About Everything Meccano
Printer Friendly Page Printer Friendly Page
05:16 AM Monday, April 24, 2017
Welcome Guest

Users Menu

Main Menu

Submissions Menu

Other Stuff

Whos Online?
  There are 61 unlogged users and 0 registered users online.

You can log-in or register for a user account here.



meccanoscene.co.uk FAQs (frequently-asked questions)

Category: Main -> Answers to Submitted Questions



SQ1: Yellow Emperor's Chariot

I would like to know in which MM (the latest large format published around 1981) there was described the model YELLOW EMPEROR'S CHaRIOT so that i can purchase a copy?

Robin Merritt

Welcome to Meccanoscene, Robin.

The Hornby Companion Series Vol. 7 (The Meccano Magazine 1916-1981) lists four references to “South Seeking Chariots” as follows:

30/77 (page 30 of the 1977 magazine set); 34 & 74/78; 128/79.

These do not seem to include a direct reference to the “Yellow Emperor”, but another article in a much earlier magazine does so. On pages 498/9 of the September 1955 MM, “A Mystery of Ancient China: The Riddle of the South Seeking Chariot:” by F.W.Cousins, mention is made of such a chariot as being used by Hyang Ti, the “Yellow Emperor”. (The aforementioned “Companion” volume lists this under “China, Mystery of Ancient”)

I hope that helps.

My thanks to Eddie Oatley, chairman of the Henley SME, for help with this reply.

Bryn Jones.

Back to top
SQ2: Meccano Robot Man

Hello, i have what i believe is called Meccano robot or man from the 1950s he needs some restoration and i am desperately looking for a coppy of an original manual so that i can re-wire him and get him walking once again some wires are there ect he is a stunning piece about4 foot high , can any body HEP me with this PLEASE


Welcome to Meccanoscene “fizzycat45”

I think the model you are referring to is probably the “Robot” or “Mechanical Man” from the original No. 9 set leaflet (model 9/7) which was subsequently reissued as the No. 10 set leaflet (model 10/27), though I doubt that it was four feet high when built. There was a predecessor featured in the 1935 F to L outfit manual as K14 which was similarly named.

Interestingly, there was a description of some improvements to the former model in “Among the Model Builders” by “Spanner” which appeared in the September 1968 MM. This is now available on CD.

Copies of all these items are available from Geoff Wright of Meccano Worldwide Mail Order, email geoffmwmodels@btinternet.com

My thanks to Eddie Oatley, chairman of the Henley SME, for help with this reply.

Bryn Jones.

Back to top
SQ3: Spray Colours for Red/Green Period

Can anyone recommend proprietary aerosol paints (i.e. available from Halfords or similar)for restoring Meccano from the red/green period - preferably the darker shades rather than the later lighter shades? I have quite a lot of material that I want to restore and am having no luck in finding a recommended match from existing web articles in the UK. Any helpful suggestions will be much appreciated.

Bob Elliott

Welcome to Meccanoscene Bob.

Matching the old Victorian Meccano shades with modern vehicle spray colours is inevitably difficult. Add to that the different manner in which individual eyesight interprets the colour shades, and the variation in colour shades that probably took place anyway, and you have a bit of a minefield.

My eyesight (fading a bit) detected reasonable matches to some old Meccano pieces as follows:

For dark green - Halfords Ford Juice Green No. 373951 (Pearlescent, used with white primer & clear lacquer.)
For dark red - Halfords Rover Nightfire Red No. 149724 (Pearlescent, used with red primer & clear lacquer.)

It is difficult to find an appropriate dark green that is quite “grassy” enough. Please note that I am just matching my Meccano pieces to the colours on the spray can lids, assuming that these are a fair reflection of what the results would be in actual use.

To be honest, I would suggest that you consider using paints that are professionally mixed for the job. The well known Meccano dealer, Mike Rhoades, retails 125cc & 250cc tins of specially created paints for the 1928 dark red & green period. He tells me these can be used for brushing, or can be used in a “Badger” style spray gun. You can contact Mike as follows:

Mr. Mike Rhoades,
137, Fairfield Avenue,
Kirk Ella,
HU10 7UW,

Tel: 01482 650463
Fax: 01482 658327

(Usual disclaimers.)

One further point. If you would like to address your query to the wider Meccano community, you could consider leaving a similar public forum message in the “Other / Resources / Tools & Materials” section. There will certainly be Meccanomen out there who have more experience in this matter than I have.

Bryn Jones.

Back to top
SQ4: Chiming Clock 2 Difficulties

I am building a second hand (excuse the pun!) Meccano Chiming clock No 2. I have completed the frame and the timing mechanism but can't get the escapement to work properly. I have frequently adjusted the pallet pins used to regulate the escapement sprocket gear wheel but it stops after about 20 swings of the pendulum. I have made sure the various axles have some free float, moved the pendulum up and down, made sure the frame is square and added weight to the main weight, but I'm now at a bit of a loss for my next move. Has anyone built one of these clocks or does anyone have any suggestions/tips for making the timing mechanism work correctly? Thanks in advance, Martin.


Hello Martin, welcome to Meccanoscene.

Since I have no experience of Meccano clockmaking, I am indebted to Freddie Nicholls of the West London Meccano Society for the following response:

Hi Clock Builders,

I'm afraid I've never built this clock but try the following.

Does the pendulum operate correctly when you apply gentle pressure to the escapement sprocket wheel?

If not, try changing the sprocket. They were never intended for this precision use and are only stamped out!

