The Meccano System has greatly expanded since the closure of the Liverpool factory, due mainly to the initiative of Meccano users themselves .
Purists will always be able to remain faithful to those Liverpool or Calais days, and they are entitled to that view, but modern technology has unlocked a whole range of new ideas, and there are many who think we should move on. Just because Meccano Ltd ceased function is no reason to stop the development of the system. The Meccano company was itself always interested in new parts development.
Where Meccano has been reduced to the level of a toy in recent years, the serious adult enthusiast who considers Meccano to be small scale engineering, will want to take the matter into their own hands. Patents expired a long time ago, and modern thought accepts that if the general dimensions adhere to the constraints of the system and looks as if it is compatible, then it should be acceptable. There are proponents of this view who working energetically to advance the system, and they deserve our support and approval. With the publication of new compatible parts list, everyone will know what new parts are available and where they can be obtained. This also greatly expands the possibilities of new ModelPlans.
It is with the latter view in mind that this article has come to be written, because it illustrates in a small way, the new possibilities of the system.
It is believed that the success of Meccano for over one hundred years is due in no small way to the happy compromise between quality and manufacturing costs. The main constraints of the system has always been rod size, thread dimensions and hole spacing. The ethos has been the use of preformed re-usable parts, and a machine tool is completely unnecessary.
Keeping these constraints in mind therefore, new parts which have these characteristics and look as if they belong to the system are welcome. Here is an example of recent developments
These parts include large axle system, new couplings and a small 1/2" flanged wheel
This picture illustrates the introduction of new much improved electric motors with built in reduction gearboxes. One can see Faulhaber motors, and the new micro motor from Switzerland which can fit inside a sleeve piece.
This picture shows a coaxial drive with a large axle and bearing, and a standard Meccano rod inside the large axle.
This picture shows an Automat gear. The rod size does not fit Meccano but it shows how the gear is locked onto the rod, using a collet.
This picture shows the above gear and collet broken into its component parts. This is a far more sophisticated method of tightly locking a rotating part onto a rod concentrically, and more in keeping with modern engineering practice than the standard Meccano way of using a grub screw. A new method waiting to be incororated into the system?
Michael Adler - February 2002