Sunday, 24 November 2013

Every now and then...

How's that for nice clean parts?
 ...we get offered collections of Meccano for sale. Often the seller is under the misapprehension that just because it is old (and usually rusty) it has value. Also words and phrases like 'huge' and 'complete' get banded around with minimal relationship to reality. More often than not we get presented with a shoebox full rusty parts and a couple of tatty manuals. Most people are genuinely surprised that their box of, and I hesitate to say it, junk, is worthless. Others seem offended and think we are trying to get it cheap. If they could see the piles of that sort of stuff we have sitting in boxes awaiting renovation or donation they might understand that we don't really need any more in that condition. Value of this run-of-the-mill common parts stuff is very low at the best of times.
Looking good!
Once in a while were are offered some nice clean looking stuff. One such lot came our way recently. The e-mail said it was a set No.5 and a Mechanisms set. Some pictures were sent and we liked what we saw. A deal was made and the meccano was ours. The boxes were a bit scruffy, Ok they were very scruffy, but I have seen a lot worse. opening them revealed a very nice looking collections of parts...

They look nice!
...and a good collection of brassware, sprockets, chain, axles and nuts and bolts.

This is looking good
More often than not there are parts missing, here there are a lot more. Indeed there is a lot more here than the set boxes implied. The deal was a good one and we got it for a good price. The previous owner was pleased to see it go to a good home, and we are more than happy to give it one.

The set originates from the first releases in this colour scheme. Meccano initially painted all the strips silver. This was probably the least durable finish they could have picked. You would think they would have learnt from past experience with metallic colours. The earlier blue/gold scheme suffered durability problems with the gold marking easily and the finish was abraded with little effort. The new silver parts suffered the same fate and a dissension was made very quickly to replace the sliver paint with a zinc finish. The first zinc plated parts were a disaster suffering from zinc rot almost as soon as they were exposed to the atmosphere. Eventually a better quality of zinc plating was adopted and the parts became durable.

Our parts are painted silver and lots of them have been damaged, probably by a single use.The longer parts are almost completely devoid of paint. Some parts have light rust where the paint has been lost. However overall the condition of the vast majority of parts is good.

Good selection of manuals
Along with the meccano came a set of manuals, all in good condition. Among the manuals was the Power Drive manual. The cover model on this manual is a Forge crane. As I have not built a crane for a while I sat down at the table and started to build with our new acquisition. There is something very nice about building a basic model. I decided to have a go at building it straight from the book, just to see how it came out. If you want to have a go at building the models and you have not got a hard copy of the Power Drive manual it can be downloaded from the NZ Meccano website, HERE, the model number is P.9. The model is reasonably straight forward although I have no idea how some of the nuts and bolts can be inserted without the use of specialist tools such as forceps and magnetic holders. I declined from using anything other than a Meccano screwdriver and spanner. I just left some out as I would have done 45 years ago.

Un-formed strips are re-formed!
Meccano were fond of using the slotted, formed strips to wrap around parts, this usually meant the parts would need to be re-formed to fit. This model is no exception. I usually find it much easier to flatten out the strips first and then re-form them to the shape required.

Small hook
The rest of the model is straightforward, once you spot the obligatory errors in the instructions. The finished model is illustrated at the top of this post and below. I was particually impressed with the friction drive to the slewing bearing. The simple friction drive works surprisingly well!

 The two 12½ inch strips, in the picture below, appear darker in the photograph because they are bare metal. There was probably less than 5% of the original pain left on them, I decided that it was better to remove the rest, this was easily done with a pan scourer! The Hook block is compromised by the use of the small (Ex Dinky Toys) hook that has to be tied in place - another cost cutting enterprise that I feel was a step in the wrong direction. Apart from these small niggles the new sets of the day were a welcome upgrade from the dated (at the time) colour schemes of red/green. I know we all have a soft spot for the red/green stuff now but at the time to this young teenager it was a vast improvement!

The other side...
This has been a bit of fun and a welcome diversion from some of the other projects we have on the go at the moment. Most of these models can be built in a few hours and my Sunday afternoon was extremely relaxing just wallowing in some simple model building. You know what? I think I will build it again. but this time with a few modifications to make it a bit more stable and less of a compromise due to available parts.   



  1. What weight can this lift?

    1. Not much as it stands, I would think a few of hundred grams at most.