Analysis of Meccano Manuals
Pre-war - Other
Changes to the manuals
The Meccano Motor Manual
Three editions of the Meccano Motor manual have been identified:-
- 1912 Edition - The addresses on the front cover (and the repeat on page 1) does not mention New York and the French address is "17, Rue Bleue, Paris". Also the model numbers refer to models in the 1912 main manual.
- 1913 Edition - Version 1 - The addresses on the front cover now mentions New York and the French address changes to "5, Rue Ambroise Thomas". Also the model numbers change to refer to models in the 1913 main manual.
- 1913 Edition - Version 2 - Reference to the German 'Meccano G.m.b.H.' company and its address is removed and reference is also made to 'Meccano Factories'. The remainder of the manual is identical to edition 2. This variation has been seen on page 1 of a manual which has lost its covers, but front cover is expected to be identical. If anyone has a copy of this edition with a cover, then a scan of the cover would be appreciated as confirmation.
Is the removal of the German company name an error, or does the manual date from during World War One when the German government confiscated the German Meccano company/factory.?
Are there any other editions? - e.g. was a 1914/15 edition with the model numbers changed to suit the 1914 (No.14) manual ever published.?
Both a Liverpool and an American edition (Ref 10.2) of this manual were published. Whilst the model featured was nominally the same in both editions, the manual contents and layout are totally different. The Liverpool edition has 18 pages plus covers and the American edition has 24 pages plus covers.
Prize Models 1914/15 (Liverpool edition)
Three versions of this manual have so far been identified.
- Version 1
This can easily be identified as it does not have '£200 IN PRIZES' at the bottom of page 2.
- Version 2
This has a number of differences as follows.
- Page 2
'£200 IN PRIZES' was added to the bottom of the page
- Page 9
The following model titles were amended
'Swing Boat' → 'Automatic Swing Boat'
'Automobile' → 'Automobile Driven by Meccano Spring Motor'
'Lawn Swing' → 'Automatic Lawn Swing'
'Revolving Aeroplane' → 'Revolving Aeroplane driven by Meccano Spring Motor'
'Watt's Beam Engine' → 'Working Model of Watt's Beam Engine'
'Daisy Frame' → 'Weaving Loom'
'Pug Mill' → 'Pug Mill with Meccano Spring Motor'
'Trip Hammer' → 'Automatic Trip Hammer'
'Mowing and Reaping Machine' → 'Automatic Mowing and Reaping Machine'.
- Page 12
The model title 'Motor Tricycle and Gun' moved from middle to left.
- Page 13
'Boring Machine' → 'Working Model of Boring Machine'.
- Page 16
The model at the bottom right of the page was now named 'Field Gun with Spring Projector' (previously unnamed).
- Page 17
'Combination Lock Safe' → 'Combination Lock Safe and Door'.
- Page 19
Position of the 'Rifle' and 'Jib crane with new Meccano Motor were swapped over.
'Rifle' now middle left and 'Jib Crane' now middle bottom of page.
- Page 20
Text 'Note new Meccano Electric Motor' added to 'The Paris Eiffel Tower'
The model title 'Roundabout' moved from bottom middle to botttom left
The model title 'Suspension Bridge' moved from bottom middle to bottom right
Text 'Car Driven with Meccano Spring Motor' added to 'Mono-Rail'
The model title 'Swing Bridge' moved from middle right to the left.
- Page 21
First sentence of 'The Meccano Electric Motor' changed as follows
'The is the Meccano Electric Motor - the most powerful....' → 'This is the most powerful...'
- Page 23
'The Meccano Girder Strip' - In the text - 12¾ → 12½
- Page 24
Price added for the Steam Engine.
- Version 3
The only identified change is on page 15
The model title 'Airship' moved from left of the name to above it
Prize Models 1914/15 (Colonial edition)
Only one version of this manual have so far been identified. It is a cross between versions 1 and 2 of the UK manual as follows - apart from the usual differences of the prices being approx 50% higher than the UK version:-
Page 2 - UK version 2
Page 9 - UK version 1
Page 12 - UK version 1
Page 13 - UK version 1
Page 16 - UK version 1
Pages 17-24 - UK version 2
Prize Models 1914/15 (American edition)(Reference 15.2)
This is the virtually the same as the UK version 1, apart from the expected exception of prices. The only significant difference is that the price list is moved from the rear cover to replace page 24. This was almost certainly because some of the items listed on page 24 in the UK version were not available in America.
