mm  .mm  
(shortened to 11'') 05.mm1            
(11½'' silver steel)05.st   .st     .st  
Mild steel, cut off 07.ga1.ga1.ga1 .ga1.ga1 .ga1.ga1.ga1.ga1.ga1.ga1
With central hole 25     .ga2       
(length changed) 25  .ga2          
Rounded ends 34.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga.ga
Black (Mech A.) † 39-41  .bs  .bs    .bs  
Milled (army mkit) †72     .zn       
Note 1: 11'', 5'', and 2' rods are shown in EMP as "rod, no groove" from 1905 then "as above in mild steel" from 1918.  6½'' and 3½'' rods show no change to mild steel, and 8'' is shown as mild steel from 1910.  It is likely that the third row of the above table is inaccurate, use the fourth for most pre-war Meccano.  Check the top table for the dates of introduction of the later axle lengths.
2: Although EMP gives the date of removal of the MME groove as 1905, Love & Gamble show the introduction of plain rods only in the Duke St factory in mid-1907.

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: 10.  This is page 1 of 2.   Next

Don Sutherland      (at 12:31am, Thu 3rd Jan, 19)

The datasheet above shows that the 1" axle first appears in the No. 4 outfit, but the parts generator indicates that it first appears in No. 2.

Michael Hewitt      (at 8:37pm, Wed 12th Dec, 18)

A couple of things:
- in the table, the axles supplied in early Multikit are termed "milled"; in fact, they are knurled.
- although not strictly an axle, the pendulum rod in Clock Kits should probably rate a mention here
- of course, that opens the door to pivot rods and rods with square ends from Elektrikits...

Nick Smith      (at 9:40am, Sat 15th Oct, 16)

The Mechanised army manuals on this site do not list a black 17; they do list M-16a as 2.5 inch. The list of parts at the top has - correctly if illogically - 16a as 2.5 inch and 16b as 3 inch, as has the drop down menu from the dealers' picture, but the chart at the end of this section, and associated pictures has them transposed

John R Hornsby      (at 3:43pm, Mon 25th Apr, 16)

I also have several extra long axle rods with correctly domed ends at 14.75" long. They are out of a dealers display stand, all Meccano built at about 4 ft tall. I also have four 8" axle rods, correctly domed ended butthey are nickle plated brass..!!.

Richard P      (at 12:39pm, Mon 10th Aug, 15)

Hi Stan, the text in the datasheet table says part 14 was 6" until 1925 when it became 6.5".

stan knight      (at 2:01pm, Sun 9th Aug, 15)

In this section about axle rods the illustration shows a 6 inch one, and the text infers it, but I think the only 6 inch one Meccano ever produced was one that replaced the 6 1/2 inch one in 1924. Is that right?

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