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Part 34 - 34c: Spanners

The humble spanner, included in almost all Meccano outfits, has hardly changed in its design but has been available in a wide variety of finishes. The combined spanner/screwdriver was included in various tiny outfits from the X-series to the later Pocket Meccano. The box spanner was supplied only in outfits 9 and 10, and the original square spanner part 34 was replaced by the hex part 34c in 1973, along with the change to hexagonal nuts.

34Spanner 19061973222N°00
34aSpanner / Screwdriver 1923-000
34bBox Spanner 1923-001N°9
34cHex Spanner 1973-n/an/an/an/a
Spanner, combined spanners, box spanner, and hex spanner
Loading picture Spanners

The parts

The square spanner, part 34, was surprisingly missing from the Meccano system until it was introduced in the outfit D and outfit E (the largest outfits) of 1906. The spanner soon filtered down into the smaller outfits, and by 1908-1909 it had been realised that two were in fact required, at least in the larger outfits, to assist with lock-nutting.

The combined spanner/screwdriver was introduced into the very smallest outfits, including the 000 outfits, and was also found in the Elektron and other 'fringe' Meccano outfits. They were reintroduced in 1971 with the Pocket Meccano outfit, when it was realised that Meccano still had the old press tool and this would save having to include a spanner and screwdriver in the outfit! The Pocket Meccano part 34a is the upper of the two combined spanner/screwdrivers shown in the photograph above.

A different type of combined spanner/screwdriver was included in the X-series and Motor Car Constructor outfits, visible as the lower of the pair in the photograph above, but this was never referred to as part 34b (the one shown is the X-series part X491, this is also found with a hole in it, and the Motor Car versions are thinner). These have not been included on this page as they were never known as part 34.

The box spanner, although very useful, was only ever included in the 9 and 10-outfits, from 1937. It was available as a spare part from 1923. The hex spanner is a logical requirement with the change to hex nuts in 1973, although it's not clear why it needed a new part number.

Thinner and thicker spanners from around 1930
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 Nuttall
Loading picture Spannerwidths

Chronological variations

The 'standard' form of the basic square spanner appears to have settled down by around 1920, with straight sides and square ends. In nickel-plated form, this is found stamped MFEA as shown in variant .ni2 below. At some point probably in the late 20's or early 30's, the spanner increased slightly in minimum width from around 0.19'' to around 0.23'', presumably because the narrower versions were too easily bent. The photograph above shows the increase in width clearly, and are of the single Meccano stamp variety. All the blue and red versions (1934-on) I have seen are wider, all the MFEA (up to at least the end of 1927) are narrower.

The strange shape of the combined spanner/screwdriver part 34a comes from a cutout in the stamped forms of the screwdriver, see part 36. From 1912 this was a triangular shape with a large cutout, creating variation part 34a.ni3 in the table below. From 1916 the screwdriver was rounded with a thinner cutout, creating variation 34a.ni1 (and later) in the table below.

Variations and oddities

Although EMP makes some distinctions between spanners on the basis of the stampings, I've removed those from the listings below. Throughout this parts museum there are occasionally instances where the stamping identifies the era and distinguishes between parts, but the orientation and position of those stampings are not normally considered important. Many parts in the Meccano system have highly variable stamping positions, sometimes caused by nothing more significant than there having been more than one press tool for each part. A full analysis of the position and rotation of each stamping is beyond the scope of this website, at least for the moment...

Early black and bronze spanners
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Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
Staffan Kjellin
Loading picture Spannerblackbronze

Staffan Kjellin sent this photo to us, showing the early black and bronze versions (34.bk and 34.xx), thought to be from around 1914-16ish. You can see where the black one is slightly worn and showing the bronze finish below, and so these might actually be only one type, with or without the paint worn off, perhaps?

Part 34, spanner, and part 34b, box spanner
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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 Spannerspare2
An early post-war pack of box spanners, part 34b
Loading picture Spannerspareparts

Dealer spare parts boxes

Spanners as spare parts aren't common, as they were not exactly top of most Meccano boys' want lists. The standard dealer spare parts cabinet post-war came with recommended 'bulk' parts lists, and the spanners were never on this list. Indeed, when 'spare parts' were announced in packages in the early 30's the spanners were not included.

The exception is the box spanner, a very useful item that was only included in the 9 and 10 outfits. It seems likely that this would be the most common spare part on this page. The top photograph shows the spanners part 34, and the box spanner part 34b, both dating from the late 50's. The photograph below it shows a half-empty package of six box spanners from the immediate post-war era.

