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Part 36c: Drift

The drift first appeared in 1932, in the Aeroplane Constructor Outfits, as part number A1083.  It wasn't included in standard Meccano outfits until after the war, when it was given the new number 36c.  This is quoted as 1945, but is more likely to have been in 1947, when the No.7 outfit was released again.

In 1990, the part number 36c was re-used for the large allen key, in the "Starter" Sets.

36cDrift193219781N°7Part A1083 until 1945
Loading picture Drift

The parts

The most important thing about a drift, and rarely mentioned in the literature, is that they are not the same diameter as a Meccano axle.  For the drift to be effective, it has to be fractionally thicker.  They will still pass through a boss, but only just. 

The reason is obvious: if you can line up multiple holes with a drift by forcing it through the holes, you will then have created a hole with good running clearance for an axle.  In addition, the drifts are hardened so that they don't bend when twisted, which is what happens if you attempt to grind down an axle into a drift.

double-taper and single-taper drifts
Loading picture Driftpoints

Chronological variations

The first drifts had two distinct angles creating the point -- one long gentle angle starting around 22mm from the point, and a considerably sharper angle for the last 4mm. At some point, this changed to a single taper for around the last 13mm of the length of the drift.  All drifts are approximately the same length, around 4'' overall.

Peter Matthews' comments on the drift state that the first shape (two tapers) only applies to the Aeroplane Constructor parts pre-war, and that the single-taper version is the only true part 36c.  If that is the case, I have a surprising number of these, and no nickel single-taper versions -- all my single-taper versions are zinc. However, the black drift (assumed to be 1951-52) is single-tapered as shown in the table below, and so we can probably assume that the shape had changed by this point.

The drift was surprisingly removed from outfits in 1964, with the advent of the silver/black/yellow sets, and was only available in zinc until 1978 as a spare part.

Variations and oddities

None known

Dealer spare parts boxes

60's drift in plastic pack
Loading picture Driftspare A late 60's drift in a plastic bag, as a spare part.

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-plated, two distinct angles to the point32.ni1
Renumbered 36c and added to standard parts range47.ni1
Nickel-plated, single angle to point??.ni
Blackened steel †51-52.bs
Zinc plated, single angle to point66?.zn

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

kbisset      (at 11:40am, Mon 30th Nov, 15)

These seem to have been included in 1938 (perhaps 1937?) No. 7 outfits - at least according to the contents generator, and parts lists in ca. 1938 manuals.

Nick Smith      (at 3:39pm, Wed 9th Jul, 14)

The number A1083 is actually in the Automobile Motor Car part range A10xx, with a split pin, between 2 6BA bolts rather than the Aero Plane Pxx range. So which came first, 1 & 2 Special Aeroplanes, or No 2 Motor Cars??

Alan Keith      (at 10:44am, Wed 17th Oct, 07)

There are currently 3 HANDLED drifts on e-bay, apparently 'rarely seen'. May I assume these are not original Meccano configurations ?

Reply: Yes, I believe that many drifts were made out of post-1970ish red plastic handled screwdrivers by grinding them down, some semi-commercially by hobby suppliers. I have a couple of these and remember them from the 70's too.

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