If it does, the problem is probably in the gear train. Are you using double grub screws to try to get the gears to run truly?

Try disconnecting the hands drive so that only the escape wheel is driven.

Try removing the pallets and with a minimum weight driving it, check that the train runs freely for the complete weight drop.

Hope this helps,

Freddie Nicholls.

Back to top
SQ5: Hour Chiming Mechanism

Can anyone recommend a suitable chiming mechanism to chime the hours. The only one I am aware of is in Clock kit 2 but this seems variable i n design.


Welcome to Meccanoscene, “thcopes”

I’m afraid I have not been successful in obtaining direct help with your query so far, but I will update this response if further material becomes available. I can only suggest that you purchase one or more of the excellent MW Modelplans featuring a clock model. These will presumably have details of associated chiming mechanisms.

The following Modelplans would appear to be potentially useful:

MP 104 / 146 Arnfield Clock.
MP 65 Astronomical Clock.
MP 157 Copley Clock.
MP 112 Electric Chiming Clock.
MP 120 Grandfather Clock
MP 78 Grasshopper Escapement Clock.
MP 79 Gravity Escapement Clock.
MP 145 The Grignion Clock.
MP 137 Lantern Clock with Sweep Second Hand.
MP 141 Precision Clock, Riefler Escapement.
MP 130 Short Hit and Miss Synchrometer.
MP 139 Sinclaire Harding Navigation Clock.
MP 94 Synchronous Clock.

If you navigate to www.hsomerville.com/mwmailorder/, you should be able to find what you want. You may also find it useful to put your query in the Public Forum. Our site administrator, Ian Taylor, has created a “Clocks and Orreries” sub section in the Meccano section for this area of interest.

Bryn Jones.

Back to top
SQ6: E20R RF Interference

I have just bought an old E20 meccano motor and 20 volt hornby/meccano transformer. However when I start it up all of the TV's in the house (and next door I dare say) go fuzzy. I know that I must be causing some kind of intereference - is there an electrical component that I should be putting between the terminals to supress this? If so what and where might I get one? IO would be really keen to find out what to do as the wife has banned the motor from the house and the shed is too cold this time of year!


Hello “Peewee”, welcome to Meccanoscene.

With the spread of UK television in the early fifties, Meccano had to come up with some radio frequency suppression for the early E20R and EO20 motors. According to “The Meccano System” by Bert Love & Jim Gamble (page 215) the appropriately modified E20R (S) & EO20 (S) were announced in the Meccano Magazine for July 1956. Your motor presumably predates this.

A bit of internet surfing has come up with the following piece in somewhat eccentric English.

( See www.urlaubundhobby.de/metallbaukasten/so01engl.html )

If you scroll down to the section “RFI (radio frequency interference) of Collector Motors” ( I think the author probably means motors with commutators, slip rings, or the like. ) you will find some advice on how to go about implementing suppression. Essentially, the author seems to suggest a ceramic capacitor between the motor terminals (100nF or 0.1µF), and further ceramic capacitors linking each terminal to the frame (47nF or 0.047µF). In all cases, the shortest possible connections are recommended. You may care to try this. These capacitors are available from Maplin if you are based in the UK. (Maplin parts RA49D (0.1µF) and RA47B (0.047µF))

Please note that I have no personal experience or expertise in this area, so I can not be responsible for any difficulties that may result from attempting the above.

If anyone has anything they would like to add to this, please direct your response to the “Other / Control Systems / General Electric Motors & Motor Control” section of the public forum.

Bryn Jones, January 2006.

Back to top
SQ7: Midlands Event at Stoneleigh

Is there a show in August at Stoneleigh Near Coventry?


Welcome to Meccanoscene, “Pandacar”

I have put a message in the public FORUM, in the Meccano Events section, in answer to your query.

The FAQ section is really for technical questions about Meccano, Metallus, or general site usage. These are either submitted by members or are in the form of predefined FAQs. Specific queries about Meccano events are best put in the above mentioned section.

Bryn Jones.

Back to top
SQ8: New 2007 Nikko Items

Up to last year, I had a contact who visited the London Toy Fair and collected the new Meccano trade catalogue. Now he has stopped going, I don't know what Nikko have in store for us this year (2007). Has anyone seen the new catalogue or got wind of whether they are doing anything new for us Meccanomen? Otherwise, a big, fat, GREETINGS from sunny Spain.


I have no access to the new catalogue.

Our sponsor, David Taylor, has a wide range of Nikko sets available.

You could also browse the “Construction Toy” site:

Design Range:

Multi Model Range:

"Tuning" RC Range:

Special Edition Range:

The ISM site also provides a useful link to the Nikko Japanese site where there are some impressive images of what appears to be a proposed new kit.

Hope that helps.

Bryn Jones.
March 2007

Please direct any further queries or comments to the Meccano Chat section of the public FORUM.

PS: Please use the FORUM to ask questions for which replies will only be valid for a short time. The FAQ “Submitted Questions” facility is for user generated technical questions about the site, or the metal construction hobby, which will produce answers of value to others in the future.

Back to top
SQ9: MW Models

Dear Sirs What has happened to M.W.MODELS of Henley on Thames? Where do you purchase new and used items? Dealers? Web sites? Thanks in anticipation. Brian Young

The M.W.Models shop and parts mail order service discontinued trading some years ago. The section of the business devoted to mail order Meccano literature has been continued by Howard Someville. (See FORUM / Meccano History & Collecting / Literature abouit Meccano.)