Prize Models 1915/16 (America)(References 16.3, 17.4, 20.3, 21.4, 22.4)
The 1915/16 edition is completely different from the 1914/15 versions and is only known in an American edition. It was almost certainly printed in America. Only one printing is known. However, this one printing was sold over several years, and later copies have either labels stuck inside them with revised prices and/or new pages glued on the cut off stubs of the original pages, in order to change the parts and prices lists. Only the first edition has so far been seen. References 17.4, 20.3, 21.4 & 22.4 still to be examined.
1928-34 Books of New/Prize Models
There are two editions of the 1928 Book. There are some small differences between the them as follows:-
- Front cover - The 2/28 edition had the year '1928' on the front cover. The 3/28 edition did not
- Inside Rear Cover - In the 2/28 edition, part 120b was at the top of the 3rd column. In the 3/28 edition, part 120b was in the correct numerical order in column 3 and part 157 moved to column 3 to compensate.
- The 4/28 Canadian edition appears to be the same as the UK 3/28 edition except for the prices being in Canadian currency.
Only one edition of the other years is known (apart from nominally identical overseas versions). Each yearly edition is totally different with no models in common.
The 2/30 Canadian edition appears to be the same as the UK 2/30 edition except for that the price of the MM on the rear cover is 20 cents.
Steam Engine Manual - 1929/1930
- Page 1 - In 1929 the paragraph heading were large and left justified and in the 1930 manuals it was small and centre justified.
- Page 16 - Model S.31 'Steam-Operated Mechanical Digger' Refers out to SML No.35 in 1929 and is corrected to SML No.19A in 1930.
- Inside Rear Cover - In 1929 the bottom half of the page is a Meccano products Price List. In 1930 the bottom half of the page is a price list of the Meccano Steam Engine and Components. Because the 1929 manual did not include a Steam Engine price list a sticker was stuck in at least some of the 1929 manuals to include these details.
- Changes between the 1925 - 9/26 - 1/27 - 3/28 - 7/28 - 11/28 manuals
Although these manuals are all nominally the same, there are numerous small changes between each edition. For full details of the changes click here.
The only significant change is between the 1925 and the 9/26 manuals and is on page 43 where:-
The 'Triangle of Forces' was deleted and replaced by three new mechanisms - SM.279-SM.281
The Overseas edition is actually a normal 728/5 UK edition with an 'Overseas' stamp on the front cover, the prices of parts are cut off from pages 46/7 to form a half page. Also pages 48 and the inside rear cover are stuck together. Almost certainly any other 'Overseas' editions of the 1925-8 manuals will also be the same.
The first American 1928 edition (ref 28.4) is the same as the 3/28 UK edition except for:-
- The cover is in black and white and is made of paper instead of thin card.
- Page 1, para 2 - '...every one of the 246 parts...' → '...every part...'.
- Pages 45/6 give the prices of Meccano parts in American currency.
- Pages 45/6 - The following parts are omitted from the list:-
19s, 36b, 120, 120a, 120b, 121, 142a, 142b, 149, 158a, 158b.
- Pages 45/6 - The manuals listed are different:-
Part 56 : Instruction manual 4-7 → Not in American list.
Part 56a: Instruction manual 00-3 → Instruction manual 00-3.
Part 56b: Instruction manual 0 → Instruction manual 4-8 (***error***).
Part 56c: Meccano Standard Mechanisms Manual → Instruction manual 0.
Part 56d: Not in UK list → Meccano Standard Mechanisms Manual.
- Page 48 is 'Hornby Mechanical Trains' instead of the 'Meccano Magazine'.
- The Meccano price list on the inside rear cover, gives prices in UK currency instead of American currency. This list is identical to the one in the UK manual. This is obviously an error on Meccano's part.
