The original black and white illustration from the 1908 Meccano (Mechanics Made Easy) instruction manual I used to build the model from .
Was Frank Hornby over one hundred years ahead of his time?
Crane above designed by Dutch engineering company "Gusto BV" picture via Pintrest,
This simple crane is a very early Meccano model dating from the time before the system was even called Meccano but "Mechanics Made Easy." The parts were given to me by the owner of a number 7 set dating from 1930 I purchased in 2016 in Canada. The tin parts had nearly been been consigned to the garbage! Although the parts were not in very good condition when straightened out and lightly buffed with some fine steel wool they were quite presentable and OK for building with so that is what I did!
The parts did not constitute a complete set but there were sufficient to build the model that was featured on the Mechanics made easy tin shown above*. The construction of the model was very straight forward I have followed as closely to the original that I could. I have used later rods and more modern spring clips to secure the flanged wheels and and crank rod.
Here is a little historic background to the model. The first patents for Frank Hornby's the inventor of the construction system were applied for, and granted in 1901, and the first set of Mechanics Made Easy, comprising just 17 different parts (strips, brackets, axles, wheels, nuts and bolts) went on sale later that year. It included a leaflet showing the construction of 12 models and sold for 7/6.
The perforated strips were of tin plate, with folded edges and square corners (picture shown above). Wheels were fully machined from brass, and a system of keys to couple the wheels to grooved axles was used. By 1905 five sets were available, each linked to the next by Accessory Sets, the number of different parts now totaling 38. The 12½” Angle Girder appeared in 1906. There was a change over period 1907-1908 when sets were branded with both names. see illustration below.
*Picture of Mechanics Made Easy tin was taken at Robert Opie's "Museum of Brands, Packaging & Advertising" in Notting Hill, London the picture taken by Malcolm Hanson Meccano collector and builder who sadly died in August 2016
Historic information courtesy of Graham Jost's "A Brief History of English Meccano 1901-1981
Page created October 16 2016 revised October 10 2020