2022 January

Our first meeting in 2022 was held in a new venue (to us) - Frenchay Village Hall - and was a great success. Our most remote attendee was from the tip of Cornwall and another from Truro, so members made a real effort to be there. Not every member brought a model, but were just pleased to be able to chat with other members. Below is a write up of the afternoon. We also had a sale of parts ranging from 'mint' to good, plus boxes of very common and 'well played' bits which were free to anyone who wanted them.

A very short video of some of the 'moving' models can be seen here.

Colin's Forth Bridge is based on Chris Shute's Model shown in CQ June 2005. It is 6ft long and folds into 3 for ease of transport. The instructions for this were all laid out in front of it, and leftover parts were used to make a mini version of HMS Illustrious aircraft carrier designed by George Illingworth.

Other models that he brought were a pair of lorry tractor units and an articulated trailer, which can be built from a No.10 set to MW Model Plan 262. Each tractor sported a two-speed gear box, with the cab of each being interchangeable on the two chassis. He has made some minor changes to the model. The front wheel trim is a wheel flange part 137 and a 2 inch pulley in place of a face plate part 109. He then built a Ballast Box version. The pre-war design of cab has the fully arched front mudguard. It can tow a Semi Trailer utilising a Fore Carriage (using its correct name), but the hauliers of the day called it a Fifth Wheel Dolly. A winch cable and two extra trailer jacks have been added.

The smaller scale Foden Steam Wagon with green barrels was made for another club's Christmas Challenge.

Lastly, our Chairman, Sam, finally managed to present him with the Hanson Trophy for the best model as voted by those members present at the 2021 AGM.

Richard S demonstrated his Crawler Tractor. The refinements he made over the original by Eric Taylor and subsequently Richard Payne proved effective during turning manoeuvres.

The main issue with tracked models is insufficient engagement of the track with the driving wheels, causing them to come off during a turn.  Richard has overcome this by a new track design which has a full half inch of overlap to keep the track engaged.  The drive from the wheel to the track is purely by friction of the tracks' bolt tails depressing into the rubber belt within the wheel flanges. This 'all modular' design can be disassembled in minutes for maintenance.

Neil brought an Aeroplane Constructor model cica 1930. This one is a monoplane, assembled from his stock of random parts, rather than from any specific set. The pilot figure is one which he made himself using Fimo modelling clay, in a mould which he cast from a genuine pilot figure. The parts were extremely worn, so were stripped and resprayed just in time to bring to the meeting.

Something which is not a model, but a device made from Meccano, proved useful during a bit of car maintenance. He had to accurately measure the diameter of a brake disc but did not want to remove the wheel (and potentially the disc itself) from the car. This simple measuring calliper worked perfectly enabling the disc to be measured in situ.

Martin displayed two models. Of his Windmill, he says:

I have built a Windmill based on my own design which is broadly similar to a Dutch Windmill.

The supporting base is two large flanged rings connected by 191 flexible plates for strength.

I have incorporated viewing windows so the  milling apparatus can be observed when the motor is running. This includes quern stones and tray for the milled flour. The sloping roof is hinged to enable easy access to the mechanisms. The sails operate through a modern 12 volt motor which only requires 5 volts to give a realistic speed. I have also included some fan tails for a more interesting effect. There is not a rotating turret or sloping shaft to the sails at the moment, as I have not yet thought through a suitable design.

A ladder gives the Miller access through a hinged door at the back.

This was a fun model to build and I hope to make improvements in the future at the same scale.

My Big Wheel is also based on my own design although I have looked at other Meccano models for inspiration plus photos of the real thing. I have built a strong base with columns in order to hide the motor. The columns are slightly taller than they need to be but this is deliberate. This will allow a larger Wheel to be fitted once I am satisfied with the running of the smaller Wheel. Furthermore, I could also design dive bombers at a later stage and use the full height of the columns.

The motor is slow running but powerful utilising a pinion and spur gear to run the model at a realistic speed at 5 volts. I enjoyed the build and look forward to future upgrades.

The terrific looking steam boat was Chris F's creation. In his words:

This steamboat was inspired by a Marklin model from 1992. I once considered buying the Marklin kit, when during casual browsing I found one on offer for sale in the Netherlands. But the shipping cost was too high!

