Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Alternative Evolution - Part 3

High Rider!

4 x 4 High Rider - Ralph finds some real Meccano...

The first thing I do with a new Meccano set is to study the parts list in the front of the manual. As Sue said in her post about building the Trike, (Part 2) these sets have lots of new parts. Full of new parts it maybe, but this set also has a few parts we will all recognise - It's got standard strips and conventional trunnions! It also has some mini bent trunnions made from bent 1 inch triangular plate (old part number 77) that look very interesting. Like all the other sets it has another good selection of black nuts, bolts and pivot bolts in various lengths. Until now, the only black fixings have been standard length, hex socket bolts and the nuts and bolts supplied with the Army Multikit and Combat sets of years ago.

New mini trunnion looks useful
With the exception of the new mini trunnion and wheels the chassis looks like any other Meccano construction of recent years. It is not until work starts on the 'body' that things take a turn to the new. The common feature if all these sets is the new ¼ inch hole spacing and strip geometry. When Meccano first announced this range of sets prior to the London Toy Fair, in January 2013, they spoke of using these parts to enable the builder to work to a smaller scale. This led to a wave of misunderstanding and lots of jumping to the wrong conclusion. Lots of people took this to mean that Meccano were going to move away from the standard imperial measurements and opt for the metric 10mm standard that a lot of the Meccano look-alike sets use.

This, of course is nonsense but the wording of the press release was ambiguous and open to translation. For some reason there are a band of enthusiasts out there that always seem to expect the worse every time Meccano do something new.  The reality is the sets have smaller parts and strips that utilise something that has been around for a while - ¼ inch hole spacing. All parts are compatible with 'Standard' Meccano and, as is the case with this model, they work well together.

The build...

The chassis and steering - almost conventional
The building instructions can be downloaded from the Meccano website for this, High Rider, the second model that can be built from this set. As Sue has already mentioned, the instructions download easily and render well on the screen, even if some of the darker areas are a bit hard to make out. As with all of these sets the alternative model is not a completely new model, rather a rebuild of the original. On this model the chassis and steering gear remains the same as the box art model and instruction steps 1 - 26 in the manual are identical for both.

The chassis builds easily and the steering gear is far more positive than I expected it to be. The assembly of the rest of the new body is very easy and I found no problems with it apart from the order of build might frustrate a inexperienced builder as a lot of parts are left to hang loose for several stages before the part is fully secured. I think there are a few issues with these instructions generally that I will hold judgement on until we have built all five of the alternative models. 

All looks flimsy at this stage...
The model is stronger than I expected it would be. The only improvement I made was to the winch. It works much better with the addition of a couple of spacer washers (still available in the kit but not used) to prevent the multipurpose gears from binding on the support strips. Lots of play value and I think a good overall kit for the enthusiast and the one off purchaser.

Chunky and solid finished model
From our point of view the red/silver parts fit in nicely with our preferred colour scheme. The chunky off-road tyres look useful and I am sure the black curved parts (used as mud guards) will find some reuse. Personally I like this one...


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