Genuine or not – Neil Bedford

Is that a genuine part?

I have been making models with Meccano since I was a very young lad and the use of non-standard parts has always been hotly debated. This is one of very few things that really divide Meccanomen and I am delighted to say that most points of view are represented within the membership of the SWMC.

At one end of the scale are those Meccanomen who will only use English Meccano parts from the Binns Road factory and at the other end of the scale are those who have made a great many of their parts in the shed from whatever scraps of metal (or wood or plastic) happened to be available and then painted it with whatever old paint was hanging around in the bottom of a tin. Most of us sit somewhere in the middle.

Here are a few thoughts of my own:-

• If you go down the purist route then where do you stop? - A home-made six hole by eight hole flat plate may be completely taboo for you but what about a perfect reproduction of a brass collar - you could use one of those without even knowing it. What about a genuine part that has been recently repainted in the original colour? What about a modern motor or an electrical switch or non-Meccano cord? If you really want your model to be 100% original then you need to be squeaky-clean and that is a hard road to tread - and tougher as a model gets larger.

• Good quality, original Meccano parts are increasingly hard to find and increasingly expensive. As a result, a builder might be faced with the option of using quite scruffy parts or restoring those parts to look like new. Which would you rather see - original and scruffy or non-original and shiny? Again - both have a place and we won't all agree.

• Personally, I think that some of the nicest looking Meccano belongs to one of our members, Mark Bridle. Mark has had his collection powder-coated and the red and green colours are just so fresh and vibrant that they leap out at you. Doubtless though, the purist would not approve of such an approach.

• If we all used genuine Meccano motors then many, many large models would simply not have been built at all - and imagine the racket at Henley if every other model ran an E15R motor!

• What about oversize tyres and heavy duty axles and modern transformers and LED lights and M4 nuts and bolts?

• I try to use genuine parts if possible but if a part is especially scruffy then I will re-spray it (but try to stick close to original colours). Similarly, if adding just a few 'specials' really adds significantly to my model then I will not lose any sleep over it.

• The model which has brought me most acclaim is my Routemaster Bus - almost every red part is resprayed, the tyres are not Meccano at all, much of the brass is of dubious origin, the windows are cut from perspex and the motor is about as Liverpudlian as I am - but it must have made people happy.

In conclusion, I think that if you are building models which bring happiness to you and to other people, then you have probably got it about right - keep as original as you can, but it's your Meccano so do it your way and graciously let other people do it their way. Enjoy watching the different approaches - but please, just don't show up at the SWMC with any Lego!