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Spanner 2010 week 2
Selected Spanner messages 11th to 17th January
Meccano Mania in California
In the attached photo in the foreground on the green platforms is Dizzy Rider, a Bernard Perrier design. Little Joe and Tricky Track occupies the center of the photo, and in the background is a Merry-Go-Round (carousel) built from Gilbert Erector parts. The green tower just to the left and beyond the carousel is Rider in the Sky, another Bernard Perrier design. In the upper left corner of the photo is a large Ferris Wheel built mostly from Gilbert Erector parts of late 1920s vintage. In the upper right corner of the photo, on the fireplace mantle, the red fire truck is another Erector model.
The museum is in an old (1906) Craftsman style house which has been declared an historic structure by the City of Palo Alto, which also owns it and leases it to the museum for $1 a year. The Meccano Mania exhibit has been open since Nov. 20 and will run through March 28.
The Meccano Mania exhibit is getting 500-1,000 visitors each Saturday and Sunday and 200-400 each Friday. There are four operating models which the visitors can start by pressing a button. These models operate for two minutes and then shut off automatically unless the button is pressed again. We try to have two volunteers monitoring the models (especially Little Joe, which tries to escape from time to time!), plus a third volunteer working the crowd. Last Sunday several visitors stayed at the museum all day, watching all the toys and talking to the volunteers.
I'm told the visitor count at the LEGO exhibit next door is a bit less. Nevertheless that is worth seeing also, even if you don't like the "unmentionable plastic stuff". They have four trains running, a large rail yard and many very attractive structures that depict San Francisco landmarks. The LEGO clubs seem to be well organized and they have a lot of volunteer support. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of models put together by many builders of all ages.
The museum has not lost its mandate to educate. Visitors can read about the history of Gilbert Erector, Meccano and Metalcraft in the USA. In addition there is written material on the history of the San Francisco cable cars, Ferris Wheels, riverboats and other things. There are detailed materials that explain how cable cars run, and how a steam engine works.
These are real cable cars, pulled by a cable made from #20 stranded black electronic hookup wire. So far the only maintenance required has been to clean the track rails and cut a couple of inches off the cable to compensate for a bit of stretching. The model gets a real workout. Power is from a single Ignis/Exacto geared motor running on 12 volts DC at less than 0.1 amp. The two cars are of equal weight (about 7.0 lbs. or 3.2 kg. each), so all the motor has to do is overcome friction.
The model is made up of two inclined roadway sections, each on a wooden base measuring 20" wide and 60" long. These sections are made to exactly fit side by side for transport in my sport-utility truck. When placed end to end and connected with a link piece, I have a double-track inclined railway 10 feet in length and about 16.5" wide, which is intended to represent a section of the street. Each of the two cable cars are 30" long and are 1/20 full size.
I wanted a BLUE roadway to represent the asphalt in the street, not a red one or a yellow one, and I don't have a proper paint facility. My Gilbert Erector parts collection came to the rescue! The large blue plates you see in the photo are Erector part "MN" which are 3.0" wide x 12.5" long plates flanged on one long side only. The model has 40 of these blue plates and it took me 6 months on Ebay to find them. During the construction of the inclined roadway structure I ran out of Meccano 5.5" perforated strips and certain angle girders, so I substituted Erector parts. In this photo you can see where I used Erector narrow perforated strips part "I" which are 5.5" long. Erector angle girders are 7, 13 or 25 holes long and the inclined roadway structure has dozens of them, along with regular Meccano parts. (Most Erector angle girders have slotted holes on both surfaces.)
If any of you want to build this thing, Meccano part 236 (sometimes referred to as the box lid) is 13.5" long and 4.5" wide and is perfect for the center of the roadway. You'll need quite a few of these and you could probably talk Ashok Banerjee into making them for you in the right color. Or you could do it "your way" like Mike Dennis if you have the skills and the tools. Since the cable cars are 1.5 feet long you need about 10 feet of roadway to make the model look to be in good proportion and give the cable cars reasonable operating space.
More will be coming about the mechanisms and what makes the cars stop automatically at the end.
Tyres for Boiler Ends
Does a tire exist that will fit snugly on a 162a boiler end?
Tyres from the 'Action Man' range of vehicles are a good fit on 162a.
............... the 'Action Man' tyres we use were fitted to early a/m military toys. They are 'models' of the usual centre nave military style wheel and on the early a/m toys are in soft-ish plastic and 'complete' in profile and section. They fit on ¼" - 6mm spindles and are retained by the usual toy press-on lockwashers. They are about 4.1/4" O.D. and 1.1/8" max width.
The problem now is getting hold of them! John McDonald and Pete Pyefinch mop them up by the dozen - Pete's latest trailer uses 48 - and once when I took 30 to Oxton they were sold off the table before I could even erect my Tire Store! In those days I could get them for 50 p apiece but since then a/m collecting has taken off and the price has gone up! The net result is that at junk fairs I go around with my eyes glued to the ground and the areas under tables where remains of old a/m vehicle live! Later a/m vehicles have the hard open back 'shell' style of wheel like the plastic Meccano 4 ¼" roadwheels and are no use to man or beast - so not only do
you go around looking for these old toys but when you find one the first thing you do is 'pinch' the tyre to find what type it is! By this time, the seller wonders what sort of bert is messing his valuable stock about!
And, just in case someone asks, Palitoy, the Action Man makers, were once owned by the same group as Meccano so we regard the tyres as at least ½ kosher!
(and don't forget the WRI manufactured rubber tyres, designed to fit the boiler end specifically. Not made any more, of course, but there are a tolerable number around and they can be found at a price -- Ed)
Mutilating steering wheels
I'm working on a new project but I've hit a snag - I need a large steering wheel with 3 spokes. by large I mean 3" diameter. I'd rather not build it with narrow strips or similar, but would prefer to use a bent axle rod in 3 segments.
So here is where I need help - I don't have access to a workshop, so could I possibly commission one of the wonderful mutilators/fabricators on the list to make it for me?
As I said, the design is simple, 3" diameter circle, cut into 3 120 degree sections that I can then reassemble with couplings to link to a central column using a 3-way rod connector.
Anyone willing to help?
Have you considered removing spokes from the Meccano spoked wheel? (part 19a George)
I believe this was the way Eric Taylor did it for his Giant Lorry Mounted Crane. That would give you a 3" steering wheel.
The large Meccano steering wheel is about 2.5" dia. Is that not close enough? On a model, this type of difference in scale will go unnoticed. It has 3 spokes and can be obtained from any serious Meccano dealer.
You could still wrap the circumference to make ist slightly higher in dia if absolutely required.
I have redesigned the 'clock' part. Indeed, the dials are only meant to amplify and demonstrate the final shaft motions, as they revolve much faster than actual time keeping. So the ratio between my 'clock' hands is only one to four, and can be altered at will by a simple change of gears on shafts 1" apart. And the 'clock' face is divided into only eight segments.
I took the opportunity to use a long dormant E20R and a T20 transformer,and I enjoyed the resultant hum and smell!.
Yet another fire engine
This recent weather has enabled more time that usual to be devoted to Meccano with a clear conscience. As a result slightly earlier than originally expected here are the first rough shots of Fire Engine No 22. This is a Carmichael Cobra 2 Airfield Crash Tender from 2007. Still at the constant scale of 1/12 this is likely to be the largest model (unless I start on the USA!) at 35 inches long and 9 in wide. The roof (which of course you cannot see in these two photos) is made from 2 Flanged Box Lids part No 236 bolted side by side.
No 23 is already on the stocks.
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