Part of the Sleaford family's display - we liked the spaceman looking up!he


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7th November 2009 National space Centre Exhibition

French Cranes
Setting up at the start of the show on the Saturday morning

Having been invited to attend the first exhibition held at the National Space Centre in Leicester, we felt that we would like to support the event even though it falls at our busiest time of the year so we agreed with Philip Webb, who had taken on the job of organising it, that we would attend on the Saturday.

Having carted the French display cranes to several venues this year we thought we might as well give them one final outing and take them north to Leicester. They were a great success, everywhere we take them they provoke interest – curiosity from the Meccano people and fascination from the general public.

The day started with an early start after a breakfast at home (No full English today) and a quick squirt up the M1 to Leicester. Jane (the voice of the sat-nave) monotonously steered us in the right direction and with the aid of the brown signs and the picture of a Rocket, that Sue thought looked remarkably like a Fuchsia flower, we made it to the venue in good time.

Jim's display
Just part of Jim Gamble's impressive display

Trying to get in was another matter. With a bit of help from a fellow participant, in the guise of Mr Meccanoman Taylor, we made it into the venue. After a bit mucking about we found our exhibitor pack and set to work on assembling our display. The models were spread out around the exhibition centre and also concentrated in two areas. We had our space in the ‘Shuttle suite’ a couple of tables was just right for us. The cranes stood there and looked quite imposing. It was a really nice contrast to Jim Gamble’s display of Binns Road models, sets and ephemera that was adjacent to us.


If you have been following the story of the cranes you will know that one of them has been refurbished and the other is in as-found condition. Displaying the two together enables us to point out the difference that a complete rebuild makes to factory-built models. There are even a few ‘mistakes’ in the build. But the most asked question is how do they work? To illustrate this we left the back plate off of the as-found crane so the relay and wiring can be seen. While away from the display we would stop the open model, in case something went wrong in our absence. On our return, after a trip to the café, I started the crane only to watch the load rise to the top and proceed to jam. Before I could stop it the same fate was bestowed to this model, as had the other, the motor stripped the gears in the gearbox. The relay had been dislodged from its socket rendering the reversing mechanism inoperative.

“Oh dear, that is a bit of a nuisance” at least that is what I think I said at the time…   There is one saving grace to this. These motors have gearboxes that you can actually get into and with a bit of reorganisation of the gear chain you can rebuild without the damaged gears. See HERE When I damaged the first one, I ordered a couple of motors so I do have a spare that I will fit. The damaged one I hope to rebuild as I did with the other one.

While Jim Gamble and Rodger Marriott chat, I sneaked in a quick shot of the aeroplane display model for future reference

Having said in a previous news post that aeroplanes are not our thing, I do have an idea for a model and Rodger Marriott’s Meccano Air display has inspired me further. I’ll show you what it is if and when it becomes a reality…

Down under

Graham Jost caught chatting with Sue

The fact that this is a truly international hobby was further illustrated by the attendance of Graham and Mary Joist who came all the way from Australia to show a model – I think they were also visiting some people while they were here – now that is dedication. It makes our three or four-hour journeys seem fairly insignificant!

Before we knew it the day was over and it was time to pack up our models once again and head home. But not for long, It is a TIMS meeting next weekend and another early start is on the cards.  


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Philip Webb's impressive model