Friday, 27 June 2014

Steam Wagon's first outing

Before firing, but ready to go!
Last Sunday SELMEC members were invited to exhibit at Crossness Pumping Station as we have done so for the past couple of years. Always a good event and this year it gave me a chance to fire up the old 1929 virtual boiler steam engine, currently fitted to  the Steam Wagon model from the 1929 steam engine manual. See HERE. It also gave us the opportunity to make a short video using Tim's nice new video camera...

As you can see it ran very well and for about 15 minutes on a full tank of meths. Tim is now recovering in the local hospital after being run over at the end of filming.


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Pre-SkegEx display.

Philip Webb's photograph showing superb curved modelling on the Eagle
Some of Philip Webb's Meccano models, based on subjects from film and Television, including a huge model of the Eagle Transporter from the Gerry Anderson series Space 1999, will be on public display at the The Hildreds Shopping Centre, Skegness from the 27th June 2014 to promote SkegEx 14 Meccano exhibition at the Embassy Theatre, Skegness, which will run from Friday, 4th July  to Sunday, 6th July inclusive - but I think you are probably aware of that by now!

The North Midlands Meccano Guild along with Meccano UK have really pulled out all the stops this year to make this event a success. This is exactly the sort of display that will catch the eye of the public and should get the word around immediately prior to the event.

More information regarding SkegEx 14 can be found HERE.


Tuesday, 17 June 2014

SkegEx 14 - Live!

I am going to have a go at reporting from the show this year. Not the usual here is a model, there is a model but a jovial look at what it takes to make this show tick. It will be a real no holes barred look at the people and the goings on - some of it may not be exactly as it happens but why let the truth spoil a good story?

I  have set up a page linked to this blog , and I am going to attempt to update it from the show. I have no idea if this will work but we will have a go. I intend to cover the stuff that does not usually get posted. You will be able to join in too, as there is a comments box at the bottom of the page - I may regret that!

See the dedicated page for details, HERE or click on the panel at the top of the right hand column that will stay there until the show has finished. After that the page will be available by clicking on the page archive at the bottom of the same column.

You will be able to join in too, as there is a comments box at the bottom of the page.
I may regret that!


Monday, 16 June 2014

Now this is interesting...

There is an old boy from Belfast*
who turns out parts that do last

Some are slow, red, green or blue
others are zinc and sell fast.

* Belfast might not be particularly accurate, but he lives closer to that city than I do - and it works better in my lame attempt at a limerick !

Ian's photograph of his HIAB equipped recovery with 'fusion' girder
There are several makers around the globe, turning our replica and Meccano-compatible parts. One such maker is Ian Wilson who as well as being one of the most enthusiastic Meccano builders in the whole known universe, is also one of the best strip, plate, girder and circular plate makers. I have said it before, but his 24½ inch girders are the best I have ever seen. I have a pile of mill-finish (no paint) long girders here that sit one on another and there is not a gap to be seen between them. They are all as straight as an arrow.

Okay, you get it, I am impressed. Ian is also thinking that one stage further. Both Sue and I have been promoting the idea of using old and new parts together in the same model for years, now we have a similar 'mission' to encourage the use of Evolution parts in every-day models. Can you spot the evolution parts in our recent Rocket model? - See HERE.

Ian has taken this one step further by making  some new compatible parts that are a fusion of the Evolution ¼ system and the traditional ½ system. The yellow angle girder, that runs along the edge of the bed of the lorry, has a nice low profile as it is showing it ¼ inch face. The part that is supporting the plates is made in the style the standard slotted holes of a standard girder. Clever stuff!

Although I am not sure he is selling his new fusion girder (yet!?) Ian sells most of his other production via eBay. You can check out his selection of parts at his shop HERE - it is well worth a look! - If you buy anything, mention us and he might buy us a drink next time we see him!


Sunday, 15 June 2014

Great value - and on a Sunday?

For a while now I have been talking about the great deal Amazon are doing on the small Eiffel Tower set. Last week I orders another set, at £14.95 each with free delivery, they are great value. The free postage is a several day service, but that is no problem as I was in no hurry. I simply ordered it and forgot about it.

