Listed below are some of the other notable construction toy systems that were produced during the 20th century. The list is by no means exhaustive, as by some estimates hundreds of such systems have come and gone over the years.
  • Bing's Structator (Germany)
  • BRAL (Milan, Italy)
  • Construction (E.Germany)
  • Constructor
  • Construct-o-Craft
  • Elektromehaniskais konstructors (Russia)
  • Ezy-Bilt (Australia)
  • FAC (Sweden)
  • Lyons
  • Marklin Metall (Germany)
  • Mekanik (Sweden)
  • Mek-Struct (China)
  • Mini Meta-Build (New Delhi, India)
  • Necobo
  • Palikit
  • Pioneer
  • Primus Engineering Outfits (England)
  • Schefflers
  • Sonneberger
  • Steel Engineering (U.S.A.)
  • Structomode
  • TECC (Czeckoslovakia)
  • Tekno (Norway & Denmark)
  • Thale Stahlbau Technik (E. Germany)
  • The Constructioneer
  • The Engineer (Toronto, Canada)
  • TRIX (Germany and England)
  • Trumodel (U.S.A.)
  • Vogue (Melton Mowbray, England)
  • Wisdom / Sagesse (China)

Morecraft "Boltless" Construction System

Hi folks, Doc here. In 1929, 16 years after he began marketing his now famous Erector Sets, A.C. Gilbert acquired the American Meccano Company. The very next year he introduced his latest product line, the "New American Meccano," often referred to today as "Gilbert-Meccano."

At about the same time - the early 1930s - Gilbert also helped to introduce a new "boltless" metal construction toy system under the name "Meccano-Morecraft." Like the New American Meccano, these sets included both Erector and Meccano pieces. Sets in the Meccano-Morecraft line included the Designer, Designer Special, Engineer, Fellow, and Graduate Size.

In a novel approach, model instructions were printed on large "blueprint" sheets. Each sheet contained four panels per side, for a total of eight panels per sheet. One of these "quarter" panels is shown below. It illustrates four different models that could be built with the Designer Special Size set; note that each model includes a "Bill of Materials" (parts list).

     

The operation of the Morecraft Joint is shown in Figs. A and B. To attach, hold the members as shown in Fig. A with the right thumb under the slots of the connector, 1, and press the angle-member 2, down. The projecting ends of the angle-member will spring apart and enter the slots. The position of the parts for making the connection is shown more clearly in Fig. D. To disconnect, hold the parts with the right thumb under the split end of the angle-member near the connector and pull down on the connector with the left hand. The right thumb will spread the ends of the angle-member and the parts will separate. A slight twisting of the angle-member will assist in disconnecting the members. If properly adjusted, the joint is surprisingly strong and rigid. Ifi t is not, the ends of the angle-member may have become bent. This may be corrected easily by bending the ends of the angle-member until they are in the position shown in Fig. C.


Excerpt from the Modern-Morecraft instruction manual

Erector fans will no doubt recognize the machine shown in the illustration above left. It is the Meccano-Morecraft version of the famous Walking Beam Engine (WBE). The WBE was clearly a favorite model of Gilbert and his engineers: at least eight different forms of the model appeared in Erector manuals over the years. Most of these can be seen in my Model Gallery here at Girders & Gears. While you're there, check out my special feature on the WBE called "The Evolution of an Erector Model."

In 1935, Gilbert sold the rights to Meccano-Morecraft to the Skipper Toy Company, who continued to produce the sets under the Skipper Toy and Morecraft names. Later, the name on the sets was changed to "Modern Morecraft" and the sets continued in production through 1946.

The key to what made all of these sets different from their other metal construction toy counterparts is in the term "boltless" - rather than use the typical metal fasteners (screws, nuts, washers, etc.), Morecraft sets included a variety of clever specially designed connectors that were used to join girders and other parts together. While larger sets did include some traditional fasteners, models built with these sets still relied primarily on the special connectors. This excerpt below from the Morecraft manual describes the theory behind it:

FIRST: Get acquainted with the new MORECRAFT Boltless Joint. Its business is to join parts without the use of nuts, bolts, rivets, nails, or rods. Try attaching and detaching the angle members or girders to the different connections or gussets; and learn how to adjust the ends of the angle-members to form a perfect joint. The illustration to the right shows you how. You will find yourself putting Morecraft together and taking it apart in an astonishingly short time. In the smaller sets of Modern-Morecraft, there are no nuts and bolts at all; yet you can build all of the models shown for these sets in the Manual of Instructions and many others you will think of yourself. With the larger sets, even, you will find you need very few nuts and bolts. Notice that the individual Morecraft joints are designed to be slightly flexible but that the completed structure is surprisingly rigid and strong.

The sidebar above at right features an illustration and another excerpt from the manual that describes the process of building with the Morecraft connectors in order to assemble and disassemble their "boltless joint". The photos below show several examples of Modern-Morecraft sets and parts, as well as a few sample pages from the instruction manual that depict parts and construction details.