Some Meccano links are mentioned in the reply to SQ8. Other links can be found in the Meccanoscene links section. If you click on the main portion of the Web Ring icon at the bottom of any page, that will take you to the location that provides a comprehensive set of references to other Meccano sites.

Bryn Jones.
March 2007.

Please direct any further queries or comments on this issue to the Meccano Chat section of the public FORUM.

Please also note the “PS” in SQ8.

Back to top

SQ10: Synchromesh Gearboxes

Hi there. I'm collecting Meccano to build a Scammell Prime Mover, and would like to fit it with a synchromesh gearbox. Does anyone have plans that they would be willing to sell me?

Regards, Hood

Hello “Hood”, welcome to Meccanoscene.

Your request for plans is best placed in the FORUM (which I see you have done) but I thought it might be useful to use this area to consider the synchromesh gearbox in general. I am not a specialist in this field, so I am indebted to Alan Wenbourne for general assistance with this query, and for pointing me in the direction of some useful web references. (Any errors below are mine.)

As I understand the principle, the output shaft needs to approach the speed of the driving shaft, typically by some kind of friction clutch arrangement, so that final positive engagement can be smoothly achieved using dogs. A number of issues inevitably arise.

(1) A fair number of radial dog clutch positions need to be available to ensure that engagement is achieved quickly.

(2) Once positive engagement is achieved, there must be no losses resulting from residual friction clutch activity.

Over the years, many designs have appeared for “Constant Mesh” gearboxes featuring dog clutch engagement, but I have had little success in finding any synchromesh designs that fully meet the above criteria.

Criteria (1) has clearly been considered by Dr. Michael Adler. (www.internationalmeccanomen.org.uk: see Meccano Model Building / Models and Mechanisms / Synchromesh Coupling.) In this mechanism, Dr. Adler uses pairs of bevel gears mounted face-to-face to achieve multiple radial positions for engagement. Tantalisingly, Dr. Adler’s own site (users.actcom.co.il/meccano/michael.html) displays an image of a complete synchromesh gearbox, but without further explanation. Alan Wenbourne’s fabulous DSG gearbox (www.selmec.org.uk/articles.aspx) uses 50 tooth contrate gears meshed with 50 tooth gear discs as an alternative.

Two way (plus neutral) friction clutching arrangements are quite common. An example appears in issue 40 of “The Meccanoman’s Journal” (page 1201, Fig. 9) The problem with this specific example is that compression springs continue to exert pressure on the engaged gears while they are in use, thus failing criteria (2).

In these brave days of multi-disciplinary Meccano, an electrical solution cannot be ruled out. Given a means for sensing the approaching synchronism of the driving and intending output shafts, the dogs could be driven home by a servo. Further sensing would indicate the completion of this process after which the friction clutch could be disengaged with another servo. A job for the Motorvator men, perhaps. The fact that the “Rotation Sensors” (used singly) are unidirectional should not be a problem here.

Surely many conventional synchromesh gearboxes have been produced by now, but it has proved difficult to find them.

The specific query concerns a Scammell prime mover. Since I don’t think early examples had synchromesh gearboxes anyway, a suitable choice of prototype might avoid the problem altogether.

Many possible references now enter the frame. I would direct your attention to part 3 of the West London Meccano Society publication, “Everything Automotive” which contains two comprehensive articles on Scammell type gearboxes. The old GMM series of “Modern Supermodels” (No. 11) featured a Scammell type “Heavy Artillery Tractor” design by the much respected modeller P. W. Bradley (sadly, no longer with us). You might like to consider purchase of “The Meccanomen’s Club” disc which contains both the GMM supermodels and copies of “The Meccanoman’s Journal”. (Available from MWMO at www.mwmailorder.co.uk - usual disclaimers.)

Bryn Jones, May 2007.

Please address any comments to the FORUM (Meccano / Road Vehicle Construction section.)

Back to top
SQ11: Refurbishing Zinc Parts

Like many I've recently rediscovered my passion for Meccano after many years away from the hobby. Retrieving my cabinets of mostly 70s parts from my parents' attic I was dismayed to discover that most of the zinc plating had oxidised and now has a most unpleasant texture. Some scanning of the internet has uncovered a suggestion that a chemical solution is not available and that each component should be individually cleaned using a "plastic" style pencil eraser. Cleaning every oxidised part in this manner would take forever and would not be feasible for the more intricate parts (UJs etc). Does anyone have an alternative suggestion?


Zinc plating kits are available from motor restoration vendors, etc. (see www.frost.co.uk, catalogue p195.) I am told that the process is very time consuming, and that it is not worthwhile unless the underlying material is sound. Because the plating layer is so fine, any imperfections will show through. I have heard of attempts to use silver paint, but that does not seem a very satisfactory solution to me.

I would suggest that there are two possible approaches:

1) Replace all unsatisfactory parts with new (or good quality second hand).

2) Replace all unsatisfactory small zinc parts with new, and replace all other zinc parts with reasonable quality second hand painted stock. Where necessary, you can clean the latter up, and spray in Meccano medium red, medium blue, etc.

I am indebted to Terry Allen of the West London MS and Runnymede MG for assistance with this answer. Please address any further comments to the Other/ General Resources/ Tools and Materials section of the public FORUM.

Bryn Jones, March 2008.

Back to top
SQ12: Why do I get error and fatal error messages when I click fo in depth answers?

This problem should now be fixed, sorry for the inconvenience.

Back to top

SQ13: Meccano Inventories.

