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Midlands Meccano Guild
(Author: Neil Bedford and Richard Smith)
Midlands Meccano Guild
110th Meeting - 26th March 2022
by Neil Bedford and Richard Smith
(Photographs by Bob Thompson, Mick Burgess & Richard Payn)
A very ambitious model was shown by Paul Merrick
- his rendition of Guiseppe Servetti’s famous (1971) Trolley Factory. The concept is a great one - a simple (plastic meccano) trolley is assembled as it passes through the ‘factory’, before running down a chute and then being dismantled so that the process can begin again. At any one time, there will be three of these trollies either in component form, being assembled, completed or being dismantled. I recall seeing this model, at the Henley exhbition (when this was still held in the Town Hall) as a young lad in the early seventies. My research shows that Sig. Servetti and his family visited the UK in 1973 and so it may well have been his original version which I can remember. That I recall it so clearly, almost 50 years later, is testament to this model, which is well-known for offering a very stiff set of challenges to anybody brave enough to take it on. Paul has added numerous modifications including a more rigid structure to avoid any flexing, a microcontroller to man-age the six motors (which must operate perfectly in time with each other) and a range of minor improvements to keep things running smoothly. Paul can boast a longest non-stop run of around 30 minutes and is gradually improving on this.
Roger Auger is not too far off completing his large scale GWR Iron Duke class 4-2-2 broad-gauge (7’ ¼”) steam locomotive. The original was built in 1847 and was considered extremely fast at the time, nudging 80mph when flat-out. The model is constructed in red, green and zinc parts, with large driving wheels and internal valve gear. This one is based on Model Plan 133 but includes a fair few tweaks from Roger to get it working so smoothly.
impressed us all with his freelance wheel-loader, 'The Green Meanie'. We have watched this fine model gradually taking shape over many meetings and Robin is surely now on the home stretch. This model is excellent mechanically, but also electrically - with some very clever features which all work in close harmony (most of the time anyway!). With 9 motors, 4 differentials, Gleasman steering on both axles, various automated lights and 5-channel radio control, there is certainly plenty going on. Add to this a host of fine detail and clever use of parts and the result is a cracking model.
Featured in the latest edition of CQ, Terry Allen
brought along his 16 cylinder radial aero engine. Each of the 16 'cylinders' is represented by a Meccano solenoid unit, each firing at just the right moment thanks to a clever distributor system mounted on the rear of the engine. As we would expect from Terry, this complex engine was very cleanly presented and ran absolutely beautifully.
Trevor Batten was one of many members who had gone for a 'Fairground' theme, including a hand-cranked Ferris Wheel, a hand-cranked roundabout with spinning chairs, and two very robust-looking fairground lorries. All of these models were built in a colourful range of parts and made for a great display.
An intriguing mechanism was shown by Matt Goodman
. You may be familiar with the 'Arduino' digital controller (essentially a small computer which can be programmed to run one or more motors, solenoids etc) - well, Matt has decided that you don't need all this modern electronic wizardry, and can perform the same job mechanically, using mostly standard Meccano parts. Hence we have the 'Meccuino' control unit - and I must admit to being very im-pressed. The first use of this latest Goodman invention, will be within a Meccano rendition of a sketch by the radical 1930's cartoonist and artist Heath Robinson, of a slightly wacky pithead mechanism, which Matt has also started to construct.
brought along three models with an ‘optical’ theme. First was a demonstration of something called ‘The Moiré Effect’, which is produced using two overlaid patterns. This reminded me of a childhood kaleidoscope, or perhaps an hypnotic effect from a 50’s sci-fi movie. Next came a ‘kinetic sculpture’ - around 3 feet high and fea-turing contra-rotating components, one inside another. Alan’s final offering was my favourite and is not an easy one to describe. A small picture, the bulk of which consists of 15 small circles, each attached to a multi-purpose gear-wheel. At the touch of a button, all 15 circles slowly rotate until they eventually return to their starting places, with the picture once more complete and spelling out the word ‘Meccano’.
Another small collection of models was shown by John Bland
. This started with a charming battery-powered model of a Norfolk Broads windmill, in R&G parts. Next was a stationary engine and a trio of motorcycles, two of which John had designed himself very effectively. Finally was a small model of a ‘Council-Type’ sit-on grass cutter, neatly modelled in YBZ parts and with several working features. This neat model included a very innovative steering mechanism which I have shamelessly added to my memory bank!
