Sculptures in Meccano

By Michael Adler

When is a Meccano construction not a model. When it is a clock - or a sculpture. It is perfectly possible to construct sculptures using Meccano parts.  This type of structure has no motor, no gears, no mechanism of any sort. It is not a building or a bridge.  The elements of Meccano are used to create a work of art.  Each person who looks at this construction will form his own opinion, and each will react in his own personal and emotional way.   The Meccano system is full of interesting parts which could be used to create a sculpture.  Apart from the standard range of strips and girders, there are many interesting parts which could be used, and also wire, string and many other materials.  To illustrate sculpture in Meccano, here are two examples which have been shown at the Skegness and Henley exhibitions. 

1.  The first is an abstract rod and wire frame structure with building instructions

There may be more here than meets the eye. It seems to be a collection of vertical rods which in some way are linked to each other. Perhaps the proportions are important. It could have a certain grace. Maybe the grouping of the rods is pleasing. Maybe the height of the sets of rods or their distance apart is important. Is there a certain strength in the construction? Why doesn't it fall down? Perhaps there is a triangulation of forces somewhere. Focus on the vertical and horizontal elements for a moment. There must be some rigidity to be found. Can the solution be in the arrangement wires?

What about the angled horizontal element with an attachment at one end. It seems to float unattached. How is it supported, and can it have any rigidity at all. Careful study will reveal its secrets.

The sculpture has been created from standard Meccano rods and connecting elements. The wire can be obtained at MW Models, and it is easy to use with ferrules, a pair of side-cutters and a pair of pliers.

Construction.

If you are interested in building your own sculpture, then start by forming the base and then the vertical elements. Each side of the base is built up from two 5" rods joined by a central coupling. The two sides are linked together at each end by 5" rods. A further linkage is built near one end as the base for a vertical element. This consists of two 2 1/2" rods joined by a coupling.

There are three vertical elements. At one end, build an inverted V. The vertical parts are each made from two 11 1/2" and 1 1/2" rods joined by rod connectors. This are attached at the base by couplings, and couplings are attached to their upper ends as well.

The highest vertical element is built up from two 11 1/2" rods on each side linked by rod connectors. They are joined at the top by a transverse 5" rod and couplings, and a little lower down by two 2 1/2" rods linked by a coupling.

The last vertical element is an oblong framework. The frame is formed by 8" rods on each side, and at the top and bottom by 1 1/2" rods joined by a central coupling. A lower 11 1/2" and an upper 8" rod joined by a rod connector are threaded through the centre of the central couplings. The frame is supported in the transverse element of the base. The upper end is attached to the longest element by a 2" rod and connected by couplings at each end.

An angled 6 1/2" rod extends from the apex of the inverted V to the central 8" rod in the frame. A swivel bearing is attached to it at each end. A collar is held in the jaws of the rear swivel bearing, and this is centrally fixed on a 1" rod. Two more collars are also fixed on the rod on each side of the central collar, and the couplings at the upper ends of the vertical rods of the inverted V are attached to them by pivot bolts and washers.

A free floating triangular frame is now built which lies nearly horizontal in the sculpture. It is built up from a transverse 3" rod at the rear with a coupling at each end. The two long arms are 11 1/2" rods with a central collar and a swivel bearing at each end. These are linked at one end to the couplings on the 3" rod. At the other end, where they are almost linked together, a 1/2" rod provides the support for collars in the swivel bearings, but a coupling is placed between them.

Two pairs of vertical crank handles are joined by rod connectors. They are joined together on a coupling which itself is attached by a short rod to the previously mentioned 1 1/2" rod.

The whole sculpture is supported by wires, except for the nearly horizontal frame which is left floating, but rigidly supported by wire. One can place the wires at any suitable position, and this is both for structural support and appearance. Fix the wires to screws placed at right angles to the intended path of the wire. The screws are attached to couplings or specially placed collars. Start by passing one end of a wire through a ferrule, then around a screw, and then pass the end through the ferrule once more. Now close the loop as tightly as possible round the screw and clamp the ferrule with pliers. Cut off the excess wire with a pair of small wire cutters. Now run the wire to the second screw point, thread a ferrule once more onto the wire, pass the wire around the second screw, back through the ferrule, and tighten. Once the tension has been adjusted, clamp the ferrule.

Build a suitable wooden plinth on which to stand your sculpture.

The key components in this model are the brass ferrules. They can be obtained from Nexus Modelling Supplies, Brock House, Charing, Ashford, Kent, TN27 0ND

Tel 01233-713665 e-Mail: nexusmodels@avnet.co.uk. 0.8mm Wire can be obtained from MW Models, and also at Nexus Modelling supplies

2.  The second is a construction of a human head - Frank Hornby perhaps?

 

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