Meeting at Lindsay Carroll's
9 December 2001
Our last meeting for 2001 was held at Lindsay Carroll's on a pleasant Sunday afternoon, 9 Dec 2001. It was mild and sunny and would have been quite warm under the transparent roof of Lindsay's rear deck if not for a cool breeze which helped to keep everyone awake.
As always for this end of year get together we had an excellent turnout with 35 members attending as well as wives and family members. I arrived some 15 minutes before the official opening time of 1 pm and found that a dozen or more had arrived before me and that trading at the sales tables and general Meccano talk were already in full swing.
Our President Tony Press called the meeting to order at 1.40 pm, a little earlier than the normal starting time to give us time to get through an extensive agenda which included a talk by Bill Inglis.
He began by introducing two visitors. The first was John Martin who had bought a No 9 set 30 years ago which until recently had spent almost all of its life in a cupboard. But after seeing the Meccano article about Paul Johnstone in The Age in July, John was motivated to bring the set out of mothballs and begin building. As a demonstration he brought along a Twin Rotor Military Helicopter from the 1970's No 9 manual.
Our second visitor was Bill Inglis, an internationally known and highly respected Meccanoman who practiced the trade here in Melbourne during the 1960's and 70's - more about Bill later. Happy to relate that both of our visitors were so impressed by our Club that they joined on the spot - two new members in one day!
Tony brought us up to date with some of the deliberations of our Committee (seems that they do more than chat about Meccano and drink cups of tea).
The Committee recommended that we hold an Exhibition in 2002 and this was agreed to by members at the meeting. As well it is proposed that it be held over two days. There are two reasons for this. First of all, it is suggested that the first morning of the Exhibition be for exhibitors to set up and for members only to give us all a chance to look at one another's models and have a relaxed chat. Secondly, there is a perceived demand by the public for the Exhibition to be held on Sunday as well (not all can make it on Saturday). Not only does this give the Club more exposure but should result in a higher profit.
The Exhibition Committee for 2002 will be elected at the next meeting. In particular Graham Jost has indicated that he will not be standing for the position of Chairman, so we need a new person for this position at least. So what about you serving on the committee this time - give it some thought and be ready to raise your hand at the meeting at Jack's.
A list of financial members is included with the posted copies of this Newsletter. It looks like we have lost a few members, but this loss has been offset with new members during the year.
For the Club Newsletter it has been decided to continue with the extra pages and better quality printing. The Club finances are very healthy and much improved quality of the photographs in the Newsletter seems to have met with general approval. But the more expensive printing can only be justified if there are suitable photos to include. So what about bringing your camera to the next exhibition/meeting? You can send prints to the editor by snail mail for scanning if you like.
On a more sombre note Tony passed on the news that one of our members- Len O'Donnell passed away recently at the age of 83. The Secretary has sent a note of sympathy to his widow.
Regarding our Centenary Exhibition, Tony expressed a special thank you to Graeme Thomson. His Bert Love Grandfather Clock was a major centrepiece of the church but we unfortunately deprived him of the chance to bask in the glow of the builder by placing it in the center of the display, thus not allowing him to be near it. However, Graeme diplomatically assured us that there was no problem and he was able to talk freely to visitors about his model.
A letter of thanks has been received from the National Trust of Victoria for our participation in their "The Age of Steam" day at Polly Woodside in October. It is likely that we will be invited again should a future day be held. Watch this space.
Our most recent exhibition was at the World Vision Centre in November where 7 of our members had models on display over 2 days
(see separate report).
Tony extended a general thank you to all members who had exhibited models at various venues throughout the year. He again made the point that models need not be large to be successful and that any size of model is welcome. The general public in particular relate well to small models - reminds them of their own Meccano days. So, don't feel that your model is inadequate - bring it along and be surprised at the favourable reception it receives.
Talk by Bill Inglis
Bill Inglis will need no introduction to many of our members, particularly those who were active in the Meccano hobby in the late 1960s and 1970s. He was friends with Colin Burnett and Wal Maynard (who of course is a member of our Club) and was certainly a leading Meccanoman in Australia at the time. Bill was a frequent contributor to Maurice Morris's Meccanoman's Journal, the first publication of its type for advanced Meccanomen which appeared from the mid 60's to the mid 70's. Bill is probably best known for his replica parts, especially his replica channel segments, p/n 119 first advertised in the Meccanoman's Journal MJ 17, October 1969. Another successful venture were his large motor tyres introduced in 1973.
Sadly, Bill decided to get out of Meccano in 1980 when he shipped his vast collection to the USA for disposal. It weighed 3 tonnes and including several large built-up models it filled a 7 m3 container. Parts of his collection still surface from time to time - recent examples are his almost mint red/green GRB, p/n 167 and some of his bound volumes of Meccano Magazines.
Bill has an interesting story to relate about his replica channel segments. Those from his initial runs were unbranded, but he became concerned that some less scrupulous people might attempt to pass them off as original (and valuable) Meccano products. Thus for later runs he arranged to have each part marked with his own distinctive logo, "WRI". Now it happened that at about that time he had received a large order from a person whom he suspected of passing off his replicas as originals. Bill decided to wait until he could fill the order with branded parts only. Of course this particular individual was not pleased with this and was foolish enough to write to Bill and complain - Bill was not sympathetic.
Still on the subject of replica channel segments, they are now back in production. Bill brought a quantity of sets along to the meeting and sold nearly all of them there and then. In fact this resurrected enterprise has been so successful that Bill has decided to arrange for a second production run. The best news is that he has been able to hold his price at $30 (plus postage) for a set of 8 segments. At this price they are a real bargain Bill. I note that in 1969 the price was $8 for a set of 8 and that this was maintained until at least 1976. (Petrol was 9c/l in 1969 - it is 10 times that price now.)