Brian Edwards impressive model was of a 1915 AEC goods lorry, built in R&G parts and powered by a 60 rpm motor from Radio Spares. This model was very well proportioned and sported built-up spoked wheels. Brian had a second, equally well designed road vehicle in the distinctive form of a Messerschmitt KR200. These three-wheelers were quite popular in the late 50’s / early 60’s and could manage almost 60mph - which must have been terrifying. The model featured a hinged canopy, rear suspension and tiller steering, as per the original.
Sid Beckett did not have a model this time, but explained a set of 5 postcards, which were issued by the Post Office and featured a range of classic toys. The 1st Class stamp was a Meccano Constructor Biplane, the European stamp was a Wells-Brimtoy bus, the 47p stamp showed the Dinky Toys Ford Zephyr, the 42p stamp a 1948 Hornby loco and the 68p stamp showed a Mettoy space ship. Sid was once a keen stamp collector and his knowledge of the sub-ject is excellent.
By chance, there were a great many ‘Fair Ground’ models at this meeting and the next one was displayed by Greg Worwood. His ‘Gallopers’ ride has had a second (inner) ring of horses added since we last saw it and ran faultlessly all day. Typical of Greg’s models, this one was constructed in a range of colours and was very eye-catching.
Also on the Fairground theme was Pete Evans who has built an excellent rendition of some American ‘Herschell’ Gallopers. This set was built using red, green and yellow parts to give a typical ‘funfair’ look. Like Greg’s similar ride, Pete’s ran very well all day.
Another member who must welcome a challenge is Chris Bates
, who is well into his version of John Ozyer-Key’s Alvis Stalwart amphibious Army vehicle. This rugged ‘go-anywhere’ six-wheeled vehicle boasts power steering, 4 gearboxes and an absolute mass of gearing. Despite a great deal of work to-date, Chris explained that he still has quite a long way to go, on what has always been one of my most favourite models.
A very interesting model was shown by Terry Wilkes
. Model 10.9 from the 1940’s was the ‘Mobile Workshop’. This unusual machine is closely based on a real vehicle which was used by the RAF for vehicle repairs during the Second World War. Essentially, this is a three-axled lorry with a hinged side panel, within which a range of workshop equipment is powered from an overhead pulley and belt system. Terry has included several improvements (in-cluding the use of full-sized spare tyres on the front) and has chosen to use YBZ parts, which certainly makes this model eye-catching (I have previously only seen it once, and then in R&G).
A smart display was brought along by Tony Horton
, in the shape of a Goliath shipyard crane assembling a ship. Tony explained that modern ships are often assembled as a set of huge sections which are individually constructed and then welded together in dry dock. The crane itself has been constructed in R&G parts and incorporates four motors, with each function working extremely smoothly.
A charming traction engine was shown by Carl Gill, constructed in original blue and gold parts. The model is largely Carl’s own design and has an electric motor buried deep inside. Carl has used 1970’s plastic caterpillar track to provide an effective tyre on the large rear wheels.
A very effective shaping machine was demonstrated by Terry Pettitt
. This included the main body of the machine, housing a drive motor and 3 speed gearbox, and a work table which could be adjusted in two planes. Terry designed this one using VirtualMec software, before building it ‘for real’ (with just a few tweaks as always). Terry showed the machine gradually working away at a wax candle, but given that it was using a real cutting tool, it might well have handled a soft brass or aluminium billet equally well.
We all admired John Hornsby’s
magnificent Gottwald crane and whilst most of it has sadly been returned to the parts box, the tractor unit is still intact and was given another showing. This is a fantastic model in its’ own right, with 12 wheels, 8 of which are driven, a 4-speed and reverse gearbox going through a 2-speed splitter, 4 differentials and hub reduction - all in what is a very compact space indeed. John also brought along the generator trailer from his WW2 Strabokraan portable gantry crane.
Many of us will remember Bert Halliday, and it was great to see some of his work shown by Richard Payn
. We saw Bert’s heavy duty strip-rolling machine (originally built to roll rack strips) and a very impressive built-up flywheel. Each model was (in its’ own way) extremely impressive. Richard is also working on a clock in his trademark dark blue & yellow parts, based on one by Mike Edkins and also showed a lorry chassis built by the late Geoff Brown which was well designed and featured a very clever differential, built between two boiler ends but only 1.5” wide. Finally from Richard was a display of ‘Pulley blocks through the ages’ - I had no idea that there had been so many slightly different types (and I don’t believe that I have ever used one either!).
Finally on ‘The inside tables’ was Tim Gant
with a really wonderful gearbox. This has 8 forward and 2 reverse speeds, innovative gear selection mechanisms and simply worked perfectly. This little masterpiece is due to be fitted to a Scammell Constructor which Tim is working on, with the double rear axle on display today - an absolute mass of brass - this one will be quite a model once completed.
