My Van
Too big for the car park?
Brian's Skyrider
Peter's Meccanograph now has a motor
A seagull
Clockwork but fireless...

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20th June 2009 SELMEC Summer meeting

Wait for us!

A couple of weeks ago I was at the RMG meeting down in Ottershaw with our Scotch Derrick crane. I got there early and proceeded to find a suitable location for the model, got it all set up and that was fine. After picking up the robots and Maxi kits I had ordered from Dave Taylor done a lot of chatting, showing off the crane to one and all it was time to go.

I also had to collect the second French display crane I had arranged to collect at the meeting. This was in the back of somebody else’s car. A trip to the car park, a bit of dismantling and it was in the back of Sue’s Volvo that I had purloined for the day. Now it was back to the hall to try and dismantle the Scotch Derrick and get that in the car along with all the other paraphernalia that we take to a meeting or show. On looking around the only people left in the hall were me and Alan Wenbourne, patiently dismantling his model of the London Eye. We both agreed that SELMEC was going to be a small model event!

SELMEC always have a secretary's challenge at each meeting. This is a task set by the secretary and usually incorporates some kind of restriction. Having said that, it does not usually stop us from building something on the large size. Last time this was taken to a new level when we ended up building the Forth Bridge - all 16½ feet of it!

It was time for a change. The challenge this time was to incorporate a Meccano tool or tools, into the model. Having known about this for some time I was thinking along the lines of a ping-pong machine using screwdrivers as paddles or lifters and spanners as gates. This was all getting out of hand and along with the pressure of work I thought that I would give it a miss. I did actually start on a ball roller but my heart was not in it and by now time was short.

Pylon Flyer
The pylon flyer takes shape

I decided that I would give the challenge a miss and get on with the helicopter Pylon flyer instead. That was not as easy as it looked - ever built one? It was patently obvious that I was going to end up with nothing new to show other than a bunch of reprobate robots and four made up maxi kits…

Last minute

Saturday morning arrived and still I had no challenge model. Then it dawned on me. Drift! The drift P/N 37c is a genuine meccano tool and it makes a great pointer… what points? - a compass. A frantic rummage through the collection of manuals threw up an Elektrikit manual and model number E4 is a compass. This model has no pointer as it uses the card disc supplied with the Elekrikit to indicate direction. That looks simple enough to substitute the disk for a pointer and hey presto instant challenge model! well that’s the theory. As all such assumptions in Meccano modelling nothing is that easy. The rather large tolerances that Meccano is manufactured to can work as an advantage (ask any Meccano clock builder) but in this case the opposite is true.

The model as built only just works and the additional weight of the drift along with the two additional threaded pins, used to help counter balance the drift, created too much friction between the pointed rod and the pivot bolt. More rummaging revealed that there are several different types of pivot bolt some look very good with very nice looking depressions machined into them. The trouble is they are next to useless as the depression is too deep for the point of the rod and it grounds on the sides of the point defeating the object completely. I found a much rougher looking offering that worked better and fitted that. I also made a mental note to have a word with Stuart Borrill and see if he can make me some rods, to match his pivot bolts…

The compass challenge model - it works too!

After an hour of making and fiddling about I had my challenge model. I gathered up the robots and the other bits and pieces I wanted to show including my incomplete pylon flyer and checked with the boss that is was OK to once again commandeer the recycled fridge. I am sure that parking my monster in the very small car park at the hall would not go down too well, although it will happen one day when the big Ferris wheel is complete. Come to think of it I did park one of my Transits in the car park 20 years ago I can remember doing it. Maybe Transits are the inverse of Mars bars, they have got bigger over the years, or appear to have done.  

This time I had one small box to carry somewhat of a record for me. I plonked myself down on a table, after negotiating a path around Dave and his infamous stock trolley, and started setting up while discussing the ins and outs of Brian Elvidge’s models on the table next to me. The next thing I know is I get moved onto a centre table because my models don’t need power. Just because he has a very nice display model of Tower Bridge doesn’t mean he can tell me what to do… Maybe he is just jealous because our display windmill has lights on it! In the interest of good grace I resist the temptation to land a right hook, smile sweetly and move to a centre table. The fact that Frank is bigger than me has nothing to do with it!

Display models

As you may well know, Sue and I are interested in the dealer display models. Back in February, at the TIMS meeting in Ironbridge Mike Fallows has his model of the  Double Skyrider that he built following a rather tatty original model. Well, I think you know what is coming next, and yes we struck a deal and arranged to collect his original at The Magic of Meccano meeting at the Kew Steam Museum in April. That we did and it is now awaiting restoration. At the same show, Mike also had is new version on display.  At the SELMEC meeting Brian Elvidge had his version of the model built from photographs he took of mike's model at the Kew event. Brian’s model has a few custom features like a ticket office. It also features six gondolas to each wheel which are built up from narrow strips as Brian did not have enough rod and strip connectors (P/N 212) to be able to use rods as the original display model.

Work in progress

Stripping shovel
A bit more work to do?

I was not the only one to be displaying a work in progress model. Greg Clarke has been working on his model of a Bucyrus Erie 3850 Stripping Shovel. After six months work the bottom is complete, another six months should see the model finished, according to Greg. Also still working on his Meccanograph, Peter Clay has had enough of cranking the handle and has fitted a motor.

Some of the models on display…

Pea green boat
The owl and the pusseycat went to sea in a pea green boat - full of holes?

John Cowdery built his version of the owl and the pussycat based on an article that appeared in Constructor Quarterly. He tells me that the magnetic eyes are a genuine Meccano part! There is even a seagull hovering over the back of the boat. A fine display of scratch built steam engines was put on by Allen Berman. Allen had attended a course on the subject and was enthusiastically sharing his newfound  skill with the rest of us as well as demonstrating one of his engines built into a steam shovel.

Home made steam

When Adrian Ashford thrusts a key into the side of his Fireless loco it always makes me smile, much to Adrian’s bemusement. The prototype runs of a charge of steam from an external source. It has no firebox in order to minimise the risk of fire in the paper-works in which it operated. A clockwork version just seems mildly absurd but eminently practical. My smile is of admiration of a great model and not at all intended to offend. 

Gear box
Derrick crane gearbox

Adrian also built an interesting gearbox from a Derrick crane that he discovered in an old Meccano magazine, a subject close to my heart having recently built a large Derrick Crane myself.  Geoff Wright had his 1:16 scale Leyland Titan TD1 double-decker bus, built using only the contents of a 1954-1961 No.9 set. This set included the newly introduced flexible triangular Plates, but not any narrow strips that would have made the window framing and other detail look lighter.

1:16 scale bus from a No.9 set

Other challenge models

Vandalised shelter

Chris Warrell proved his South London roots and presented an authentic looking Buss shelter, supported on a pair of  bent-rod screwdrivers complete with vandalised panel! (He did dispel the assumption by confessing it accidentally got crushed on the way to the meeting - but why let truth get in the way of a good story!) Douglas Windibank built a swinging garden seat, decorated with plethora of spanners. Other challenge models can be found on the SELMC website, HERE.

Swing seat and spanners

The day went very quickly and before I knew it I was heading off round the South Circular heading for home. Now it is only two weeks to go before Skegex09. Having visited the show last year, we are taking models and exhibiting this time…



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Look at those eyes!