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Part 35: Spring Clip

Originally the feather key and then the tongue key, this part was used to attach wheels and gears to axles in the early years. With the introduction of the boss and set screw in 1912, the 'key' lost its tongue and became the spring clip, normally used as an economy version of a collar.

35Spring clip 01-363636N°00'Key' until 1912
The five major spring clip types:
Feather, tongue, narrow, rounded, and standard
Loading picture Springclips

The parts

Initially, the key was a necessary part of all wheels, gears, and pulleys. The feather key (shown to the left in this photograph) connected the slot in the wheel with the slot in the axles. The later 'tongue key' fastening (second clip) slid into an indentation in the wheel and jammed it against a solid axle. With the advent of bosses with set screws in 1912, the 'keys' lost their tongue and became spring clips, used to prevent a part from slipping along an axle.

Chronological variations

The right-hand three clips in the photograph above show the variations in the spring clip. Initially, they had narrow legs rather like the tongue keys. Later, these legs widened, around 1918 or so. They were still stamped out of spring steel, having rounded edges. Some time around the early 20's (anyone know when?) they were cut from a strip of spring steel, and have 'truncated' ends rather like the perforated strips. This style of spring clip remained unchanged through to the end of UK production in 1979. Some later ones seem to me to be 'bluer' than the earlier blackened steel ones -- I'm not yet clear enough on the change to be able to firmly identify a variation, though.

Variations and oddities

None known

Dealer spare parts boxes

Spring clips in all sorts of small parts boxes
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Loading picture Springclipspare

Spring clips, being effectively consumable items, have appeared in almost all types of spare parts boxes. Initially small boxes were sold of "special keys". The name Spring Clip first appeared in 1912, and the white box with removable lid at the top left of this photo probably dates from around 1920 or so. Later, small tins were used for the small parts, and I believe the cross-hatching on the centre left tin indicates the era as blue/gold pre-war parts. Some parts continued in tins similar to these post-war. I'm not so sure of this date, as the picture of the two boys lying down is much earlier, normally 20's.

The white card box with 50 spring clips is post-war, early 50's, and the yellow card box late 50's (note that the part has a product code, 12150, denoting 50 spring clips). Plastic bags are later, late 60's and 70's, with the different product code 12151 denoting two dozen spring clips.

More spare parts boxes
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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,
Clive Weston
Loading picture Springclipspareparts2

Always one to have a few oddities around, Clive has sent us pictures of the boxes to the right. At the top, a rare early box (20's) with the part number on the label – compare this with the probably earlier version in the photo above.

There are two different 1950s boxes in the middle, and at the bottom an unusual box of sixty spring clips. We weren't sure where these were from...

Extract from December 1939 outfit 1 manual
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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,
John Nuttall
Loading picture Springclip60 ...but the picture to the left shows us. This extract from the outfit 1 manual for December 1939 (reference 13/1239/65) shows that spring clips are available in 60's as part number 35s (for sixty, presumably). The same manual shows part 38s (sixty washers), too.

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
Feather key, for fixing wheels to axles 01.mm
Feather key, thicker (early ones broke easily)??.mm1
Tongue key, tongue overlaps clip 07.mm2
Tongue key, tongue starts at back of clip ??.mm2a
Spring clip, thin rounded legs, no tongue 12.bs1
Spring clip, thin rounded legs, no tongue, sharply cornered transition??.bs1a
Spring clip, even legs, fully rounded ends 18.bs2
Spring clip, truncated ends (most common version)20s.bs
Spring clip, bronzed † 58.xx
Spring clip, black plastic 90.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

John Burke      (at 10:18pm, Fri 24th Jun, 22)

Extract from Vol 6. The Binns Road site, premises and presses were ideal for the production of millions of small components too many to enumerate here. Proximity fuses for anti-aircraft shells were also developed and produced in the Meccano factory. Any ex-service personnel who were in front-line situations during the war will be familiar with the morphine ampoules for emergency injections to seriously wounded casualties. Each kit was in a small tin box, approximately 2 in. x 1 in. containing ampoules and hypodermic needles. These needles were manufactured in large quantities by Meccano Limited where they were packed, with the morphine ampoules. After the war, thousands of surplus tins of this size were used as emergency packing for Meccano Nuts and Bolts, Spring Clips and Washers.

John Burke      (at 10:11pm, Fri 24th Jun, 22)

Hi Don. Yes, Binns Rd made tins for Morphine during WW2. Post war, the leftover tins were reused for small parts such as grub screws.

Donald Noble      (at 7:04pm, Wed 22nd Jun, 22)

About 1949 I bought a tin of 50 spring clips which I still use to hold spring clips. It was a long shaped tin not a square one and the yellow label has long since worn off. When the label came off it revealed the word "Morphine" stencilled underneath. Whether Meccano made these tins during the war, or whether they bought in a stock of surplus material I do not know

John Slinn      (at 4:12pm, Fri 20th Nov, 20)

I have some dealer spare part boxes / tins for thr Part 50 Spring Cip which are not show in the description. I would be happy to provide them but cannot seem to upload the photographs, How do I do this?

Ohlerth Johann      (at 9:04am, Fri 9th Nov, 18)

I need some Meccano tongue clips (till 1912). Who can help me out and sell me a few. Thank you for a timely answer with kind regards

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