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Midlands Meccano Guild

(Author: Neil Bedford and John Rogers)

104th Model Report

Midlands Meccano Guild

Model Report

104th Meeting - Saturday 30th March 2019

By Neil Bedford and John Rogers
(Photographs taken by Bob Thompson & Mick Burgess)

“The outside tables” (by Neil Bedford)

Tom and Matthew McCallum brought along a fascinating display of Meccano badges and medals. These ranged from the fairly rare to the virtually unique and examples included: The Leader’s Badge – presented by Meccano to the leaders of Meccano clubs,
The Recruiting Campaign Medal – presented if you had successfully recruited your pals into your Meccano club, a pre-war Award of Merit, the Rep’s Badge worn by a Meccano salesman and a plastic button presented to mark your tour of the Binns Road factory. Finally, from the 1924 World -Wide Model Building Competition, a bronze runner-up medal and the class-winning solid silver cup (one of only two such cups known to exist anywhere) – Wow!

Jim Gamble had been to an auction and brought along a very nice shop display model of a horizontal steam engine, possibly part of the vast collection of the late Malcolm Hanson (Founder of the SWMC – South West Meccano Club).

New Member Chris Bates demonstrated a Daf ‘Variomatatic’ gearbox, using a rubber belt drive running between two opposing cones. This mechanism gave the little Daf cars an infinitely variable drive.



Pete Evans showed a tidy Bugatti Type 35 from 1929, looking very convincing in that famous shade of blue.

Philip Drew brought along a little vehicle which won the 2016 ‘Scrapheap Challenge’ held at the SWMC. The 2016 challenge was to build the fastest vehicle driven along by a propeller, built using only standard parts and was strongly contested.


Built in 1875, the Anderton Boat Lift was the inspiration for Trevor Batten. This lifting mechanism connects the River Weaver with the Trent and Mersey Canal and appeared on the cover of the March 1949 Meccano Magazine. The prototype would lift one canal boat whilst lowering another to balance the load. We understand that this fascinating piece of history has quite recently reopened after a lengthy closure.


Amongst several tractors on show today were a neat Massey Ferguson and partly completed Muir Hill (4wd) by Terry Wilkes, with inventive use of ‘dog
chew’ tyres.



On a similar theme and almost finished, was a very capable tractor in red & green by Richard Smith, based on a Ferguson TE20. This one sported a motor drive via a working gearbox, differential braking to the rear wheels, steering, power take-off and a powered 3-point lift - all crammed into a very small space.


Neil Bedford had built another little car, again in his own version in blue & gold of a 1930’s Morgan 3-wheeler, scaled from factory drawings and featuring powerful drive to the single rear wheel, spaceframe front chassis, working
suspension and steering, hidden batteries and interior detail – in a model that will fit in your pocket.


Robin Schoolar entertained us all with his latest ping-pong ball machine, aptly titled ‘Peripherating to crossed purposelessness’. This latest version uses four pairs of rotating disks in two different sizes, to grip ping-pong balls an move them faultlessly around the machine. Robin also showed a variety of  pinion differentials which will be described in a future article.



A model which is taking shape very nicely was the 1:36th scale TSR2 tactical jet being built by John Reid. This late 50’s design was designed to replace the Canberra but despite test flights in 1964/65, politics and budgetary constraints conspired to cease progress on this potential Mach 2.5 aircraft. John put out a call for any spare 3” white Meccano parts – can you help?


An interesting slice of history was shown by Geoff Devlin, who showed us his Austro Daimler 4wd ‘Goliath’ M17 artillery tug. Perhaps the slowest vehicle ever designed by Ferdinand Porsche, this monster from the early 1900’s sported a 13.5 litre petrol engine but had a top speed of just 9mph. It was used to tow massive artillery pieces and has been realistically modelled in red and green Meccano, very well capturing the robust look of the original.