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
Blackened steel, not cranked, hex ends 06.mm   
Nickel, tapered to cranked end 12.ni4   
Nickel, tapered, square hole in centre ??.ni4a   
Nickel, tapered, square hole, stamped Meccano ??.ni4b   
Black, tapered, square hole, stamped Meccano ??.bk2   
Nickel, tapered, no hole, square ends ??.ni4c   
Nickel, tapered, square hole, square ends 12.ni4d   
Nickel, not tapered, stamped Meccano twice ??.ni3.ni3  
Black, not tapered, stamped Meccano twice ??.bk   
Bronzed, not tapered, stamped Meccano twice ??.xx   
Black, not tapered, small Meccano stamp ??.bk1   
Nickel, not tapered, stamped MFEA 21.ni2 .ni2 
Nickel, not tapered, small Meccano stamp ??.ni1.ni1.ni1 
Nickel, not tapered, small Meccano stamp, wider ??.ni1a   
Nickel, square hole and hex ends ?? .ni2  
Blue, square hole and square ends (Elektron part) †?? .bl  
Blue, not tapered, small Meccano stamp ³ 37-41.nb   
Red, not tapered, small Meccano stamp ??.re   
Gloss black, small Meccano stamp (MA)† 39-41.ma   
Matt black, not tapered, small Meccano stamp † 39-41.mb   
Nickel, post-war stamping 45.ni .ni 
Nickel, post-war stamping, left-handed 45.ni5   
Blackened steel, post-war stamping † 51-52.bs .bs 
Zinc plated, square hole and ends ¹ 66?.zn.zn.zn 
Zinc plated, hex ends and hex hole in centre ¹² 73 .zn1.zn1.zn
Matt brass, hex ends and hex hole in centre 78 .mb.mb.mb
Iridescent, hex ends and hex hole in centre 79 .ir .ir
¹ Part 34a, the combined spanner/screwdriver, was resurrected from pre-war production for the Pocket Meccano outfit. The old press tool was used, including pre-war-type "Meccano" stamping, on both the square and hex-ended part 34a. It is easily identified as post-war because of the zinc finish. Versions can also be found stamped "Meccano Made in England", as you would expect.
² Part 34c is also found with plain "Meccano" lettering, showing that you can't be certain that the stamping of Meccano on its own defines a pre-war part.
³ Evidence of outfits shows nickel-plated spanners in lettered outfits, and blue painted ones in the numbered outfits from 1937 onwards. Strangely, though, Elektron spanners appear to be blue before this. Red spanners exist, but it is not known in which outfits. They may possibly be French?

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

Nick Smith      (at 3:06am, Tue 2nd Sep, 14)

The narrow version of the spanner was still around, if uncommon, in MMIE post war - I've put some spanner pictures with a mm grid paper background in my user gallery

Peter Hall      (at 2:20pm, Mon 22nd Apr, 13)

I have an example of the 34a.ni2 combined spanner with square hole and hex ends. I have a photo of it if that's any use?

Ziggy      (at 5:09am, Sat 14th Jan, 12)

Hi, I have just gone through an old box of BA spanners, amongst which I found one marked Meccano. This brought back memories! Anyway, I was curious as to where it came from, so looking for info, I found your informative website.

This Meccano spanner is of the type 34 pattern - spanner both ends with square centre. One end being cranked up. This spanner appears to be made of steal which has been nickel finished. It bears the Meccano name on the straight end and also, Made in England. The writing is about 1mm high.

Could you please tell me if the spanner is an older one, or any other useful info?

I no longer have any Meccano, but I'm simply curious whether it might have been my father's - although he never had any either.

Kind regards for any info.



T Gant      (at 1:48am, Sun 6th Sep, 09)


From my box of spanners:

1. I have two examples of 'left handed' spanners - both are NP MMIE.

2. An example of an IP 34a that fell easily to hand was also 'left handed' when compared to my BP examples - in the sense that with both spanners placed 'rounded edge up', the 'jaw' faces the other way. The BP ones are all stamped just Meccano and the IP one is MIE with Meccano Ltd below this ('MIE/ML'?). Futhermore they are cleary from different press tools, te IP one being visually about 1/16" longer.

3. I have one or two spanners marked MECCANO IMPORTE D'ANGLETERRE. I have only ever encountered a handful of parts with stamping. I'm sure others will know more of its history.

Hope this is of interest - I have photos of all these ready for you if i can work out where to send or upload them!

if you place it next to a handfulThe only example of an IP spanner Photos will be on their

Staffan Kjellin      (at 11:37am, Mon 8th Dec, 08)

Hi, I have 2 examples of the 34.bk and one is near mint. The other one is used and between the steel and black you can see the bronze colour. Maybee the .xx and the .bk are the same spanner ???

Reply: That's entirely possible -- that the bronze one is just a black one where the black has worn off. Could you do a really good photo showing this spanner and the colour change, and I could add this to the main text?

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