Wednesday, 21 August 2013

I built myself a new washing machine!

White goods! I suppose that is my department...

There was no chance of Ralph building this one. He comes out in a rash every time White Goods are mentioned. So when my box of Rabbids arrived the other day I packed him off to build that catapult thing while I got on with the shopping trolley. By the time I had finished the trolley (done the washing up and all the other things that just happen by magic around here!) it was getting too late to build the washing machine. It has sat around for a few days because the priority as far as Meccano is concerned is getting on with the Merry Mixer.

A couple of nights ago, while His Nibs was messing with one of our other websites, I decided to build the washing machine. I thought a couple of hours would be plenty of time to build this one - but I was wrong. A combination of very fiddly construction, bad design and several serious errors in the instructions that do not become apparent until it is almost built. Yet again we had to supplement the parts supplied with our own stock as parts were missing. This surprises us as overall most of the sets we have bought over the past few years have been complete. Two out of the four Rabbid sets we have were missing parts. In both cases, this made it impossible to finish the model without raiding our own stock of parts. If this had been bought as a one-off toy for a child, disappointment would ensue.

Price aside, there is a lot of Meccano in this set. It includes a motor, seven 3½ x 2½ flexible plates, four flexible gussets, over 60 nuts and bolts and a lot more. The painted parts suffer from the usual over-applied paint resulting in thick edges and tight holes. This becomes a problem where the door hinges attach over the join between two plates.

That's no good...

The biggest disappointment, for us builders, is the door. First of all it is not what it seems. It is a clear plastic moulding that has been sprayed silver around the edges. the 'holes' are just blank impressions in the moulding. Ralph suggested drilling them out would be an option until we realised that they are not even spaced to Meccano standards. I am not sure I will ever find another use for it ,possibly a  window in a model - but you never know.



After looking at the instructions I set about making up the battery box and adding a few pieces to the motor, then the next thing to do is to make the drum. This consists of a 1½ tri-axle pulley, some narrow brackets and a couple of 1½ x 5½ inch flexible plates.  The instructions show these plates fitted to the narrow brackets by the middle hole on one edge and the next picture shows them bent round the drum. These plates are made from the usual thin steel and not the spring steel used for the flexible strips. I am sure that will not bend very nicely by hand. Ralph kindly offered to 'roll' them for me - he does come in handy from time to time - and that made them fit around the drum nicely.

Most of it went together well

General construction of the cabinet and motor-mount are a bit strange and do not result in a very rigid construction. a lot of fiddling with the drum bearings is necessary to get it to run without binding. Paint needs to be cleared from the bearing hole in the white plate through which the tri-axle passes to allow the axle to even turn, let alone run free.

The instructions have a couple of mistakes in them which just adds to my disappoint in this model. I am building this on the kitchen table with only the tools supplied in an effort to assess how easy this would be for a mum or dad building it with a little'n. The frustrating thing in the instructions is when they tell you to do something wrong and it does not become apparent until much further down the line.

That's not right!

Better but not good
At stage 28 it clearly shows the bottom plate being bolted over the bottom edge of the top plate. At stage 32 the hinge is added. Due to the plate overlap and thickness of paint, the hinge will not fit square. After looking at the picture of the model on the cover, it shows the plates are fitted with the top one overlapping the bottom one, giving a smoother surface to mount the hinge. Due to the paint finish, although better, this still does not solve the problem, so I added a thin washer under the plate, where the fixing passes through, in an attempt to get the hinge anywhere near approaching square.

Moving on to stages 35 and 36. The instructions show placing bolts in the flexible gusset plates through two adjacent holes. If this is done , the door is very difficult to close without damaging the plastic moulding. The top fixing should be made one hole higher. Again the photograph of the model shows it built this way.

That's not right...
I haven't stuck the stickers on it yet as I intend to go back to it and see if I can make it a bit firmer by readjusting some of the assembly. The machine comes with a very cross-looking Rabbid complete with an array of weaponry and a shield. Just what that has to do with a washing machine is beyond me. I understand it is smoothing to do with a video game?

From a builders point of view there are a few usable parts in this set. We managed to buy this set at a fraction of its regular price via Amazon (listing has now disappeared) along with the others. At anywhere near the normal price this set is expensive. I also think a parent buying this for a child, unless they have any experience of building, would be disappointed.

Built but needs a bit of fiddling before I add the stickers

Two evenings I have been messing with this thing for a few hours each time, maybe that is the 'value'. No more Rabbids for now (if ever!) back to real Meccanoing for me - more later!



  1. Excellent construction details, with lots of practical tips. Is it possible to add a few more photographs of teh early construction stages and a photo showing all parts? - Subrata Ghoshal

  2. Good morning Subrata,

    I did not take any early construction photographs as it is all straightforward as detailed in the instructions. The full parts list is also shown in the instruction manual.

    You can download the manual from the Meccano website, it's free! The link is:

    Sue (using Ralph's computer!)

  3. Thanks for this post Sue, its great. I just bought the set last week cheap from Amazon as i am a great fan of the Rabbids and am getting back into Lego and stuff. The problems you encountered above are exactly what made me think I was just not cut out for Meccano, this being the 1st set I have attempted. Glad to hear its not just me! I have just got to the door hinge part and am really struggling so packing it away to tackle again tomorrow night I think. I am 37 so I can't imagine a child being able to put this together!

  4. Stick with it Zaff, I am sure you will get there. I agree with you some of these kits would be very difficult to make up for the younger age specified on the box.

    Sue (using Ralph's computer!)

  5. I didn't find much in the way of problems with this. A little fidddly in places, mainly due to it's small box like nature. From memory it took me between 2 & 3 hours, but more when the video is posted.