The cab roof is removable to allow access to the gearbox and motors
Spiffy the spider
Ken Senar's Spiffy the spider
Display board
Mike Fallows Meccano dealer display
Bedford tipper

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5th May 2009 A weekend away...
Meccanuity 2009

The Ironbridge

How time flies. A year ago at last years event we, the TIMS club members, were asked if we could bring large models to the 2009 event.  As regular readers will know, Sue and I had intended to exhibit our model of George Ferris’ original wheel. A year seemed like a long time then.

We did start with great gusto and set about planning and acquiring parts. Building soon took off and the project was well in hand. This was fine until I became involved in a new project in my other life outside Meccano, you know the one that funds this life. All of a sudden we were looking at a deadline not only for work but for pleasure! This is not why we do it, so the decision was made to drop the idea of getting it finished for Meccanuity 09. Instead we have a plan… 

Long and tall

Ralph with crane
Who hung that on there?

Our interpretation of Mr F’s wheel will be getting on for seven foot tall when assembled so we needed to make something of comparable size. Enter the Forth Bridge, 16ft long and the Scotch Derrick, 6ft+ high. As the Forth Bridge was finished already and had indeed visited a couple of meetings ‘Down South’ that was not a problem. Neither would the Scotch Derrick A week before the exhibition and the gearbox and jib were complete already, So why was I still building the thing at 2am on Friday morning (late Thursday night) when we needed to be in Ironbridge the next day to set up? Don’t ask me, sometimes the simplest jobs take forever.

Forth Bridge
The Forth Bridge

Friday morning and the last few nuts are being done up on the Derrick while Sue is busy playing with the back seats of her car. Finished, 10am Friday morning. While I collapse the model and tether it ready for transportation, Sue loads the car with her display model Ferris wheel and some of the other models we are taking with us. I get stuck in and before long the trusty Volvo is ready for the off. A quick check around, confirms we have not left anything behind (Yeah, right! read on…) and all that is left is to chuck Smokie in the freezer and head for Ironbridge.

Three and a bit hours later and we arrive at the venue to set up for the first day. All the models get assembled, the Derrick goes together faultlessly and works like a dream - all weekend apart from a bit of gear gnashing that is soon put right with a bit of assistance from John Nuttall - Thank you!

Off we go…

We had even more space this year as we were able to use the Gadget room in addition to the normal exhibition space. We set up in there for the first day but as people left that were only there for one day, we moved back into the main exhibition area for the rest of the weekend which explains the apparent inconsistency in the photographs.

The Derrick crane went together easily and as this was its first outing that was a relief. It was rather disappointing how the vast hall belittled the size of the model. What looked enormous in our Meccano room faded into insignificance. Lowering the jib to near horizontal did confirm its length to the odd sceptic who debated the length. I must admit, in the vertical position the foreshortening perspective did visually truncate its 6ft length.

Other than questioning the Derrick’s jib length the other point of discussion was the lacing cord used to string it. I was put on to this stuff by Colin Bull. He used it on that huge red/silver block setter he had at the show last year. It is very strong and is slightly thinner than Meccano string, giving a much nicer look to any model. I was concerned that it would find lifting the jib a step too far but I should not of worried it performed admirably. It is available from RS Components and can be found HERE

Gear boxThe gearbox and motors can be seen here prior to the cab being built

Powered by three motors the Derrick needed some form of independent motor control as cranes of this type's main advantage was that they could slew, luff and winch simultaneously. Gaugemaster model railway controllers supply this control. These electronic controllers give superb control and good slow running when used in conjunction with modern motors. The model uses two of Dave Taylor’s EM1 motors and a Michael Threlfall’s 16 rpm Meccaparts geared motor. The EM1 motors have long Meccano gear-chains to enable them to run and hold position without the need for ratchet or breaks on the winding drums. This has made the operation quite noisy so some modification will be needed before its next outing. 

Sue spent a fair bit of time ‘rebuilding’ the forth bridge. It is one of those models that just does not break down as easily as it looks. Her display models were set running and it was time to Chat.

All change!

Sue and Display modelsSue - smile! The Ferris wheel is a replica, now with working lights, built by Sue from original parts

Some of the exhibitors from day one had now moved on and left a hole in the display in the main hall. Sue and I volunteered to move in order to fill the vacant space. We left the Forth Bridge on display in the gadget room and took our dealer displays and the cranes into the main hall.

