Meccano marvels on show

Neil Pluck with some of his creations.
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Engineering creations of all shapes and sizes will be on display in Ashburton when the National Meccano Exhibition comes to town next weekend.

Around 26 Members from the New Zealand Federation of Meccano Modelers will have their model displays on show in the Tinwald War Memorial Hall, April 22 to 24, from 10am – 5pm.

Frank Hornby of Liverpool, England invented Meccano in 1901 when he began making toys for his sons with pieces he cut from sheet metal.

Hornby built models of bridges, trucks and cranes but the pieces were not interchangeable.

The breakthrough came when Hornby realised that if he could make separate, interchangeable parts that could be bolted together, any model could be built from the same components.

He originally called his construction toy Mechanics Made Easy but changed the name to Meccano when he registered the trade mark in 1907.

Christchurch Meccano Club president Neil Pluck said the New Zealand Federation of Meccano Modelers has been going since 1929, the longest continuous running Meccano club in the world.

Neil got into Meccano after discovering his father’s set when he was six.

As well as building with Meccano some people collect vintage Meccano sets. Vintage Meccano can have some value but Neil said it depended on condition. ‘‘To be worth any money it has to be original, not played with in a good box.’’

The only limit to creating with Meccano is your imagination, ‘‘you can make anything your mind desires, I’ve made pictures out of Meccano that hang on the wall, you can make clocks, anything you like,’’ Neil said.

Back in the mid-90s Neil won the NZFM trophy and peoples choice trophy for his large Meccano diorama featuring a train travelling through a tunnel, a chairlift going up a mountain, cars racing on a track and a boat on a lake.

Neil said people will see Meccano creations of all shapes and sizes at the exhibition, ‘‘you name it, it will probably be there‘‘ and he is keen to attract new people to the hobby, a hobby where using engineering skills and your imagination can create rewarding results..

Entry to the exhibition costs, adults $10, children $5, family $20.