Hints & Suggestions


Renovation of Meccano - from John Darlison

Any parts may be zinc plated and the process removes all old paint although it might be wise to remove this beforehand using a solution of caustic soda. I have just had the equivalent of the zinc parts in 3 no 10 sets replatedfor 60.

All nuts and bolts come up very well even if corroded.(the process removes rust). There are two types of finish available.
One is the normal bright silver finish and the other a yellow(gold) finish. The latter is fine for renovating brass wheels etc. and gives very good resultsfor brass finish nuts and bolts. There are two processes, the cheapest is the barrel process in which all parts ar placed in a drum and rotated in the variousliquids in a production line. The other process involves stringing the items on a bar and dipping by hand in the various liquids. My own experience is that the drum process is OK for all items up to 24" but that sometimes some items get stuck together and have to go through a second time. This is still considerably cheaper than hanging by hand and in my view the finish is as good.
In the UK there are many small firms doing zinc plating and these may be found in Yellow Pages under the heading of Metal Finishers. The one I used is in Hereford.

On the subject of cleaning brass parts (not plated nuts and bolts) I used Horolene obtainable from Meadows and Passmore Ltd., Crowborough, Sussex, UK. The liquid is diluted 7 to 1 so a 250m1. can will go a long way and will clean the parts of about 5 No 10 sets!


Various Hints & Tips

  1. Where a long roller is required, in a loom for instance, and the 106 is not long enough, a piece of wooden broom handle is very useful. The diameter of different handles varies a little, but most will be found to fit inside a 1 1/8" flanged wheel (part 20) to which it may be secured by suitable wood screws.

  2. If an electric motor is to be run continuously for any length of time more or less unattended, the problem of adequate lubrication of the armature shaft arises. The Meccano grease cup (part 174) was introduced in 1931 but joined the ranks of obsolete parts by 1940. A good substitute may be made from an old bicycle tyre valve. The rubber portion should be removed, a part of the valve body sawn off and the lower portion threaded with a 5/32" B.S.W. die to fit the threaded holes in the armature bearings. The valve dust cap should then be filled with grease (petroleum jelly will do) and screwed down until the grease extrudes from the bottom of the valve. The dust cap should then be refilled with grease and an occasional turn of the cap when the motor is running will ensure a supply of grease to the armature shaft.

  3. A rub with a piece of steel wool makes brass parts look like new. Very fine (flour grade) glass paper is also good and if a really brilliant shine is desired, metal polish may be used to finish.

  4. Sprocket chain drives in a horizontal position tend to slip off the sprockets. This may be avoided by using an "idler" sprocket under tension.

  5. Many Meccanomen may be unaware that the sector plate (part 54) may be used in the construction of a giant roller bearing. The reason why it is called a "sector" plate may also be puzzling; a sector of what? The answer is that 24 sector plates may be bolted together to form a circle of approximately 19" diameter. Care must be taken to use sector plates of the same pattern (there are several - 4", 4", one with a central row of holes, one with three rows of holes, etc), otherwise the circle will not line up properly. It is easy to bolt several perforated strips together to form a circular race on which a spider may rotate. A similar circle of 24 sector plates may be used to form the base of the rotating superstructure. To give additional support to very heavy superstructures, a 167 may be used at the centre of the circle of sector plates.

  6. Ashtray tyres may be used where large motor tyres are required.

  7. Meccano tyres should be rubbed with French chalk. This increases their life and improves their appearance.

  8. Old gramophone and video motors are well worth seeking. They are quite powerfull if properly geared and their great advantage is that they are almost noiseless and run at a constant speed.

  9. Bent axle rods cannot be straightened successfully, and they can be cut up into shorter lengths if required.

  10. Loose bosses in pulley and other wheels are very annoying. Use a block of iron or steel as an anvil and tap gently with a hammer on the peened over edge.

  11. 20 SWG nickel sheet is preferable to brass for those who wish to make substitute parts. It is much easier to work and takes paint better than brass.
    If brass is to be painted, the first coat adheres much better if a thin coat of shellac is used on the bare, cleaned brass. Humbrol and similar types of paint are much easier to brush on if the tinlet is placed in hot water 5 minutes before starting work.

  12. To improve the engagement of dog clutches (part 144), lightly file the corners.

  13. Most Meccanomen are aware that part 26 originally had 20 teeth instead of 19, part 27a had 56 teeth instead of 57 and part 31 had 40 teeth instead of 38.
    Care should be taken not to mesh old with new if a simple ratio is required; this is especially important in clocks. For example, if a 19 tooth pinion is meshed with a 56 tooth gear, the ratio would be a little higher than 3:1; it will in fact be 2 18/19 : 1. It is therefore recommended that all parts 26, 27a and 31 should be marked to save time counting the teeth each time they are used.

  14. Furniture polish is recommended to improve the appearance of faded enamelled parts and restore a little of their original shine.

