Our second meeting for 2003 and the first for the year back at the Bri Phil Hall was an outstanding success. It seems to me that our meetings just keep getting better and better! It was certainly an excellent way of spending a rather wet and gloomy Sunday afternoon. We had 31 members come along together with 3 family members so there were plenty of people to chat to and all in all it was a
very lively affair. After a most enjoyable hour spent chatting, inspecting models and perusing the sales tables, our President
Mike Maloney called the gathering to order at 2 pm sharp for the formal proceedings of the afternoon. There is to be an increase in the cost of hiring the Hall (to $60) from 1 July but no increase in membership fees is foreseen because of this at the moment. A second and
more immediately important matter is that the date of the next meeting has been incorrectly
advertised. The next meeting will be on Saturday 14 June (not Saturday 7 June as indicated in the December newsletter). We can’t use the Hall on the 7th and the MMC Committee apologises for this error.
Lapel Badges These are available from
Jack Parsisson - cost $6.00 or $7.50 posted.
Annual Exhibition Kimball Monger, the Exhibition Coordinator provided a run down of progress. (Their sub-committee has had one meeting so far – only 3 members rather than the 4 originally envisaged, but Kimball thinks this is fine as it facilitates decision making!). An idea to be considered is that two or more people provide complementary models to illustrate a theme. For example, about 2
years ago Dave Denner had his blocksetter set up loading and unloading a barge provided by Kimball (Of course only DD and KM could dream up that one – but you see what I mean!). An important consideration is that models from set manuals (particularly sets 6 and below) are very desirable.
Many of our older visitors have had Meccano as children (usually smaller sets) and such models on display can evoke fond memories. A further suggestion is that someone with a collection of interesting Meccano items could put together a display – for example in the past we have had nice displays of clockwork and electric motors. A show of hands indicated that about 14 (ie nearly half of those
present) intended to produce a model for the exhibition. This immediately prompted our Secretary to jump up and say that this was not good enough – more are needed! So, get thinking about what you might do.
Outside Exhibitions Jack Parsisson announced that the Club had received a Certificate and cheque for $100.00 for the display we put on last year at the Red Hill School as well as a letter of appreciation from the organisers of the Scoresby Steamfest (to everyone involved – well done!). But Jack made the point that it seems to be always the same half dozen or so members who are
involved in such activities. Please remember that all members are warmly invited to participate in these exhibitions and that new blood would be more than welcome.
Forthcoming exhibitions include
(see back page of newsletter for details):
Bendigo Society of Model Engineers
– 5 & 6 Jul
Latrobe Valley Model Railway Association
– 7-9 Jun (long weekend)
Labassa (Caufield) – 27 Jul
World Vision Centre – 15 & 16 Nov
Graham Jost wants to find out who asked him about Meccano mechanisms to demonstrate the “Swash Plate Movement” of a helicopter rotor blade. Graham has the information, but can’t remember who wanted it!
The Race Proliferation Committee have a website www.kzwp.com/meccanoraces. The purpose is to publicise worldwide, race competitions for Meccano models. The Secretary has received a letter from the committee inviting the Club’s participation in this activity. There was a suggestion some time ago that the MMC organise such an event but nothing has come of it and no official action will be taken. Is anyone interested in pursuing this idea?
Golden Spanner Award This is an annual award by the ISM “….to a Meccanoman in recognition of his outstanding contribution and activity in promoting Meccano as a hobby….” Nominations for the 2003 award are being called for. The general feeling is that none of our members is really in this league but if anyone thinks otherwise, please get in touch with Graham Jost (who is on the ISM
Affiliation with the ISM. Graham announced that this has been done. There is no cost, but no obvious benefit either!
Spring Cord. Graham Russell has found a supplier of spring cord similar to that used by Meccano and was able to obtain some samples which he had on display. The cord is wound to order and the main expense is in setting up – one 600 mm length (the longest they can produce) would cost $50, but
perhaps $80 for 20 lengths (these figures need to be confirmed). The best approach would be for a group to join in a bulk purchase – a show of hands indicated that about 12 of those present would be interested in buying some cord. But Graham is not interested in pursuing the matter himself although
he is quite happy to pass on details about the company to anyone who would like to run with the idea. Dave Doddrell commented that the screw thread on the joiners for spring cord supplied by Meccano is quite unsatisfactory (ie it doesn’t work!). Dave finds that making the joiners with a 1/16” Whitworth
die produces an ideal thread. Another source of spring cord is from old oil seals – it is known as “garter bands” in this application.
Model Display. Once again there was a good turnout of models, all attractively displayed at the front of the hall on tables covered with our magnificent black tablecloths – doesn’t it make a difference!
