SWMC Public Exhibition - April 23rd 2016 - Neil Bedford
Our annual public exhibition was another great success, with a most enjoyable day being had by members and visitors alike. It was good to see so many family and friends coming along and overall the club managed to make a small profit, which is always welcome. Despite the absence of a few key members (most notably our President, Malcolm Hanson, who was recovering from a Hospital visit) we once again had a great display of models which ably demonstrated the endless range of possibilities offered by the Meccano system.
Our Webmaster Philip Drew brought along a helicopter which is under construction. Once complete this model will be able to take off, circle and land at the end of a long arm, balanced by a counter-weight at the other end.
Your Scribe brought along a Hannover Biplane from the First World War and also a small, radio-controlled ‘Camel trophy’ Land-Rover and a crane lorry from a modern Evolution set.
Martin Arnold brought along three very neatly constructed models from Meccano manuals. First off was his American Car (a particular favourite of mine) in red and green , also a large windmill which ran faultlessly all day and finally a Set Ten tractor unit, which were both built in YBZ parts. Martin has been experimenting with modern electric motors in place of his usual E15R and E20R units and I suspect that he may have seen the light!
Sam Medworth showed two fairground rides, one of which was driven by a Meccano steam engine running on compressed air. I don’t think that we have yet seen a steam engine at the SWMC running in full ‘steam-powered’ mode and whilst this might not be ideal for a public event, it would be great to see one at a closed meeting (if we can persuade Michael Edwards to look the other way).
Ralph Clark showed us a simple but effective beam engine which visitors could operate with a hand crank.
On a somewhat larger scale, Steve Briancourt had his impressive model of the USS Missouri, still a work in progress but at nine feet long and packed with clever mechanisms this was a very impressive sight. Others must have shared this opinion as Steve won the Ben Johnson Trophy for the best model in show – well done Steve!
Andrew Jefferis demonstrated a ping-ball machine, a ‘Swinging Chair’ fairground ride, a sewing machine and a very nice paddle steamer from the pages of Meccano Magazine, largely modelled in red and zinc which is a colour combination which works very well.
Our Treasurer, Pete Evans, showed a wide range of models including two beautifully captured MG cars – a 1933 MG L Salonette and a 1931 MG C racer. Recently Pete has been busy building models from the early blue and gold era and these included an acrobat, an autogyro, a set of balance scales, a racing car, a carousel and the Bluebird record breaking car. Then there was a lovely tipper lorry in Nickel parts and a motorised beam engine (similar to Ralph’s) in red and green. Pete finished this great display with some Aeroplane Constructor kits and Motor Car Constructor kits, boxed and strung, as well as some assembled examples – sadly you don’t see toys like these any more!
Club Secretary Richard Smith showed his prize-winning model of his grandson Jamie (in anatomically correct skeletal form) riding his tricycle. I have said it before but this truly is a wonderful piece of work and is apparently the finest model that my wife has ever seen (thanks Grace…). Richard also brought along a full-scale 12 string guitar – is it a model of a guitar or is it simply a guitar? Either way it is spot-on and we have been promised a tune once it is complete.
David Worth and Philip Bond were very welcome visitors from our off-shoot branch which has become known as ‘The Far South west Meccano Club’ due to it being based in Devon. David brought along a couple of differential mechanisms and some model road vehicles from modern sets whilst Philip showed us a lovely car and caravan of 1930’s vintage. The caravan was Philip’s own design and was a cracking piece of work, perfectly matched to the open-topped car.
Rob Curling was accompanied by his wife Angie and showed us his large Cape Town crane in YBZ parts. This was modified slightly from the plans and worked perfectly. As Rob was dismantling ready for the journey home he showed us the turntable within this crane, which he had designed himself and is a very sturdy job
Hugh Barr had his extremely impressive Hammerhead crane (based on Set 10 Leaflet 7) in restored red and green parts. Hammerheads and Blocksetters make tremendous exhibition pieces as they really do capture the spirit of Meccano.
Chris Bates brought along a range of items including a clever variable speed drive (such as was used on the Daf Variomatic), a novel plate-straightening machine and a large ball race built from standard parts.
Finally was David Northcott who brought along his charming Model T Ford in red and green parts with contrasting seats from blue and gold plates. This model included a fascinating gearbox, modelled closely on the original which was marketed before the modern layout of the three foot pedals became standard in motor cars.
As usual at our public exhibition we also held a Scrapheap Challenge. This year’s challenge was set by Sam Medworth and required us to build a propeller powered vehicle running on no more than 6 volts. My first attempt at building something would just barely move along and it was only through perseverance and experimentation that I eventually arrived at something (fairly) competitive. There was a lot more to this challenge than met the eye, leading to some ingenious designs and it proved to be a popular event with the audience. The winner was Philip Drew, with Sam in second place.
We also welcomed another new member, David Prout, who brought along an entry for the Scrapheap Challenge which was extremely fast but not especially straight-running. I am sure that David will be warmly welcomed at future events and if he looks a little weather-worn then it is because for several years, he was my boss at the MoD – we all have our cross to bear.
Special thanks to all who helped on the day and in particular to the kind ladies who kept us so well fed and watered throughout.