Being a relatively recent 'returned' Meccano enthusiast, with a sizeable (40 year) gap between enthusiastic but poor schoolboy to equally enthusiastic but relatively solvent (whilst facing impending dotage) adult, but with a now rapidly growing and sizeable collection of Meccano, can anyone advise me of the best way to catalogue my collection? I could spend forever creating my own spreadsheet to perform the required function, but while ever I'm doing that I'm not building models! So, is there a download or a program out there which will simply allow me to fill in the gaps when I've done the basics - i.e. counted each and every flippin' piece I've got? Advice would be very gratefully received.

Steve Large


Isle of Man

Hello Steve, Welcome to Meccanoscene.

The solution that immediately comes to mind is "Meccinv 9" This ready-made inventory system will save you hours of work creating your own software. It is reasonably priced, and is marketed by MWMO (Meccano Worldwide Mail Order) Details will be found at www.mwmailorder.co.uk. There is also an optional EMP (Encyclopedia of Meccano Parts) add-on.

Meccanomen who wish to create their own inventory system can use the isometric vector drawing system, "IsoMec", to create the drawings of the various parts. (There is a complete library of part definitions.) The software requires the use of the CorelDRAW package for Mac or PC. IsoMec used to be available from the Foxgrove design studio. (Tel: 01634-403926 or Email: Foxgrove@btinternet.com)

More recently, there has been extensive interest in the VirtualMEC system, which is also marketed by MWMO. I think there is a Yahoo group devoted to this.

If you are a glutton for punishment, you can create your own part definitions in a suitable vector drawing environment such as Freehand or Adobe Illustrator. See my piece in the Metallus download area.

Bryn Jones.

PS: My apologies for the delay in this response. This results from severe personal communications disruption, and some difficulties with the new site software.

Back to top

SQ14: Mechanical Limit Switches

Hi, I'm trying to build a 'Container crane' and would like to fit limit switches to the top and bottom of the vertical lift. I have no idea how to start so ANY help would be appreciated.

Regards Mike ("medicmobile")

Hello Mike, welcome to Meccanoscene.

Small mechanical limit switches, often referred to as "micro switches", are obtainable from electrical/electronic component suppliers such as Maplin. My Spring/Summer 2008 Maplin catalogue lists a "Sub-Miniature" lever microswitch as part GW67X. This has a contact rating of 3A at 125V AC, which is plenty enough for most Meccano hobby requirements. The fixing holes are designed for M1 metric machine screws, so you will need to make a small adaptor plate to attach it to Meccano constructions. Electrical connections will typically involve soldering.

If you wish to avoid this kind of complication, you could use a Metallus limit switch (Part 7800-70). Not only are these already mounted on an appropriate adaptor, they also feature plug-in electrical connection arrangements. I think David Taylor stocks these. (http://meccanoman.co.uk)

Your mechanical limit switch needs to provide for mechanical overrun. If your limit switch is responsible for stopping the movement that it is associated with, there will be some delay before that movement is brought to an end. Limit switches provided with rollers can be useful here. (eg. Maplin N97AQ) The operation of your limit switches also needs to be positive. Intermittent operation (stutter) can cause contact damage, or control system complications. Reliability is important if operations are not supervised.

Other alternatives include reed switches, optical switches, and so on.

Remember that you do not just have to consider whether the limit switch contacts are sufficiently rated, you need to consider the possible effects of frequent on/off switching on the controlled equipment as well. You can ruin a good electric motor this way! (The requirements of indication systems will usually be less severe.)

Motor control systems sometimes feature "ramping" to reduce the electrical stresses of frequent operations. In this scenario, limit switch operation would typically increase/decrease motor supply voltage progressively to/from the full operating value. Good control systems will allow for failure by incorporating overload or timeout arrangements.

The use of limit switches, and other sensing devices, to control a computer program responsible for various operations is the ideal solution. The Motovator is specifically designed to achieve this.

Bryn Jones (December 2008)

Further queries, comments, additions, corrections, etc. should be directed to the "Other/Control Systems/General Electric Motors & Motor Control" section, or the "Other/Control Systems/Model Lighting and Indication Systems" section of the Public FORUM.

Back to top
SQ15: Differential Operation

Is there a differential that will cause one wheel to continue to turn when the other wheel is stopped? Wayne Meadows Vancouver


Hello Wayne, welcome to Meccanoscene.

Given a simple differential with 1:1 gearing, then the relationship between the velocity of the cage (Vc) and the velocity of the half shafts (Va and Vb) is given algebraically as Vc = (Va + Vb)/2.

If the vehicle moves in a straight line, and the cage rotates at 10rpm, then the half shafts will rotate at 10rpm too. (There will be no relative movement between the cage gears and the half shaft gears.) In a turn, if you reduce one half shaft velocity to 5rpm, then the other half shaft will run at 15rpm to compensate. Reduce the first half shaft to zero, and the other will run at 20rpm. (the vehicle will run in a circle about the stationary wheel!)

Reverse the inputs and the differential becomes an averaging device. Some mechanisms deliberately use that facility. Negative values are valid too. If you input Va as -5rpm, and Vb as +5rpm, then the cage will be static. (Vc = 0)

I am indebted to Alan Wenbourne for reviewing this answer. (Any remaining errors are entirely mine.) Alan additionally comments: " Wayne's condition is exactly what happens when one wheel loses traction, in a two wheel drive vehicle equipped with an open differential."

Please address any further queries or comments to the "Road Vehicle Construction" section of the public FORUM.

