Monday, 25 February 2013

The loom...

Ready to unload
You may remember that last year we able to acquire the huge loom built by the late Dennis Weston, back in the late '90s. It is so big that as it stands it will not pass through a standard doorway in any orientation. In fact, as it stands, it will not fit in Sue’s Volvo estate!

The loom has not been run in more than a dozen years so the first thing to do was to turn it over manually, identifying tight points and remedying any timing issues. After several attempts of trying to understand how it should work we finally got it to turn over and fire the huge shuttle at the correct time.

The original motor and drive band
Now it is time to decide exactly what we are going to do with it! Over the past few months we have considered all sorts of options including a complete rebuild. Until now the favourite option was to build a clone of the frame and rebuild all the working parts from the original into that. The idea being we could get each mechanism to work independently of the rest and re-assemble the entire loom in a new frame. Although this method seemed to make sense from a practical point of view, it would mean that the finished loom would be largely a copy of the original.

Trial motor - works fine!
Today we had another session of loom restoration and cured the last of the timing issues. The final problem to address was how to power it. The motor fitted to the loom is an ex-sewing machine, mains voltage motor. The drive band has seen better days and was slipping. We could find another belt but we decided to replace the huge Singer motor with a modern, low voltage motor. First attempts are encouraging. A single 12V DC motor drives the whole mechanism with ease even though there is still some stiffness in places probably due to a build up of fluff, solidified grease and oil. 

The huge shuttle
The loom now runs, throws the huge shuttle through the warp without catching, selects the heald frames correctly and maintains tension in the warp threads. The trouble is I have just noticed that woven cloth is being pulled back onto the tensioning roller. A bit of undoing of grub screws released the tension and the cloth was pulled back allowing the warp to go slack. Now all we have to do is to rewind the thread back onto spools – all 120 of ‘em!

The shuttle on its way
Once we have sorted all that out, it will be a case of smoothing out all the stiff bits and load the shuttle with the weft so that we can start weaving…


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Another road trip...

It all started with one of those conversations:

    Me,"Wanna go to Pontefract Sue?" 
    Sue, "Isn't that a cake?"
    Me, "No, It's a place"
    Sue, "I think it is a cake - or a biscuit, isn't it?"
    Me, "No its a place! Don't change the subject, do you want to come or not?"
    Sue, "What for?"
    Me, "I just bought a motorbike."
    Sue, "WHAT?!"

And so it went on for a bit until I managed to explain it was made of Meccano and it needed collecting from Pontefract, West Yorkshire, not a big problem if you happen to live in Wakefield, 8 miles down the road, but we live in London 192 miles down the road! This small fact was not lost on Sue. The next morning, the good old recycled Swedish fridge was heading north with a couple of Meccano nuts off to collect the motorbike! We were off on another one of our rescue missions...

...By the way, Pontefract Cakes are not cakes or biscuits, they are sweets, sort of boiled sweets that are made from liquorish (Yuck!). I think they're akin to Marmite, you either love 'em or hate 'em!

The motorbike in question is a modern dealer display model, first seen at the 2010 London Toy Fair. These models I believe, were built by outside organisations. The model does not promote any particular set and was intended to just fly the flag in general. I have no idea how many of these models were made and I have not seen one on display anywhere other than at the London Toy Fair. 

Modern display model - just got it home
The display is going to need a bit of cleaning and some rebuilding to rectify some misalignment, probably caused by some minor crushing at some time in its life, but there is nothing too serious wrong with it that an hour or so on the bench will not rectify. I will have to bring it up to UK electrical safety specifications, as it stands, it would not pass a PAT (Portable Appliance Test). It just goes to show how the rules and regulations for electrical safety seem to be largely ignored. The addition of a simple earth wire and new flex will enable the display to be tested as a Class I appliance and hopefully pass!I will post some decent pictures when I have sorted it our and given it a good clean.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

NELMC Meeting and AGM

This time last year, North London Meccano Club (NELMC) was in big trouble. With membership falling off and a complete lack of interest when it came to thinking about electing officers.  What a difference a year can make.  A lot of work behind the scenes has resulted in a vibrant new atmosphere with a good attendance. Indeed it was, to use the modern vernacular, rammed!

A busy scene at Hainault last Saturday for the AGM
At one point I thought we would run out of space, and when it came to the AGM we had plenty of volunteers stepping up to take up the places on the committee.  The day was about getting the enthusiasm going again and thanks to a good crowd I really feel it is heading in the right direction. We have launched a new style quarterly Rag called The Flyer that seems to be a hit with the members and we are in the process of revamping the website to bring it into the 21st century.
Oh good! Its tea time! No? I thought it was a tea trolley...

Lots of interesting models to be seen, including everything from a Robotic Development Platform (Under Construction) built by our new Chair, Allen Berman to Roger Little's huge railway display and most things between. Tony Brown brought the proceedings down to his level by displaying the odd ugly crane built using X-Series parts, but we have to forgive him for that - he lives out in the sticks.

Little loco from Roger
It was really good day. If you live in striking distance of Hainault why not pay us a visit and if you like what you see you can join the Club and that will entitle you to a subscription to The Flyer Our new 12 page, full colour newsletter that is totally compatible with all electronic media. It is supplied in .pdf  format and can also be printed out to A4. For more details about the club visit:  and click on the North East London Meccano Club tab at the top of the page. 

I am now really looking forward to the next meeting on 13th April 2013. If you would like to come along and see what its all about you will be most welcome. 


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Great day out at Lyne...

...A new venue for the RMG's meetings!

Plenty of parking at the new venue
The new venue for the Runnymede Meccano Guild's (RMG) meetings is a great success - and the food is good as always! The new venue is only a short drive from the previous meeting place and the improvement is staggering. More space, easy access and plenty of parking. Getting there by public transport my be a bit more tricky but it didn't seem to put many people off. With an attendance of around 80 the day was roaring success. Even with far more table space than previously available it was all occupied. 
Easy access - Great!

Details of all RMG's forthcoming meetings and events can be found by visiting their new website. You will also be able to join the Guild and now you can pay by using the PayPal checkout - You don't have to have a PayPal account either! Membership of the Guild includes subscription to the sixty page, full colour, magazine, which is published three times a year. Details can be found HERE. At the time of writing, UK subscription is only £20 - even if you can't attend the meetings it is worth the money for the magazine alone! 

Now, where does that bit go?

Indeed, the guild has lots of international members who subscribe for the magazine alone. More details and pictures of the new venue can also be found on the all new RMG website at:

Inside, the place was full with an extreamly vibrant atmosphere as models started to stream in accompanied by their builders milling about looking for their allocated spaces while taking in the splender of their new surroundings. No handbags-at-dawn arrangements were made and the meeting settled down to the usual hum of motors and murmurings and that irritating, poor quality, nasally sound that emanates from electronic media being played on a continuous loop. (Sorry, I can't help being a grumpy old so-and-so!) Time for a wander and leave Tim to his videos!
The usual culprits were in attendance and the dynamic-duo were at it again chewing the cud for England, while the Dealer of Dunmow looked on!