Daniel and Joel come to Play
The boys are quite grown up now. They have many interests, especially at school, and when they come to visit, they are in need of a break. I had asked them if they were interested in building a Meccano Orrery and was delighted with their response especially as they couldn’t wait to get at my computer loaded with Flight Simulator as well as Train Simulator. Meccano has a lot of competition these days.
I wanted to show the boys how the motions of the sun, moon and earth were related to each other. There are quite few published modelplans for this and the one I chose was the June 1957 Meccano Magazine Model of the Month. I remember that Mr De Beer, leader of my old Cape Town Meccano Club had built this machine and I loved to see it in operation. It is a particularly instructive machine as it has almost a full range of gear combinations, including bevel gears, helical drives, worm drive and chain drive. I thought the boys would benefit greatly from its construction. Before their arrival, I got all the parts out of my cabinet and placed them in a special compartmented tray with detailed building instructions. As I was going to be away from home for the first two days of their stay, I was very interested to see how they would manage without me.
I was amazed at the progress the boys made. When I arrived home, the main framework of the base and long arm had been completed and they were busy figuring out the gearing. The photo shows them busy at work. We selected an electric motor and decided on the counterweight. The hardest part was finding a small model of the earth in the local toy store. We settled on a table tennis ball for the moon and a tennis ball for the sun. A few days later the model was complete and we started up the motor. I was particularly keen that the machine should run smoothly, and had been especially careful to select straight stainless steel rods. The result was deeply satisfying and they proudly showed it to Mum and Dad. We must get a light instead of the tennis ball. It was wonderful for me to see a model I had admired more than 50 years ago come to life once more.