The second American 1928 edition (ref 28.5). This appears to be a modified version of ref 28.4 (above) and was almost certainly done due to the accidental inclusion of the UK price list. The manual appears to consist of pages 3-46 of ref 28.4 together with replacement cover/pages 1/2, 47/8 stapled on. (NB. The replaced pages are fractionally larger than the original and were almost certainly printed in America). It is suspected that the replacement pages are either remainders from a previous printing (not yet seen) or reprinted from the its printing blocks as they pages appear to date from 1926/7. The following diferences are noted:-
- The cover is in colour and similar to the UK version - No print ref or date.
- Page 1, para 2 - '...every part...' → '...every one of the 200 parts...'
- Page 1 - The old version of the Meccano Chassis is shown.
- Page 2 - The picture of the Clock Mechanism is replaced by the Hydraulic Crane.
- Page 2 - In the index - 'The Inclined Plane - Page 43' → 'Experiments in Applied Mechanics - Page 44' (Note correction of page error).
- Page 45 - A sticker is pasted over the incorrect outfit instruction manuals in the list:-
Part 56a: Instruction manual 00-3 → Instruction manual 00-3x.
Part 56b: Instruction manual 4-8 → Instruction manual 4x-6x.
Part 56c: Instruction manual 0 → Instruction manual 00.
- Page 48 - This now becomes the Meccano & Hornby Price Lists - in American currency. (NB. Includes motor E3 which was only available in late 1926 - early 1927)
- Note that the rear cover has now yet been examined as it was missing.
- Changes between the 11/28 and 5/29 manuals
Although the sections of the book are the same between both editions, there are large differences between the contents. Only about half of the mechanisms are common between the the manuals and less than half of the pages are the same or fairly similar.
The various Colonial and Overseas 5/29 editions are all the same as the UK edition except for the prices on pages 49 and inside rear cover which are changed to suit the intended market.
In addition a modified Australian edition has been seen with the words 'Australian Edition' in the bottom right hand edge of the front cover blacked out, and a revised price sticker on the front cover. Pages 49 and the inside rear cover are stuck together to remove any references to prices. This has obviously been modified for use in another part of the world. As the price sticker on the front cover is not complete, it is not possible to make a guess as to its intended destination, but it is most likely the UK
The American 1929 edition (ref 29.6) is the same as the 5/29 UK edition except for the front cover and the price list.
- Changes between the 5/29 and 9/33 manuals
Although these two manuals on the face of it look virtually the same there are a significant number of differences.
The following mechanisms are changed - 63, 72, 78, 81, 103, 112, 138, 161, 164, 165, 182, 188, 219, 277.
Mechanism 142A was added.
Mechanisms 81A and 260 were deleted.
There are also many text and other amendments. For further details of all the changes Click here.
- Changes between the 9/33 and 11/34 manuals
The manual was changed to the new larger format in 1934. It was completely revised and reorganised into new sections. Most of the mechanisms were new.
- Changes between the 11/34, 8/35 and 6/36 manuals
There were numerous small changes between the editions. However there were two significant amendments:-
The main change in the 8/35 edition was the replacement of SM.134 using ring frames instead of channel segments.
The 9/35 NA/SA edition appears to be identical to the 8/35 UK edition except for the front cover
The main change in the 6/36 edition was on page 40 where many of the SML leaflets were deleted.
There are also many text and other amendments. For further details of all the changes Click here.
- Post-war USA edition
The post-war USA edition of the Standard Mechanisms Manuals was a cut down version of the pre-war 1936 manual with a number of mechanisms deleted - In the main it was all those mechanisms which featured motors or the pre-war electrical parts.
Three editions have so far been identified - The only difference being the address on the bottom panel on the front cover.
1. Binns Road
2. Elizabeth NJ
3. Kenilworth NJ (paste on)
How to Use Meccano Parts
- No differences have been found between the 1930 and 1931 editions
- Due to Meccano part additions/deletions and revision to the range of motors the manual had a minor revision in 1933. For full details of all the changes Click here.