Bryn Jones (June 2009)

Back to top

SQ16: Meccano / Metallus Fixings

Where can one buy spare screws, washers, nuts [either originals or metric equivalents]?


Hello "Molewrench", welcome to Meccanoscene.

Meccano steel fixings use BSW 5/32" threads. Both (slotted) dome & cheese head bolts have appeared over time. Recently, the hexagonally recessed type has found favour. Both square and hexagonal pressed nuts have been used with these bolts. Standard or replica fixings can be purchased from the well-known Meccano parts vendors. A number have been mentioned above.

Please note: Meccano washers are dreadful, and should be avoided like the plague. I suggest you use M4 washers in an appropriate finish. You can buy these from a commercial fixing supplier in bulk.

Over time, a variety of finishes have been adopted including brass & zinc plate, and a black finish for fixings used in the "Army" sets. At one particular time, a brass passivated finish was used for some parts on cost grounds. Since this is an industrial finish intended for protective purposes in areas not publically accessible, the results were completely awful. If you have any of these parts, you should throw them out or have an alternative finish applied. Some small disreputable plating companies will attempt to pass off this type of plating as "Brass Plating", which it isn't, so don't be misled.

Metallus uses metric M4 fixings. Bolts have cheese heads that are somewhat larger than the Meccano equivalent. Half nuts rather than pressed nuts are used, which are also a bit bigger. Quality is a bit ordinary. The chemically blackened finish is not particularly good, and will tend to rub off all too quickly.

I recommend: Good quality hexagonally recessed M4 "button" screws, and half nuts plated in an appropriately durable finish. You can buy these in bulk from an industrial supplier. Longer bolts can have full or partial threading. Don't forget to get set screws in a variety of lengths as well.

If you require a zinc finish, you should be able to buy these parts ready for use. For alternative finishes, you should consult a reputable plating company with "barrelling" facilities. I have had some fixings plated in a matt brass finish for use with the Meccano dark blue system. These are first class. For use with Metallus, I use a black passivated finish on a zinc base. These come out in a slightly silvery black colour, and are more durable than chemically blackened parts.

The whole lot goes in the barrel, even the tiny (hexagonally recessed) set screws. A large batch will keep costs down, but this approach is obviously going to cost more than just buying the parts direct. By all means, ask the company to do a trial batch before committing to a large order.

Bryn Jones (January 2010)

Back to top

SQ17: Precise Angular Movement.

I am trying to turn 4 vertical axles (a locking mechanism for a container crane) exactly 90 degrees; could anyone help with some ideas please.

Mike (medicmobile)

The best solution to rotating any mechanism through any angle over a range of, say, 170 degrees, is to use a standard hobby servo driven by a standalone programmable servo controller.

The Pololu Micro Maestro 6 channel USB might be a suitable controller for the job. Available from TechnoBots (www.technobots.co.uk) it is inexpensive, and can be "scripted" (using a custom cut-down Forth language variant) to control a servo with a potentiometer. The script can be prepared on a PC and downloaded such that the controller can then be used without the USB connection.

Motorvator users can also operate up to two such servos with their controller using an appropriate program downloaded from a PC (via a serial link).

The servo can be mechanically located using the rectangular MeccParts servo mounting plate. The metal disc that comes with the plate can be bolted to the standard plastic servo disc (or multi-armed crank) that has a splined recess to accept the splined peg of the servo. A threaded pin can link the disc to an output gear. Unfortunately, last time I looked at the MeccParts site (www.meccparts.com), the servo mounting accessories were no longer listed.

Alternatively, mechanical output can be utilised with direct servo mounted gearing. The American Servo City company (www.servocity.com) do "RobotZone" gearboxes, but I'm not sure the equipment is deliverable to the UK. (There are other American suppliers) I have had custom recessed metric gears made up in delrin to enclose the Futaba small plastic disc. (An expensive process, but light and very neat.)

A standard servo can generate a quite considerable torque. The control will be bi-directional.

Further servo queries should be directed to "Other/Control Systems/Servos and Servo Controllers" section of the Public FORUM.

A DC motor could be similarly driven over an appropriate range under potentiometer or limit switch control, but the use of limit switches comes with the risks referred to in SQ14. A suitable controller might be the RotaLink "Red Drive" unit. (www.rotalink.com) Again, Motorvator users can easily do the job with their programmable controller, utilising appropriate feedback to control the amount of movement required.

Further motor control queries should be directed to the "Other/Control Systems/General Electric Motors & Motor Control" section of the Public FORUM.

Mechanical arrangements might include a gear acting against a torsion spring. A lever fitted to the gear could be constrained by a (solenoid operated?) bolt that, when released, would allow the gear to move through 90 degrees to come to rest against an appropriate stop. That would be unidirectional, and would need some kind of motorised rewind arrangement.

Bryn Jones

Back to top

SQ18: Inventory for Accessory Outfit 6A

I have a large amount of Meccano I have discovered in my mum's loft. The parts are all loose but I have the box for the Accessory outfit kit 6A. How can I get hold of an inventory for this set? I have the instruction manual but that doesn't give an inventory.


Hello "Talbote", welcome to Meccanoscene.

The best source of information on the detailed development of the Meccano system that I am aware of is the volume entitled "The Meccano System and the Special Purpose Meccano Sets" by Bert Love and Jim Gamble. Published originally in 1986, this book was one of a group of volumes produced by New Cavendsh Books referred to as "The Hornby Companion Series". This specific volume lists the contents of all the Meccano sets (including Accessory Outfit 6A) as they changed over the years. Various Meccano vendors will occasionally have one of these volumes in stock, or you may be able to persuade your local library to obtain it for you.

