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Orion Dreamdancer's Merkur-ization of the Meccano 8.2 Railway Service Crane

Orion writes: "The Railroad Crane model was always one of my favorite Meccano models, pictured often in their ads and literature. After I'd finally aquired enough Meccano in Blue/Yellow/Zinc livery of the 70's to complete my #8 set (working on a Tenset) it was the first manual model that I built. I selected it as a trial model for converting to several different systems. My parameters are to attempt as close as possible to duplicate it in "hole to hole" scale. Which means that since Meccano (like Erector is based on 1/2" (12.7mm) hole centers, my Merkur model (w/10mm hole centers) is about 3/4 scale to the original. Meccano model is 27" total length; Merkur 21 1/2".

In creating the "replica" there's a few things that came out between the two systems. One thing is that Meccano's "standard" sizes of holestrips (girders) are 5, 11, & 25 (compare to ACG's 6, 11, 21); where Merkur's are more varied but use a 10 strip more than an 11. Which makes hole to hole exactness a little more of a challege. This also shows up in cover plates, plates and flanged plates, so you must get abit creative to match the 11's exactly. At least they (like Meccano) match up with their angle girder's (unlike ACG's, which has always made for some tough Erector engineering.

Meccano Original

Merkur Replica

Also, as the plates are much heavier than the light "flex" plates that Meccano uses so much of (since the 60's), you can't really "layer" them like Meccano does (and ACG for that matter) but should use butt connections instead for a flat surface. This can be slightly difficult at times, because Merkur's plates have sloted holes on the ends and run just a hair long because of it.

There were several differences that I built into the model because of parts differences and just plain working problems with the Meccano one. One, the weight/hook assemblies are sized different because the semi circle in Merkur would have been vastly out of scale (and the flat trunion seemed a nice look). Two, the rubber band brake mechanism for the load brake just worked so-so on the Meccano model. With Merkur providing excellent pawls in average sized sets (btw 2 sizes and L & R's of each), I went ahead and used one with a pinion for the lift brake. It worked perfectly.

Between the two models they both came out very nicely in my opinion. I particularly like the color scheme of the Yellow/Blue/Zinc Meccano (even though the zinc parts tend to be subject to oxidation/carbonizing badly - white powdery crap that makes 'em look poorly) but that's always been a personal preference. As far as sturdiness the Merkur wins hands down, with solid plate surfaces for the cars and cab, it's so much friendlier to pick-up and handle. (The yellow plastic coverings on the Merkur cars' top surface was just over plates for color coordination, there's solid plate underneath.) The Merkur also wins hands down as to mechanical workings, but this maybe 'cause I'd had several problems with getting the Meccano one to function correctly, and made the mechanics more "sailor-proof" in the Merkur model. I especially like the brake function better."