Friday, 6 March 2015

Evolution off-roader.

Neat, rugged little model
The latest offerings from the Evolution stable will more than likely be one of the last of the range. As time moves on, the Meccano system is becoming unified with what have, up to now, been exclusively Evolution parts being integrated into the system as a whole. The recently introduced 3-model Multimodel set includes some Evolution parts, as do several of the models planned for release later this year.

Standard packaging for the Spring release
The Evolution off-roader has been seen in several guises and at different trade shows has been called different things. In its initial form as an Evolution set it is being marketed as simply the 'Off Road' set. The unified packaging, scheduled to appear latter in the year and seen at the toy fairs around the world, shows the model reincarnated as the 'Canyon Crawler'. Whatever you call it, the model is the same.

New driver...
New into the shops in the UK this model follows the Evolution theme of rugged smaller scale models featuring the ¼ inch geometry parts. Current price (Asda direct) seems to be a shade under £25.00

The first thing I noticed on opening the box was that this is the first set we have seen that includes the new hex-driver. Most of us have been using proprietary hex-drivers for years but to have them supplied with the sets is great for the newcomer. I must say that even seasoned builders (like us) will be impressed with this neat little tool.  It is very comfortable to use and the hexagonal cross sectional shape of the plastic moulded handle means it is not constantly rolling off the table!  

Building the model is straightforward and  the new style of instructions are a vast improvement on the earlier instructions. The only thing I noticed is a conversion from metric to imperial that is wrong regarding the length of the rods used as axles. It is incorrect in the instructions as well as in the parts list. Now, before you all say "Only you..." I was not the only one to notice this, My good friend George Roy also mentioned it while building his version of the model from existing parts. I am hoping to be able to show you his model along with a few modifications he made in a later post...

Ready to play!
The new instructions now follow a standard orientation of the models on the page. In the past the drawings have floated about all over the place and this can (does!) lead to confusion. the new drawings show the model stages in a single orientation wherever possible. If a drawing is rotated an arrow indicates the fact that you are now looking at the other side; the drawing has been rotated. Even this simple plan seems to have confused at least one of my fellow Meccano builders. He is getting confused between the arrows being informative and instructive. The arrows are not instructing the builder to turn the model, just that that the drawing has been rotated on the page.

The dark areas of the illustrations was always a concern as they tend to blend into one amorphous mass, devoid of detail. This has been totally negated by using a white outline on all dark parts where they need to be added to the model. Once they have been added, the parts become dark again. They are also dark on the parts list and identifiers. I can see the thinking behind this as it makes the construction step obvious but I do wonder if it would not have been better to make all the outline white. I am probably being over picky here as the new instructions are a vast improvement over the previous offerings.

Novel suspension system
 Assembling the model starts with the suspension. This is very wobbly until the superstructure is assembled. At which point the four, 1 inch angle girders can be adjusted to tighten up the swing arms. Now, I am no fan of those little white soft grip collars but on this model they are used in two places; to hold the wheels on and to secure the axles that hold the swing arms in place. To hold the wheels on, there is enough axle protruding to give them a chance to get a grip. On the underside, the swing arms are held in place using tri-axles and more of the soft grip collars. To my surprise, they seem to hold but they are well onto the rods by about 5mm.

Slight bending of the strips gives the model some form
Some slight bending of the parts is required to finish the model but this is not excessive and should not cause and long term distortion of the parts. The rest of the assembly is much as you would expect. The instructions are correct, as far as I could see, other than the rod length error in conversion of units from metric to imperial.

Opening bonnet
An added feature that gives a little more play value is that the bonnet will swing open revealing a space where the engine should be but hay, that's just fine if you want somewhere to sit your miniature teddy. After all we must not lose sight of the fact that this is a toy. Meccano always has been, and still is, a toy. It has been us, life long enthusiasts, that have taken it further into a hobby of creation where we try and replicate the world around us present and past. As Frank Hornby said (or at least his marketing team) "The toy that grows with the boy"


Monday, 2 March 2015

More on the No.6 - Let's build!

Thick glossy paint -Yuck!
I was pleased with the way the nuts and bolts came up but now I need to look at the parts. When I first saw the set I was horrified to see some parts had been heavily over-painted with a high gloss dark red paint. On further investigation these appear to have been additional to the parts list, meaning I don't need them for this set. Closer inspection of the stampings, that are barley visible, reveals they appear to be of the type used on nickel plated parts. I will strip the paint at some point and see exactly what they are, but that is for another day.

30 strips in reasonable condition as they came, straight out of the box
I have started to count the perforated strips and this has been encouraging especially when I discovered all 30 12½ inch strips were not only there but in reasonable condition. There is some paint loss but that is to be expected. The main thing is that after a bit of gentle coaxing with nothing more than finger pressure they are all looking nice and straight.  There are a few of the 9½ and 7½ inch strips missing as well as a few of the shorter ones but I am please to say that most of them are there.

These look a bit more like it
I am not, at this stage, going to continue with the counting as I really want to get on with building the Steam Wagon around our 1929 engine from the first production that has the transfer logo on the outer boiler jacket rather then the embossed logo of the later engines. It is obvious, at this stage, there are more than enough parts to complete the task especially as I have now managed to find a few more bolts from our own collection. These are in much better condition than the rusty ones that came with the set. I now have all the standard nuts and bolts I need, just a bit short on the longer ones at the moment but I am sure some more will materialise in due course.

The early 1929 steam engine
The more I delve into this set, the more interesting it is. Normally I would be washing all this Meccano in warm soapy water before I did anything else with it. This time I am not sure that is going to be necessary. I sorted out the perforated strips above and as I was sorting through them I was aware that my hands were clean. The usual result of handling old Meccano is dirty and often sticky hands. I think this is all about the set being boxed. Meccano that is stored in an open carton, box or the like tends to get full of dust and anything else that can get dropped or spilt over it.

Judging by the condition of this set I think it was played with for a period, as it shows signs of keen but not excessive use. I think it was then 'grown out of' and put to one side. Over that period it seems logical that the tools, some of the nuts and bolts, strips and almost all of the angle brackets were used either to make something or, more likely, to repair something as the parts were never returned to the box. Interestingly all the sought-after parts seem to be present.
All eight channel segments are in good condition
What remaind was obviously stored in a reasonably dry place as it is all in great condition. The only parts showing any sign of rust is what is left of the nuts and bolts. As they were supplied in a modern plastic box of the type four expensive chocolates are supplied in, I suspect the fixings had spent a lot of the past decades out of the box and only reunited prior to going to auction, thus explaining their inconsistent state compared with the parts.

In more recent times the set must have come to light and someone added some parts, painting them as shown at the top of this post. The puzzling thing to me is that those parts have never been used. Maybe the painter was not happy with the results and went no further.

As I said in an earlier post, we bought it from a fellow Meccano man who had acquired it at auction as part of a much bigger lot. He was interested in the other Meccano and wanted to move this set on as it was not what he was interested in. For this reason we have no knowledge of its real history and all the above is pure conjecture.

I'm off to get on with building the Steam Wagon from the set parts and that old steamer! I'll show you the progress very soon...