Bryn Jones (September 2010)

Back to top

SQ19: Computerised Parts Lists.

Does anyone know of a computerised stock list for Meccano parts? If so, where from? Thanks, Brian Young


Hello Brian, welcome to Meccanoscene.

The best Meccano inventory solution I know of is the "MeccInv" software package produced by Howard Somerville. (http://www.hsomerville.com/meccinv/) This reference page also includes links to the "Inclusive Parts list" and the "Encyclopedia of Meccano Parts" with which the package appears to be compatible.

You may also like to look at Timothy Edwards site (http://edwards.web.users.btopenworld.com/meccano/partslist.htm) that includes some downloadable listings that might be useful. The New Zealand site is a mine of information of this kind. There are some nice illustrated parts lists (http://www.nzmeccano.com/Parts.php). Alan Esplen's site also includes a well-produced illustrated listing (http://www.btinternet.com/~a.esplen/models/Meccanoparts.html)

It's just a question of searching the Internet, I don't have sufficient knowledge of these issues to have any informed view of these offerings, but you should always treat any information of this kind with some care. Most of it is not subject to any "Peer Review" process.

Bryn Jones (February 2012)

PS: Sorry for the delay in response, but I have been up to my neck lately. Scroll down the front page for a reference to this issue.

Please address any further queries or comments to the "General Meccano Chat" section of the public FORUM.

Back to top

SQ20: Replica or Not?

I possess a fair number of No.30 bevel gears bought at various times in job lots of Meccano, some of which are not stamped meccano/made in England, I have always assumed that that they are genuine not replica parts. Can this be a correct assumption? Thank you


Hello "victorbrim", welcome to Meccanoscene.

On the general subject of Meccano stampings, there is a very informative article on the New Zealand Meccano web site ( http://www.nzmeccano.com/AboutStamps.php )

This article makes reference to a definitive work created by the late Niels Gottlob which appeared as a series of contributions to the well known NMMG (North Midlands Meccano Guild) publication, the "Meccanoman's NewsMag". Under the general title "Markings on Meccano Parts", five parts appeared in the following issues:

Part 1: Issue 35 Pages 15 - 21
Part 2: Issue 36 Page 4
Part 3: Issue 38 Pages 7 - 8
Part 4: Issue 41 Pages 23 - 25
Part 5: Issue 42 Page 23

Part 3 details markings associated with Meccano part 30.

There is a DVD available that contains Issues 1 - 100 of the Meccanoman's NewsMag ( and its predecessors ) in the form of scanned images complete with search facilities. There is also a paper index that, as I write, covers Issues 1 - 68 only. These are available from MWMO ( Meccano World Wide Mail Order at www.mwmailorder.co.uk ).

All I can say is that I have a fair number of these bevels that I believe to be genuine, but none have any markings at all. So called Meccano compatible parts are produced in such profusion these days that it is impossible to be certain that any unmarked part is genuine unless you have certain knowledge of its source.

Please direct any further discussion of these matters to the "Meccano History & Collecting" section of the Meccanoscene FORUM.

Bryn Jones (March 2012)

Back to top
SQ21: Motorised Sets

Hi there, hopefully someone can shed some light on a bit of Meccano 'set' history I am trying to unravel. Having recently got back into Meccano at University (using it to build shaking tables and all kinds of structures to subject them to mock earthquakes), I started trawling around Ebay to find some appropriate parts and sets at decent prices. I came across a yellow and blue 1970's set 5 with a six geared motor - and I won it :-). Now all the history I have found has suggested that from this period there was a 3M and 4M set, and then a 5ME, but not a 5M. The set I have acquired looks to be an amalgam of a thinner polystyrene layer from a 70's style set and a thicker layer from a 60's set. The top says set 5 motorised (with 6 ratio gearbox), but not a 5M. It doesn't even have a battery box which is quite bizarre. So the question is what actually do I have as I wasn't aware that set 5's were supplied with motors unless they were 5ME's? Any light on the history of this would be very much appreciated (I've been on various sites to try to identify the set (nzmeccano etc.), but had no luck. I can include a photo if anyone is interested? Many thanks.

Laurence (Macclad)

Hello Laurence, welcome to Meccanoscene.

The best reference I have to the "Special Sets" of the 70's period is contained in volume 6 of the Hornby Companion Series published by New Cavendish Books. This volume is entitled "The Meccano System and the Special Purpose Meccano Sets", and was compiled by Bert Love and Jim Gamble. Page 266 contains a reference to motorised sets 3M, 4M, 4EL, and 5ME. Page 267 gives specific information on the 5ME, which appears to include a PDU ( Power Drive Unit with 6 ratio gearbox ) and battery unit. There is no reference to a set 5M.

Running short of information at this point, I consulted Geoff Wright on this matter. Many Meccanomen will know Geoff as the proprietor of the greatly missed Meccano emporium "MW Models" previously located in Henley-on-Thames. This wonderful Mecca was renowned throughout the world as the most fantastic source of absolutely everything to do with Meccano. While these things were available by mail order, those of us able to regularly visit the shop used to greatly enjoy chatting to Geoff and his team about everything Meccano.

Geoff writes:

"I certainly would be glad to see a photo of the No. 5 motorised set. We opened up at 165 Reading Road just before Christmas 1970, just after Binns Road had changed over from the 1960s series sets with 'themed' subtitles, to the 1970s sets which followed much the same contents as before, but with Sets 1 to 9 more or less the same as 1960's sets 0 to 8 renumbered, the old 9 being discontinued.

