Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Unusual 'modern' sets are hard to find...

A lot of modern sets are only available for short periods. In recent years some of the sets specially commissioned by the big retailer such as Marks & Spencer are particularly hard to find and when they do appear on the market they tend to sell for premium prices. The Harrier and Stephenson's Rocket spring to mind. There are plenty of others but it is the not so common that I have been looking for as they often include hard to get parts. Shortage of supply usually means the price will climb but persistence can pay off - eventually.

Two types of part B006
It all started when I was experimenting with some tracked vehicles a year or so ago after discovering, from a post on the Spanner II list, that the 19-tooth plastic pinions will fit inside a strange looking part that I first came across in a job-lot of modern parts Sue and I bought a few years back. A similar part can be found in the Crazy Inventors Rattle Trap and Time machine. The part in question is described as a 'sprocket for crawler tracks' part No. B006 in Oscar Felgueiras's New Parts Listings. The green part comes from the Rattle trap or the Time Machine, Crazy inventor series. There is only one in each set, making it hard to get hold of any amount of them as both sets are very sought after these days.

Future Master Drilling Machine
The grey part looks a bit more promising as the Drilling machine from the Future Masters series has six of them. The trouble is trying to get hold of this set is proving difficult to say the least! None of the future master sets seem to appear for sale on the second hand market very often and I have never seen this particular set for sale anywhere in recent years. It was only that a fellow enthusiast, George Roy, happened to have a spare set (that he let me have for a very reasonable price) that I managed to get my hand on one - Thanks George! So if you see a set kinking around grab it - you may not see another!

The tracks being driven using the drive sprockets
Apart from the set I bought from George, I have managed to find a few of these drive sprockets over the years and, to my surprise, they drive the rubber tracks very smoothly. My first attempt at building a working model was a simple single motor vehicle shown here. The drive is via tri-axles and plastic tri-axle,19t pinions, part No. A326.

As a next stage, I built a steerable chassis using two motors. This time the drive was via bossed yellow plastic 19t pinions with brass bosses. The yellow plastic ring of teeth fitted to the brass boss often split rendering the pinion useless. This gave this part a bad reputation and a lot of the remaining brass push-fit bosses were turned down as collars. I have always saved mine as they were, using them as stops on my drifts or other odd jobs.

The steerable chassis
This was not because I was being cleaver - I don't own a lathe (yet!). In this model, they proved their worth by providing a matching free-wheeling hub. One end of each axle uses one of my many split, plastic pinion fitted into a drive sprocket, while the other end is secured using the brass boss only, from a split pinion. This arrangement is repeated in reverse at the other end of the chassis making it possible to drive each track independently - worked great! I have yet to build a model that uses this idea but I am sure I will one day.

A Find...

The search for unusual modern parts was made much harder, in the UK, when Meccano UK hit a rough patch at the end of the '90s and sold off their entire stock to raise funds. I presume this also meant for a period they were not buying new stock. The current sets, of the time, have since become scarce as collectors start to take an interest in an area that was not so popular previously. For the builder, this means there are some parts that are very thin on the ground and it is a case of buying the sets as they become available, which is not that often.

It is all still out there - somewhere
This week, purely buy fluke during an internet search, I was directed to Germany's eBay site where I was delighted to find an unused, still wrapped, Master Connection set 0030. As I investigated further it became clear that this was for a current auction and not, as is so often the case, an expired one. The listing was a buy-it-now and the price was reasonable - Click! A few days later and the set was sitting on our Meccano room table awaiting attention. It just goes to show that these sets are still around, we just have to look a little further afield.



  1. Hello Ralph,

    i am watching your site for quite some time now,and a lot more other sites related to meccano building and this is the first time i write. I am a Meccano enthusiast from Romania and i started collecting and building for 2 years now. It's pretty hard and pricey as all the parts i have i buy via ebay or uk meccano spare sites. i would like to ask a question that's bugging me and since i am a beginner it would help me a lot. I want to motorize my models and 1 thing i want to build is a simple chassis like the one in this article. my question is: how do you deal with the non standard motors? how do you adapt the shafting and fixing the mtor on the meccano plates? and if you have the time maybe you can tell me what do you use or recommend for controlling the motors (remote or wired?)
    thanks in advance and keep posting these very helpfull articles.


  2. Hi Cezar,

    The use of modern, non Meccano motors is something I have mentioned from time to time on the main website but I think it is about time I did something new here. I will put a page together over the next few days and post it when it is ready.

    Meanwhile, Take a look at this:


    It is a little out of date but it does show you hoe we tackle the problem.

    Kind regards,