Graeme Thompson recently acquired a Meccano Electronics Set and produced a size sorting machine from the manual. This model was nicely finished and ran well (admittedly for a rather short sequence). The items to be sorted comprised blocks of different height made from some inferior toy (Lego I’m told) that uses plastic clip-together blocks. Graeme describes it as a fun model which is easy to build.
Peter Dalliston has clearly been inspired by Graham Jost’s ball rollers and produced his own version of the module exhibited by Graham at the February meeting. Of particular interest was the motor used which comprises a DC can motor to which can be attached one or more planetary gearboxes to achieve a very wide range of speed reductions. Peter ordered these via the internet from
www.micromart .com. The final cost was $A100 for two motors, each with 5 gearboxes and delivery took about 1 week. Micromart have a very wide range of other modelling parts. Peter’s main criticism of the motor is that the assembly is rather noisy in operation. [There is an alternative version (for $27.50) available from Dick Smith made by Tamiya, but it is not identical.]
Peter During brought along two motorised models of fairground rides. One was a roundabout from the No4 set and the other his now familiar Octopus (with 6 arms!). The latter is now working very well and gave a faultless demonstration. It is also a lot quieter according to our President – Mike should
know as he was standing next to it throughout our Annual Exhibition!
Roger Hall presented a model from the manual for the Meccanoids set of the late 1970s. To make it move along without falling over, Roger followed the advice of Bert Love and substituted a 60:15 gear pair for the 57:19 pair that would have been supplied in the original set. (The models were originally
designed to use the 60:15 pair, but typical of the disorganisation of Meccano Ltd just before its demise the correct pair was unavailable so they used the 57:19 pair – with disastrous results for the operation of the model!)
Sandra Hall showed us a nice model of a Tricycle built from the contents of the Motion Set 5 (the smallest in the series). This model demonstrated two important points – a model does not need to be large to be attractive and it is possible to build good models from the modern sets.
Finally, Tony Press produced yet two more fascinating examples of Meccano products from days gone by. (Where does he get it all from? – I don’t know!) The first was a 000 set from 1931 in little used condition which contains just 16 metal parts (not counting axles and nuts & bolts). But it also contained a number of cardboard parts set in punch-out sheets. Apart from the two signal arms that
had been removed (and long since lost) the sheets were intact. Instructions included with the outfit included a leaflet showing how to construct each of the letters of the alphabet (Meccano is not only an engineering toy, but a language aid as well?!).
Tony’s second gem was a construction Motor Car from the 1930’s. But he did admit that the wheels are reproductions and are not genuine. In the late 1930s Meccano Ltd had serious quality control problems with the mazac alloy used to cast the wheels (and all the other numerous applications for the
alloy in Meccano products). The result is that all items made from mazac during this period tend to disintegrate. So the choice is between a piece with disintegrated wheels but otherwise immaculate (in Tony’s case) or a set of reproduction wheels which better match the overall quality of the item.
This was the end of the formal proceedings and at 3:07 pm Mike declared the meeting closed and invited us to have a further look at the models on display before partaking of afternoon tea (like a Minister telling his congregation to go forth in peace and spread the good word!). I have to say that Mike’s style of running the show is very relaxing – things seem to just flow along, almost as if he
weren’t there. The boring administrative stuff is covered fully but speedily and everyone gets their say. But much more time is spent talking about important matters, like Meccano topics in general and the models that members have brought to the meeting.
Melbourne Meccano Club Inc. Meeting
13 April 2003
Notes and images by Bill Fitzgerald
MMC At The
Berwick Show 2003
Last year the MMC Inc. received an invitation to display Meccano at the Annual Berwick
Show, Victoria’s oldest agricultural show, again. Jack as exhibition co-ordinator, accepted on your behalf.
Arriving at 1500 on Friday, Andrew had set up the requested trestles for our display. Jack
rigged the 240V power-cables. The black table-cloths were spread over the 8 m of trestles and we arranged our displays. We shared the Schools Shed with the local primary school displays, a woodworking group and a lapidary club. So it was a busy site!
Officially, we opened for business at 0900. However we had spectators before that - usually stall-holders who once the gates open to the public would be far too busy to wander about the Show. Last year we endured dust generated by the clowns driving so called beaut-utes. This year we have to thank Warrick Glendenning a senior committee man and Past President, for re-routing them far, far away. Proving it’s not what you know, but who!