  15. Helical gear (part 211a) can be meshed with a 1" contrate (part 28) to give a hypoid or offset effect.

  16. A crochet hook can be used instead of a Reed Hook (part 105) in loom work.

  17. Where a motor, especially clockwork, vibrates excessively in a model, the bolts securing it should be fitted with compression springs or rubber tap washers. Split washers may also be used; these can be made from washers (part 38) by cutting one side.

  18. Where nuts and bolts have to be placed in awkward corners, a little vaseline he index finger can help.

  19. The Elektrikit Bush Wheel (part 518) permits construction of a sliding coupling in a space too narrow for one made from Bush Wheels 24 and 24b.

  20. Large transparent plastic plates can be used in place of of standard plates where the interior mechanism needs to be viewed, while still affording protection from dust. These large plates are especially valuable when it is desired to exhibit a model with complicated internal mechanism.

  21. Elektrikit cores are very useful for strong roller bearings for heavy models.

  22. A rubber typewriter platen roller can be very useful when building a printing machine.

  23. A strong universal coupling can be made using a socket coupling locked on to a collar, and a handrail coupling. A long grub screw is locked by a second grub screw in the ball and engages the slot in the socket coupling.

  24. To prevent excess movement in selector shafts, the head of an Elektrikit contact stud (part number 544) can be pressed against the shaft, using a compression spring. An ordinary bolt head can also be used.

  25. To prevent backlash, a pulley can mounted on a shaft to act as a band brake. Cord attached to the framework at one end is half wrapped around the pulley. The other end is attached to a spring, also attached to the framework. Rotation of the pulley in one direction will stretch the spring and allow rotation, in the other, the spring pulls the cord taught and prevents backlash.

  26. Ideas for placing nuts in awkward positions: gripped between the flanges of a box spanner which have been squeezed slightly. Alternatively, a nut may be placed over a hole with a piece of adhesive tape while the hole is still accessible. A nut can be screwed on a screwed rod so that it just grips. It is then placed in position over the hole and the bolt screwed on to it before removing the rod.

  27. To bend flexible plates, bolt a perforated strip or flat girder to the plate, so that one edge is on the line along which the plate is to be bent. The plate can then be bent to the desired angle over the straight edge. A larger radius may be obtained by bending round an angle girder.

  28. The diametrical pitch (38) of helical gears is the same as ordinary spur gears, so that they may be used together when the shafts are at an angle of 45 degrees.

  29. A 1" bevel gear (48 teeth) may be meshed with the driving pinion of a clockwork motor (12 teeth) to provide a perfect 1 : 4 reduction.

  30. A wooden base can provide strong support for a model, and prevent twisting, particularly where it has to be moved frequently.

  31. A friction clutch for electric motor protection should be used, wherever possible, usually in the first gear in a train.

  32. Double arm cranks or strips should be used in motor side plates to reduce wear. Avoid using washers in the first shaft, to prevent binding.

  33. Shaft speed can be checked using a worm and 57 tooth gear fitted with a bolt to enable revolutions to be counted.

  34. Drill stubs 0.161" (20 gauge U.S./8 SWG/4.05mm) can be used instead of standard rods. 0.002" above axle diameter.

  35. Plastic gears are useful where electrical contact is to be avoided.

  36. Elektrikit thin brass washers (part 561) make excellent shims for fine spacing, where washers (part 38) are too thick.

  37. A magnetised rod can be used to reach awkward places. One end holds a coupling that has been slotted to hold a nut and fitted in such a way that the rod is in contact with the nut.

  38. When fitting pulleys or gears onto threaded rod, a nut and washer on either side is the correct method. Set screws damage the threaded rod.

  39. Small O rings placed on rods can be found useful, especially where a steady drive is required, or where two strips are to pivot freely without too much play. They are also useful as spacers instead of washers.

  40. Additional holes in certain parts can greatly increase their usefulness and adaptability as follows.
    • 1" gear (part 31) - additional holes as Elektrikit part 518
    • 50 tooth gear (part 270) - additional holes as 57 tooth gear (part 27a)
    • Helical gear (part 211b) - additional holes as 57 tooth gear (part 27a)

    Consider using threaded instead of axle size holes in 211b, they can be drilled out if required later for a special purpose.

  41. The worm (part 32) can be shortened without reducing its usefulness. Half a worm can be cut off resulting in greater compactness.

  42. Rod with Keyway (part 230) can be hardened by heat treatment. Heat over a gas ring until a light straw colour (pale yellow) appears, then plunge quickly into cold water. The bright colour can be restored with fine emery paper and metal polish if desired.

  43. When using a Rod with Keyway (part 230) subject to heavy loading, avoid journalling in strips or plates. Instead use double arm cranks or bush wheels so that the load is taken on the actual boss. Try using dissimilar metals (e.g. steel axles in brass bosses) if excessive wear is to be avoided.