Great value for money!
This morning (Sunday) I received an e-mail saying that Amazon were going to deliver my order today. At first I though this was just a machine sending out an e-mail too early...

... A couple of hours ago the doorbell rang and a guy handed me my order! It appears that Amazon are trialling Sunday deliveries in area where weekday, daytime deliveries often fail because the participant is out at work. I'm happy, I'm off to build something!


Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Now, for something completely different!

T-Rex in a cage!
There is a guy who submits lots of virtual models to the VirtualMec website who goes by the name of patouminou. He tends to 'build' models that include humanoid figures, This one is no exception. Click on the picture above to enlarge the image!

You can see more of patouminou's work on the VirtualMec website HERE. You will also find lots of other models by modellers from all over the world - you might even fine us in there... Click HERE.   


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Three out of three...

Three models - one at a time?
We have made no secret of the fact that we are big fans of the latest two Multimodel sets. This post will concentrate on the 3-model set. There is a good selection of useful parts, finished in zinc and a very pleasing bright red, to stretch the imagination for building models not in the instruction manual.

Ralph's aeroplane
Ralph had already made a start by building the aeroplane, which is the main model illustrated on the front of the box. He had no problems building it and remarked at the time how simple the assembly was.

The helicopter...
Hold on! Where's the pilot!
I decided to make the helicopter from the manual instructions which were easy to follow. This model was very easy to make and I had no problems with any of assembly other than fitting the red triangular braced girders. These push the limits of the tolaraces. I think if the parts were unpainted they might fit easier but the thickness of the paint in the holes means the bolts have to be 'threaded' into the holes. Once that is realised and overcome the model looks good when completed. I have not built a model that has made up so easily in long time.

I am not sure about this one - no steering wheel?
Next, I decided to have a go at the third model, the Go Kart. The instructions for this are not in the manual but are available on the Meccano website for download HERE Access to the online instructions is easy and following them off the screen for the assembly was problem free. The model was easy to put together, in the early stages, but towards the end of build, some pieces were fiddly and quite a tight fit.  Having completed the model, my thoughts were it was a shame there was no steering wheel!

Three models from one set

All the Multimodel sets are designed to build one model at a time using most of, if not all, the parts supplied. This one is no exception. We thought it would be fun to have ago at building three models, all at the same time, from the parts included in one set. The result was a model of the Angel of the North (Rusty Rita) pictured here before it became rusty! A simplicity aeroplane and a baby robot – BabyBot!

And we still had some parts left over!
The models are simple to make and harp back to the days when instructions for simple models were included in every set - even the largest ones! The idea was that small models would get the novice started very quickly and achieve a goal within a very short space of time. It was then possible to make progressively larger models until the builder felt confident enough to tackle the larger model(s).

How is that for simple!
The Simplicity aeroplane could not be simpler, with a minimum of parts it can be assembled and ready for 'flight' in just a few minutes.

Rusty Rita - before the rust set in!
Rusty Rita, or to give it its official title, The Angel of the North, stands on a hill just outside Gateshead and can be seen for miles. Love it or hate it, its iconic form is instantly recognisable. Our model is based on the sculpture in its new, pristine state!

Our third model, made from the the selection of parts left over, is of a baby robot, (BabyBot) sitting down awaiting a cuddle from its mum. It will have a long wait as we have not made its mum yet and nobody needs to mention that baby robots don't have mums - they are built just like the bigger ones.

We are sure there are lots more models hiding inside these sets - anyone else want to have a go? the set is available on the web and in stores for under £10.00 providing excellent value for money. Have you noticed the lack of plastic parts? And that there are more of what we call 'traditional' parts? We have... Well done Meccano, keep up the good work!


Sunday, 8 June 2014

More on the tramway...

Part 2 The auto-reverse mechanism 

Part one can be found HERE.

The trouble with having several projects on at the same time becomes evident when a few months go past and nothing has moved on. Well, today it was the turn of the automatic tramway to make a move for the limelight. In the first part of this story I got as far as setting up the chassis and getting it to run. At that point the electrical connections were just twisted in place and there was very little weight in the chassis. yes it ran but it was not that reliable as only one of the centre rail pick-ups was connected.