George Illingworth brought along a lovely pair of fire engines – neither of which we have seen before. The earliest of these was a 1939 Dennis Light Four, fitted with ‘New World’ coachwork (seen below) which was designed to provide additional safety for crew members as it sped to a fire.




The other was a 1975 Chubb ‘Spearhead’ rapid intervention vehicle which still looks very modern. Both were largely modelled using red and zinc-plated parts and looked very smart indeed.




Roger Marriott showed us a charming little bicycle, with chain drive, saddle bag and handlebars made from shortened cranks. This model was based on one by an unknown pre-war Meccanoman.




A lovely pair of ‘long-nosed’ lorries were shown by John Rogers, one in medium green and one in very nice nickelplated parts. These were scaled from their wheels which were 2” pulleys with tyres and were loosely based on the Bedford 2.5 ton vehicles of the early 1930’s. Both were fitted with working steering and rear tipping bodies.


Mark Rolston is almost there with his JCB back-hoe excavator. A smashing model running on double-rows of plastic tracks and incorporating a total of six small geared motors. This one was very neatly modelled in realistic yellow parts.



A small car ferry was brought by George Sayell, based on a set model and built using red, green and yellow parts. George also showed a spur differential based



John Rogers makes the report for the centre tables where there were a number of very large and very technical models. All of which are so complex that it seems hard to understand them.

John Ozyer-Key explained his Alvis Stalwart model is a work in progress; a rebuild from his own design which he first built in 2003. It is the same size but now has all Meccano controls. The power steering is from a Robin Schoolar idea. It has a 6 speed gear box - 3 x 2, which are linked with a separate lever, a single differential and a winch mechanism. He will eventually publish a Model Plan. The model is very large and is a very impressive sight. John willingly offers a hands-on demonstration and all the movements are very smooth.

Next to John was Richard Payn with the chassis for his Eric Taylor Lorry Mounted Crane. This is another huge and very impressive work in progress project. Richard is introducing refinements to the original plan such as ball race bearings for the hubs.



Terry Allen says that his 16 cylinder Aero Engine was started 30 years ago but was re-built last year. The model has 2 sets of contacts to get to 16 cylinders. Terry started with a flat 4, moved to a vertical 6, then 8 cylinders and now doubled to 16. His Maplin Bench Power Supply shows that 15 volts are needed to start the engine although it normally runs at 20 volts. The device shows a different amps reading for each cylinder indicating the slight differences in the windings and set up of the 16 Meccano Coils. Terry has installed double wipers on the pick-ups of the contacts to achieve full power.

Another very complex model nearby was the Automated Table Tennis Ball Machine by Paul Merrick who explains that the model is developed from the Jack Partridge model featured in CQ March 1997. The table tennis balls are now 2mm larger so some of the design had to be changed for them to fit. He has introduced a microcontroller (computer) to replace the 1997 electrical mechanical system and this enables 2 processes to function at the  same time. There are many fascinating details and I was most impressed with the long Rack Strip which turns the truck to tip out its balls and reverses the tipping of the truck when it returns.

Brian Compton was demonstrating his large and sophisticated Coal Loader / Unloader. Brian has continued to develop the model which was displayed at the October 2011 meeting and described in detail in MMG issue 49, March 2012(and is the subject of a forthcoming MMg model plan). His cargo again proved to be slightly more unruly than the Ping Pong balls
which were in action elsewhere.

Gregg Worwood was also displaying a large model but which, for him, was unusually small - the 1812 First Steam Loco. The model features a large cogwheel drive on one side which engages with cogs cast into the rails. The model is clean and elegant and, just like all Gregg’s other models, runs smoothly and efficiently. In order to be in scale with the Meccano 24 teeth P80 Gear Wheel, he had to slightly reduce his modelling scale from the 1/10th which he normally uses.

And another large model was Tony Horton’s Steelworks 200 ton Overhead Gantry Crane. He explained that he worked at Darlaston for Wellmans which made these huge cranes - there were a total of 11 for the UK. The largest had a capacity of 500 tons and had an overall weight of 1,200 tons. The model has 2 drums which function as the hoists for the molten steel containers.