- In 1935 a new large format edition was issued. The manual was completely revised and reformatted, with various new parts being included. Most of the illustrations were new. Some of the text was the same and some changed to reflect the different illustrations and additional parts included. The Aus/Ex 1935 edition is the same as the UK edition.
- 1915/6 Motor Chassis Leaflet
The first model leaflet was the Motor Chassis leaflet which was a reprint from the July 7th 1915 edition of "The Light Car". A date of around 1915/6 is assumed. It is on a single sided large sheet of paper. There is no other date or print reference on the leaflet. It is not strictly speaking a model construction leaflet, but it is included here for completeness. Identical editions were published both in Liverpool and America.
- Early Model Leaflets (1921-27)
- Four model leaflets (Meccano Motor Chassis, Loom, Ship Coaler, Clock) - each on a single double sided large sheet of paper - were published between 1921 and 1927. These were all associated with outfit No.7 models. These leaflets were the precursor to the well known Super Model Leaflets of 1928-37. Of interest is that although the Clock leaflet was published in 1924, the model did not appear in the outfit manuals until 1927. No changes to these leaflets are known.
- American Editions - It is assumed that these model leaflets were also published in America. So far the only American model leaflet examined is for the Meccano Auto Chassis. Whilst the model is the same as the Liverpool version, the layout and size of the leaflet is significantly different. The American leaflet is much longer/narrower than the Liverpool version and is folded into four. All the model construction details are on one side. The other side is divided into four sections - Parts required, Suggested improvements/additions, Other model leaflets, Leaflet front page. This leaflet advertises model leaflets for the Loom and Clock. Info required on the other American model leaflets of this era.
- 1928-37 Super Model Leaflets
- Corrections of errors
- Change of numbering of mechanisms in the Standard Mechanisms manuals
- Change from numbered to lettered outfits in 1934
- Change from red/green to blue/gold colour scheme
- Change from 4V to 6V electric motors and deletion of high voltage motor
- Withdrawal of channel segments
- Withdrawal of braced girders in 1934 outfits and their substitution with strip plates. (N.B. This was obviously realised as an error as braced girders were put back in the 1935 outfits
- 1928-29 American Super Model Leaflets
There was one common english language edition of these leaflets for all English speaking countries with the sole exception of the USA. A number of American edition leaflets were published in America prior to the American factory being sold in around 1929. (See below for more details.)
There are numerous small changes between the editions of the leaflets. For full details of all the changes Click here. Most of the changes are due to the following reasons:-
One change is worthy of comment - The models in SMLs 28 and 29 were modified in 1936 due to the withdrawal of channel segments. The models instead used the geared roller bearing. For some reason the SML leaflets were not renumbered as 28a and 29a to highlight the change as happened with other model changes. The SML leaflets described the modified models as being Outfit L models and they were featured in the F-L manual right up till the last F-L manual in 1937. However the geared roller bearing was never in this outfit so they could not be built with the outfit. This was a bit of an error by Meccano Ltd.
In 1931 a number of SML leaflets had small stick on notes inserted. All but one of these dealt mainly with the change from the 4V to 6V electric motors, although frequently other constructional advice was added. The exception is for SML19 where the note deals with changes necessary due to the change in size of the circular strip from 7" to 7½". These stick-in notes have been seen for the following SMLs:-
2, 4, 6, 10, 15, 19, 24, 27
So far only two American leaflets have been examined. SML1 (5/28 version) and SML12. These are virtually identical to the Liverpool versions apart from minor differences in the type setting/formatting. Understandable as the American versions were printed in America and needed to be retypeset. The parts required list in SML1 was also different to the Liverpool editions. Info required on the other American SML model leaflets.
The American leaflets had a very short life, as the American Meccano factory was taken over by Gilbert Erector in 1929. The remaining leaflets were then sent to Liverpool (although some may have found there way to Canada). These leaflets had the American 'Elizabeth' address crossed out and the Liverpool address added using an inked stamp. These leaflets ended up being given out a complementary copies and most of them are marked as such.
Page last updated - 29 November 2013
© 2010-2017 Timothy Edwards