Both series featured some sets with motors. The 1960s series had Powerdrive and Junior Powerdrive, (I believe the Powerdrive had a parts list peculiar to it alone.) The 1970s series had the 3M and 4M (with a very poor 4.5 volt motor), and also a 5ME which was packed with both a Powerdrive motor and an Electronic Control Set (which had a Battery Box), and the 4EL (unmotorised) which was an Elektrikit Set added to a No.4. The first 1970s sets had dark blue boxing with silver metallic lettering. After a few years this became dark blue with white lettering. By 1976 the lids changed completely to a coloured illustration showing a boy and a girl building models. I mention all these to help dating the set in question.

My memory of these was that they were similar to the first 1970s boxing with silver metallic lettering. My understanding was that they came about because Richard Lines had gone on a fact finding promotional visit to the United States, and came back with his findings which were that the Americans would find a motorised No.5 a most attractive proposition, so a special batch of these was put into production for the American market. If Richard Lines had indeed been involved then I presume it must have occurred just before the bankruptcy of Lines Brothers. I understand that Binns Road's hopes were dashed as sales were few. I know we handled some of these sets in our early days, but whether they were part of the stock from E.A.M.E.S., or new stock sold to us as discontinued lines by Binns Road, or second hand I can't remember. It would be interesting to find out if any one else has heard of a Richard Lines connection."

If you would like to include a reference to this FAQ in the History and Collecting section of the public FORUM, you can include your image as an attachment. ( You must be logged on as a registered user to do this ) This may help to cast more light on this issue.

Unfortunately, the basic FAQ facility does not have image capabilities, though we have been able to engineer this for some of the specialist "pre-defined" FAQ areas.

Bryn Jones (April 2012)

Back to top

SQ22: Getting Started with Meccanographs

Dear Meccanoscene: I am very interested in Meccanograph machines and have started to collect the historic plans. Unfortunuately I cant afford the No. 10 set which apparently has most of the parts to construct these little beauties! Would you recommend that I start to inventory the parts from these plans and buy the parts individually from the various meccano website suppliers. I look forward to your advice. Thanks


Hello Grant, welcome to Meccanoscene.

You have already made a good start by collecting meccanograph model plans. Check out the range of modern plans at MWMO (Meccano Worldwide Mail Order) if you haven't already done so. ( www.mwmailorder.co.uk ) Make a start by collecting parts for those plans that look particularly interesting, and start building. Vendors like David Taylor & Mike Rhoades can supply these parts.

Early model instructions are not always easy to follow. Modern instruction plans tend to be more extensively illustrated, and may prove easier to understand. Frequently you will find minor difficulties in following the exact instructions, and will end up making small modifications to get a good result. You may have to change the motor installation, for example, if the plan uses an old motor that you do not have available.

As time goes by, you will want to broaden your Meccano work to incorporate different types of model. You can expand your range of parts gradually until you have sufficient material to undertake, say, the Number 10 Set models. The published parts inventories for the various sets will help here.

In the long run, it will probably be cheaper to purchase parts in sets. You may find you can achieve some useful purchases second hand, but make sure the quality is good. The advantage of a car boot sale is that you can see what you are getting. Refurbishing parts can be a very time consuming process.

If there is a good Meccano club in reach, do join. There will be tons of advice available there. Visit a Meccano exhibition if you have the opportunity. If you buy parts from one of the vendors present, you will avoid mail order costs.

Enjoy your Meccano!

Bryn Jones (August 2013)

Back to top

SQ23: Fairground Lighting.

Does anyone have any tips on lighting meccano fairground rides - particularly with respect to rotational rides where there might be issues with powering lights (incandescent and/or GoW bulbs) via commutator segments for example?


Hello "panicp", welcome to Meccanoscene.

Multi-coloured lighting schemes with automatic display sequencing are often used to great effect on fairground models. The lights are usually low voltage LED's (Light Emitting Diodes) arranged in parallel sets under the control of some kind of programmer.

The LED's require series resistors depending on the supply voltage. (See the MAPLIN catalogue for details on how to calculate the resistance values.) 12V LED's can be obtained with in-built resistors. It is possible to purchase flexible strips of LED's for installation convenience.

Numerous LED control boards are available over the internet. Computer operation using some kind of stand-alone programmable controller (Motorvator, Arduino board, etc.) offers the greatest flexibility. If you are not into that kind of thing, complex mechanical sequencers can be built using cam operated sprung limit switches to initiate the electrical circuits. (again, see the MAPLIN catalogue for miniature and sub-miniature micro switches.) Micro switches with roller type actuating arms can be convenient for cam operation.

In this type of model, electrical circuits will sometimes need to negotiate rotating joints. Fortunately, lighting circuits of this kind are not particularly succeptable to interference, so you can get away with fairly simple solutions here.

John Molden (well known fairground modeler) tells me of one solution that involves the use of multiple circular girders and sprung loaded bolts. The bolt slots are opened up to move smoothly over the edges of the girder flanges to create effective multiple slip rings. For relatively few circuits, you can use multi-pole audio plug & socket pairs. Allen Berman (North East London MC) used this technique to good effect on a crane model.

PS: Please address further comments and discussion to the public FORUM / Other / Control Systems / Model Lighting & Indication Systems.

Bryn Jones (September 2013)

Back to top

SQ24: Juneero Information.

