|Now, where did you move those gears to Sue?|
The builder has a different problem to consider. First of all, do you keep everything in its original boxes and use it from there? Impractical I would have thought unless you have a small, considered collection. Geoff Wright, told me that after disposing of the stock from his famous Meccano shop, MW Models he now only has a red/green No.9 set and builds solely from that - he also says he builds more models now, than he did when he had a vast collection of parts... Food for thought there, I think.
When I first started with my late 1950s light red green set. I would build a model and then when I took it apart I would build another so the box was very rarely full. As I acquired more parts and the box became tatty, the parts moved home to the ubiquitous shoe box. This served me well as most parts would fit in to it, including my part No.162, (Boiler, complete) that my Dad insisted I needed. The contents of a gears set also shared that pre-owned storage facility.
|Plastic bricks - I can't remember who made them...|
|My Dad's 'tool' Cabinet has been with me all my life|
|My 14th birthday produced a Power Drive set|
|The box did not last very long - this set is not my original!|
Then, out of the blue, I was offered a 1950's No.10 in a four drawer cabinet for a very reasonable price. Now I had two cabinets. As more parts were acquired, a few plastic component boxes were added to the collection. I also remember a tartan shortbread tin that was full of nuts and bolts. At this stage the growth of the collection stalled as life got in the way and we spent the next twenty years working and living.
The collection grew at a paceOn a day in the early naughties, I was perusing eBay and fell upon a Meccano listing. I had been messing about with a Meccano clock winding mechanism, between other things, that had reignited my interest in building. It was the first time any Meccano building had happened for years. The listing that caught my eye was for a suitcase full of Meccano. I won it and that was it. This was the heyday of Meccano buying on eBay, lots of stuff was coming out of the loft and finding its way onto the market via the rapid growth of the internet and the auction sites here in the UK. For the first time in our Meccano journey, Meccano was readily available in quantity and at reasonable prices.
This abundance of Meccano meant the existing storage for parts was soon swamped. It was now time to commandeer the old chest of my teenage years. The non Meccano contents were boxed and stored elsewhere. The three medium depth drawers were allocated for the storage of flat/flexible plates and motors. The narrow drawers were ideal for the storage of strips and other zinc parts and the two larger drawers were assigned to flanged plates and wheels. Brassware was stored in selection of component storage boxes.
|The collection grew...|
|Yellow boxes - we even use the lids sometimes!|
At this point we stopped looking at the new stuff and did not buy anything that was not made prior to the closure of Binns Road. This meant that our storage was not too much of a problem as we were just adding quantity to existing parts. By this time our collection had grown to encompass most of the parts available up until closure. We looked at the new sets as modern marketing rubbish that did not have any worth. To this end we wrongly dismissed all the modern Meccano as being worthless.
Our blinkered approach to buying during our dormant (non building) period simply enforced our views and when we became active again in the early naughties we (at lest me) were still only interested in what we thought of as being real Meccano. It was not until the latter part of the last decade that all that changed. By this time we had joined a few new clubs, as well as being a member of SELMEC since the early 1980s. One of the new places we joined was Telford and Ironbridge Meccano Society (TIMS). A serious threat to the stability of our now refined and workable storage regime was about to unfold. We had been working on our entry to the annual challenge, keeping our heads deeply buried in the sand by only using our stock of traditional Meccano. That year the challenge was to construct a ‘square wheeled racer’ and compete against each other in the arena.
First attempts were dismissed as unworkable due to the flex in the design. Rigidity meant weight. As the ‘racer’ had to carry it’s own power supply It became apparent that this was going to be a tortoise and hare type of event and we were building a tortoise! The final version was in the super heavy-Weight class. Powered by a couple of 6volt lead-acid batteries our lumbering machine was more of a plodder than a racer. To our surprise we won our group and came runner-up in the final!
|Modern meccano had changed - look at this lot!|
The drawers are perfect for keeping most parts in. The Racco drawer cabinets we use today are readily available from several sources and can often be found on the second hand market. They will take parts up to 4½ inches long. The larger drawers at the bottom will take bulky items and longer components. All our longer strips and plates are stored either in the original 'tool' cabinet, referred to earlier, or in the other perfect storage units, Meccano dealer cabinets. The latter can be expensive, especially if in pristine condition.
|Dealer cabinet awaiting some attention in the workshop|
|Great for extra storage of girders|
No mater what storage boxes, drawers or cabinets are used, there comes a point where any system becomes overrun. Our system has matured to a point that we are happy with and it can be expanded as required. Initially we would just allocate two component drawers to some parts, and that is still the case today with some smaller components like collars. We now run a building stock system in the vicinity of the work table and carry, what would be called in the retail business, a back-stock. Drawers are labelled with small stickers that denote where further stocks can be found by colour and or alphanumeric codes. These stocks are housed in the old component boxes (that used to house our building stock), in food containers, stacked on shelves or in kitchen-style wall cabinets and in the dealer cabinets. Our system of storage is constantly expanded as the stock grows. New cabinets are purchased as we run out of drawers as the range of parts continues to grow. In recent times the new Evolution range has introduced dozens of new parts to the range. Smaller contributions have been made by the franchised sets such as Rabbids and Gears of War.
|Kitchen style cabinets can hold a lot of stock, loose and boxed out of sight.|
In case you are wondering, the thread is for one of our looms!
|New parts mean new drawers...|
|...and additional cabinets - where's this one going Sue?|
|Building stock of nuts, bolts and washers|
This system has worked well for several years now. Standard nuts, bolts and washers of all types are stored in Raaco component boxes that are used to build from. Over the years we have collected thousands of these fixings and it is amazing just how many can get used on a big model, especially when Sue goes to town with the detailing. Our favoured form of strip construction can really eat through the stock too. The trays are stocked from a back-stock food containers full of sorted fixings. The back stock of longer bolts and pivot bolts had been stored in a large component box. This box eventually got so full it was overflowing and these too were moved into clip top food containers.
|Building and back-stock of fixings|
|Wheels - they just bread like rabbits!|