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Part 120/120a: Buffers
On the right are examples of the standard Buffer (part 120) and the slightly later Spring Buffer (part 120a). The Buffer was included in the Inventor's Accessory Outfit B (1920-1923), but not in any other outfits. The Spring Buffer was included in outfit 7 from 1925 (containing four, and then six from 1930), and the later outfit L, but was dropped in the new numeric outfit 10 from 1937. Both parts appear in the November 1941 parts list, but not after that.
In attempting to date these, I note the following issues:
- The "New Meccano Parts" illustration in the March/April 1920 Meccano Magazine clearly shows the thinner variety of the large buffer, which is likely to be the first one chronologically.
- The illustration of the Inventor's Accessory Outfit B in the 1922 manual clearly shows the larger type, and if I were to hazard a guess I'd suggest it was the thinner bodied type, although that's not certain.
- The buffers were never supplied in any outfits, and so the most common source of these is likely to be the Inventor's Accessory Outfit B, which was discontinued just after 1922. This would agree with the thinner bodied earliest types being the most common.
- The excellent Inventor's Accessory Outfit B shown here is a very late one, from around 1922 or 1923, and contains two of each type of the larger buffers. These could of course have been substituted later, but the rest of the outfit is remarkably original. It might possibly be that this was the approximate transition period.
- The Meccano Trade Leaflet of September 1931 (pp 376-377 of Volume 6) introduces the Buffers as spare parts in boxes of a dozen. This matches the spare parts pack shown below, which has a picture of the smaller type on it. This suggests that the smaller types are rarer and later. The last price list to include parts 120 and 120a is 1941.
There don't appear to be any variations in the Spring Buffer, part 120a, during its UK production from between 1922 and 1941.
Variations and oddities
There are other variations on this part, but they are believed to belong to other systems rather than Meccano. Until we get more pictures and information, we can't be certain.
Dealer spare parts boxes
Individual part numbersPart numbers for the parts on this page are as follows: Unique part numbers
For identification, each variation has been given a suffix to the main Meccano part number. These suffixes consist of a two-character code for the colour, and if there are many variations, a further number and sometimes letter code to identify each variation. See the bottom of the 'Parts' page for further details.
You don't need to worry what the codes are, just click on any one for a photograph.
The button above turns on and off the display of DMS numbers (where they are known). The DMS (Development of the Meccano System, Hauton and Hindemarsh) published in 1972 and added to in 75 and 82, suggested part numbers for every variation of every Meccano part. These numbers aren't perfect, but they are recognised and also referenced in the EMP (Encyclopedia of Meccano Parts, Don Blakeborough).
|Solid brass, 3/8'' diameter head, thinner body||19||.br|
|Solid brass, 3/8'' diameter head, thicker body||??||.br1|
|Solid brass, 5/16'' diameter head||??||.br2|
|Brass body with nickel plated head, nut, and spring||22||.xx|
Please send us pictures of missing parts! Hints and tips for pictures
Take a picture of the part in very good light, preferably on a plain yellow background, without a flash but with a tripod.
Ideally, trim the picture to about 150 pixels per inch of the Meccano part (unless the part is particularly big or small), save it as a reasonably good quality jpg file with a filename of exactly the part number, for example 19b.ni1.jpg, and email it to us by clicking on 'Contact us' at the top of the page. Thanks!
- A greyed-out box shows that no part exists for that colour combination.
- Part number codes with a green background have an attached picture of the part, just click once on the code to show a photograph of that part in a separate window.
- Parts marked "" were temporary or economy parts, or existed only within specific themed outfits. The previous part continued throughout or afterwards.
Chris Taylor (at 8:14pm, Mon 27th Jul, 20)
Can anyone point me in the right direction for an accurate drawing of part 120?
Keith Burston (at 1:47pm, Sat 27th Mar, 10)
I notice this page is shown for 120 120a, b and c on the main "pick a part". Did something happen to the springs (b and c), or is there a subtly I missed?
T Gant (at 3:28pm, Sun 6th Sep, 09)
I had always understood the smaller version of the buffer came from the Hornby train system, wherein for a time they sold an engine and possibly some of the rolling stock in component form. This may help date and sequence the part. Also, the finish on the one you show looks overly bright - perhaps having been polished up? I'm sure Clive or Jeff know the answer to this one!
Douglas Carson (at 3:52pm, Thu 16th Apr, 09)
A small typo in the first sentence in the Chronological variations section: these are standard buffers, not spring buffers.