Analysis of Meccano Manuals



In 1928 a new system of model numbering in the manuals was introduced. For example, previously outfit No.2 models were numbered from 200 upwards and outfit No.3 from 300 upwards. Now outfit No.2 models started at 2.1 and No.3 at 3.1. This meant that potentially there could be more than 99 models for a particular outfit. This indeed happened as the number of models for outfits 00 to 1 expanded to well in excess of 100.

The majority of the models in the smaller outfits were new, whereas there was very little change with the larger outfits. Some of the models for the larger sets were very elementary. Some of the new models that were introduced during this era, appeared first in one of the Books of New Models that were published during this era.

Separate editions of the manuals were issued for the UK and the various overseas english speaking countries. These were essentially identical with the following exceptions (However America was different - see below):-
Either the prices of parts, motors and outfits etc. were amended to suit or no prices were given and a note said that prices were available from the local dealer.
The range of motors available in Canada was different to elsewhere for at least part of this era.

This era is divided into two sub-eras - 1928-30 and 1931-35. Note that there was an overlap between this era and the following lettered outfits period which started in 1934.

Liverpool manuals

Click here for more details of the manual models for each outfit during the era and how they were related to both the earlier and later eras.

In the smaller outfits (00-3) the majority of the models were either completely new or extensively redesigned. In the larger outfits (5 -7) there was virtually no change from the previous era, although many were renumbered. During this sub-era the manuals changed every year with new models being added in and others deleted. Many of the new models were also featured in the Books of New Models which were published between 1928 and 1931. A 000 outfit was introduced in 1930. The cover of the 1928 manual was virtually the same as the previous era. In 1929 the front cover changed to bright red, although the overall design remained unchanged.
The following manuals were issued:- 000, 00, 0, 00-3, 4-7

In 1931 the manuals had a revision which resulted in most of the non model pages at the beginning and the end being removed. There was very little change to the models apart for extensive renumbering (except outfit 0). There was no change to the manual models or numbering during this period. Additional manuals were issued, together with for the first time, dedicated Accessory Outfit manuals. The following manuals were issued:-
Main outfit manuals 000, 00, 00-0, 00-1, 00-2, 00-3, 00-4, 5-7
In 1935 an outfit 4-7 manual was issued.
Accessory Outfit manuals 00A, 0A, 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A

Bound Manuals
Hardback bound combined manuals were also issued throughout this era. They were included in the No.7 (and possibly the No.6) outfits and were also available for separate sale. They contained the following manuals:-
Standard Mechanisms
How to Use Meccano Parts (From 1932)

American Manuals

Click here for more details of the manual models for each outfit during the era and how they were related to the Liverpool manuals.

The first of the new range of outfits was the outfit 00 which was launched in 1927. Both an outfit 00 manual and an associated supplementary manual were issued. Note that the 00 outfit was similar in size to the 1928 Liverpool outfit 0. Most of the models in the new 1927 American outfit 00 manual were the same as would be in the 1928 Liverpool outfit 00 and 0 manuals. Most of the 00 Supplementary manual models were unique to America, although some were the same as Liverpool 1928 models, but with a different picture. Manuals issued were:-
Outfit 00 manual
Supplementary manual for outfit 00

New manuals were produced for the remainder of the new American outfits in 1928, including additional models for outfit 00. These were similar to the Liverpool manuals. However there were differences. There was no outfit 0 as the new American 00 outfit was similar in contents to it. Outfits 00 & 1 had a different variety of models, incuding a number that are unique to America. The models for outfits 2X-6X were identical to the Liverpool manuals. As previously there was no outfit 7. A Supplementary outfits 00 & 1 manual was issued, which consisted of outfit 00,0 & 1 models which were added to the 1929 Liverpool manuals. Manuals issued were:-
Main outfits manuals 00-3X, 4X-6X
Supplementary manual for outfits 00 & 1

In around 1928/9 American Meccano was sold to A.C. Gilbert who manufactured Erector. This more or less coincided with the old 00-6X outfits being replaced by a new range of outfits, numbered 0-70 (E.g. Outfit 00 became outfit 0 and outfit 6 became outfit 70). Apart from the 5 Special, which was new, the rest were more or less the same as the previous range.

Interim manuals were issued in early 1929? for both 0-40 (00-3X) and 50-70 (4X-6X) outfits, in which a sticker with the new outfit numbers was put over the old outfit numbers on the front cover (print codes were unchanged). The non-model pages were revised, but the model pages were unchanged. A page was devoted to the change in outfit numbering and the models which each new outfit could make. The outfits contents page was omitted. Supplementary manuals were also issued for outfit 5 Special and outfit 10. The 1927 outfit 00 manual was also reissued as an outfit 0 manual.

Later on in 1929 a revised manual for outfits 0-40 (the old 00-3) was issued, which included all the additional models from the Supplementary 00-1 and 10 manuals. The 50-70 manual was also re-issued. However apart from the cover, this was identical to the earlier 1929 version. Manuals issued were:-
Main outfits manuals 0, 0-40, 50-70
Supplementary manual for outfit 5 Special
Supplementary manual for outfit 10

1930 onwards
In 1930 there was a completely new range of outfits (1, 3, 5, 110, 115, 125 & 150). These outfits had a significant Gilbert Erector influence in them and were probably the first true Gilbert Meccano outfits. Outfits 1, 3 & 5 were based on the 1929 0, 10 & 20 outfits respectively. The remaining outfits were compeletely new.

The existing 0-40 manual remained in use for these new 1, 3 & 5 outfits, whilst stocks of the 0-40 manual lasted. A new series of manuals for these new hybrid Gilbert Meccano outfits was produced. These manuals are not considered here.

Page last updated - 9 August 2013

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