  44. A small magnet can be used to pick up small steel parts which have dropped into inaccessible places.

  45. Use a large wheel where a jig is required for the construction of made up circular parts such as an escapement wheel.

  46. If cord slips on a pulley drive, place a small elastic band on the pulley, The cord will not slip, and this is better than attempting to use rubber bands as driving belts.

  47. Lead sinkers are ideal where weights are necessary.

  48. Where placement of a screw is difficult, a small piece of plasticine placed in the slot will help it adhere to the screwdriver.

  49. Use two set screws in the boss of gears where the slightest eccentricity will result in binding and intermittent friction during rotation.

  50. Where oil cups are not available, cotton wool plugs in the tapped holes of bearing bosses can be saturated with oil.

  51. Where noise is caused by 2" and 3" gears driven at high speed, one or two wheel flanges should be bolted to the noisy gear, or a 2" pulley with tyre is effective.

  52. Avoid contaminating rubber tyres and driving bands with oil or grease, as this perishes them.

  53. It sometimes occurs that a bolt occupies a hole required to journal a rod and lack of space prevents construction of another bearing. The bolt can be replaced by a longer one and the rod positioned so that its end butts against the the end of the long bolt. A rod connector (part 213) slipped half over the rod and halfover the bolt fors quite strong bearing. A threaded coupling (63c) screwed onto the original bolt would be stronger, but the above will serve if there is a minimum of space. Alternatively use a Rod Socket (part 179).

  54. WD40 is useful for cleaning parts and keeping them free from rust.

  55. To get bolts into awkward places, fit a rod connector onto a screwdriver, and force the open end open to the diameter of a bolt head.

  56. Use 12 or 13 gauge brass tube (sold to aero-modellers) to transport oil to various parts of a model.

  57. Elektrikit 530 flexible strip makes a good substitute pendulum connection instead of obsolete part 172.

  58. A Flanged Ring (part 167b) with a length of sprocket chain slipped tightly over the rim provides a gear ring of 185 teeth, which meshes with a " sprocket (part 96a - 14 teeth). The ratio is 13.2 : 1 compared with the 12 : 1 ratio of the geared roller bearing (part 167). Light filing of the sprocket wheel teeth may be required. A permanent gear ring could be made by soldering the chain to the flanged ring.

  59. A spanner can be modified slightly to engage the groove in a socket coupling (part 171), and so may be used as a selector.

  60. By attaching strips and brackets to the Gear Ring (part 180), and reinforcing it with Circular Strip (part 145), a very strong and useful 16-wheel bearing can be made.

  61. Rack Segments can be made by cutting them from Gear Ring (part 180) and fitting them with 1" corner brackets (part 133a). This part can be reversed to give two different gear ratios.

  62. Strong fuse wire inside spring cord can be used as a Bowden cable.

  63. A brass collar of the exact dimensions of a standard collar, but without tapped holes, can serve as a small roler or spacer. A similar item 1" long, like a coupling without transverse bores, serves as a long spacer, roller for conveyors, fairlead for haulage ropes, guide for a moving beam such as a box girder.

  64. To eliminate backlash between gears, it is possible to overcome the problem by arranging two gears on one shaft to mesh with the adjacent pinion. One gear is fixed to the shaft, but the other is free to turn. A tension spring fixed between the two gears ensures that there is no backlash.

  65. Drifts make ideal pointers for dials.

  66. A mini thrust bearing can be made from 4 x 37, 4 x 38, 2 x 38d and 1 x 140y. The washers are mounted on bolts which are lock nutted to the spider collar. The large washers run on the edges of the washers.

  67. Parts can be fixed to sprocket chain as follows: The chain is folded acutely and one link is passed through the slotted hole of, say, a fishplate. A small piece of brass, 3/4" x 1/16" x 1/32" (19 x 1.6 x 0.8mm) is slipped under the cross link and held by bending the ends round the edges of the fishplate. The advantage is stability without anything protruding through the chain and possibly fouling the sprocket wheel.

  68. A tool to hold nuts can be made by clamping two strips together to form a sort of pliers. The natural springiness of the strips will grip the nut sufficiently steady for assembly after which the tool can be pulled off the nut.

  69. Where a small channel is required up to 5", two narrow strips can be bolted together separated by collars. A further narrow strip can be fixed to the tapped holes of the collar by key bolts. A further strip would make a box girder.

  70. A circular cake stand (Lazy Susan) can be used as a turntable for a Meccanograph and similar uses.

  71. Circular Girder (part 143) can be cut into sections to make useful curved angle girders.

  72. Aluminium section from hardware stores makes useful non-standard girders. Curtain rails can also be extremely useful.

  73. A built up universal coupling can be made from an 8 hole bush wheel to which 1" double angle strips are bolted, one on each side and at right angles to each other. Two further bush wheels, each carrying 1" double angle strips are attached to the central spider by lock nuts. This device works quite effectively, but is not as flexible as the normal universal coupling.


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