Rite of Passage

My son graduated from Lego this weekend and built his first Meccano
(Metal content) model (He's 8). A rather complicated thing that turned
out to be a riding lawnmower complete with motor and spinning
"blade."
It brought back a lot of great memories from when I was a kid. It made
me realize that Meccano had a huge part in my interest in mechanical
things and got me on the road to "tinkering." Probably had something
to do with my dad's interest too for that matter. And possibly my
granddad!
Researching the Net it looks like the company has gone through many
lapses and deaths only to be resurrected in one form or another. See
the wikipedia entry for a good synopsis
The new sets have a lot of plastic parts (no brass gears with set
screws) but there are still a lot of the old metal strips and plates
all punched with holes. Great. One thing I did notice was that all
the bolts are now with "allen" (Hex) heads and are easier to control
when trying to install in an intricate position. Far better than the
flat head bolts that the screw driver would always slip out of and
stab you in the hand. The nuts are still the square nuts with the
sharp pointy corners that dig into your fingers when they spin while
tightening :-)
I hope my boy keeps his interest 'cause I have a lot of bigger toys he
can play with when he's older.
Just thought I'd share.
Tom
Reply to
surftom
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I think Erector was the US version of Meccano.
Reply to
surftom
I don't know what a meccano is but I sure wish I could find an erector set for my nephews. Forget about a chemistry set, that has been safety nazied out of existance.
Wes
Reply to
clutch
"surftom" wrote in news:1173106368.012129.198200 @p10g2000cwp.googlegroups.com:
I recently found out that lego has upgraded a line of lego contruction pieces to something akin to erector sets. I found out by buying one of the newer Mindstorm NXT kits for the 'kids', that's a robot building kit with a cigarette sized cpu, motors and sensors that can be used to build all kinds of stuff. I liked the way the components hook together and looked into buying more parts, more is always better with these kind of toys. Turns out that lego has a complete line called Technic which is like what an erector set is to wooden tinkertoys. The more I've played with the sets and built a couple of projects using them the more I felt like I was playing with an updated erector set, minus the metal. When I get a better handle on the things the kids will get to play with them....maybe :). Already broke down and picked up a couple of small kits and a large tackle box to keep the parts in to make it easier to find pieces when you make up something from a supplied plan. The computer brain is really neat too, it's bluetooth compatable so I can program or control it from the laptop without even hooking it up with the usb cable. I figure the first thing the kids will create will be something to chase the cats around, at least the fur wont get stuck in the gears....
Bill
Reply to
Bill
When I was a kid, my Erector set was the best toy I ever had, and I learned a lot from it. Now, I know a ten year old that is getting similar mileage out of advanced Legos. Even his parents, both engineers, are impressed.
Jerry
Reply to
Jerry Foster
When I was about 12, I was playing hockey and didn't have a jock or money to buy one, so with some rags, elastic, felt padding, bits and pieces of Meccano, and needle and thread; I fashioned a pretty good facsimile. I must have used this for at least a couple of years until I could afford the real thing. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
Reply to
Gerald Miller
I still have my motorized Gilbert Erector Set (missing some parts) that was new around 1962, that I'll keep, and maybe try to find the missing stuff some day.
You might get lucky finding a set at yard sales, estate sales or flea markets where the seller considers them to be clutter or of little novelty value. I looked for them on ebay some time ago, and saw some sets that seemed reasonably priced, but haven't followed auctions closely to see what the final bids were.
I've seen some history of the company, or the Gilbert stuff, and you could probably find info online about the different types/series of sets, and when the last ones were produced. I would guess that it's unlikely that you'll have an easy time finding complete sets, so you could end up purchasing several sets with missing parts, to get a complete set, or enough pieces to be interesting.
WB metalworking projects
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Reply to
Wild Bill
Hi Bill,
Why don't you just make the missing stuff?
There must be some pictures or get someone to scan/photo your missing items from their set (shrug).
Reply to
Leon Fisk
While it would be relatively easy to duplicate some/most of my existing parts, it would definitely be time consuming to fabricate some of the larger perforated panel pieces.
My set is model/version # 7-1/2, The Engineer's Set (1957), and I'm not sure what pieces are missing, since the paper book - project instructions/parts list is long gone. All I have to go by is the one project shown on the metal box.
I did some searching, and found numerous websites with photos of the sets' boxes, and some catalogs, and also some dealers that still offer parts.
I read that the other company mentioned; Meccano, had purchased the manufacturing rights of the Gilbert sets, and continues to make Erector-type sets.
WB metalworking projects
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Reply to
Wild Bill
Hi Bill,
I never had a set, had to settle for Tinker toys and Lincoln logs. Hard to imagine what kind of trouble I could have gotten into had I though :)
Out of curiosity I did a little searching. Did you find the Web ring page? See:
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That has a lot of promising links. Especially take a look at this page:
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I think this has some of the missing info in pdf's that you could download for your set. Study the drop down listings carefully. I download a couple of them and they looked like they would be helpful. These two in particular:
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If I ever come across one of the old sets for sale and it isn't too expensive I'll probably end up getting it...
