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Part 23/23a: Half-inch pulleys

A very confusing set of numbers, these.  It used to be easy, the 23 being without a boss, and the later 23a with boss.  In 1968, the pulley without boss changed to plastic, for economy reasons.  However, almost immediately, they reintroduced the brass version, calling it 23b.  So, although they look the same, the brass version changed numbers and the 'standard' part supplied in outfits was plastic.

Two much later parts, the plastic pulley 23ap with brass boss, and the rubber pulley 23c are also included on this page.

23Pulley, ½'' without boss 190519821066N°3Plastic from 1968
23aPulley, ½'' with boss 1915444N°6
23apPulley, ½'' with boss (plastic)1993
23bPulley, ½'' without boss (metal)1969(replaced no. 23)
23cRubber pulley1993
A range of half-inch pulleys, small, medium, and large
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John Nuttall
Loading picture 23pulleysthreesizes

The parts

The half-inch pulley without boss was originally very small and thin, only ½'' overall and 1/8'' thick.  This changed to the larger and thicker form we're all familiar with in 1913.  There is also a very unusual intermediate size of pulley, 9/16'' overall diameter.  This appears to have been a very short-lived part, perhaps only during 1913.  You can see the three sizes in the picture to the right.  The 'economy' wartime version from 1915-18 was thinner, more like the original, but only temporary.  After 1968, the pulley changed to plastic, as you can see from this photo.

A range of half-inch pulleys, with and without boss
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Loading picture 23pulleys During the wartime economy in 1915, the part 23a with boss was added.  After 1918, this became the more familiar solid brass version you can see in the photo to the left, and didn't change its form from then on.

Immediately after the part 23 was changed to plastic, it continued in brass as part 23b.  This part was not supplied in outfits.  All half-inch pulleys without boss from this date in outfits were plastic ones.

In 1993, the part 23ap half-inch plastic pulley with brass boss was introduced, along with the part 23c rubber pulley.

Chronological variations

The very small original half-inch pulley survived until 1913, and so a small number are found stamped "Meccano" as this crossed exactly with the beginning of parts markings. 

Somewhere in the late 70's, the plastic pulley's central portion was enlarged in diameter, and thinned out to be flush with the rim of the pulley.  At the same time, the "Meccano" raised letters on the rim were removed (otherwise they would not run smoothly when two are placed next to each other), and the yellow changed from a daffodil yellow to a more orangey colour.  It appears that the lettered variations are earlier, from 1968 to the mid-70's, and the non-lettered flush boss variations are later 70's.  Combat outfits containing the olive green version of this pulley have been found with both variations in the later 1978 packaging, indicating that the change of the mould for part 23 is probably at some point in mid-1978.  Please contact us if you have information to the contrary!

John Bader sent a picture of a nickel-plated non-magnetic half-inch pulley without boss (23.ni2 below).  It is stamped Meccano, but its date is unknown.

My Uncle was married in 1937 and as a wedding gift his new wife presented him with a Set G specially finished by Liverpool in Nickel Plate.  All parts, wheels, boilers, flexible plates.  I would suspect that the above mentioned ½'' Pulley is one of those specials provided by Liverpool.  The nickel plating service was offered from 1927 to 1941. Ed Barclay

This helpful observation by Ed of course opens up the horrifying possibility that we need to start looking for nickel-plated flexible plates!  There certainly can't be many of these around, unless Ed knows where his uncle's outfit has got to.

Orange type 1 plastic pulley p/n 23
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Neville Bond
Loading picture 23

Variations and oddities

Neville Bond has sent me a picture of this type 1 plastic pulley in orange.  It has the markings Meccano England, dating it from between 1968 and 1978, but I don't know of an outfit containing this.  Neville believes this is an example of an experimental colour scheme from Binns Road that never saw the light of day.

X-series threaded pulley next to part 23
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Clive Weston
Loading picture Halfinchxpulley

To the left is a picture of something to keep your eye out for.  The half-inch threaded X-series pulley is not a standard Meccano part but is often confused with one.  The example on the left shows how it is somewhat smaller than the Meccano part 23 half-inch pulley on the right of the photo.

