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Part 61: Windmill Sail

61Windmill Sail 19131978400n/a
Windmill sails.  Top row: nickel-plated from 1913 to 1919 with tails.
Bottom left, 1919 to 1934 without tail.  Bottom right, 1934-78 painted sails
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The parts

There are three distinctly different styles of the windmill sail.  The first is shown in the top row of the picture to the right, with a tail and twelve cut-out windows in the sail.  There is a single hole in the end of the part, and a curved section next to the hole.  The sail is intended to be be bolted to a bush wheel and the curved section fits snugly against the boss of the bush wheel.

At the bottom left is the second type, introduced in 1919.  It looks like the tail has been removed, but in fact what has happened is that the 'sail' has been extended back towards the tail.  There are still twelve cut-outs, but they are spaced further apart.  As well as the hole at the bottom, six additional holes extend up the spine of the sail.

In 1934 the design changed completely, to a flat plate measuring 4'' x 1½'', and eight holes.  There is no curved section for the boss, and no cut-outs.  Instead, eight panels are painted on the flat part of the sail.  This style continued in various colour combinations until the part was discontinued in 1978.

Chronological variations

More subtle changes can be detected in the earliest versions.  Initially, the cut-outs have sharp corners, and measure approximately 3/8''x9/32'', with 1/8'' of metal between each cutout.  In the top-right example, the cut-outs have rounded corners, but are the same size. 

The chronology is assisted by Love & Gamble's reference to the original drawings, on p.99 of Volume 6.  The first example is shown flat, followed by the 'dimpled' version in 1914.  Later come the versions embossed with MECCANO (fourth one along on the top row), with and without rounded holes.  The flat version with rounded holes (top right) is assumed to be later, as no early ones are shown with rounded holes.

The extended sail (without the tail, bottom left) is given as being first drawn in April 1919, and is found in nickel, pea-red, and dark red.  In these examples the cut-outs are thinner, with more space between each one.  The cut-outs are 3/8''x1/4'', with 5/32'' between the two rows and 7/32'' between each pair of cut-outs.

From 1934, the sails are a single flat plate without holes, painted in the base colour and then overpainted with contrasting panels.  During the blue/gold era these are dark blue with yellow panels (not gold).  Post-war, the sails change to medium green with a slightly lighter panel.  The panel lightens substantially in the early 50's, then lightens again with the change to light green in 1958.  In 1964 the sail changes to yellow on black.

The painted sails are plain on the reverse side (in the background colour), although the last version is known with both a plain black reverse and with yellow panels painted on both sides.

In my experience, the 'no-tail' versions are by far the most common, being made between 1919 and 1934.  Of the earlier ones with the tail, the most common is the one with six dimples.  Examples from post-1934 are surprisingly rare, as they were only supplied as spare parts and not required for any of the standard models.  The best use for these painted parts has been as rows of windows on the sides of ships, buses and so on.

The earliest photo of the windmill sail, you can't see through them!
Loading picture Windmillsailfake

Variations and oddities

DMS and EMP both make reference to a very early version with three rows of cut-outs.  Volume 6, however, points out that these are only shown in the diagram for a model in the 1913 instruction manual (see right), and they are assumed to be prototype or cardboard mock-ups of the actual part made for the illustration. 

What Volume 6 doesn't mention is that if you look at the picture, the sails don't have cut-outs at all – you can't see the parts behind!  This makes it fairly obvious that the parts are mock-ups made for the manual.

Misregistration on the painted panels of part 61
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George Illingworth
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DMS/EMP does, however, reference factory mistakes such as windmill sails painted black on both sides, and painted black on one side with an unpainted reverse.  The photo to the left shows an example of misregistration of the painted panels on a post-war green windmill sail.

Dealer spare parts boxes

Very early nickel-plated sails
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John Bader
Loading picture Windmillsailsparepartsnickel

Many collectors like Meccano parts in their original spare parts packaging, but there are very few who have something as rare as those pictured to the right.  These are nickel-plated windmill sails, of the flat rounded-hole type (part 61.ni3 as shown in the table below), dating from between 1919 and 1926, still in their original translucent paper wrapping.  Note particularly the diamond-shaped Meccano label, which was to be replaced by a scalloped oval label, then reappear in 1945.

Post-war medium green painted sails
Loading picture Windmillsailspareparts

The picture to the right shows a post-war brown paper pack of windmill sails, probably dating from around 1950 in medium green with the slightly lighter green painted panels (part 61.mg shown below).

Later versions are shown below in the more common yellow card boxes, which initially were pictured incorrectly as having seven panels and a tail (see top box in the photo below), later corrected to the actual rectangular form.  The "LF" sticker on the middle box indicates lead-free paint, a new regulation in the mid-1950's.

Post-war medium green and light green painted sails
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Please do not download or copy it for any purpose. It has been
kindly provided for use on this site by the image owner,
William Irwin
Loading picture Windmillsailspareparts2

Individual part numbers

Part 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).

More about bosses More about stampings More about paint colours
Nickel plated, flat, sharp cornered holes13.ni
Nickel plated, six dimples, sharp cornered holes14.ni1
Blackened steel, six dimples, sharp cornered holes16?.bs
Blackened steel, embossed MECCANO, sharp cornered holes16?.bs1
Nickel plated, embossed MECCANO, sharp cornered holes??.ni2
Nickel plated, embossed MECCANO, rounded holes??.ni2a
Nickel plated, flat, rounded holes??.ni3
Nickel plated, flat, no tail, rounded holes19.ni4
Early pea-red, flat, no tail, rounded holes26.re
Dark red, flat, no tail, rounded holes27.dr
Blue, flat, no tail, rounded holes30s.nb
Painted dark blue with yellow panels34.bg
Painted medium green with light green panels45.mg
Painted medium green with lighter green panels??.mg1
Painted light green with lighter green panels58.lg
Painted black with yellow panels64.bk
Painted black with yellow panels both sides64.bk1
Painted dark(ish) blue with yellow panels ¹79.db

Note:  ¹ This part is not quite as dark blue as the normal dark blue of this period.  It is quite likely a one-off or experimental part – originally belonging to Bert Love.

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!

Further information

Andy Knox      (at 11:31am, Mon 30th May, 11)

How many milliwatts?

rohit agarwal      (at 11:07am, Mon 30th May, 11)

dear sir i want to install wind plant in india.

Peter Hall      (at 12:40pm, Tue 15th Mar, 11)

I have examples of the early dimpled windmill sail painted red and dark green. The dark green ones come from two different sources. Were they issued like this or have they been hand painted?

George Illingworth      (at 11:11pm, Sat 20th Oct, 07)


I have photos of LG and also a badly printed one which I will send


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