Thursday, 19 December 2013

The Alternative Evolution - Part 2

Three wheeled off roader!


Off Road Trike - Sue builds the first of the 'other' models..

Before I get on with describing this particular model I would like to say a few things about the Evolution sets in general. As you know we first got a look at the preproduction models at the London Toy Fair at the end of January this year. We had seen a few reports of the Mobile Crane but when we got there we were confronted with a whole range of five different sets. The box-art models were on show and we got a good close look at them and were able to handle several of the new parts. The sets started to appear at the end of the summer and we held back for a while to let the dust settle.

A small selection of the new parts in these sets...
Now we have had a chance to examine these sets, it is obvious that they have more new, than traditional parts. New strips narrow strips, new wheels and tyres, new gears and lots of black bolts (long as well as standard length), nuts and pivot bolts to name just the obvious bits. The abundance of new parts will put some people off, as the DNA of these sets is a big step away from the 'traditional' Meccano. Yes it is Meccano, there are some parts that will be recognised, but there are a lot that will not. I feel sure there will be some who will like it and other who will hate it, I am not sure there will be many who will not have a strong opinion one way or the other. As His Nibs said in Part 1, they are like Marmite; you will either love them or hate them.

Longer than it looks in the picture
The manuals for these sets are easy to follow and have a great new addition for those who are not so familiar with the parts as well as the experienced modeller. Each stage of construction has an illustrated list of parts required, nothing new there, but in addition, and where necessary, there is a 1:1 (actual size) drawing of the part that can be used to identify the correct size and shape. This is particularly useful for determining the difference between large and small spacer washers, something that has caught me out on more than one occasion in the past!

Not bad, even from behind


Let's build...

The neat little, landscape instruction manual gives helpful construction tips especially useful for those who are not familiar with Meccano construction techniques. This is followed by a comprehensive parts list and a 59 stage assembly guide to build the model featured on the front of the box. The second model is shown on page 47 with a note that reads "Building instructions for model #2 are available at" - I know how to say this in a further dozen languages, thanks to the multilingual translations! Who said Meccano was not an educational toy any more?

Accessing instructions from the Meccano website was very easy and displayed clearly on my monitor. The ability to enlarge some of the detail was useful. Printing it off was not so successful. Printing the instructions full size on standard paper just does not work when trying to make out the black parts - they just merge into one solid mass. Even on the screen at 100% it is not that clear and we are using good quality back-lit LCD monitors. At 150% it was fine and that is how I progressed, sitting at my desk looking at the instructions on my monitor. 

It looked good to me - see text...
That said, the instructions are probably the best yet. Very easy step by step instructions that are easy to rattle through. Well that is how it seemed until I realised that I had confused a couple of the strips on the frame and needed to go back and swap them over. My fault entirely but it goes to show I need to be a bit more careful with these strips. The extra holes makes the difference between the strips length far less obvious that with the corresponding 'standard' narrow strips.

The new narrow strips have ¼ inch
geometry making them shorter, but they
work better with each other with no
overlap as with the old ½ inch parts
Talking of which, Ralph, who is building one of the other alternative models, has just pointed out that these strips are designed to be used with strips of the same width. They are shorter than the standard narrow strip equivalent and will bolt together at right angles with no protrusion.  That makes the 1 inch, three hole strip, that has been around for a while, a bit of an odd ball as it conforms to standard narrow strip design with ¼ hole spacing and ½ ends - if you see what I mean.

The rest of the assembly is just a case of following the steps, bolt by bolt. Care is needed to get the handlebars in the correct position by making sure the 24t pinion is sitting dead centre of the rack strip when the tri-axle is fitted. This is made easier to identify in the rack by the two centre teeth being moulded longer than the others. 

Centre the pinion on the rack
One thing that was disappointing and I feel will spoil the fun for any children making this or the box model, is the fact that the bespoke handlebar moulding is a loose fit on the tri-axle. So loose it just falls off. I have checked with others who own this model and they have confirmed they have the same problem. I have noticed in the past that some of the tri-axles are misshapen at the ends making it very difficult to get parts to fit on them. Once they pass the 'bump' at the end they slide easily. Maybe a misshapen axle would help here but I ended using a wrap of paper to tighten the joint - works fine for me but a problem that needs rectifying. 

I was confused by the instructions insisting the shockers should be fitted with the piston rod uppermost. I tried checking this out by running an image search for quad bikes but I couldn't really see what was what. Not having ever been near a real one, logic is telling me that the shroud should be on top to keep out the wet and muck... I am no expert, so if someone reading this is informed, please let me know! 

Shouldn't the shockers be up the other way?
Apart from the handlebar issue, the sticker on the front will not lay flat as it is trying to accommodate the compound curve and bridge the holes in the plate. I am being deliberately objective as there is really very little wrong with this model. It makes up very nicely and is reasonably robust. The suspension works well, as does the steering.


P.S. If you missed the first part of this series you can find it HERE 



  1. My trail bikes have all had the piston rod at the top. The rod is bolted to the tweak bars. The piston cylinder has always been at the bottom with the wheel attached. There is a shroud attached to the cylinder to keep the dirt out.
    Your new model is great and I like it all except for the plastic handle bars with moulded brake levers that would not last 5mins.

  2. Thanks for your response. This means the front ones are correct but the back one is the wrong way around? Please, can you tell what tweak bars are? Your comment on the handle bars is in tune with Ralph's thoughts, it was the one new part he didn't like much.

  3. I roughed up a meccano example of motor cycle tweak bars.
    They can be seen at