In contrast to all these large models, Dave Phillips had brought his grandson James, age 12, who is a member. He was displaying some small models he had recently constructed. James explained that they were not easy to build. I had helped my grandchildren with the same models this Christmas and also found that the fastenings had to be really tight to hold the models together. Dave was supporting James with some very recent car models.

Also for children, Sid Beckett was demonstrating his Contra Rotating Fair Ground Ride. I had not spoken to Sid previously and was very interested to hear that he gives Meccano displays from his front garden to children and their parents from two nearby schools. He has been doing this for many years. The contra rotation of the mechanism is quite fast and has an appearance which draws you in.



John Bland displayed a range of recent kits for children, mostly M&S. These all looked neat and John said his favourite was the Harrier aircraft which has an unusual colour scheme.

Brian Edwards displayed his 1965 Bristol 47 seat coach in yellow (above right). To me the model looked very long. But all I see nowadays are suburban style single deckers which need to be shorter to cope with traffic in towns.
This excellent model reminds me of perhaps more elegant travel. George
Illingworth admired the model “the plates are butted and not overlapped.
Perfectly smooth”.


Terry Pettitt presented his latest smaller model based on the 1940 / 1950 Field Marshall Tractor. George Illingworth commented “built to perfection by Terry. This little tractor is packed full of mechanisms. Brilliant model”. Terry used Virtual Mec to support the design of the detailed mechanisms on this small but very heavy model.



Mei Jones displayed his latest Tower Crane which is based on a design from MM January 1959 and 5.9 of the 1966 Manual. The crane is built with  yellow parts. He has changed the bracing to the jib and improved the balance weighting. Mei comments that with its very slender swivels it is quite



John Hornsby displayed his very elegant model of the Midland Railway Hand Operated Crane ( seen left). It is based on a design by Rob Mitchell and features the second Match Truck. George commented that John has “come down to earth on scale” with this model.




Tony Knowles had a model from a Polish Outfit from the 1980’s. George commented “I don’t know where you find them. This one is let down by its wheels which turn it from a model to a toy”. I was amazed to hear from Tony that in Poland over the years there were more than a thousand makers of construction outfits.



Clive Kingston presented his 1931 Handley Page Hannibal aircraft, a model which he had only recently completed. Its long slender body and not particularly long wings are very elegant. George commented “the wheels are about the right size - small tyres on big wheels”.




Peter Hardingham presented a Tipper Lorry which he had based on a rusty and broken model which he had acquired on ebay. His model has a classic straight front and looked very smart in medium red / green. George commented “isn’t this nostalgic”.




Roger Auger was running his Ping Pong Ball Roller which is based on the CQ112 June 2018 plan. Roger runs with 3 balls but these are the current larger size and so the model had to be changed to  get them to fit.




Michael Bent displayed a Break Down Lorry which is modelled from the Number 8 Manual.





Carl Gill was showing his Transporter Bridge which is not yet completed.




Mike Edkins ran his Medieval Turret Clock throughout the meeting. This is a new model to test a Meccano version of the pin wheel verge escapement movement inspired by the 1356 clock of Richard of Wallingford. Mike says this was easy to construct but the pins required accurate positioning. The clock is mounted on a table top stand and is weight driven. A taller stand will allow the clock to run for longer. Mike says that its time keeping is reasonable. He will be adding additional functions.



Tony Homden demonstrated his wonderful Leonardo da Vinci Swing Bridge. It has a graceful arch which is pivoted on an upright post and balanced with a huge counter weight. It is moved by two capstans. The bridge tapers considerably away from its pivot and the ramp leading onto it has a handsome fantail shape. Overall the model displays large curves and other shapes which are very elegant.



Finally after taking a wrong turn on his long journey from Skegness, Alan Scargill arrived very late to the meeting, with an excellent model of a Twin Cylinder Doxford Diesel Engine. 

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