Friday, 28 February 2014

Somewhere else to find us...

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Users can browse other pinboards for images, 're-pin' images to their own pinboards, or "like" photos...

Our Meccano board - the first of Many...
 Lots more information about Pintrest can be found HERE.

You will find us at Pintrest too!
You can now find lots of our images on Pintrest click HERE to register. Our Meccano board can be found HERE.


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

This is what you get if you...

...take all the evolution models apart. Click on the picture to enlarge the image.

All the parts in one place
Just to close our series on the first five Evolution models, here is what you get when you take them all apart. Interesting isn't it! It shows just how much traditional Meccano is still used in these sets and there is a huge pile of nuts and bolts. now time to incorporate the parts into our next model...


The Alternative Evolution - Part 6


In profile it sort of looks like a plane...
Now we come to the largest model, and the most expensive set, of the five Evolution sets  announced at the 2013 toy fair.  At the 2014 toy fair a further four models have been announced (see HERE) and we will look at the alternatives of those over the next few months...

Does that look like an aeroplane?
The box art model is a Rescue Helicopter built in a bright Orange and white livery. Having seen the finished thing at the toy fair last year I was looking forward to seeing the production version. As with many of the models in this series the instructions included in this set have let them down. There have been lots of complaints about this model's instructions. The Alternative model instructions (downloaded from the Meccano website) are fine I didn't notice any mistakes. The selection of parts, and the introduction of a very nicely built geared motor, reversing switch and battery boxes make this set an interesting addition to the range when viewed with a parts-hungry builder's eye. 

Hmmm... as somebody said, it looks like a fat dragon fly... Oh dear!
The box-art helicopter is well proportioned and from most reports, seems to work well once the mistakes in the instructions have been circumnavigated. Unfortunately the aesthetics of this alternative model let it down. It's side profile scribes a reasonable shape but viewed from any other angle, it looks cumbersome and the propeller looks just awful. I really feel that this was just thrown together to make a second model. It looks like a helicopter that has morphed into an aeroplane and didn't finish the process! Harsh? no I don't think so. In my opinion this will do Meccano no favours with the buying public. I am sure a better model could have been designed and built. As we have worked our way through this range it has become clear the brief was to build a second model that not only used most of the parts available but also had to keep close to the original model type i.e. an aeroplane and a helicopter - both being aircraft. If the subject choice of the alternative model was not so restricted, the poor designer, tasked with the job, may have had more success producing something appealing. 

Let's build...

By now, we are getting used to the unfamiliar parts these sets proliferate in and the fact that some parts are not easy to use. The main culprit here is the inherent problem of the tri-axles. Although this is not exclusive to the Evolution range, the fact that most tri-axles seem to be fatter at the ends than along the length, is a real problem. The force required to push some parts on or over the 'fat' end is extreme.

As with all the models we have looked at thus far, the first stage of construction is the same for both models. This is a little odd in this case and for me I can't get the helicopter chassis out of my head - it just looks all wrong. It is modified slightly to produce the drive for the propeller which looks really odd to me angled down as it is. 

The new motor will find some use in other models - I like the mountings.
More on this in a later post...
The fuselage is built in outline and then a few bits and pieces are fitted (badly) into the void to simulate some solidity. It does not do it for me. The final nail in the proverbial coffin is the use of the bespoke rotor blades  crudely bolted together to make a very poor representation of the wings. You have probably worked out that I am not impressed with the look of this thing, and you would be right. Sometimes the models just don't do it for me.

If we step back here and look at the build itself. This has to be the only model that, as far as I could see, has no mistakes in the instructions. The build is easy without undue stress of the parts. I am still puzzled by the battery holders. Why could the designers not come up with a way of being able to change the batteries without having to remove the holders from the model? A big mistake and a couple of points knocked off the 'play value'  total, I fear. 


Previous parts of this story:

Part 5 of Alternative Evolution can be found HERE
Part 4 of Alternative Evolution can be found HERE
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

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Pre-release Forest Engine model

George Roy has been at it again. This time pre-empting the release of the Evolution Forest Engine. George has built his model from photographs of the preproduction model we showed in our London Toy Fair 2014 report and subsequent posts here on the blog over the past month or so.  Here are George's pictures of his model under construction. No waffle from me this time - just George's pictures that say it all...