Box of six part 23a
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Loading picture 23aSpareparts

Dealer spare parts boxes

A box of six part 23a, dating from the late 50's or early 60's.

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
Brass disc with shallow groove, ½'' o/d05.br1    
Solid brass, 9/16'' o/d with V-groove ??.br1a    
Nickel-plated steel, curved groove ??.ni1    
Solid brass, 5/8'' o/d with deep groove 13.br2.br1   
Two-part steel, eyeletted / nickel boss † 15.ni.ni   
Two-part steel, eyeletted / U-shape boss †15 .ni1   
Two-part steel, wider with nickel boss † 15 .ni1a   
Two-part brass, eyeletted, wider † ??.br3    
Solid brass, 5/8'' o/d double-tapped 27.br.br .br 
Nickel-plated, 5/8'' o/d double-tapped ??.ni2    
Blackened steel, 5/8'' o/d with deep groove †51.bs.bs   
Red plastic, lettered Meccano England 68.re    
Yellow plastic (canary yellow), lettered 70.ye    
Yellow plastic (orangey yellow), lettered 70s.ye1    
Olive green (combat multikit), lettered †75.am    
Yellow plastic, bush larger and flush, unmarked78.ye2    
Olive green (later combat), unmarked † 78.am1    
White plastic (space kits), unmarked † 79.wh    
Red plastic (space kits), unmarked † 79.re1    
Matt brass (plated on steel pulley) ??   .mb 
Red plastic, fitted with brass pummel 93  .re  
Black rubber pulley, 3/8'' diameter 93    .bk

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: 8.  This is page 1 of 2.   Next

Jenksman      (at 9:38am, Fri 2nd May, 14)

Hi Nick
I understand some Meccano parts were manufactured by Lines Bros in Merthyr Tydfil
The Welsh workforce objected to the "made in England" or "England" stamping

Nick Smith      (at 5:23am, Thu 1st May, 14)

I have just found amongst a Charity shop Evolution set [1 & 2] c 1996,though it doesn't belong to them, a canary yellow 23 lettered Meccano with the bar where it one would have said England before it was ground out of the mould, as my others do.
I have 4 Orange-yellow from 1973 Pocket Meccano, One has a central stub that sticks out a bit more than the other 3. 1 Canary yellow but more orange than its relations, pretty certainly from a 3X as it's a singleton; Canary yellow, a pair with a central stub that sticks out quite a bit, probably the pair from 8X. Canary yellow,12 Canary yellow from Multikit Crane and 2 from Super Highway, central stubs mostly nearly flush though some stick out slightly. Not sure whether either the slight colour variant from 3X, or the variable length of centre constitute variants. I suspect the central stub may be used as the mould ejector and that may be how and why the length varies

NP      (at 4:58pm, Sat 22nd Feb, 14)

Has it already been noted that the intermediate size of loose brass pulley could be US Meccano from the 20s? The standard US items are notably smaller than the UK pulleys

B. Maunder      (at 6:51am, Sat 22nd Feb, 14)

Nickel plated 23a pulleys were supplied with the Meccano Saw Bench

Bill Watt-Smyrk      (at 8:18am, Fri 28th Dec, 12)

I've found a few mint orange plastic 23 in my collection too, stamped Meccano England, in a slightly less vivid satin finish than the glossy post-Binns Rd items stamped (C)Meccano. A couple are fitted with realistic aircraft landing wheel-style tyres with fine circumferential tread pattern, which might be a clue as to which outfit they came with originally, unless of course the tyres are later additions!

I note Tim's earlier comments about pre-production prototypes, which doesn't really explain how I came by mine; they were acquired as part of a collection built up from outfits purchased from the late 70s onwards

meccanoland      (at 6:51am, Fri 21st Dec, 12)

Part .br3 is from 1916 I have a original box with content and manual dated 1916.
In this box is a two-part brass, eyeletted, wider no 23

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