Friday, 20 February 2015

Building Tower Bridge...

The model looks good when finished
It has been a long time coming but finally we have got our hands on the new Tower bridge set.

The original. Click the image to enlarge
We first saw this model at the beginning of the summer, last year. There it was, sitting on a shelf in Meccano's London offices. At that stage it had four brown coloured baseplates, part 52. This looked like good news on several counts. Meccano were making use of parts from across the board. Although the 52 has appeared here and there over the past decade it has been fleeting and usually in expensive of scarce sets.

I know that most of us Meccano 'lifers' have plenty of these parts but to have some nice clean fresh ones has to be a bonus. It also makes this set very attractive, to anyone new to the hobby, just looking to increase their building stock. I posted the parts list in a previous post: More good news for builders... that you can find HERE. At the time I was enthusing at the amount of useful parts. When you see what you get it is even more impressive. This set is going to be bought by many simply for the parts. Indeed, that is our main interest in this set.

Look at all those parts... and what about all those nuts and bolts!
That said, we still like to make up the models just for the fun of it and to see if Meccano have come up with a new way of doing something or using a part in an unusual manner. Now, I have to say that this is one of the most tedious of builds for me. I hate repetition in our builds. Luckily, Sue is not so bothered about building multiple sub-assemblies and is happy to build the same thing over and over again. For this model, the instructions take you through building one half and then instruct the builder to start again and build the other half. Fortunately for me, I spotted this while perusing the instructions prior to building.

Building in tandem is less taxing for me
I built both ends in tandem making it easier for me to cope with the repetition! The build starts off well. The larger towers go together reasonably easily even if the roof sections are a bit fiddly. It is the smaller towers that gave me the most trouble. The tower itself would not hold square and looked crooked. I could not get the two 4-hole strips to stay parallel.  I spent some considerable time on this, loosening and tightening nuts and bolts to no avail. Looking at the picture on the front of the instructions (same as the box art) I realised the instructions had missed out a three hole strip that made all the difference when fitted. The strip is shown in the photograph and indicated by the lower red arrow. While trying to assemble the roof, it became apparent that a second 3-hole strip had also been omitted from the instructions, indicated by the upper red arrow. The set is not short of these parts, they are included, they are just omitted from the instructions.

Errors in the instructions make the build 'interesting'
The other frustrating thing, again resolved by studying the picture of the finished model, is that the order of assembly is incorrect. The strip, arrowed blue, should be sitting on top of the 1 inch strips, not below them. This along with the missing strips means the apex of the roof is far too close together making it impossible to assemble neatly. Even with these errors corrected it is very tight.

Don't need that bit!
After missing out a couple of parts there seems to be a few parts that are totally unnecessary. 
At stage 52, the instructions show a 1 inch strip used to join the the approach 'road deck' together. This is totally unnecessary as the perforated strips are bolted to the mini trunnions at the next hole. At the end of the build I was left with four 1 inch strips.    

All in all, the set does build a good representation of the original even if in places this model over-exploits the tolerances making assembly very tight in places. It is a shame, as I fear it will prevent some beginners from completing the model. On the plus side, this has to be one of the best value for money sets around at the moment providing hitherto hard to come by parts in abundance. There are several differences between my model, the Toy Fair Model and the original model with the brown base - now you can go play spot the difference! Don't forget, you can click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Interestingly, the model show at the London Toy Fair was built to the instructions with missing parts, very ugly roofs, to the small towers, and redundant 1 inch strips. Note the new style box art that will be rolled out in the autumn. 


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