The chassis is now wired properly and has some temporary weight added
Temporary extra weight, attached to the chassis, has made a vast difference to performance. This will be removed once the body has been fitted... must get around to building that! The three-point suspension (described in part one) now keeps all the wheels firmly in contact with the track, providing a good electrical connection as well as keeping the tram stable.

Original mechanism
The reversing mechanism is a modern version of the unit we used on our transporter bridge we built a few years ago (right) We discovered after we built it that it needs to be assembled with the slotted dome-head bolts, otherwise it shorts out on the larger bolt heads.

The new unit uses the excellent geared motor found in the Evolution Helicopter set.

Note to Meccano: Please include this motor in one of the smaller sets!

The new motor also comes complete with a very neat reversing switch that can be operated in many ways. Here I have used the tri-axle pivot to operate it. The whole thing builds up onto a 5½ x 2½ inch flanged plate nicely.

New reversing switch is a vast improvement
You should be able to see how it goes together from the pictures. There is nothing complicated about it. I used plastic gears as they seem to be a bit quieter and there is no great load to cope with. Careful adjustment of the linkage is required to get the timing right. that can also be adjusted by changing the voltage supply to the motor. On my model I have set the supply to 6 Volts.

Another view of the switch may help if you are following this project
Power is supplied to the tram via a centre rail pick up and is returned back through the chassis and wheels to the track. The whole of the length of the centre rail is supported by plastic handrail supports. At each end of the centre rail, there is a section that has been isolated from the rest by inserting a short section of plastic rod, held in rod connectors. these insulated joints are bridged using diodes.  A diode will allow electricity to flow in one direction only, as the tram passes the isolation gap the tram will stop (if it doesn't, reverse the diode)  it will only start again if the reversing switch is thrown.

The insulated gap is filled with a section of plastic rod
The motor is hard-wired to the reversing switch and you will need to cut and strip the wires. the motor is connected directly to the power supply. The track switch is connected to the reversing switch and in-turn to the power supply. As the motor runs it causes the mechanism  to run throwing the switch from forward, through off, to reverse. This cycle takes longer than it takes the tram to travel from one end of the track to the other. When the tram crosses the isolated joint, it will stop until the mechanism has thrown the switch. at which point the diode will allow the electricity, to flow and the tram will set off again back down the track.

Wiring diagram
The diodes required for this project are 1N5401 These are 3A capacity and will be more than capable of handling the load. Smaller 1A diodes will probably do the job but there is nothing wrong with a bit of over-engineering! Electronic components are very cheap, these days and the recommended diodes sell for 10p of less if bought in bulk as low as ten at a time, they are even cheaper. We buy a lot of our components from a company called BitsBox and you can find them HERE. The diodes we recommend can be found HERE. If you would like to know more about diodes and how they work see HERE.

That all seems to work well. Testing over, all I need now is a body and to neaten up the wiring. I will show the finished thing soon...


More Rocket...

One of the good things about the internet is the ability to show and discuss models with other enthusiasts near and far. In this case, a simple improvement was suggested that makes all the difference to the look of the finished model. The original post is HERE.

That's better!
I was pleased with the way the model finished up, except for one detail. I did not like the tyre finishing off the smoke stack. After posting the pictures here and talking about it on the Spanner II list, my mate from down in the depths of Kent, Mike Dennis, suggested the prefect solution.
Works a treat!

He suggested I use one of the new black bevel gears from the new Evolution sets. Brilliant! why didn't I think of that?... Something I only realised recently is that it is possible to thread the socket/hole of any Meccano tri-axle part without preventing it from being used as intended.  This made fixing much easier. A tyre with a spacer washer inside can be bolted to the socket of a plastic bevel and plugged into the top of the smoke stack. I think this is a huge improvement, Thanks Mike!


Friday, 6 June 2014

Modern Rocket!