First on ‘The outside tables’ was Roger Marriott
with yet another fairground model. This one was the ‘Octopus’ dealer display model, which would have been shown in shop windows in the late 1960’s. This model was very neatly built in light R&G parts and was featured in the June 1966 Meccano Magazine, being one of a series of models displayed at the 1966 National Model Show in London. Each arm on this model carries an aircraft which dips and soars as the model rotates.
Paul Hubbard is so keen that he spent a good part of the meeting constructing his latest creation. The coincidental appearance of so many ‘fairground’ models continued with Paul’s Tri-Star ride. This large model was originally built by the late John Brown for a Meccanuity Exhibition but has since be acquired by Paul who is adding some touches of his own, including rebuilt cars, a new platform and a revised pay booth. The original motor has long-since expired and so Paul has fitted a replacement unit. Paul also brought along his horizontal steam engine, with both models in a variety of colours.
George Illingworth (just for a change) had a couple of very smart fire engines. The first was an Austin Gypsy light pump from 1962, to a scale of 1:12. The Gypsy was in many ways very similar to a Land Rover but had steel panels and arguably superior suspension. The second vehicle was a more modern Mercedes Atego rescue tender from 2004. This was a very popular vehicle with many brigades in the UK. Both models were very well designed, with clever use of parts, as was George’s third offering, a Dyson 50t tank trailer from 1964. This small model included many details and sported no fewer than 32 one inch pulleys with tyres. This model is built to a scale of 1:24 and was entered in a 1” Pulley Challenge.
Your Scribe Neil Bedford, kept it simple, with a restored 1930’s Constructor Aeroplane - this one is a simple mono-plane with a home-moulded pilot. The respray will hopefully not upset anybody too much, as the original parts were in truly dreadful condition.
Another of my favourites is John Sharp’s
Aircraft Tow Tractor. This model is powered by an E15R motor and is extremely powerful, driving the rear wheels through a very ingenious (and reliable) automatic gearbox. The model was shown on a rolling road, which allows that wonderful gearbox to be shown off.
In contrast to the various 1930’s Constructor Aeroplanes seen at the meeting, a rather more modern aeroplane was shown by Peter Hughes
, in the shape of a Red Arrows Hawk. This was from the Meccano kit which builds into a very convincing replica. Peter also showed us his version of the ‘Big Ben’ kit but now cleverly adapted to include a real, working clock on one of its’ four faces.
Richard Smith showed his version of the late Eric Taylor’s Crawler Tractor. This has been fitted with a rope-operated bulldozer blade, is fully radio-controlled and has been carefully built in beautifully restored medium R&G parts. I have seen several versions of this model over the years and each is slightly different. In this case, Richard has devised a fresh approach for the caterpillar tracks, which have soaked up a vast number of rod and strip connectors (Part 212a).
Clock mystro Mike Edkins
showed us a demonstration clock movement based on Model Plan 221 (2015). Since we last saw this clock it has been tweaked slightly to resolve some minor snags. Modifications included a heavier driving weight - now a hefty 8lbs rather than the original 6.5lbs. The movement is fitted with two sets of escapements, which can be selected in turn - overall a very impressive design which has clearly required great skill and patience to bring to this point.
Tom and Matthew McCallum once again shared some very rare Meccano products with us. Essentially, these were Aeroplane Constructor models, but were really lovely examples and were shown with both large and small hangers, as featured in CQ 126 (Dec. 2019). Tom explained that some of the items shown were just about “As rare as they come” in the Meccano World.
Mark Rolson had a return visit for the fantastic ‘Mostly Meccano’ 6x6 articulated tipping truck. This lovely model was built by the late Mr.John Norris, who must have been a very capable model engineer, as it is beautifully made and Mark has completed it to full running order, with forward and reverse drive, rear tipping body and articulated steering. Mark is now building a second version of this model, but this one is going to be an ‘All Meccano’ version.
Another ‘evergreen’ model is Supermodel 3, the Motorcycle & Sidecar, this time built in green and zinc parts by George Sayell
. George also displayed Supermodel 22, the Traction Engine, built in R&G parts and due to be com-pleted for our next meeting.
Mick Burgess showed a nice collection of small models including a breakdown Truck built in 1964 Aluminium/ellow/black parts. A freelance Army reconnaissance vehicle ased on the Dinky version and the Spanner Chris-mas challenge entry. Breakdown Truck, (new model 3, 1961) in LRG. Loading shovel from M.Mag July 1958. Small car by Les Gines in DBY and Breakdown Truck (5.3 1978) in DBY.
Last but not least was Colin Reid, who had just the head-section for a Congreve Clock which he is working on. We look forward to seeing a lot more.
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