5th-7th May 2012
Time to get up!
The alarm went off at 4am, two whole hours after I went to bed, I jumped out of bed and announced that it was a wonderful morning and I was full of the joys of spring… well, I might have! One advantage of having so little sleep is that I did not have to get up in the middle of the night to answer the call of nature that seems to be so insistent these days. With good speed we did our ablutions, packed the car, and told ‘Jane’ to head for TF8 7DQ (Meccanuity).
Normally we would head straight for the Little Chef where an Olympic Breakfast would normally have my name on it. Not any more, the powers that be decided to close it! With no other eating-place in our sights we headed off with the idea of stopping somewhere else. In a fit of madness we decided to stop at Watford Gap services on the M1. It was almost empty. I discovered why – a cup of tea was £2.35! Stuff that! We arrived at the venue earlier than expected, unfed. We will have to rectify this situation for next time. I mean, this is not only a Meccano trip it is a few days holiday and a big part of the fun is the food! Still, there was the evening meal to look forward to. Oh! and some Meccano models to look at in between times.
On our arrival we found our tables ready for us tucked away in The Gallery. Initially I was a bit sceptical as to whether we would see any visitors at all. My fears were soon dispelled as the visitors began to flood the available space. We had decided at the last minute to take our Display windmills – one refurbished and the other in its ex-window display faded state. However this meant bringing it up to current PAT specification. Non of these display windmills were fitted with an earth and although this is fine for the double insulated transformer it is not OK for the windmill itself fitted with a 230V motor. A 3-core cable had been fitted when we refurbished it and all that needed doing was to fit an earth to the model itself and to perform the usual electrical tests. These were carried out and the windmill is now the proud owner of a nice green pass sticker that adorns the plug top, which is now fitted with the correct 3A fuse that carries the correct ‘harmonised’ EC markings. The other windmill has had its 2-core flex removed and is just a static display model for comparison.
We also took a few other models with us including our pre-war clock. This had spent 4 hours in the car ticking away. The only time the blinking ticking stopped was when we hit and even more annoying traffic jam! On our table it would only tick for a few minutes at a time but is was still very popular. By far the most popular model we took with us was the handloom and it wasn’t even built by us. The loom had been languishing in Nick Rogers (RMG) loft for many years and Nick tells me the Late Bill Roberts built it originally. The loom is obviously based on the instructions published in Meccano Magazine (September 1964 P29) although Bill seems to have added a spool feeder for the warp instead of using the beam shown in the instructions. We spent a bit of time cleaning it up and getting it going. It only needed a few minor adjustments and a bit of tensioning and it started to work reasonably well. The visitors were amazed by it and almost without exception wanted to have a go themselves. It is early days yet but I think I can feel another model coming on and maybe a bit more reconstruction/refurbishment of Bill’s original loom may well be in order.
A chance of venue
This was not our usual venue and although we were on the usual site the engine shop, where we usually held the show was being used for a long-running art installation. Well that is what they call it – you can make up your own mind, as it is ‘Free’ to get in. I say free, we have already paid for it as the Arts Council wholly funds it. I am not sure what on earth it has to do with the history of the area, I suspect nothing at all, but it will provide income to the charitable trust who run the museums in the Ironbridge Gorge…
…I had better stay on-topic here or this could be the longest show report ever. The only drew-back with the change of venue was that some of the exhibition area is semi-outdoors in a covered yard. Normally this would not be so much of a problem but this year must have been the coolest start to May for a while and the fact that it was overcast on Saturday and most of Sunday did not help. The sun did warm the area slightly on Sanday morning but this only made it less cold rather than warm. Any other year I bet it would get too hot in there. It was just luck of the draw and this year we failed. I did feel sorry for anyone stuck out there too far away from the heaters. I can say this because for once Sue and I got the long straw and we were nice and warm all weekend in our corner of the Gallery.
Some models came and others went, as is the norm on a three-day event, while a hard-core of us Meccano nuts got stuck in for all three days. The time went past quickly and before we knew it we were heading down the motorway on our way back to The Smoke. Overall it was one of the best shows we have attended in recent years with over 2.300 visitors most of whom were the general public. Although the usual questions were still there we also found ourselves in conversation with genuinely interested people – a very pleasant surprise.
The star of the show
The star of the show was the enormous Bucket Excavator By Michel Brėal. You can tell when a model is going to be large when the stuff it is going to move comes in a dustbin! This fantastic model overshadows all around it. It has a bank of power supplies and at least a couple of control panels. The caterpillar tracks are a work of art on their own. It really is a crowd puller with spectators several rows deep most of the time the show was open. I got my shots after everybody had gone home for the night. Over and above its shear size it was hauled all the way from France to be at Meccanuity.
I have included a few pictures here but most of our images have been up-loaded to the NZ Meccano Exhibition Gallery HERE.