The main body assembled
Underside of the chassis
The crane...
...and from anther angle.
Blade detail
Front end
Finished - grab closed
Finished - Grab open
George has shown us just what you can do with a desire to build and a few pictures. The Evolution instructions are from the other end of the explanation scale with almost bolt-by-bolt progression through the build. I think that somewhere between these two extremes there is a sensible compomise that Meccano should seek...


Friday, 21 February 2014

I have a plan...or nine!

Anyone who attended SkegEx last year might be forgiven if you missed seeing Paul Anderson's model of an A-005 Fuel Tanker. The models was sitting on a table with a few of models built by fellow model maker and replica Meccano makers Ian 'Green-Hands' Wilson.

Paul's model of the A-005 Fuel Tanker
The tanker stood out as an original and well proportioned model. At the time I had no idea who had built it but remember thinking that it look rather good. With the show being so busy, both during the day and the hectic social life in the evenings, I did not get around to asking Ian who's model it was. 

It turned out to be the work of Paul Anderson. Paul is a professional model maker, building mainly models of trucks and agricultural equipment from wood. You can see what Paul makes and sells on his website HERE.

Recently Paul has turned his hand to producing Meccano model plans. Not the ordinary run-of-the-mill plans but really interesting and unusual subjects. Paul concentrates on the look of the model, and although some mechanisms are included they are secondary to the overall; design. This approach I like a lot, from a builder's point of view, the basic layout is all worked out and there is room to add your own mark to the model. The Tanker that caught so many eyes at SkegEx last year will be my first dive into these plans - I already have a few ideas on how I will add some of my own ideas. There are another eight plans available as I write this with more in the pipeline.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

The Alternative Evolution - Part 5

Tipper Truck

Yes, it's a truck. I don't only have to build washing machines and supermarket trolleys! I really liked the look of this one, strange as it might seem, I quite like trucks...

Not bad looking - but not great!
On opening the packaging I was now used to seeing loose parts, in plastic bags rattling around in the box. A quick inspection of the contents revealed the now familiar selection of ¼ inch hole spacing, narrow strips and brackets. There are also a couple of new ¼ inch hole spacing, angle girders - now they look useful.  More new wheels and tyres. My first thoughts are these will be useful somewhere else - my second thought was, by this time next year we will probably be up to our eyeballs in them! His Nibs has been messing around mounting them on bossed parts - but that is a story for another post.

Now I have familiarised with the contents of the box, the next job is to compare the supplied instructions with the download instructions for the alternative model. The same problem of definition is apparent in the printed edition in that all the dark areas just merge into one amorphous mass of blackness. Tilting the page to the light helps a bit but it is not very clear. We have spoken to the new owners of Meccano who are very aware of this problem and have promised to look at it with some urgency. In the meantime it is easier to look at the download instructions on the screen. Blowing the image up to 200% helps but it does mean a lot of scrolling even though I am looking at them on a reasonably large desktop monitor.

The tipper... Tipping

Now to the build...

This model is built following the printed instructions as far as stage 39. So it was off to the kitchen with my tray of parts and a hand full of tools. I can build here , watch the telly and avoid the 'helpful' advice from you-know-who. The first part of the build was problem free but as it progressed a few niggly errors in the instructions started to creep in. At stage 45, instructions are given to fix the orange plate requiring two nuts and bolts when only one of each is required. At stage 56, I altered the fitting of the bracket that hold the wind deflectors in place by moving it up one hole from that shown in the instructions. This enables the other parts of the cab to fit together better. At stage 75, the 32mm tri-axle was too short so I had to replace it with a longer one. Apart from these few errors the model made up easily and, as far as this series is concerned, the build was relatively painless. 

Chassis detail
Overall the truck looks 'alright' but the tipper body is far too skeletal to be realistic. I may have a go at building a more realistic body at some point. 

From above the skeletal body lets it down
Worm and pinion are not held firm
Looking at the play value I think the potential is high but in reality the construction is far too flimsy, the steering is way too reactive with little control, the lifting mechanism does not stay in mesh. All these things can be sorted with a bit of thought and a few additional parts so if I do get around to building a new body I might well spend a bit of time rectifying some of the other 'wrongs'.


Previous parts of this story:

Part 4 of Alternative Evolution can be found HERE
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

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Thank you VirtualMec!

VirtualMec 2.1.2 released!

