Daniel comes to play Meccano - A Meccanoman in the making.
Daniel came over to play today. He is my little grandson aged three.
'Hello, Bampa, can we use the 'lectric screwdriver now?'
'Yes of course Daniel, here it is!' (Meccano Power Tool Visseuse 2325) for children aged 7+, but Daniel was determined to use it. Unfortunately it has an Allen key tool, so I had to get my supply of Meccano Allen screws out specially for the occasion.
'What would you like to build Daniel?'
'The helicopter, Bampa.' He's mad about helicopters. They go over his house in London every day. I had shown him the plans I had been keeping up my sleeve. They had been specially prepared by John Westwood, and provide an excellent range of small models for little fingers and on one of the pages was a model of a helicopter.
I opened my Meccano cabinet. 'Wow Bampa, are those all Meccano parts?'
'Yes Daniel. Here are the pieces you need for the blades and this is the wheel to fix them to. I'll hold the nut while you use your 'lectric screwdriver'. He settled down on my lap, and we patiently assembled the whole model together. It didn't take him long to ask for a 'lectric motor for the rotor and we soon had that hooked up and working. He was able to increase the speed of the rotor and magically get the machine to take off.
The helicopter that Daniel built
He came back the next day with shining eyes. 'Can we build something else with the Meccano, Bampa?' 'Yes, Daniel, what would you like to build now?'. 'A crane - lets build a crane'. He's mad about cranes too.
We looked at the plans, and there was a crane. He settled down with me and loved the little crane we built together. It had a base, a rotating superstructure, a luffing jib, and a hook that really went up and down - with a 'lectric motor! When it was built, he lifted up a girder on the hook using the transformer, rotated the crane about its base, and lowered the load again.
Here is a picture of Daniel and Bampa sitting together building their Meccano models.
And here are the models we built.
Since I last told you about Daniel, there have been some developments, for Daniel has grown quite a lot, and is now going to school at the tender age of four. He has taken a sudden interest in trains, and it seemed natural to promote this. You see, he was given a wooden railway set for a present, which is Brio, made in Sweden, and widely available.
Daniel with his toy train
Brio makes it possible for a child as young as Daniel to 'get on line' as it were. All you have to do is avoid the destructive menace of your little brother. You donít need little fingers to put the train on the track, as these are large guiding grooves in the wooden pieces.. It is easy to fit one piece of track to its neighbor. The carriages are held together by magnetic couplers.
Now it starts to get interesting when you are given an electric locomotive for a present. This is powered by a small AA Battery and happily runs around the track pulling its coaches until grabbed and switched off. There are level crossings, and an elegant tunnel, which is a source of endless fascination for little brother, and a fly-over. It gets even more interesting when you find that you can buy a manual switch to change direction. This is something that immediately catches a grandpa's attention.
"You must come and see, Bampa. A new layout!' This is Daniel at his most insistent. The tracks are spread out across the dining room table, and it is way past his bedtime. If you look carefully, you see that the main line comes to a dead end. Something must be done about it. "Look, Daniel, if you connect that together, you can get the train to run round and round."
Now Daniel knows what a layout is, and his grandpa has started to build all sorts of interesting combinations of points, curves and straights with him, enough to get two trains working at the same time, although Daniel still insists on double headers and long single trains. As each layout is completed, we try to write it down and Daniel has greatly contributed to this effort and finds it fascinating. He has yet to master the complexities of main lines and branch lines, but I am certain that the understanding that will come with this in due course will greatly help him in his development. What this means in terms of future enjoyment and Meccano is for you to guess.
Mum has a problem. Where is she going to serve the supper?