So recently I decided to make something similar in Meccano. From a quick glance, my version may seem to be very similar to the Marklin one but the fittings are different and the whole thing is about 15% bigger – that’s because the Marklin model is based on a whole load of 8.5” girders for the width. Mine had to be 9.5” wide! All the components of this model are genuine Meccano, save perhaps the narrow angle girders used for handrails which were only made by Exacto in Argentina.

If I understand correctly, Mississippi boats generally had a single rear paddle, rather than twin side paddles, because of the very shallow waters they needed to operate in. The paddle here is driven by a Powerdrive motor. I did consider driving it with a Meccano steam engine but was advised that operating steam engines at indoor events was inadvisable!

Like the Marklin version, this has working derricks for lifting the gangplanks, working winches for the lifeboats and hinged cabin doors. Extras on my ship include droppable anchors and working rudders, controlled from the bridge.

Ten years ago, when I first got back into the hobby, I bought a very large set from eBay. When it arrived I found that all the parts had been repainted, in reasonable quality but the green was totally the wrong colour! I discovered later that it’s actually nearer the Marklin green, so decided to make use of all those 12.5” strips for this model.

Another colour ‘oddity’ is the nuts & bolts. They used to be badly tarnished zinc ones, but I stripped off the zinc then chemically blackened them, along with an equivalent number of M4 washers (so I suppose these are also a non-Meccano part! – but some Meccano washers are so badly dished I don’t like using them on painted surfaces).

Note the use of multiple small black Meccano hooks in the rigging which look just right for the job.

Eric also built a boat, this one from a No. 9 set model plan. He has always been interested in old lightships. This particular model plan did not include features on the deck, so he did some research and improved upon the plan by adding some superstructure. Additional features might also be added if he can find some appropriate pictures of real lightships.

In his own words: The Light vessel 'BAR' is the first vessel that I started to build, found in the 1940 No. 9 set. I suspect this particular vessel was chosen as it was positioned near the entrance of the River Mersey, Liverpool. The model was in blue and gold livery, but as I haven't enough of these colours I went for the red and steel finish parts. As most of the Light Vessels are painted red, this was most appropriate.

Building from these instructions required a good knowledge of basic engineering and a good imagination as reading between the lines there isn't much to go by. Yes, you can search the big wide web for further help and there are a fair number of nice photos but not covering the decking details. And it's surprising how much equipment is mounted on the deck if you want to add that much detail.

The history of lightships can be traced back to the Roman times when fire beacons were placed on ships. The first modern vessel was placed on a sandbank at the mouth of the Thames in 1734.

Light vessels were fully manned in the 1950's by Trinity House. The majority were decommissioned during the 1970's to 1980's and were replaced by Light Floats known as LANBY buoys. The remaining vessels were converted to be unmanned and mainly powered by solar panels.

Nearly all vessels were painted red with large white letters of the vessel's name painted on the hull.

There are now six active and 57 former light vessels around England, nine Scottish and Isle of Mann, and five Welsh.

Further to this completed ship, Eric has started with the bow of a larger one, which is proving more of a challenge with all the double curvature. Some of the winch gear has already been positioned. We will watch this progress with interest.

Lastly from Eric, something which looks like it should be Meccano, but isn't. This is a Dan Dare spaceship made by Bartram's in the 1950's. It appears to be missing the nose cone and some of the other components which can be seen in the picture of an original similar set (not owned by Eric).

Gregg often builds in plastic Meccano of both eras. This time he showed some models assembled as per Meccano plans together with his own improved versions. Many of the original designs are flawed which makes for an inferior model, whereas for the sake of a few extra bits - or different bits - they could be vastly improved. Some models even had a mix of screw head types - square and octagonal keying.

1970's Set 400 Bulldozer with Gregg's improved build pictured behind it.

1990's Construction Bucket model with Gregg's improved version.

Chris B built his pump action railway trolley during lockdown. Power to its electric motor comes via the rails. This of course necessitated the axles to be plastic otherwise it would just short out.

Continue to 2022 January Page 2