Where can I get instructions and information o­n the Juneero Metal Working System

Cheers, kateslad

Welcome to Meccanoscene, 'kateslad'

The New Zealand Meccano site contains a fair amount of information on this (VERY old) system. A 'pdf' file of basic instructions on the use of the Juneero tool can be located at http://www.nzmeccano.com/image-58261

Bryn Jones (September 2014)

Back to top
SQ25: Engine Noise Simulator

I am in the process of building an internal combustion engine noise simulator as my next MECCANO MODEL. I've seen engine simulators fitted to various kinds of Meccano motor vehicles, typically large HD vehicles. These are typically simple  & primitive devices representing a rather marginal part of the model.  I depart from this approach in that I want to focus on the simulator ONLY. I have in mind a modular design whereby single or multi-cylinder engines can be simulated just by adding the proper no. of modules. This is to ask if, in your experience, you ever came across a Meccano model with similar features. I appreciate your help or your direction to help.

Thank you


Welcome to Meccanoscene Paolo

I know of no previous attempt to create a modular engine NOISE simulator using Meccano. One excavator model I came across did include a simple rapper mechanism to simulate the diesel engine noise, and that was very effective.

It should be possible to create multiple rappers operating on different sound generating objects that could be impacted at different speeds and in different combinations to give a variety of overall sounds. The mechanics would be pretty challenging. A sort of engine sound piano!

In these days of widely available computer programmable sound boards, an option might be to sense engine conditions and output simulated sound accordingly. Now there is a project for somebody.

Bryn Jones (August 2015)

Back to top

SQ26: Meccano T20 Transformer Connections

I have recently acquired a Meccano T20 transformer. Unfortunately I do not have connecting
plugs for the two sockets. Can anyone please advise me as to what available plugs would be


The Meccano T20 transformer was introduced in the 1930's. On NO ACCOUNT should old mains connected equipment like this be used today as internal materials will often have deteriorated to the point where such a device could be dangerous. Even modern power supplies should be regularly tested to ensure safety, particularly if used to supply models at a public exhibition. (The event insurance may well require it)

MAPLIN do a 75W triple output DC variable bench power supply unit (Code GW02C) that is very good.
Many enthusiasts use a "slim" single output vaiable DC power supply unit like the MAPLIN N93CX.

If you require a centre-off reversing variable voltage power unit, a heavy duty model railway transformer / controller unit may be preferable.

Bryn Jones (April 2016)

Back to top
SQ27: Trailer Hydraulic Jacks.

I am building an articulated lorry in Meccano and would like to raise and lower the trailer by means of hydraulic jacks. Are there any suitable hydraulic systems available that are to a similar scale as Meccano? Any advice would be appreciated. Many thanks Eric Bond.

Hello Eric

Very few Meccano enthusiasts have created genuine miniature hydraulic systems for model operation. Extensive model engineering skills are required to achieve good results. I do not know of a commercial system that might be adapted for this purpose.

Miniature pneumatic systems are commercially available with electric valves to direct common air supplies to multiple cylinders. That might prove practical for some applications, though not possibly for this one.

A water-operated system was developed for Meccano use some time ago, but it proved very unsatisfactory.

Firgelli electric linear actuators (http://www.firgelli.com/) should provide a simple solution since the miniature motors are integral to the actuator. Just fix the actuator body to the trailer, and drive the ram up and down. Mind you, synchronising multiple actuators might not be entirely trivial! (Some of the actuators are provided with internal potentiometers for positional feedback.)

In the traditional mechanical Meccano world, screwed rod linear actuators have proved popular. The rods can be turned by directly connecting in-line miniature DC motors that move up and down with the rods themselves against some kind of sliding rotational constraint. Alternatively, the threaded rods can be static, and a threaded adapter used to move a parallel plain axle with footpad attached. At least your trailer jacks do not feature complex geometry. Linear actuators for tipping lorry bodies are another matter!

Bryn Jones (June 2016)

Back to top

SQ28: Shaft Security

Does anyone have any suggestions for making gears or wheels a tight fit on an axle shaft. I always use two screws in the boss but even then the gear will sometimes slip on the axle if under load.

Many thanks Eric Bond.

Hello Eric, Welcome to Meccanoscene,

Meccano probably used set screws with the same standard thread size as general fixings to save money, but it meant that these screws were of similar diameter to the shafts they were supposed to secure. The common arrangement of two threaded holes set radially at 120 degrees would not be possible since these holes would emerge too close together as they entered the shaft tunnel. They might even interfere with one another in the process. To overcome this, the threaded holes were set opposite to one another at 180 degrees.

Clearly this is bad engineering. Use one set screw, and at least you force the shaft against the opposite side of the bore for friction effect. Use two screws and you can actually centre the shaft preventing that effect. In short, do NOT "double grub".

For high torque situations, the way to improve shaft security is to use more than one longitudinal set screw position. For example, I have bolted a bush wheel to a sprocket to effect a high torque drive. One set screw is inserted into the boss of the sprocket, and one into the boss of the bush wheel. Not only does this provide greater shaft security, it can improve sprocket alignement as well. That can be helpful to ensure the smooth operation of (Metallus) linked chain.

It is also possible to extend a boss with a socket coupling and another securing device. One of those compatible five hole couplings will do the trick. Not only do you have extra set screw positions for security, you have some measure of shaft reinforcement as well.

Bryn Jones (September 2016)

Back to top
A website by IDTservices

Meccano Web Ring logo

Powered by the AutoTheme HTML Theme System
Page created in 0.044470 Seconds