I would try making the missing parts if it were me. They probably don't need to match exactly to make the set functional to play with.
Reply to
Leon Fisk
As many of you know, Mecanno (British, I'm pretty sure)was first. They used to run a HUGE competition to have kids build unigue things from it. I have an old Meccano manual that shows unbelievable complex machines.
"Erector Set" ----A. C. Gilbert for the most part came later, in the USA. Don't fret "the passing"; just Google or Ebay "Erector Set" and you will see what I mean. --- 287 hits on Ebay just now. Millions of them were made. And collectors abound. I am not a real collector, but own about 15 of them. I know a guy who has a room FULL of erector sets, with stacks sometimes several feet tall of just one size. He knows a guy who has 10 times the stuff. Whenever I get a new set, this guy has complete inventory lists of every vintage and size ever made and I can get fill-in parts from him, including manuals. There is a whole after market economy in reproducing parts that get easily damaged.
Many of us here are remembering the 40's/50's style, the one with the 110 Volt "engine" with a pretty complex (and useful) gearbox. With the advent of the space age, things started going to plastice and to "safety". It is the safety part that destroyed the fun. That electric engine, when geared way down, could easily eat up a finger. Now we have drugs that can eat up the mind.
I haven't dealt with the sets much in the last several years since I satiated my desires, but 5 years or so ago, the going price for boxes of "parts" was: $2 per pound for a pile of parts, $3 per pound if a good box and original manual is included. You will see prices on E-bay a lot higher, but, if you are interested, make sure that a set is complete, not just a pile of misc. components.
Pete Stanaitis -------------------------
surftom wrote:
Reply to
spaco
--My last rite of 'passage' was a colonoscopy. Gack.
Reply to
steamer
Thanks Leon, I'd found the girdersandgears site, but just saved a shortcut for later investigation. I hadn't seen the MECCANO web ring page. One other site included inventory lists for various sets, and other info.
Sheetmetal work is enjoyable, and usually fairly easy to do. The other moving parts such as shafts, couplers and pulleys could be knocked out on a lathe fairly quickly. The gears wouldn't be as easy to fabricate (for me), so having a couple of the genuine Gilbert parts would be very helpful in determining a method to use to make more.
If someone wanted to put together an advanced, precision engineering set, they might want better parts such as those from W. M. Berg Co. They have some great motion parts, and looking through their catalog will inspire anyone to think of great uses for designing all sorts of mechanisms.
The Lincoln and Tinker sets were interesting too. As I pup I spent a lotta hours being entertained with/by them.
WB metalworking projects
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instructions/parts
Reply to
Wild Bill
I don't think it would be practical for the home shop to reproduce Erector girders and parts - they were all die stamped sheetmetal with all the screw holes and triangular "girder holes' cut out and reinforcing ridges punched in, looked like it was all done in one strike with a big press and complex tooling. The punch dies would cost you a small fortune to get made and tuned - fine if you plan on making a few million pieces, but way too expensive for making twenty.
You might be able to do all the cutting from the raw sheet with CNC laser or waterjet to make small quantities practical, but those stupid roll-formed stiffening ridges would be the hard part. Want to build a miniature bead roller? Then sit there and guide parts through?
W.M. Berg was a taste, but unless there's a lot more in the catalog than online that's not a real comprehensive place to get those kinds of pieces. Now the Clippard catalog can give you some ideas to go on...
Any other good source for practical small mechanical pieces? Like the bent-wire "fake roller chain" in the Erector kits, in bulk? Or small real roller chain for less than a small fortune?
Find mini hydraulic cylinders, some roller chain, a coupler of end-grab clevis for the chain, a flat sheave, some small steel channel sections, and build a working miniature Radio Control forklift. Hmm.
-->--
Reply to
Bruce L. Bergman
The straight and arc simulated-girder-looking pieces would be a challenge to make, but most of the other parts and hardware is flat, punched L-brackets, punched straps and punched flat plates of a thicker gauge steel.
I've seen some miniature formed-wire chain "fake roller chain" not long ago, in photocopy machines IIRC, so it's probably available.
WB metalworking projects
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Reply to
Wild Bill
steamer wrote in news:45f23e34$0$14107 $ snipped-for-privacy@news.sonic.net:
If you are 'Gacking' after a colonoscopy then I'd get another doctor, either he is going in WAY to far or starting at the wrong end....
Bill
Reply to
Bill
LOL! No thanks; once per decade is often enough! ;-)
Reply to
steamer
steamer wrote in news:45f58b83$0$14110 $ snipped-for-privacy@news.sonic.net:
Mine was almost a year ago and the worst part was the not eating or jello only meals and flush job before hand. The actual alien probing was nothing. I did ask the Doctor if I could get a six pack of the stuff they used to knock me out, best sleep I've had in years. You know its good stuff when the doctor says count back from 10 and by the time I got to 9 I was waking up. :)
Bill
Reply to
Bill

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