A BRIEF HISTORY AND THOSE I HAVE BUILT SO FAR Looking at my web site you will have probably noticed how much I enjoy building the vintage models published as "Super Model Leaflets". This page is all about them and those I have built over the past few years. In that time have constructed a fair selection of these models shown on the left. Click on the image to take you to a page about the model. Most I have made changes to, some have inspired a virtually new model but still I hope retaining the feel of the original model. When I was growing up in the nineteen fifties my monthly Meccano Magazine had in the "Readers Sales and Wants" at the back of the magazine, often had requests and sales for Meccano Super Model Leaflets. At the time I had no idea what these mysterious publications were.  Then in the nineteen eighties when I was getting interested in Meccano again, a colleague at work showed me a book he had bought entitled "The Meccano Super Models" by Geoff Wright. I looked through it and immediately felt an affinity with all those old models that were nearly all new to me!  Most of the models were far beyond the Meccano set of my childhood, a built up number 9 set that I still owned. However undaunted by the prospect of probably not being able to build the models I decided to purchase the book even though at £30 it was very expensive. The enthusiasm for these models has stayed with me ever since and if I am stuck for an idea for something to build I often return to these.  The first model I built from the book was the Single Cylinder Horizontal Steam engine SML No.11, even this involved the purchase of several parts from Geoff Wright at MW Models in Henley on Thames. The Super Model Leaflets (SML) were published between 1928 -1937, some had previously been published in the Meccano magazine in the same form and several had been contained in earlier manuals. Several of these that were to become SMLs were also included in the 1927 Instruction Book Number 1 cover shown, below a weighty manual of over 200 pages. The need for these individual leaflets probably came about because of the increasing size and complexity of models which took more and more space in the manuals and as a result the instructions were becoming fairly minimal leading the builder to do a lot of guess work. A decision was made by Meccano Ltd. to embark on a leap forward with a model range of subjects that would appeal to Meccano boys of the time. When the first 28 leaflets were  published in 1928 they must have caused quite a stir amongst Meccano enthusiasts, priced at 2d - 6d (1p - 3p) dependent on the amount of pages. Each leaflet was of the highest quality printing on glossy art paper, the photographs were also of very high quality with retouching to bring out details. The text often went into great detail but sometimes became over complicated caused by using all the correct engineering terms that many today would find baffling.  The largest and most complex model was the Giant Block Setter (SML 4). A further eight leaflets were published between 1929-1930, making a total of thirty seven. The leaflets were produced at the time of great popularity and prestige for Meccano with sales of sets of 279,000 in 1930 a peak for the inter-war years. As stated earlier many of the SML models were not new but developments or re-jigged versions of earlier models from the Meccano Magazine and 1919 - 1925 manuals. These include: The vertical Log Saw, Stone Saw, Stiff Leg Derrick, Loom, Platform Scales, Bagatelle Game, Hydraulic Crane, Revolving Crane, Dredger, Steam Shovel, Planing Machine, Pontoon Crane, Harmograph, Meccanograph and Warehouse. In many cases these had been illustrated with black and white line drawings, often giving better clarity for construction than the later SML version an early example is shown below. All of the leaflets were reprinted in The Meccano Super Models by Geoff Wright, first published by New Cavendish in 1978. Cover is shown below. Several other models that would have made excellent SMLs were published in the Meccano Magazine between 1930 and 1935 such as the The Giant Girder Transporting Lorry, The Aerial Ropeway, Outboard Motor, Printing Press and the L.N.E.R streamlined locomotive that was based on an earlier Meccano competition winner but this was not to be. Changes were in the air with the coming introduction of the strip and flexible plates in 1934. The parts used in all the Super models were just the older traditional parts. I imagine the Meccano Company wanted to promote the new parts in other ways and move on . Above, one that got away! The Giant Girder Carrying Lorry  published  in the May 1932 Meccano Magazine would, I am sure, have been popular had it been published as an SML although needing a vast number of parts especially if you included the huge trailer. In 2016 I purchased a 1930 Number 7 outfit. To my delight it included a great deal of original literature including most of the Super Model Leaflets, many in near pristine condition, which had been kept in their original brown envelopes, right. From 1928 SML leaflets were supplied with the large outfits 5a, 6,  6a, and 7, all the leaflets came with set 7. In 1934 when the parts changed to blue and gold the SML leaflets were supplied with sets Ha, K and L. Outfit L contained all the leaflets. Some of the models and leaflets were modified at this time to show the new cross hatch finish on the plates. The popular Single Cylinder Steam Engine was revised using the new plates. In 1937 the lettered series of sets came to an end and the 0-10 series were introduced. The parts selection in the new sets were quite different to those used in the Super Models and the leaflets were withdrawn. Above is an illustration from the 1927 “Instruction Book Number No.1” showing the Travelling Gantry Crane that was to later become SML No.24 although the original model dates back many years to a competition winning entry of 1916. The model shown below “Tractor Model 712” from 1927 manual and originaly published with fuller instructions in the February 1925 Meccano Magazine. This was intended to be SML 22 but the “Traction Engine”, a far better model, was published instead.
"The Meccano Super Models" by Geoff Wright was published in 1978 and reprinted in 1986 it is now out of print but can still be obtained from second hand booksellers on line or from Meccano dealers. The individual leaflets can be down loaded from several sources. References: Hornby Companion Series, Volume 2 The Meccano Super Models". The Meccano System, Hornby Companion Series, Volume 6, New Cavendish Books, London, 1986.Bert Love, and Jim Gamble. Contemporary Meccano Manuals and Meccano magazines.
Page created October 17 2017 Last revised March 25 2021