2016 January

Meeting at Philip Drew’s 30th January 2016

As usual, our January gathering was held at the home of Philip and Jane Drew in Henleaze, Bristol. This year however, was our first attempt at a Saturday meeting at a members home and it was very successful. There are a number of new ideas which the Committee are trying out – some will work better than others but this one was certainly a winner, with fine weather, a very good turnout and warm hospitality as always from Philip and Jane.

Our Treasurer, Pete Evans, brought along a beautifully detailed MG EX120 racing car. The prototype only had a 750cc engine but this was so well tuned that the car could top 100mph. Pete is an MG enthusiast who once owned such a car and his intimate knowledge was clearly demonstrated in the clever platework, real leather seats (!) and the details of the engine, accurately reproduced in MG Blue. This is one of those models with which you notice something else each time you return to look at it.

Our Chairman, Neil Bedford, brought along too small models – a mobile crane built from the modern ‘Evolution’ range with many working features and just the start of a small ‘Camel Trophy’ Landrover which will feature a powerful drive, simple suspension and two-channel radio control.

Our President, Malcolm Hanson, showed his fine model of the Jodrell Bank radio telescope in 1970s Yellow and zinc Meccano. Since its last outing Malcolm has built a Meccano base which gives the rigidity required to ensure that contact is maintained between the many flanged wheels and the circular track. This large model worked very well indeed and featured (albeit too briefly) on a recent television documentary about its creator, Sir Bernard Lovell.

Mark Bridle knows digging machines inside out and he is currently building a version of a Bucyrus Erie mechanical shovel. This model will feature a special front end, the prototype of which could be attached to a range of plant and which effectively doubled their digging capacity. This model (‘The Doubler’) is still a work in progress but Mark has captured each mechanism really well, getting each element working to his full satisfaction before moving on to the next. Everything works smoothly and quietly with a variety of remotely operated motors. The model runs on caterpillar tracks which are built up using flat girders and hundreds of small brackets and which are driven by one-off plastic drive sprockets which were produced on a pal’s computerised milling machine.

Our Secretary, Richard Smith, brought along a very unusual creation in the making – a full size twelve string guitar. Richard’s son is a talented guitarist and is acting as technical consultant on this one. The model guitar will have all the features of the original and Richard is fairly confident that his son should be able to get a recognisable tune out of it once it is completed. The guitar will form part of a larger model but (like a real guitar) Richard is playing this close to his chest!

There was something of a ‘Fairground Rides’ theme today. Firstly was John Day who is building a ‘High Flyers’ ride using a vintage Meccano 20 volt reversing motor. This model is built to a Tony Parmee plan and will carry 6 seat units which will be forced outwards as the model spins increasingly quickly. It was great to see (and hear!) an original 20 volt motor being used and a clever variable speed mechanism is hidden within the base so that the ride gradually accelerates and then decelerates. John also brought his completed JCB Teletruk (perhaps best described as a rugged forklift with the forks mounted on a telescopic boom), built to a plan by Tony James and powered by a single Meccano 6-speed motor through a clever gearbox. John even went out of his way to demonstrate how these motors run far better on DC current than AC J. This model is an excellent example of what can be achieved with a Set Ten and worked extremely well with a range of accurately reproduced and smooth running movements. For those who are new to the hobby, Tony James has produced a range of special model leaflets, most of which use a standard Set Ten. Many of these designs are physically smaller than the original Set ten models were but because of this they are able to pack in far more details and often tend to be more pleasing as a result. These plans are available from a number of sources and are well worth a look.

Our Webmaster Philip Drew hosted the meeting and showed his latest progress with his experiments to control a number of motors simultaneously using ‘Raspberry Pi’ computer components. In essence, these would allow a model with multiple motors to run through any series of movements all by itself, following a relatively simple piece of programming code. Various codes could be written so that a model can perform a range of different routines or the same programme can be repeatedly looped – ideal for an exhibition as you can walk away from your model and leave it working. This kind of arrangement is likely to be seen more and more on Meccano models over the next few years and is the kind of thing which (whilst unfamiliar now) will help to keep our great hobby alive for many years to come and will hopefully attract a whole new following of computer-savvy youngsters who take to this kind of wizardry quite naturally.

Sam Medworth is recently retired (Congratulations!) and hopes to have a little more modelling time available. Today he brought along a modern Fairground set from M&S which builds a carousel model (amongst others) and a couple of smaller modern sets.

Rob Curling is building a model of a 6 ton mobile crane in yellow and zinc from another Tony James plan. Rob has obtained some images of the real thing and hopes that by deviating a little from the standard contents of a Set Ten, he can improve on the accuracy of the original design. This was a very well presented model, as we have quickly come to expect from Rob and might end up being remotely controlled.

Our resident Steam expert is Ralph Clark and he brought along a charming little beam engine following a design by Meccano legend, the late Bert Love. This small model kept things simple with a Magic Motor drive but yet it replicated all of the main movements of the real thing and made us all smile.

Chris Bates showed us a neat 7 ½” roller bearing which he has built up and a pair of hand-cranked models in Red and Green – a windmill and a ‘Flying Chairs’ fairground ride. Both looked simple on the face of it but the windmill in particular had been built from the most basic of instructions and required the builder to use a lot of imagination – no bad thing perhaps, for the young (or not quite so young) engineer. Chris also displayed a charming 1890’s veteran car driven by a modern electric motor, to a design by Don Redmond.

Andrew Jefferis demonstrated a heavy duty strip rolling machine which allows a smooth radius to be imposed repeatedly onto perforated strips. Similarly it will straighten these strips afterwards, ready for the next creation. Devices such as this, to roll strips and plates, are a real asset to our model making – try one and you will never again be able to live without it! Andrew also had an impressive ship model, the 1937 Set Ten ‘Giant Liner’ which had very pleasing lines.

Steve Briancourt brought along another large ship model, his impressive rendering of the USS Missouri. This 9ft build is a labour of love and Steve is painstaking in his approach. All three turrets are now in place but only one is fully operating at present, with aluminium gun barrels which Steve has spun-up himself on his lathe. Steve also has the rudders, propellers and anchors now close to completion and we can get a real impression of the size of this model which is just packed with clever and innovative design features.

A very lively auction took place throughout the meeting, selling a Meccano collection on behalf of somebody who has contacted the club. Somebody else had asked us to auction a Set Ten in red and green. This was in very good condition overall and was in a very well made cabinet. I am pleased to say that this set was sold later in the day.
More photos of the meeting can be found at http://www.nzmeccano.com/image-98399