A few weeks ago a new version of VirtualMec was released. On the face of it, just a minor upgrade of two new parts being added. Further investigation revealed that some other “minor” improvements had been made to existing parts.

Regular readers will remember the die we had so much fun with a while ago. The real thing was a challenge to assemble but the virtual model was a disaster. No matter how hard I tried it just would not fit together using the VirtualMEC parts see HERE.

Well… It will now! The VirtualMEC guys have sorted it out and now it fits!
Also with the free upgrade there are two now parts and lots of other minor but useful modifications including parts grouping to make the parts list easier to negotiate.

If you have not tried VirtualMEC before there is a free trial version available on the VirtualMEC website, HERE.

Thank you VirtualMEC team – Keep up the good work!


Friday, 7 February 2014

More Evolution inspired models!

It has been a long time coming but at last there seems to be some enthusiasm about the new Evolution range. Colin's orange crane featured HERE has set the bar at a new level. But that is not the end of the story, I now have photographs of two more models to show you.

First is George Roy's pre-release model of the Rubber Duck built from his existing stock - a fusion of old and new.

 Bucket construction
The Duck's... Bottom!
The cab and boom
Scraper and stabilisers down
While Colin Bull was building his version of a multi wheeled crane down in the South of England, 11,438 miles (18,407km) away on the North Island of New Zealand Les Megget was also building a multi wheeled version of a mobile crane based on the Evolution Crane truck.

Les Megget's 10 wheeler in action
It is good to see the new parts being integrated into the system. I am sure we are going to see  lot more models like these. I for one am pleased to see the system grow. The introduction of the Evolution range of parts has probably added more useful parts to the system, in one go, than anything before it.


Monday, 3 February 2014

An unused No.9 set...

The auction at the RMG meeting, was by and large exactly what you would expect, except for one item, an unused, early light red/light green No.9 set. It had never been used or even unstrung. As I have already said in one of my previous posts, I did not have a camera with me. Luckily Mick Burgess did and he sent me this picture and his permission to publish it here...

Unused No.9  in RMG auction. (Photo: Mick Burgess)
The set realised £400 - a bargain for a collector and I bet there are not many of these around in such good, complete and original condition. It had a good box and a set of original manuals. Although it is nice to see, part of me wants to build something with it! That, of course would be daft and selfish as the combined cost of the parts - even in good condition, would not make the value of this set, which I think would be much higher on the open market. Besides it would deprive a genuine collector of something very special.


Sunday, 2 February 2014

Is this Evolution?

Today at the RMG meeting, Our good friend, Colin Bull, was showing of his latest creations.  Among the assembled models one stood out; an eight wheeled Crane lorry built in orange Evolution and traditional parts. A fusion model, just what I was blogging about a few days ago! As I did not have a camera with me (Can you believe I forgot it!) I press-ganged Bob Palmer into taking a few shots of this very nice little model for me...

Just arrived on site!
Colin's model is based on the Evolution crane truck but it has been extended and modified to give it four wheel steering.

Cab detail
The cab follows the lines of the original model with the usual 'corrections'. Colin has resolved the seat/steering wheel clash by setting the seats lower.

Ready and working
The boom ram has been relocated to give more lift than the original. This is something Les Megget did on his 'standard' model to improve the look.

Fabricated engine covers
Top view of the business end with improved cab  and engine cover detail. I do like that black and orange colour scheme...

Finally a view of the underside showing the steering detail. I am sure this subject is going to run and run. Detailing this model has so much potential, until today it had not occurred to me to build one in orange!


Saturday, 1 February 2014

Birthday models revisited at RMG!

Remember this?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a a picture of a French magazine article of a little tipper truck. I said at the time it had proved almost impossible to build. At the time I gave up and... Rather than say it all again, go and have a look HERE.

A day or so after that initial post Mick Burgess sent me an e-mail saying he had built my little truck although he had to make a couple of changes to make it work. The bonnet would never fit the way it is shown above, nor will the front axle fit that far forward if a 1 inch pulley was to be used as the final drive. This model is from February 1956 edition of the magazine, just going to prove that the ambiguous instructions are not new!

Today at the Runnymede Meccano Guild (RMG) meeting in Lyne, Mick brought his little model along to show me, and here it is...

Mick's Little model! (My hand!)
As I thought, it makes a very nice little model indeed. Mick even added the Magic motor. Thanks for showing us Mick!