Starting at the North and proceeding clockwise around about 8 metres of benchwork, we had Jack Parsisson with his wide variety of stationary steam engines. The grasshopper beam-engine was popular and the articulated steam locomotive was closely inspected. Plus the counter-rotating twin ferris-wheel, complete with a cargo of bears, got a airing! A big favourite with teen-age girls, why I wonder?
Carol had a nice display of her modern Meccano, including a motorised crane. Am I
imagining it, or have cranes fallen out of favour these days? Perhaps Lindsay Carroll will
surprise us all! My spooks tell me he has recently purchased some extra-long Jackano
John Brand proved that if you have an aircraft with a spinning propeller some folk as thick as two short planks will be compelled to prove it’s working! Lucky for them it’s only a 5½" strip and 3 V DC not a 6' metal prop and 650 BHP! John’s other standard constructions attracted attention especially the chain-block suspended from a gantry.
Next to John was a mono-rail display [by Kimball, who else?] inspired by M. Bernard
Pèriér’s designs. It comprised a Système Lartigue locomotive slowly waddling back and
forth, confounding the ‘experts’ who had seen everything. Still under manual control? Yes!
I don’t know where the time goes.
Uncle Dave (Denner) King-o’-th-Kids was busy keeping the dipper-cars, populated with
plastic kids resembling ‘South Park’ cartoon characters on the rails of his Big Dipper. Dave muttered something about something to do with the weather! It was bound to happen. One small spectator took Dave to task over the same kids getting all the action. Keeping a straight face Dave told him that they were his kids and could ride as long as they liked! Nuf sed! No further discussion on the matter ensured.
To express their appreciation for adding a Meccano display to the advertised attractions the Berwick Show Committee issued us with free luncheon tickets to their canteen. What the renowned Mrs Beaton would have described as a cold collation. A variety of garden and made salads, pressed ham and chunks of cooked chook followed by cake, whipped cream, tea or coffee and or soft drink. Filling but not weighing you down. It certainly beats having to take your own. Being townies we also took advantage of the portable expresso café.
A short walk away from our location you took in cattle, a wood-chop, Scottish dancing and
the vintage machinery display on the way. They offered fast service, a very good, hot café-latté, all at a reasonable price.
On Sunday afternoon, at around 1530 the crowd suddenly thinned to a dribble and we pulled the pin. Packed our displays and dunnage into our vehicles and proceeded to our respective homes. Another good job, done well folks.
The National gathering of steamy stuff at Heyfield the previous weekend dramatically
reduced the number of patrons to the Scoresby event as one would expect. However as the weather improved there was a noticeable increase of people through the gate during the weekend. Fortunately, our display, situated in the club-house as usual, enjoyed a regular flow of patrons and a mob of them crowded in about ten minutes after the regular announcements on the public-address system. We have generated regular patrons over the years we have displaying Meccano at this venue and they appreciate the efforts we make to entertain them, not the least being their children.
Once again, Dave Denner deserved the title King of the Kids with his version of a Big
Dipper. Several ill mannered little monsters having become ‘mooned’ had to be hauled away screaming blue murder by their parents. It was the Big Dipper’s last appearance. Dave goes on the wallaby up the Mulga soon for 6 months and it will be dismantled before he goes.
Jack Parsisson answered numerous questions about his Jackano Replica Parts and his extensive display of steam-outline machinery. A display that operates with such regularity all day, it is worth noting. He is also very handy when it’s time to take a break. He’s a dab hand at running Big Dippers and mono-railway locomotives!
My (Kimball’s) versions of the M. Perier’s mono-cyclists proved more popular than the
mono-rail locomotive (drat!). After travelling circuitously for approximately 173 km over 2
years at displays, Cycling Syd and Dangling Dawn carked it at 1530 on Sunday! The gear-
teeth on a brass pinion had worn down to a nasty knurl!
Once again, we had the pleasure of Meccano-visitors from England, attending our display, Paul and Jill Voaden from St Austel. Paul is an accomplished locomotive builder and had some nice things to say about our display.
What was different this year? We only spotted one, little boy wearing a Thomas tee-shirt!
But lots of Bob-th-Builder clothing indicates this is apparently the way to go folks. When
asked these little kids (boys and girls) wanted to see concrete-mixers, excavators, skid-loaders and cranes! Could construction-plant be a theme for the 2003 Exhibition? [Well you’re the co-ordinator Kimball!]
What was missing? Other than spectators 3 deep, 90% of the time according to several
patrons, Patrick and his Rapier style loom! Others wanted constructions that work, made
from the standard Instruction Manuals using the red & green or yellow & blue outfits! And
what about ‘preserved’ outfits too! Now then! There is an opportunity for someone to join
the little band of constructors who show the flag and exhibit throughout the year, when time