Modern Meccano is often regarded as being second rate, somehow inferior to the real stuff. The dream of being able to buy Meccano like we did in our youth, and for Meccano to go back to producing sets in our favoured colours scheme, is never going to happen. Even if Meccano started selling those old sets how many of us would actually buy it? A few maybe but not enough to keep a multimillion pound business going.  And we all know the kids of today are just not that interested in building huge collections of parts to build things from. 

The latest ten model Multimodel set
Meccano's current selection of sets do have lots of parts that we recognise as well as parts that are new to the system. Building within the system takes a bit of readjustment from what we are used to. No brass parts - or very few. No plates or long parts. The latest models are skeletal, small or both. Although we champion the new multimodel sets, the latest 10 model set being one of the best yet, Meccano need to encourage the follow on. The small Eiffel Tower set contains lots of strips, nuts and bolts as well as a few flanged plates. This set is really just a collection of useful parts with none of the stuff we don't need - It has no wheels! This set can pair with any of the multimodel sets to expand the selection of parts available. See my blog post over on the Community Meccano site HERE.

Rocket and tender
It is possible to build bigger and better models if all you have is modern Meccano. There are still a lot of parts familiar to us oldies in the current supply of sets. To this end I decided to have a go at limiting myself to just currently available sets as the supply of parts. There are some compromises and I do not claim this to be perfect scale model, but more of a Meccano interpretation.

Crank assembly
The boiler is made from strips bolted around formed 5½ inch strips, Even if the builder can not form parts to this degree, the modern 'memory' strips could be used instead. The first and only real problem was how to represent the cylinder, con-rods and crank pin without any brass. Further more I only wanted a ¼ inch throw. A 1 inch, 3-hole narrow strip saved the day. I could probably add more detail given time to think about it but I think it has enough detail for anyone to recognise it. The rest of the model is straightforward construction as can be seen in the pictures.

It is possible to build a reasonable model (Well I think it is) from only the currently available stock.


Thursday, 5 June 2014

Parlez-vous fran├žais?

Non? Moi non plus ...

You may have noticed that we have been caught by the Rabbids bug. The trouble is Meccano seem to have removed all the franchised sets from the website. No Rabbids, no Gears of War, no Tintin and no Sonic - Take a look for yourself HERE. Multimodels, Evolution, Turbo and that is it as far as metal Meccano is concerned. Build and Play and Construction plastic sets and nothing else.

Bonjour, bonjour bonjour ... Qu'avons-nous donc ici?
It is the remote control for your car, It came from Do you speak English?
Looking around both the High Street and on-line retailers, here in the UK, it seems that a lot of the more popular models have been snapped up. This being the twenty-first century and the world being a smaller place, I decided to have a look beyond these shores. My attention was drawn to Amazon France where I found the sets I was looking for. Great I'll order them. The trouble is the whole site is in French. Typical, fancy not having a English translation just for me!

Looking at the form, my schoolboy French all came flooding back... All six words of it. With brave heart I decided to have a go. How hard could it be? Most of it is obvious and Google Translate might come in handy. I started to fill in the form. Name, I can manage that, address seemed simple enough.When it came to country there is a drop-down menu to chose from. These are bad enough in English as some list us as United Kingdom others as Great Britain or even England.   Hmmm... So what do the French call the island I live on? Do you think I could find anything on the menu that looks remotely possible. I was on the point of throwing in the towel when I tried tapping United Kingdom into the aforementioned Google Translate - Bingo! It came up with something that was on the list: Royaume-Uni. I am sure lots of you reading this already know that this is French for United Kingdom, but It got me going for a bit. Am I the only person in the UK that didn't know that!

Two more from France - one came in a blue plastic egg! Very strange!
With that hurdle over the rest was plain sailing, as my mate Tony Brown said it's like playing Russian Roulette with your credit card, but what the heck, you only live once! so copy a bit, paste it into GT and see what it says, input a bit more information and eventually something that looks like a confirmation appears on the screen... 

For the next three days I got intelligible e-mails from informing me of all sorts. At one point I think I even got a proposal of marriage, or was that a confirmation of dispatch?

A few days later the goods arrived, so I did do it correctly.