It's official; Meccano modellers are 'Artistes'

Ball Roller
Ken McDonald's tower ball roller

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3rd - 5th July Skegness 2009


Having visited Skegness last year for the first time, Ralph and I decided that we would make the effort, this year, and take a model or two to display. In for a penny, in for a pound, we took the plunge and decided to make a weekend of it and booked a B&B from the Thursday to the Monday. Ralph informed his associates in the world of woodworking that he was hanging up his chisels for a few days and making his way to the North East (well it is for us!) for the annual get together at Skegness.

The funny thing is there are a lot of woodworkers that are Meccano enthusiasts. In fact we discovered this weekend that one of our dealers has actually had an article published in Ralph’s Magazine, back in 1971! - more later…

The night before

Every time we go to a show, especially a long haul, we promise ourselves that we will be ready in plenty of time. This time we had our models finished but it’s all the other stuff that takes the time. Four nights away needs a bit of planning, organising the B&B, arranging for Smokie to be looked after - Yes he does have a minder when we are away, contrary to Ralph’s Spanner II post stating that he was about to put him in the freezer! Eventually we got to bed at about one o’clock in the morning.

Early start

As usual an early start is called for to clear the London traffic, living in London does have its advantages but getting across it by car is a real pain unless it is very early. Attack the Blackwall tunnel after about 6am and there is a long tail-back that can take an age to get through.

The journey to Skegness was via Derby to collect a display model we won on e-bay the week before. This, as it turned out, was a blessing in disguise as the guys who travelled up from the South-East got held up by road works and a diversion. We had a good trip and even after a stop for brunch - yes I know another fry-up! - and our stop off in Derby we still managed to get to the venue by about 11.30am.

It was as we were entering the Homesdale tunnel on the M25 that I realised I had left my camera behind, at this time of day it was too late in the proceedings to go back for it. luckily Ralph had put his small Cannon compact camera in so we were still able to take shots although not of the quality we prefer. Sadly the packing list fell short again and I realised we had also left our badges behind. After a visit to a local Skegness stationers we mocked up some name badges so at least people know who we are.

We arrived at the venue with our parking permit for ‘Artistes’ ready to make our début at the premiere Meccano event of the year. The organisers had done a splendid job and we had a nice big square table allocated to us - ideal for our Scotch Derrick with its 6ft long jib.  Although a simple model, it always takes a while to assemble and get it working. I must say that it has served well at shows and it tends to draw some interest even if it is not the most photogenic of models being made up of a lot of empty space. The French display crane, as always, caught the eye of not only the hardened Meccano nut but also the general public as well. It runs faultlessly at shows and only requires a change of batteries every 48 hours or so.

Having set everything up it was time to drape the models with the dust covers and make our way to the B&B. The Sat-Nav announced that it was just under five miles up the road. I didn’t realise it was that far away when I booked it being led to believe that it was just “up the road.” This turned out to be a bit of a mistake. It was not just up the road not from Skegness but Fantasy Island - A huge funfair and amusement complex. The B&B was also child-friendly and was really ideal for families. The rest of the guests were obviously having a great time and it was good to see smiling faces but we would have been better off in a more sedate establishment! (Boring is good sometimes) Not that it bothered us much but on the odd occasion we wanted to watch the TV, for the news or something, it had an irritating habit of loosing all sound after about five minutes…  Probably best to say no more about that.

The evenings were full of meals out and the annual Dinner on Saturday. On Friday evening, after the first day of the show, Marion and Mike Cotterill put on a buffet at their local social club. Ralph and I attended and managed to win one of the raffle prizes! Ralph was tickled to bits - he never wins raffle prizes. The following night was the big annual dinner. Imagine my surprise when our ticket number was the first out of the hat in the draw! I sheepishly selected a small prize. Our winning streak came to an end when we didn’t win a thing in the show raffle…


Our display
Our display of cranes the large Derrick crane is not very photogenic but is fun to operate. As usual the French display model crane provoked lots of interest

A superb turnout and a lot of models I had not seen before. I left Ralph playing with his crane and ‘lifted’ his little compact camera to try and save the day by taking some pictures of the models that caught my eye. As it was set-up day there were all sorts of models turning up. I happened to be standing there when Geoff Bennett arrived with the skeleton of his Hovercraft. Intrigued, I watched and listened as the model was explained and assembled before my eyes. The complexity of the model and its many working features was fascinating. The control panel looked incredibly complicated too! It was not a surprise to me that it won the Issigonis shield.

The completed Hovercraft - a super model

I came across The Dennis Dart bus made by Michael Edwards sitting on the table and thought that it looked like a nice model. Later on I saw it in action and was impressed how smoothly it ran. Another bus that caught my eye was Roger West’s latest creation of a single deck London bus. The superb attention to detail was inspiring.

Dennis Bus
Dennis Dart bus made by Michael Edwards ran very smoothly indeed

Roger West's bus was not short on detail. I liked the use of the small 'cricket-ball' motor pulleys as side lights

Staying with red Meccano (It’s a phase dear - R), and although I had heard about it from Ralph, I had not seen Nick Rodgers latest edition to his Foden family - the 1963 quarry truck. As usual Nick has incorporated lots of detail including a dummy engine and lots of gears underneath incorporating twin differential with an inter-axle diff… I read that on the card, I will ask Ralph what it is later! A really nice model.

Nick Rodgers and his Foden quarry truck

One day Ralph will get around to building a ball roller, he is always intrigued by the ones we come across at shows. I found  Ken McDonald’s tower ball roller an interesting model so I collected himself to come and have a look. No soon as he got there it stopped working! A poke in the right place, by an experienced owner, and all was well again!

Impressive railway locomotive 205 built by Guy Kind

For shear complexity I just have to mention Guy Kind’s Swiss Locomotive 205 of the Rhätische Bahn. The door slams shut and off it goes! The side then drops down to reveal the workings. I like these unusual models. It never ceases to amaze me the dedication and attention to detail that is lavished upon them.

Really nice interpretation of the Ironbridge in a small model

Back in May we took our 16ft model of the Forth Bridge to Meccanuity 09. The notice we provided paraphrased Crocodile Dundee and was suffixed “You call that a bridge…” With this in mind, Tony Evanson  thought he would go the other way and arrived with the smallest model of a bridge I had ever seen - a real likeness to the cast iron bridge over the river Seven at Ironbridge. And that's where we are off to next, a TIMS meeting at the beginning of August - I'll try and remember my camera!

There are lots of other pictures of the models at Skegex 09 HERE

Trade stands get me in trouble again…

My spending...
I was very restrained in my spending

As usual I ended up spending more than Ralph at the trade stands. Well what’s a girl to do with all that stuff just begging to be bought. The guys all laugh at Ralph when he protests about my impulse buys but I am sure he moans at me for effect so in a way I am keeping him amused… well, that’s my story! Apart from purchasing a few odd bits and pieces for my next project, a Meccanograph that I have been thinking about building for awhile, I also found some more original light bulbs for our display models we are in the process of refurbishing, and a couple of 12½ inch wide ‘Meccano’ signs that will look the part on the big Ferris wheel. I also bought some 3½ inch circular girders and a couple of spare helicopter engines (crane motors) for Ralph’s latest project.

Oh, I nearly forgot, It was Mike Rhoades that wrote an article in Ralph’s magazine - about a veneer press - It’s a small world!


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Display Model
Awaiting restoration our new dispalay model collected on the way to Skegness via Derby!
Door opener
The door opening mechanism in Guy's Locomotive model