I am a retired professor of Technology Education, and live in Portsmouth, Va. USA. My introduction to Meccano began in 1973 when I was researching the integration of mechanics,pneumatics and electronic control. The mechanical portion of this effort was satisfied by the Meccano components. Currently I am continuing this research with models controlled by an old computer (Apple) or the Basic Stamp microcontroller. I would like to know of other persons who are using a similar control method for Meccano models.
I am now "retired" from the University (Old Dominion University) but do a lot of volunteer consultive work in the local school divisions. I get a big kick out of watching those high school kids build their models from the new plastic (ugh!) kits that in many ways do the same things I did with my research. I wish they had Meccano - this new stuff is "for the birds".
My association with Meccano dates back to 1973 when I began research on laboratory activities for secondary education classes in electronics. My objective was to mate the fields of pneumatics, mechanics, and electronics to provide the students with projects which more in tune with the real world. I am located in Tidewater Virginia (historic area, but well up in technology) which is a vacuum as far as Meccano is concerned. I have never seen an exhibition and my only knowledge of Meccano is what I read in the magazines and now on the net.
Well, with the research, I did a world wide search for components which would "fit together" for the activities I envisioned. The Meccano was suggested by an Engineer at NASA who had a set as a child. I contacted Meccano who referred me to Geoff at MW Models. By mail order he supplied me with 5 - #10 sets (without cabinets) and that satisfied my need for the structural elements for the research. The precision I need in the mechanical was satisfied by Automat which was manufactured in West Germany. Their shaft size and hole placement allowed them to be intermixed with Meccano. Then another engineer at NASA showed me some new and elegant pneumatic valves and pistons made by Clippard in Ohio. They were the perfect size!
I have used the pneumatics to good advantage - I added to them, some fluidic gates manufactured by Gange (?) which worked also with the electronic, Meccano, Clippard, and Automat to make quite an activity centered research.
As one of my activities, I constructed a MECCANO!! "Steam Engine", using the Super Model #11 as a starter.
I used a Clippard cylinder which exactly fitted within the #162 Boiler with a #137 at one end to mount the threaded stem of the cylinder. A four-way valve was installed under the valve housing on the Model #11 using a drive from the eccentric on the flywheel shaft to operate the valve. The result was a model that with the exception of the cylinder and valve was vintage 1973 Meccano.
By the way, that "steam engine" could operate from steam except for one fact, the exhaust from the valve was to the atmosphere. Steam could louse up the Meccano components by causing rust --- That was a no no! I never had the heart to tear down that model, in fact I ran it for some visitors about a week ago. It still chugs along in a most impressive fashion.
The photo of the "Steam Engine" is a model that actually worked under air pressure. Hidden in the "cylinder" of the model (fashioned from a Boiler) is that set-up of the cylinder shown in the photo.
This construction allowed a touch of realism to the model since the 9SD-2 cylinder was not in scale with the model. The model was an enhancement of Super Model 11 - 11A. It also resembles an old steam engine I saw as a small lad in the local navy yard's power station.
The valve photo is the bottom view of the deck of the model showing the placement of the four-way valve (MAV-4). Thus the main Clippard components in the model are the cylinder and the valve.
Of course some fittings were also needed such as the clevis on the end of the piston rod of the cylinder and on the valve stem, the right angle connectors on the cylinder and hose barbs on both the cylinder and valve. The hoses to the cylinder are 1/8" OD having an ID of 1/16". The supply line was 1/4"OD tubing.
This model was made as a demonstration for my class to illustrate how Meccano and pneumatics could be combined . A length of hose ran from under the model to the air manifold and the model ran perfectly with a noise that sounded like the real thing - so I had "sound effects". The exhaust from the valve gave a hiss at just the right moment to enhance the effect. I built this model in the 1973-74 school year and it still runs when I connect it up.
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