Here we have an "antique" Robot or “Mechanical Man”  instructions for which were first published in the January 1931 edition of the Meccano Magazine, later in the Outfit No.6 instruction Manual and the 1935  F-K manual (blue gold period). The attraction for me to build this was its period charm. I have used parts from my circa 1930 No.7 red and green outfit being the correct colours for the time of the model. As it was not a very large model I selected all the parts before commencing construction, that was where I got the first hint there was going to be some problems! The parts list was incorrect in several ways, why would I need 4 x 20a 2" pulleys when only two were required although in the end I used an extra one for decoration. In many areas the printed instructions were in conflict with the photographs, there was a retouched trunnion making it appear to have four holes I wonder why? Still these things are sent to challenge us "Meccano Boys." Interestingly although the instructions were published over several years none of the errors were ever corrected! The Robot perambulates by the mechanism moving the legs backwards and forwards giving a shuffling motion. This is driven by a 1930's E20R 20 volt, long side plate  motor, I do own a correctly painted dark red 4 volt type but I did not want to be in any danger of overloading it.  The rear of each foot has a sprung loaded heel to push the legs forward, I fitted 1" pulleys under the feet to make this action smoother, I doubt it would have moved without them. This idea was used on a later Meccano robot models. The robot's head cleverly clears the body by a couple of millimetres enabling the motor control switch to just fit between. This is activated by a linkage connected to the ears pushing the ear in sets him in motion. The model though is inherently unstable with so much weight at the top and spindly long legs. When I stood him up for the first I was not very surprised when he fell over sideways! I set the lower part of each leg on to the outer side to make the feet wider apart, increasing the stability a bit. After his first faltering steps along the bench, some adjustments were still clearly needed but at least he walked. Sadly the adjustments were not enough for to prevent him having a tendency to tip forward as he walked. When I heard the 1930's motor struggling I thought perhaps he should be retired. Conclusion an improved mechanism and legs are required, a possible future project. Although he has great appeal and has a very attractive appearance. Trivia when those in Meccano Model Room designed this model the word robot had only been used used in its modern sense since 1921. It came from the former Czechoslovakia. The word “robot” was used in a play called R.U.R. (short for Rossum’s Universal Robots) written by Karel Capek. Although the Robots in this play were not made of metal but a chemical compound and given the shape of a human. I am indebted to the late Malcolm Hanson who had also built the model I found his helpful pictures on the NZ website.
The Robot’s driving unit, the channel section of the legs fit over the pulleys giving them the back and forwards motion.
Page first published November 23 2021