Sunday, 26 January 2014

The Alternative Evolution - Part 4

Lots of 'play' value although a little flimsy

Roll-on roll-off recovery truck

It pains me to say it, but after waiting months for this set I was disappointed with the build experience and the Instructions. There, I've said it. I will point out the specifics as I go. To add balance, I must say, the problem is with the instructions not the parts. I have heard several complaints regarding badly finished off and missing parts. This was not the case for me.

For me, the major interest is the availability of a whole range of new parts that can be incorporated into our building stock. However, that is not the point. If Meccano are going to keep new customers, these models must be build-able straight out of the box. Anything less and the moment has gone, Meccano will not be on the shopping list again. I hate to think how many frustrated and disappointed kids there were around on Christmas day.

There is light at the end of this tunnel. The new owners of Meccano, who inherited all this from the previous owners, have told us they are going to look at this carefully and rectify these mistakes, in the existing manuals, as soon as possible. I would think that will probably be at the next available reprint. They are also going to look at improving the the resolution of the printing, so the black parts do not merge into a mass of black.

That's enough of that here is the build 

The first job is to download the alternative model instructions from the Meccano website. The same applies here, as with the other models we have built in this series, the download is easy and straightforward. The plans can be printed out, but it is far easier to follow them on the screen as they can be enlarged where necessary.

The bracket for the steering wheel is fitted upside down
The cab is built exactly the same as it is for the Crane Lorry and it is here where the problems occur. The position of bolts in the strapping have to be moved to enable them to be fitted.  Reference to the box-art shows the bolts in the correct position.  Building progresses until it is time to fit the seats. The steering wheel is in the way. Several solutions to this have been proffered on the various internet forums but in the end I simply turned the bracket upside down to get the wheel out of the way it is now tipped away from the driver position but I just want to get on with the build. I may well come back to this whole cab and see if I can figure out a better way of building it altogether. For now That will do for the steering wheel. All the fixings are straining the hole/bolt tolerance to the absolute limit. The, shall we say generous application of paint here does not help. There is a danger here of being a little too picky. After all, the paint has bee thick for a long time. It just seems thicker because the parts are smaller.

It is at this point the instructions go off into the realms of the impossible. Now Meccano are passing rods through solid metal, or so the instructions would have you believe. The rod that operates the steering via the lobed knob on the cab roof appears to pass through the edge of a standard width strip as can be seen is the section of instruction sheet reproduced here. At this point it seems logical for the rod to pass into the lower narrow strip. it is not until further down the assembly that it becomes evident that the rod is not long enough to do this and support the lobed knob and its fixing ring. In fact the rod is supposed to rest on the edge of the strip it appears to pass through and this is just an error in the drawing. It took me a while to work out what was going on, and that was after discussion with other builders through internet forums and lists.  I am sure this would have confused many a child of father trying to help.

It all works although it is a bit flimsy
Once I got past the cab the rest of the build was plain sailing. The instructions were reasonably clear from that point on, even though some of the order in which the build was progressed was a bit odd.   I know it doesn't seem like it, and although the build experience was not as good as it could be, I do like this set. For me it provides the start of a collection of new parts that I am sure are going to prove useful. The new ¼ inch geometry needs some working with to see the advantages. The use of standard nuts can be a problem in places and maybe hexagonal nuts might fit better, I will have to try that.

The scale of the model is pleasing.
This new concept of smaller models does work and I like the scale, but you don't have to use small parts to build small models as Edmundo Veiga proved with his VirtualMec rendition of a similar model based on the box art Evolution Crane.

Edmundo's version
Edmundo's version uses none of the Evolution parts as they were not available in the VirtualMEC library when he produced it, or at the time of this posting. I wonder is a combination of parts from the Evolution range and some of Edmundo's work-arounds, would make a more robust model...

Previous parts of this story:
Part 3 of Alternative Evolution can be found HERE
Part 2 of Alternative Evolution can be found HERE
Part 1 of Alternative Evolution can be found HERE


  1. Hi Ralph and Sue

    Is Edmundo's virtual mec model of the evolution (non evolution!) crane on the VM website at all? I couldn't see it there, I was wondering if it had been published publicly at all?



  2. Hi Laurence,

    First, sorry for not getting back sooner, I must have missed this comment...

    The short answer is I don't know. I will ask Edmundo and get back to you. I think I have a copy of his mdl file, but I will have to ask his permission before passing it on... especially if he has not published it in the site.