Bill had brought along selection of colour slides so we retired to the Carroll lounge room for Bill to show these to us. In summary it was a most interesting presentation, showing many of Bill's fine models and some of the exhibitions where he showed off his models. Some particular highlights were:
· The SML 28 - Pontoon Crane - constructed in nickel. The channel segments were WRI replicas but the rest of the parts in the model had been nickelled to special order in the Binns Rd factory in the early 1930's. These parts had come from the estate of a Meccanoman in New Zealand.
· A fine example of SML 15 - Baltic Tank Locomotive - in red/green which had been automated to run back and forth along an 8' track.
· The SML 1A - Motor Chassis - that Bill sent airmail for showing at the Midlands Meccano Guild exhibition one year. The only problem (apart from the cost) was that journey loosened all of the nuts and bolts which presented a lot of work for Ernest Chandler at the other end.
· A view of the Inglis library with a large level luffing crane in red/green in the foreground and a 1929 steam engine sitting on one of the shelves.
· Bill's model of the Servetti Money Miser (MM 1972) - an entertaining model that grabs coins from visitors who try it out (good exhibition model to boost Club funds). [Hint: If you build the model, apply small dobs of white Bostik or similar to the ends of pawls that grab the money to make them grip properly.]
· A selection of some special (and highly collectable) items including a "trinity" motor, a "K" oil can and a selection of early motors.
· A photo of Bill's No 7 set from 1928 that is now owned by Jacques Vuye in California.
· Bill's unused, boxed Meccano GRB which is owned br Phil Grover in in New Zealand.
· A whole range of slides taken a various exhibitions around Melbourne in the 1970's showing Bill's models and general exhibition scenes.
· Finally Bill showed a number of pictures featuring Meccanomen from the 1970's including Harold Clisby of Clisby Engineering. Harold was responsible for the development of the Sher Hobby Lathe and in 1980 produced a prototype in Meccano for its final design.
Roger Hall led off with his demonstration of the Steam Boat from the Crazy Inventors Series. Meccano has changed a lot since Frank Hornby was in charge - I (and probably others) think for the worse, but then I don't have the job of marketing it, nor am I 10 years old. After all it is supposed to be a child's toy. Roger also had his windmill powered by a motor drawing current from a solar cell - got up quite a turn of speed in the sunshine.
On the general subject of electronics and Meccano Roger has found that the Pulsed Modulated Speed Controller from Dick Smith is unsatisfactory. It provides insufficient power at low speeds.
Kimball Monger had a modified version of the "Kim Khan" speed hill climb special he showed at the World Vision Centre, with good Kimball stories to go with it. Apparently it is common for hill climb enthusiasts to alter their cars from one meeting to the next. Lightness was the essence with these cars - for example the exhaust system was almost non existent and no radiator was used. Instead the fuel was a mixture of methanol (95% - to cool the engine) and benzene (5% - for ignition). A chain drive to the real axle was generally used instead of the much heavier differential and casing and the rear sprocket was in two halves so that it could be quickly changed for one of a different size during a meeting. But it was essential to fully tighten the bolts - something easily overlooked when you were in a hurry.
Kimball had an interesting story related to this while at a Hill Climb at Templestowe. Because the cars had no differential, turning sharp corners was achieved by expert use of the handbrake and accelerator (with obvious stress on the transmission). On this occasion Kimball was standing at a corner at the bottom of the hill as one of the cars headed up. The driver negotiated the corner but as he planted his foot to race up the hill, one half of the sprocket on the rear axle came adrift and shot out from the back of car like a slingshot, propelled by the chain. Fortunately it missed Kimball.
Graham Jost showed us his flywheel ; made up using WRI Channel Segments finished in green powdercoating. An attractive feature is that it has 6 spokes, something difficult to do in Meccano and Graham has achieved this in an ingenious and neat way. For those who are not purists, Jack Parsisson is now making face plates with 6 holes that will make the construction much easier. Graham also demonstrated his "one way" mechanism - the output shaft always turns in the same direction, no matter which way you turn the crank handle. As well he had his version of Don Redmond's "Horseless Carriage", powered by a Magic Motor - an attractive yet simple model which runs well on a smooth surface.
Peter During brought along his version of a luffing crane built from the 1978 No 4 outfit. Peter had the luffing and rotating mechanisms operated with crank handles while the up/down motion was powered by an electric motor. His other model was the Fly Boats from the No3 red/green manual.
Tony Press had a model from one of his recent "finds", a
No 2 Special Aeroplane Set from 1938. This was the most elaborate of these sets and 30 or 40 different models could be built from the contents. Tony's example was a 3-engine passenger bi-plane. In addition he showed off two other highly collectable items, a Meccano Lighting Set from the 1930's and a boxed example (in excellent condition) of the Liverpool "side lever" electric motor from 1921, the first electric motor produced in England.
Mike Maloney is designing a powered gear box for his Marklin crane (shown at our Centenary Exhibition) and showed us his progress so far. The challenge is to fit it into the space occupied by the original hand operated mechanisms - three winding drums are needed. From what I could see, the gear box is being made of almost if not entirely Meccano parts. This is a welcome development Mike.
Wes Dalefield brought along two models made by his 7 year old son. The first was a Jet Ski with a Meccano man (from a Crazy Inventors Set) as the driver and a tractor powered by a No 1 Clockwork Motor. Children these days are fascinated by clockwork motors. Electric motors are commonplace - they are in all their toys - but wind-up toys are a thing of the past. Come to think of it, when did you last wind a clock?
Report by Newsletter Editor Bill Fitzgerald