Frenc display crane
The French crane has been refurbished since its outing in February and created lots of interest

The French Display crane, now completely refurbished, was much discussed. It seems to run faultlessly. This was it’s first big test and it ran for two and a half days on one charge. It is interesting that I have had reports that it was seen in a shop in Germany and also at a fair held at the NEC, Birmingham for children supported by the BBC, but details are sketchy and at the moment only hearsay as I have seen no documentary of photographic evidence. If anyone knows anything else about the history of this model please let us know. Sue and I are keen to know more.

Darleks and Trains

Keith Way's micro-model Stephenson's Rocket

The project this year was to build a loco and there was a lot of support - we even had a micro-model one crossing the Forth Bridge! At the other end of the size scale Bob Seaton was displaying his prize-winning model of the Duchess of Sheffield at six foot long and weighing in at 100lbs this is a real monster of a model.



The challenge this year was to build a Darlek and race it… normally we are up for a Meccano challenge but for some reason this one just did not appeal and neither of us could get up any enthusiasm for the idea so we did not have a Darlek to race. However there were lots of entries and races were held each day and a good time was had by all!

Dave's shop
Dave Taylor's stand full of goodies to buy

The models 

There is a comprehensive gallery of models at this years show on The NZ Meccano site that can be viewed HERE There is little point in repeating them all in this news item, however we will pick a few of the models that caught our eye.

Mike Fallow's Meccanographs are works of art

Sue has been fascinated by some of the more elaborate Meccanographs that have appeared. Mike Fallows’ display was impressive as was Les Nightingale’s The precision that some of these machines draw with has to be seen.

Close up showing the accuracy that Mikes machines achieve

Although I can admire the workmanship of these machines I still have no passion to build one, the same can not be said for Sue. So I suspect that sooner or later there will be a Laughton version in the making.

Terry Pettitt's Bedford tipper

Next to Mike, Bill Gardiner’s display is always a hit with the kids, young and old! Sue took a shine to Ken Senar’s ‘Spiffy’ the spider and Terry Pettitt’s Bedford tipper. Although I am not a fan of the Meccano aeroplane sets I had to admire John Reid’s display of aircraft models both from ‘regular’ Meccano and aircraft parts.

Concord in the Museum

Out in the Museum are a few meccano models that are on semi-permanent display. The Meccano model of the Ironbridge was built by club members. Ken Senar’s 11foot 6inch pylon can also be seen along with Tony Clapperton superb model of concord.

Ironbridge model



They left us behind...Wait for us!!!
Hey! Wait for us... Looks like we have the house to ourselves this weekend, now where's that cat?

Lacing cord
Lacing cord
Bert Hutchings' roller bearing uses five, half inch pullies fixed to a bent strip of 15 holes - great idea!


Meccanuity 2009

KEY 1 John nutall's 2-6-4

2 Chris Shute's clockwork horse & cart

3 Hammerhead crane by Tony Evanson

4 Chris Shute's winning Darlek

5 Geof Brown's display of hornby O gauge and Meccano models

6 Binns Brewery Sentinel Steam lorry with driver Matt Goodman!

7 John Ozyer-key's Backhoe excavator

8 John Reid with his rotary aero engine

9 Jinty by Bob Seaton

10 Mr Meccanograph's (Mike Fallows) other model!
You do that piece...


The last night

While we were at the show, we were kindly given a couple of boxes of wooden moulding planes that had belonged to a Spanner list member’s father. As my other life revolves around wood he thought I could make good use of them. How right he was! I love using old tools, you will have to buy a copy of the magazine to see what happens to them… but that is another story. The relevance here is that we now have more stuff to take home than we came with. Sue’s baby Volvo estate was full to the brim on the way up to the show, something had go.

During the course of the show I had been telling people that the Forth Bridge was going to the breaker’s yard when we got home so there was nothing for it but to bring the dismantling forward a bit. When we got back to the B&B, after a nice feed at the Horse & Jockey, we Sneaked in to our room with 16ft of Forth Bridge under our arms and a tool box. Three hours later the Forth Bridge was no more; just a plastic carrier bag filled with an awful lot of zinc strips and 1140g of nuts and bolts (about 850!) The bridge was now a more compact kit of parts and gave us the extra space we needed in the car to get the rest of the models home safely.

Bag of bits
Now that is what I call a compact bridge

So that was it for Meccanuity 09, I have a couple of club meetings to go to between now and Skegness at the beginning of July but serious model building will have to take a back seat for a while as the dreaded work needs my attention for a few weeks. Although we have some new kits to look at, the Derrick needs some work on it to refine its operation and there is the odd SELMEC secretary’s challenge to consider…

And finally...

As we were leaving Ironbridge we found this postcard. Recognise the view from somewhere?Coalbrookdale


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...and I'll do this bit!

For more photographs of the models on display at Meccanuity 09